Forever an Amateur: My Short and Failed Attempt at Major League Gaming

The crowd sat with bated breath, anxious and enthralled by the intense competition taking place before them. Back and forth the combatants vehemently struggled with one another as the announcer bellowed the play-by-play through the arena’s sound system. Calm yet nervous directions were spoken amongst the two teams, the urgency and near desperation obvious in their tone. As grenades exploded and rounds flew across the map, a final shot screamed through the head of one of the players, signifying the fiftieth and final kill. The onlookers erupted as the announcer declared the winner. With the game-ending frag sourced from my rifle, I jumped and hugged my teammates before raising my arms in triumph towards the applauding masses.

This is something I used to constantly dream about and imagine. Gaming has been such a big hobby and passion to me for so long that the idea of going to big-time Major League Gaming tournaments and possibly making a living playing my favorite games was too awesome to not take a crack at. As a major Halo fan, I found myself to be one of the best players in tournaments at my college and while playing with friends. I spent time browsing the internet, looking for tricks to improve my skills to get even better. I used skulls to improve my aiming and accuracy, and practiced no-scoping with sniper rifles among other techniques. On occasion, I would carry random teammates on my back as I led us to victory in online deathmatches and capture the flag games.

After college, a few of my best friends and I began playing Halo 3 and Left 4 Dead almost religiously. We would come home from our respective jobs each evening and night, party up on Xbox LIVE, and play for hours on end. As the days went on, our teamwork and communication improved. We would spend nights going on 10-, 15-, 20-game winning streaks, defeating our opponents by a wide margin a fair percentage of the time. With our confidence boosted from our ever-growing performance, we eventually decided that perhaps it was time to take a shot at the big time.

The idea first came from myself and one of my other friends, who I’ll call John. We worked the same job together at the time and decided that since we spent so much time playing and always found ourselves to be above average players, we should give competing in the MLG’s Gamebattles ranking and qualifying system a shot. John was like me, where he also had fantasies of one day becoming a MLG competitor. The two of us then convinced our other two good friends who played with us on a nightly basis, Tom and Kate, along with Tom’s friend Dave, to join us.

Our first order of business was to conduct a meeting and discussion at Kate’s house, where we frequently hung out when not fragging online. We worked out a team name, talked over the official Gamebattles rules and regulations, and figured out when we would practice. Our team got together and worked more on our communication, memorized spawning points and locations for players, weapons, and health items, and played on the official playlists in Halo 3 to get a feel for the competition. Matches were more challenging and our streaks stopped, but we were pulling together some wins and felt bold enough to finally get involved in official matchups.

When the competitions finally took place, we thought we were well enough prepared to survive, even win a few of them. Unfortunately for us, we underestimated our opponents – severely. Our survivors were ambushed, isolated, and slaughtered, our zombies effectively obliterated despite coordinated attacks, and our Spartans were picked off from the shadows. Our opponents didn’t just memorize the spawning points, they knew how to count down each second until a spawn occurred and where. They didn’t just know the map layout, they memorized every tree, every hiding spot, and every chokepoint possible. They had it all down to an exact science.

The sheer pressure and intensity of our competition also led to a breakdown in communication between my friends and I. Words were had, as were some heated exchanges. That quickly blew over, but it was another sign of how unprepared we truly were. Those who bested us were kind enough post-match to offer tips that would help us improve, but the complete outmatching with regards to strategy and communication in addition to the difference in skill level deflated the team’s morale beyond salvation. Just a few weeks after our team was formed, the quest was abandoned and we returned to our stress-free online matchmaking.

There are still days where I wish our team went farther, where I feel I should give it another shot, but then I reflect upon the lessons that this humbling story has taught me. A lot of time, care, planning, and memorization goes into being an elite gamer of MLG or even Gamebattles quality. You need to spend nearly every spare hour practicing your craft and getting certain aspects of your game or games of choice down to a science. The game has to become your second job, or primary one if you want it to become a living. And while I do love most of the games featured in the MLG, I enjoy all games as a whole so much that I can’t possibly forsake them just to play one or two exclusively. Despite my choice, I still to this day respect those who do with the highest regard and always watch their contests in awe. Their dedication and skill are things to be admired. They deserve the cheers and applause of the crowds, the large checks, and all the fanfare that comes with being a professional gamer.


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Myspace
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • Stumnleupon
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Technorati
Author: Mike Murphy View all posts by
Mike has been playing games for over two decades. His earliest memories are of shooting ducks and stomping goombas on NES, and over the years, the hobby became one of his biggest passions. Mike has worked with GamerNode as a writer and editor since 2009, giving you news, reviews, previews, a voice on the VS Node Podcast, and much more.

Leave A Response

You must be logged in to post a comment.