I am so freakin stoked for you to hear this episode! This DM went out a long time ago, and was so excited to get a response back. I first found Nick "Ashes" by watching Optic Gaming's "Vision" series on YouTube, and was instantly hooked. Coaching in esports is still so new, and some games don't value it, so to see him coach for the hottest organization at the time was inspiring.

For anyone who is aspiring to be a content creator, coach, or just a human being that wants to better themselves, his lessons/experiences show not only how he gives value to his players, but to everyone around him.

Nick "Ashes"  📱

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Transcript

Kyle Warren:

Good morning, and welcome to episode number 36 of the bonafide experience podcast. I'm your host, Kyle, or as many of you know me as buena, or bonafide gaming on social media. If you're new here, welcome. I'm so glad you took some time out of your day to come spend here on this episode. This is an Esports and gaming content creation podcast where I bring on talent from all over the industry to share their story about what they do, how they got here, and what role they play in shaping the current and future conversation of gaming. I am a content creator on Twitch, and I play a variety of different games and chat amongst some of the most important issues surrounding my story of overcoming drug addiction and how people can get well no matter their circumstance. Today I interview an Esports coach who goes by the name of ashes is the most winningest coach in console eSports history. Hosting 22 championships, is currently the general manager for IU IU eSports. Although some of you may know him as the coach who led the dominating Gears of War roster for optic gaming. This episode is chock full of wisdom and insights, and I couldn't be more excited for you to hear this. So without further ado, let's go ahead and get started with the show. Good morning. Good afternoon, Nick. How you doing man?

Ashes:

I'm doing well. How are you?

Unknown:

Fantastic. It's been a it's been nice here in Texas. I think you're in Texas as well. I'm not Yeah. Dallas area. Yeah, dude. It's been a how's the weather been up there?

Ashes:

It's getting let's see. It's today. It's 63. Yesterday was in like the mid 50s. So it's starting to get like winter chill. But it's still like, you know, it's Texas. So it can never make up the mind what it wants to be. I'm pretty sure tomorrow supposed to be like 74 again. So I got a dice roll of what you're gonna get whether it was?

Unknown:

Yeah, I'm down here in Austin. So it's the same It's same thing man like it? Oh, yeah. I mean, we get like we get like, summer and then what we get summer and then slightly less summer. And then like three weeks of just perfect weather throughout the entire year. You don't I mean?

Ashes:

That's literally how you get like summer, slightly less summer and then winter and slightly less winter and then write like repeat. Yeah, there's two seasons, there's two different shades of each seasons. Except for those random days where it'll like be like Sunny, and you'll be wearing shorts and a shirt and then it will be snowing like three hours later. And we in Texas definitely been a learning experience.

Kyle Warren:

I got asked like, when do you move down here?

Ashes:

Let's see, I think. So we moved here because of optic and I think I moved. It was December of 2017. I want to say I think it was December 2017. Yeah. So you've been here for a little bit. I mean, you get it. I mean, like I'm starting to be a Texan

Kyle Warren:

a little bit. Have you started saying y'all yet?

Ashes:

I actually said y'all before I came here because I lived on the eastern shore of Maryland. So like it was a little I don't want to say country like we had like a beach resort. And then it was just farmland. So like, you know, being that I wasn't coming there for vacation. You know, summertime you kind of speak a little bit differently with all the tourists and then you know, during the school year and stuff, it's all and yeah, maybe not Howdy, but you know, yeah, that's a stretch. It's a little bit more conscious. So that was like, in the I think I fit in better because I was already in my repertoire of words. So

Unknown:

yeah, I mean, it was it wasn't as it soften the blow, you know? Yeah,

Ashes:

exactly. I knew what it meant when someone started saying it or like calling me darlin or honey. Like I was used to that kind of stuff.

Unknown:

Right? Right. Exactly. You're fixing to, you know, you know, like, that's a that's another one down here. Like, we have some where I work we actually have some California it's a California based company, and they just absolutely drives them nuts. When we say we're fixin to do something like what, like, bro, what the fuck does that even mean? Like?

Kyle Warren:

We're just fixin' to do it, man. Just not right now. Like,

Unknown:

oh, cool, man. I know, I know. We kind of hopped in there, but kind of give a kind of give it a quick intro man. like who are you? Like, you know, what do you do, man?

