Upsetting the 2017 Halo World Champions OpTic through a Grand Finals bracket reset, Team EnVyUs’ team bond only grows stronger after another trying time in a fourteen game series to win HCS Daytona.
Just like Team EnVyUs’ 2016 Fall Finals victory, the Boys in Blue came from out of the loser’s bracket to shock an OpTic team that seemed to have the HCS Daytona title in the bag.
With coach Marcus ‘Elumnite’ Lovejoy behind them, the team of Justin ‘Pistola’ Deese, Cuyler ‘Huke’ Garland, Austin ‘Mikwen’ McCleary and Eric ‘Snipedown’ Wrona played the length of an online scrim on LAN against OpTic, edging them out eight maps to six overall.
Team EnVyUs is ready to prove to the Halo community that they are here to stick together as a top team and take multiple events this year, but their post-match feelings after the Daytona game finals were that of men who completed a personal journey, fighting through in-game and personal issues and coming out a better team.
In the team’s own words, they have come a long way from those problems, and they acted more like a group of friends rather than four individual players throughout the interview, interjecting and helping each other answer questions.
With the conversation between team members lasting over 20 minutes, here are some of the highlights from what the team had to say about everything from their path to the Grand Finals to their chances at earning back-to-back major titles.
What was the discussion going into Loser’s Finals after losing to OpTic? What helped you claw back into the Grand Finals?
Mikwen: “Going into Worlds losing to Liquid, and in the talk that we had the Friday of Worlds, showed us the resilience that we have. It used to be a problem when we lost, we used to not get over it and talk about that game all the time. But now, we say that everyone is going to lose games and a series here and there, and we just have to bounce back and play our best. Luckily going into Loser’s Finals, we were playing insane and we were ready to carry that momentum into finals.”
What was your team’s biggest key to taking down the Green Wall? Is it in Slayers?
Mikewen”We’ve always been strong in Slayers against OpTic. The only thing that we would say is that the toughest game-type for us is Strongholds, and that’s been an issue that we’ve tackled over the past few months. But for Slayer, we’re always super confident in, and even though all of those games were winnable for both sides, we are a really good Slayer team. In Fall Finals, we won every single Slayer in that tournament, and even though we aren’t back to that Slayer dominance, if there is a game type that we want to play – which surprisingly not a lot of teams would agree with us on this one – we want to play Slayer.”
Pistola: “I love Slayer games, especially in this game, because it’s like Strongholds where it is heavy on rotations and you have to have really good teamwork to be on the same page. A little thing can totally destroy whatever momentum or plan you had, like when someone doesn’t flank, and it comes down to everyone having that information, good communication and listening to each other. Slayers are games two, five, and seven in Halo, so they are very clutch games where you may have to win them to win the series, and you have to be good at them. Thankfully, we are.”
This question is for Huke specifically. When those “HUUUUUKE” chants come from the audience, does that give you a boost of energy and help you make plays in a way?
Huke: “It helps a lot… And it definitely helps me make better plays for sure…. I don’t know how to like really answer that.”
Pistola: “C’mon, we all know that you love it.”
Huke: “Yeah I do love it. It’s the sickest chant ever”
Pistola: “Dude the Huke chant is great,”
Huke: “I mean, it does sometimes sound like ‘Booooo…'”
Do you feel that your team thrives on these longer series?
Pistola: “Honestly, we make it really hard on ourselves and we’ve proven it. Even at Worlds where we were knocked out in Round One, made that comeback into the Finals, and if we would have won that it would have been a fairytale ending and be called one of the greatest comeback stories in Halo history. We definitely make it harder on ourselves, but over time, we get better and more comfortable the longer we’re up there. And even if we do make it hard ourselves, that experience helps us for future tournaments… Hopefully next time, we can win an event out of Winner’s Finals.”
Even though UMG and the HCS did not give out an “MVP” award, who on this team deserves it?
Mikwen: “Our team is pretty weird, because we all have really unique spots on the team. Since day one of Halo 5, I’ve always done a stupid amount of damage, so at this event I did 2600 damage on average, and if you want to base the MVP on Damage dealt it would be me. But if you base MVP off raw slaying, then give it to Huke. If you want to give it to someone who turns situations around when they are down in a 1v3 to make a play, you give it to Ola. If you want to give it to someone who literally does everything, then you give it to Snip3down. I mean, he’s not just Snip3down anymore, he’s OBJDown when pulling flags and he has a lot of assists. It’s really what people want as a player.”
Pistola: “Just to give you an answer, I’d say Mikwen. Huke went off in this tournament. He had so many moments where he should have died and he got kills, and it was really impressive. But Austin has really stepped his game up since Pre-Worlds and Post-Worlds. He just really has impressed me.”
Eluminte: “Same for me too.”
Mikewen: “Well that’s coming from the person who was behind me the whole tournament, so I must have been doing something.”
Elumnite:”I think you dealt with more overall, that possibly could have affected a series that possible could have affected everything in a series. So just recovering from that mentally, and having a relationship with four other guys, that’s not easy. That’s something I definitely have to give props to him for sure. You impressed the hell out of me.”
What will it take for your team to win back-to-back events when OpTic is present, something that your team has not done since its inception?
Pistola:”At this point, we’ve been practicing a lot, and we are all really comfortable with each other. And even though I don’t want to sound too cheesy, we really all love each other and we are an actual team. We have each other’s backs, and when someone is having a rough time with any personal stuff, we understand and try to work with them. Going into Pro League, I’m excited because we did really well last time, and with the new settings are the way they are, our team definitely excels with them. For us to be able to take gold again though, we are going to have to be disciplined, and us getting back at them in two series has helped us experience wise of being a unit together and being on the same page. This tournament helped us out a lot and we really needed it”.”
Mikwen: “We’ve gotten to the point where every night, week, and month we get better. We went through a situation where we would get better, then take a couple of steps back. Before, during, and after Worlds, there was some stuff going on and that’s finally all dropped. We talked it all out, and we were able to focus on Halo, being the team we want to be, and all the other things we wanted to. Because of that, we have a really good chance to get another Gold because it feels just like it did for us before Fall Finals when we dropped it all and wanted to win because OpTic never lost since X Games, and they are an amazing team, but people get sick of seeing the same people win, especially when you are competing against them. So we all had the same goal, and I don’t want to say we lost sight of it after Fall Finals, but we had to find it again as a team pre and post worlds, and we finally have done that.”
Elumnite: “We are at a good spot where we are steadily improving in and out of the game. Our bonds and relationships with each other are even stronger as a team, and I’m excited for the next event as well as Pro League. We still have much more to prove, obviously, with winning consistently being the most important thing right now for us. We need to prove that we can consistently beat OpTic.”