During EGLX over the weekend in Toronto, Slingshot contributor Blake Bottrill had the chance to catch up with veteran Halo commentator David “Walshy” Walsh. The former pro player talked about event host cities, going to school and Counter Logic Gaming’s recent dominance.
Blake Bottrill: So yesterday on stream you were talking about the fact that you hadn’t been to Toronto since 2008. Do you feel like Toronto is sometimes underrepresented in Halo? Or maybe we don’t get up here enough?
David “Walshy” Walsh: I just feel like I don’t get up here enough. Back in the day, I was out here for two different MLG events in 2007 and 2008, and I think I came out here in 2010 or 2011 to shoot a short YouTube video with Sony Ericsson. It’s never been a hotspot for Halo by any means, but I definitely feel like it is underrepresented with how big the city is, and when we do have tournaments in Toronto a good amount of teams show up locally. So yeah, definitely underrepresented.
BB: If you had to pick your favorite place you’ve ever played a tournament where would it be? Not your favorite tournament, just your favorite tournament location.
DW: That’s a real tough one. Does it mean I’ve had to play there or where I’ve had to travel to because of gaming.
BB: Either one!
DW: Either one? Ok I would say Singapore or Hong Kong. I guess I was technically playing I was doing some Microsoft promotions out there. Definitely cool spots!
BB: You’ve left the competitive Halo world to pursue school and clearly still love Halo, as you cast all these tournaments on the side. How much of you misses playing Halo competitively?
DW: There are lots of parts I miss about being on stage, the excitement, the large prize pools, the highlight moments where you get to see all your hard work and practice pay off.
There are also parts I don’t miss. You have to put an ungodly amount of hours in. It has to be your life and it has to be your No. 1 focus and passion. I always said as soon as I don’t enjoy it anymore, I would stop, and it got to the point where it just wasn’t enjoyable; it showed in my gameplay. It showed in my health. I’m still happy I am able to be a part of the scene and commentate, check out these amazing tournaments, watch these amazing matches and travel around the world because of it.
BB: We are obviously in the full swing of HCS Pro League qualifiers. Who is your dark horse team to make it into Pro League based on the teams you’ve seen so far? Have you paid attention to any of the teams playing this weekend?
DW: Obviously I haven’t watched any of the teams playing this weekend because I’m here doing this event. As far as dark horse team to make it, it’s so much easier to go with like the safe picks. If I think of the next four it’s easy, like an EnVy, maybe even an OpTic has gotten much better lately, especially with the addition of Naded and Ace.
BB: They just picked up Str8Sick too.
DW: Yeah they just picked up Str8Sick in place of FlamesworD with him coaching, so they have a great shot. They would probably be in my four teams to make it right now. I was underwhelmed by Enigma6, even though on paper they look sick. Cratos has stepped up. Obviously bubu dubu and Huke, don’t need to say anything about them; they’ve been dominant. I was underwhelmed by them. I don’t see them making it right now. The only two that stick out in my mind right now are EnVy and OpTic and then it’s somewhat open from there, I would have to look closely at the rosters and see how teams are playing. Probably Renegades, that is a tough one, though. With the team changes, they’ve had ups and downs. I’ve always been on the fence with Renegades. I have always been a huge supporter. I would consider Victory X one of my best gaming friends along with Lunch and Roy in terms of people who are still currently competing. But then I have also seen Renegades have times where they just fall apart. They had Allegiance against the ropes, one flag cap away and they probably could have probably made it to world finals.
BB: Everyone is talking about this “god squad” that CLG has put together, rightfully so. They look scary, only dropping 1-2 maps in scrims sometimes. How long do you think it will take before we see anyone beat CLG in best-of-five? How long can they stay on top?
DW: It’s gonna be a while. Some team is gonna have to play out of their mind to take them down or there is gonna be inner turmoil within CLG. You know our Final Boss roster was on top for a long time, and we had our own personal gripes and it kinda destroyed us from within. Ogre1 stopped playing a bit and I started getting frustrated with that and lashing out in the wrong ways, lots of things happen that way.
I can’t foresee them getting beaten in a major event in the near future unless they get complacent and stop practicing as much or some god squad comes out of nowhere. Like Evil Geniuses, I was impressed by the. They played well and obviously won the qualifier spot, but they don’t look as solid as CLG yet.
BB: Are you going to school this summer?
DW: I was supposed to walk for graduation today! So I’m actually out here commentating instead. With that said I actually have to finish one more summer thing so I will go to Switzerland in early July to study some cloud computing then back to Grand Rapids for mobile development. And then I’m done with all my classes.
BB: Are we going to be seeing you casting any Pro League stuff this summer then?
DW: Undetermined. I would love to be a big part of Pro League, I would love to cast and do that but as of right now I don’t know what they have in terms of planned casters.
BB: You’ve been doing this casting thing for about four years now. Who has been your favorite casting partner out of everyone you’ve done a cast with?
DW: It’s tough. We have a really good group of casters. I think one of my favorites to cast with is probably Goldenboy because we have a lot of great chemistry ripping on each other back and forth, and Goldenboy is one of the best casters in the industry. So if I had to choose one, maybe Goldenboy.
BB: 343 is going to hosting a bunch of LANs for semi-pros and pros that don’t make it at the same time as Pro League. Do you think most of the pros that don’t make it to Pro League will stick around for the circuit? Or will we see a lot of pros hang up the controller?
DW: I don’t know. That’s a really good question because if people are here only for the prize money aspect and not enjoying the game as much and the competition, I could see some of those pros disappearing. I think HCS and 343 have shown they are committed to a long term vision of sustainable tournaments and a sustainable competitive environment for it. So I could see these pros maybe being discouraged after not making Pro League and then being like, “Alright, I need to grind my way up and get a right squad.” I foresee the top two teams in the Challenger side when it comes to relegation taking out the pro teams that have fallen. I feel like there is a big talent pool out there that is untapped in Halo 5, and if those squads come together and dominate Challenger series, I can see them doing well in the Pro League.
Photos courtesy of Microsoft/343.