Ashes:

So my name is Nick. I go by ashes in the esports world and I am a professional coach and eSports manager. I'm currently the general manager for IU IU and I coach their Gears of War team. I coached the same team under optic gaming and NRG and denial eSports we've been kind of around for a little bit. And I was also the assistant GM for optic when I was there. So you know that management and coaching side player development side of Esports is where where I call home.

Unknown:

Dude, that's fantastic, man. So I mean that that's, you know, and I and I, if I think I read your Twitter bio, right, you're probably the most winningest coach is that

Ashes:

it's self counted. So like there might be some historian out there who can like correct me in terms of like, the the halo days are the ones that I'm not entirely sure about. I went back and I looked and I didn't see anybody who had more because I'm currently at 22 trophies. So I didn't see anybody who and that's like major event wins. So I didn't see anyone under Halo. And I think that would have been the only game maybe Starcraft maybe there's like a coach in Starcraft who Might have me beat but that's why I specified console like console winning is that I couldn't see anything and totter halos. So I'm taking that title. There's sick man.

Unknown:

It's a pleasure, a pleasure to have you on man. I'm happy, we're able to live happy we're able to make time in.

Ashes:

Yeah, Me too

Unknown:

You also want to want to kind of start back like prior to the day, you know, prior to today, like, you know, growing up kind of what what did gaming look like in your house? Like, what was your kind of favorite games growing up? Like, what was kind of like the family dynamic around that, like, just tell me a little about like, your ashes growing up?

Ashes:

Yeah, um, you know, I was always a gamer. And, I mean, I think that's pretty much everybody who works in eSports. And gaming, you know, like, they they grew up as gamers. It started with me, you know, playing Super Nintendo in our basement with my brothers or console. Yeah, going into going into my parents room, they had a an original like Gameboy. So like, before school, like, right when I woke up, I could run in there and like, hop on their bed and play Gameboy for like, 30 minutes before I had to get ready for school. And this is like, kindergarten era playing Mario Golf on the Gameboy. And then that turned into like, a love for Pokemon and getting Nintendo 64. And just, you know, it always stayed with me, you know, it, gaming was always like, just the thing that had the most fun doing. I played every sport you could think of at some point, but it gaming was always what I came back to gaming was what like, you know, my friends and I bonded over and, you know, we just go over to whoever had the newest game console, or newest game or whatever. And that's whose house we went to for that weekend. And, yeah, you know, it turned into a thing where, like, I started getting competitive about it, I learned about game battles. And so that was when I think my parents started getting a little bit more, I don't wanna say annoyed, but just a little bit more like unsure of gaming, because it turned into, you know, from this, like, hobby that he really loves to, okay, this is taking up way too much of his attention. And, you know, but it, they were supportive, you know, there, I was really lucky to be in a house, you know, my mom would like go with me to like old MLG events in like 2009 2010. And as long as I was doing well in school, and I was a straight A student, so like, it didn't really take away from like, any efforts outside of that I was still playing, you know, rec league sports. So, you know, I kind of kept a healthy balance, which I'm thankful for that they made sure that I did, but yeah, I was lucky to be in this. My dad didn't get it until like, he started seeing like, this career take off and me winning, and then he started to understand, but it, they were definitely supportive. And you know, to this day, they're some of my biggest fans, dude,

Unknown:

that's fantastic. Man, that's, that's awesome that you kind of like, you got the healthy balance of like, you know, like they they still didn't fully understand, but they allowed you to kind of pursue this, like, as long as you had some, like, you met some things that made them happy, you know? Yeah. And you were able, yeah, I mean, that's bro, that's awesome.

Ashes:

I guess important. Do you know what, like, I now that I'm at this point where like, I can be an adult about something. So you know, I can definitely see the importance of like, what they were trying to instill in me at the time, you know, like, then I'm like, well, like, my homework will get done eventually, like, let me go, like, I have a GB match, like I have a game battles match, like, I can't be late or my time is getting long, or whatever the case may be, or why can't I stay up to 2am. But now that like I'm at a different point in life, I can definitely see the value in that and making sure that there's a healthy balance. And I think that's something where I'm not enough people have a strong role models, or parents or guardians who can kind of instill that value. And it's actually really important. I see a lot of young kids who want to be like the next Pro, who are doing those crazy hours. And that becomes their sleep schedule. And they're not doing well in school. And I mean, eSports as much as it is, you know, your talent and your reaction time. And you know, how much you love the game. You have to think in every esport it's a lot of it's a lot of mental fortitude. It's a lot of being able to process like, what's the next play? You know? Yeah, pretty much every game is a chess match, even if it's something like Gears of War, so I was really, really thankful for that.

Unknown:

Yeah, man. I mean, I think and I think you touched on a really good point. It's something that I think the industry is focused, is focusing more on is like, it's it's gaming, its gaming smarter, not harder. Like I like is even in like a organization like hundred thieves. Like they actually have a, like a health management specialist, you know, me where, like, they are coaching their Esports players, like helping them eat, right, like helping them train, right. I mean, it's a whole, I mean, it's a legitimate sport. And so I mean, except you're just using your brain and obviously, you know, in one could argue that, like, you know, you're taking, like, you need a lot more attention in that arena. Because, you know, gamers historically had that bad rap for stand till 234 or five 5am. And that's okay. Every once in a while, but that is a that is a rough schedule, man.

Ashes:

like yeah, I mean, I I even like, experienced that a little bit in college where, you know, I, I'm now like, not home, so it's like, Alright, well screw the rules, and I can do whatever I want because I'm in college. I mean, I saw my grades decline because of it, I saw, like my mental health, you know, decline because of it and just being depressed. I saw, like my physical health decline because of it. And I think like, it was kind of a vicious spiral that exploring that freedom got me in like a bad place. And it made me kind of reevaluate in value those lessons that they were teaching me early on a lot more because of it. So, you know, I had to kind of rebalance life. And I think, like, that is something that if people aren't careful, it's something that a lot of people are going to go through. And it kind of sucks to see knowing that, like, you know, I was there and like, that was that hated that, like there is I hated waking up at five in the afternoon. And it's like, it just not seeing sunlight, like kind of just causes this, like natural depression. And it's like, you're upset, but you don't know why you're upset. So, you know, you think you're having fun gaming, but it's really just a distraction. So I, I, I'm glad to be on a healthier sleep schedule. And that's what I tried to teach the people I work with.

Unknown:

Yeah, and I mean, I think to a certain point that like some people, I think, I think we all have to go through a variation of that, you know, I mean, like, whether it looks the same exact same or not, like sometimes humans can be really hard headed, and like it, as long as you don't have to go through it multiple times. You know, I think I think you're on the right path. Like if you can, if you can, like, don't just half ass, it really go hard and figure that shit out for yourself. But I mean, I think it's a cool thing that you instill, it's like, you can't really change that. But you just know that they got to go through that. And it kind of just sucks. But I think in your role, it's valuable that you did, because you have the experience to be able to pass on to them to like, kind of, like help them through that. Not like forced them out of it, you know?

Ashes:

Yeah. I mean, everyone learns in different ways. And I think that's something that I've tried to do with my coaching, too. You know, I learned through experience, and I think that as much as my my parents were teaching me a valuable lesson, it didn't really click until I experienced the the bad side of it and go like, Oh, shit, I don't want to ever feel this way again. So I think that I think that, you know, people, everyone learns differently. And I think that's something that schools don't do a good enough job. But so I, you know, I always remembered, like, being in a public high school and like, the English classes, right. And I'm pretty sure anybody who's ever been in an English class ever knows, popcorn reading, or some version of that, or like, reading the book, you know, whatever book you're reading as a class. And like, then there's that one kid who reads slower, and they need like, a different type of help and teaching. And then you've got like, visual learners, and you've got, you know, more auditory learners. And I think, for me, I recognize that is true for eSports. And I think there's a lot of coaches or people who develop players who try to force like, one way is the right way. And I think you have to cater what you do towards the people that you're working with, and find that kind of right balance. So like, a great example is, you know, I've seen players in the past where, if you tell them something that is right, objective, you know, objectively, it is right? It, they'll want to fight it, unless it's their concept. It's their idea, then they latch on to it as it being right. Because it's their idea. And it's, it's an ego thing. Sure. But if you want to just get them to the point, then I've learned like, in those situations, I can just ask, you know, like, What color do you think this guy is today? Instead of me saying this guy's blue today? I go like, weird it was, it's not green. What do you what do you think like, what do you think the best word is to describe the, you know, the color of the sky? And they'll be like, yeah, it's blue. And they're like, okay, now they've latched on to that idea. Like, that's a really like dumbed down example, but I think, I think that's really important. So like, all these lessons and stuff that I've learned, like, I don't have to just be like, hey, look, like, you know, this is the right thing to do it because all these people say it, it's like, well, one, I have experience with it. And I can tell you firsthand, it sucks. If you want to try it, go for it, but it sucks. And then to like, I can talk them through like the alternatives and ask the questions that provoke them going, Oh, yeah, that would suck. Okay, I don't want to do that.

Unknown:

Well, I mean, I think in you like I like to me visual or like, to me experiential learners are, you could, one could argue that we have to walk through some of the toughest journeys, but at the same time, it makes people like us the most valuable where, you know, you have every aspect and you can meet people exactly where they're at. And if there's someone who does learn differently, they don't have to go through it, you can help them from not either going through that kind of help make them make it their idea or just say like, Look fam go through that shit. Like, you know,

Ashes:

it's like a human instinct thing to it's like, you know, the the small child who touches the stove, like you can tell them the stove is hot dozens of times, but until they touch it and burn themselves. That doesn't like that's what really like locks in and going like, Oh shit. I'm not touching that. Like, yeah,

Unknown:

so yeah, antastic Man, I mean, it's like, What got you like, you know, so you mentioned GB's (Game Battles), like what was the first I guess was the first game that you got into game battles with.

Ashes:

It was actually Gears of War. I played it. Halo was like my game. For the longest time I actually hated gears. And then oh shit. Yeah, I hated it because it was different from like, it was so different from Halo and you know, the whole third person perspective. And on top of that, I wasn't a huge fan of like the dark like, or feel of it, even though it wasn't like a scary game like that. That was the vibe of it. Oh, yeah. And then, you know, it was the game that my friend wanted to play. Every time I went over to his house, he needed help like beating, you know, different levels in the campaign or whatever, and Co Op. And, you know, we did those, and I didn't really start enjoying gears multiplayer, excuse me, honestly, until I found we found a glitch for the Gears of War One multiplayer, where if you like, brand and held the B button, and then ran into somebody, it would like skip the chainsaw animation and just make them pop instantly. So we'd like run out on and just like, run straight out the other team and do that. And I remember that's when I started having fun. I was like, Okay, I'm gonna go buy this game and do this more. And started getting like involved in the game more and more, and then playing it, you know, correctly. And I had some friends introduced me to the competitive side and game battles and all that fun stuff. So it was a it was a slow process to get there. But gears was like my first real competitive game. And I was, you know, all in through Gears of War one and Gears of War Two. Yeah. And then, actually, when Gears of War Three came out, I played it for about a week. I was like, nope, this isn't for me. I quit and played Halo for a month to AV went to one event for it. Nope, this isn't for me and started playing a bunch of like, whatever free PC games I could find. Yeah, yeah.

Unknown:

Yeah, I mean, so it kind of kind of talk because like you'd mentioned, you'd mentioned Halo. In the beginning. I'm like, surely like he was, you know, surely Halo was the first game we competed. And, you know, because that's my bread and butter. I grew up I grew up a master, you know, very similar story to yours, like Gameboy only thing that different stores, I didn't have the Nintendo 64. I just skipped to the GameCube. But hey, look like chief was the first game that like, really, like for a lot of different reasons. It was just such a strong emotional attachment to it, you know, at first campaign. And then same thing with Gears of War. Like, I think those two campaigns are so special, because like, they did such a good job of just tying you in and emotionally attaching you to the characters. The development was just absolutely unbelievable. But, you know, did you when you started competing in Gears of War, like was Did you like kind of like go to a lot of events? Did you earn championships was it how long kind of was that competitive career.

Ashes:

Uh, so I played like game battles, probably starting in like 2008. And then I learned about like, MLG, and that side of it. And finally went to my first event. It was metal in 2009. My team was awful. It was a last minute team, I just wanted to go. And we sucked. And then at that event, like I left that team and started trying out for other teams. And I actually joined vvv during that time, which were like, like the main like the biggest clan in years. So I was part of vvv was kind of gave me like a little bit more credibility to my name. And I was under like their forums is like gears Pro, though, I wasn't like actually a pro player. Oh, and MLG rankings are anything and I kept playing game battles, I went to another event in Columbus with a like a vvv. roster. And that team was actually expected to do really well. And then I got ended up getting like the same placement as I did from the first one. So I was like, really dejected from that. And then I went to the, like, in 2010, it was like that season's finals, and that was in Orlando. And I went with like a completely different roster that I kind of joined maybe like a month or two before and ended up getting like the same placement again, I was like, Alright, like, it's not meant to be and then gears got dropped from the competitive circuit. I played game battles a ton and became like a GB all star. You know, one of the people who do anything for green w on that website. Oh, yeah. And then, and then my grades started dropping. And my, my mom told me that I couldn't take my Xbox back into college. So that's when I was like, so I actually Sorry, I tried Halo. I went to a D, the Washington DC like Halo event, or MLG event and with like a Semi Pro gears team. And we did like, Alright, but we weren't great. And then that's like after that semester grades. And I started playing I had a computer still for like schoolwork. And it wasn't a good one by any means. And I was like, Alright, like, let's like, let's see what games are free. And I started playing like random games that I got super competitive at like, there was like a racing game called TrackMania that I was like one of the highest ranked players like in the United States. And then that's when I met My roommate showed me Liga legends and in 2010 and I fell in love with that game and like that's that's like really when it started was Liga legends in 2010 I mean, I was more into that than any game ever.

Unknown:

I hear that man like I like I you know, those games to me are such a there's such a weird barrier to entry like those games requires so much I've heard I've only heard stories specifically from courage when he was just like League of Legends is so much fun, but like you have to, there was so much to learn and you get you get trash talk the entire way up the ladder, like like the the the fan base, and the players are not helpful. But you have to learn so much to get to that level. You know,

Ashes:

yeah, you, you definitely go through like the depths of hell in that player base. Because it you know, it's so massive. So there's, like, so many people who play and you know, you're never playing the same people twice until you get to a really high rank. So it's like, it's just, it gets super toxic and volatile people. I mean, that's like the anonymity of the internet. You know, people just true colors come out, or they get braver and say crazier things. But you know, I started playing the game was a beta in 2009. So I started playing like, it's first year of release. And I had my roommate who is showing me like teaching me kind of the ropes. And my other roommate was like, learning at the same time. So like, I had a good group to play with and learn the game with and grow. And that turned into me just being, you know, all of my competitive like, hunger was going and getting applied to this new game. And this was the first game that was starting to take, like, massive steps into being an esport. Yep, yeah. And you know, as a college student who knew he wanted to work with video games, but it wasn't like happy with his degree path. Because, you know, like I was, at the time, there wasn't really eSports other than, you know, the MLG events and stuff. It wasn't like a career path. So I'm looking at video games going, Okay, I need to be in video game like programming design. So I need to do computer science classes, which I'm doing really well at, but I need to do math classes, which I'm failing. So I can't keep going along that degree. Let's try the art side. Well, now I have to take drawing one on one with all these kids who draw like Mona Lisa for fun. And I'm over here with my fingers. And I'm like, Okay, well, this isn't it. Like this sucks. So that whole time I just like I'm trying to compete and do my thing in the game. And it was it was definitely like a weird time. Like, I think a lot of people now are a lot. I'm jealous of the kids like now who can be like, yeah, like, I want to be a pro player. And here's how I get there. When I was doing it, it was like, I want to be a pro player. Shit.

Unknown:

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Well, because there was no I mean, because like, even you look back to the days of like, I personally started watching back in Halo two, when you had final boss, and you had, like, you know, and triggers down. And like, that was like, such an elite group of players that like, you know it, and they didn't even realize that that that was gonna work out that was just a pure, it was a pure passion. You know, and there was nothing, there was hardly any monetary like, gain it was people probably spent way more than they actually earned, it probably went up in the negative. So I mean, it's, it was probably I can only imagine that, like, because you're sitting, you're trying to figure this out. And like, because historically, with our parents, like college was like, the only way to be live like a comfortable life, you know, unless you just got like, kind of lucky and just had insane business sense and knew how to start a business out of nowhere, you know, but I can only imagine how confusing that was. But it's, you could argue, in a sense that, like, it's almost gonna make you like, you can appreciate it a lot more like what we currently do have, you know, and like, you know, what I mean? Like, there has to be a deep level of appreciation now that you finally kind of like, quote, unquote, made it out and like, made it through that like, weird, murky phase.

Ashes:

Yeah, no, it's, it's, it's so weird seeing like, the difference between like, now and then. And, you know, I remember being at those 2009 events and seeing you know, like, the wall she's walking around and like their his face like on all the posters or I was even joking about this the other day, like fear itself, one of the halo pros who would like you would actually just see him like walking around with like, the girl like the stride girls, like, under his arms, or, you know, like, and I was like, him like, these are like, these guys have made it like, you're playing video games. It's probably they're living they get any girl they want, you know what I mean? Like, they were like, the rock stars of of like eSports and before it was, you know, really eSports So, but there's no like you, how do you get there? Right, like, you just have to be crazy good at a game and get recognized but I mean, how do you get recognized? Yeah, like how do you there wasn't twitch like you couldn't live stream and pop off and get a host from somebody and you know, start making a name for yourself and even like YouTube like wasn't really where is that? Now? I mean, you were like you had to be kind of lucky or kind of wealthy to get a capture card even so you had like have proof for your game battles now. Um, let alone like do content creation and stuff like that. So, yeah, I mean, it was it was definitely like a weird time, whereas now it feels like everybody has a computer that could, you know, can stream and everybody has good internet. Like, that was the other thing too. Like, I didn't have good internet in my area. So like, you know, fiber is much more readily available now. And people with good internet and, you know, having a computer that can stream and buying capture cards, like now you can just pull up the Walmart or Best Buy and get one for like, 4050 bucks. And yeah, it just seems like so much more readily available. And there's a lot more avenues Twitter and Social Media and stuff. Like we had MySpace and Facebook like nobody on Facebook gave a fuck if you played video, like anything, you were just the dork. So it was like, it was such a weird, you know, a weird time compared to now where like, it's a lot more mainstream, and there's a lot more avenues to make a name for yourself.

Unknown:

Yeah, and, and the secret because I wondered when I first started my journey into like, you know, to kind of pursue my dream. It's just like, Well, how do I start doing this? Like, let's just make content? Like, I mean, that's like, it's, it starts out that simple. And it seems like there's obviously a lot more to that, like, how do I do that? But it's just, that's the avenue like beds, you want to get good? Show it? You know, like, it's a big world out there, man.

Ashes:

Yeah, it's, it's, it's kind of like what you have to do now. I mean, in the words of my former boss, hex content is king. So like, that's honestly the easiest way to do it. It's just like making content and putting yourself out there and more ways of just like, you know, hoping you get recognized for playing well in a random name. Right.

Unknown:

Exactly. I you could argue that he invented the gaming scene on YouTube, like, like him in the current like, that was just, they were doing that. So if they were so far ahead of their time when they did that, you know,

Ashes:

yeah, no, they definitely, I mean, hexes hex and what he did with optic and then like, what mais clan has done, they they changed what eSports is, and a lot of ways, and now you have like, you know, hex is like protege. NadeShot doing it with 100 thieves. And I think like this, this era of Esports is a little bit less focused on the competitive side, and more about building the stories around the players who are competing, or the influencers and content creators. Yep. Because I think that's what draws more fans than the actual games. I mean, imagine that you got to watch your favorite football team practice, you know, there was a live stream that they were doing, or you got to see it from the perspective of Tom Brady, or, you know, whatever the case may be. So I think that's what's setting us apart from regular sports. And I think a lot of brands are capitalizing on that, because they were they're recognizing that that's, that's the trend. And that's like one of the roads to success.

Unknown:

With it arguably is the most it's probably the most like, you know, the clearest path, if you will, you know, I mean, speaking of that, like speaking the storylines, like, that's actually how I found out who you were as through the optic vision series, you know, I mean, like, I like that was, that was where like, I'm like, Oh, shit, dude, like, and I and I saw it, then I connected the dots with UI, you and some of that, you know, it just, it's people are more invested in the story versus anything. Like, I'll tell you, like, I've never watched 100, thieves eSports match, but I really love what NadeShot does, and I really like their apparel, and I really like to buy it. You know, it's, it's just a fascinating thing. So I mean, kind of tell me like, what was the transition from like, going from your competitive side, like to the coaching? Like, how did you how did you even get involved in that?

Ashes:

Yes, so part of my part of legal legends for for people who don't play it, unlike a lot of other games, it's heavily based around their in game rank system. And that's kind of like your, your, the start of your path, the Pro, you can play competitive as much as you want. But if you can't climb the rank ladders in the game, then you don't give a time of day from anybody who matters. So I was struggling to climb those rank systems. Because my internet realistically, my internet at home was horrendous. So it was just a massive struggle for me to play at my best and actually climb the rank system. Along with having like other responsibilities and chores and jobs and stuff like that. But realistically, like, I think that was one of my main bottlenecks, and I still had a competitive drive. And I still, you know, like anything that I was on I was the team captain so um, you know, scheduling our practices or entering us and whatever, kind of our skill level and stuff like that, and even when I was competing, like, you know, their rank system is like bronze or it was bronze, silver, gold, platinum diamond. And then challenger was introduced and I I like, was bold on a team with like, all diamond players. And the reason they were willing to play with me was because I played like a high level player and I had the like, the thought process and the end game leading is a high player, high level player, and just map awareness probably to you know, yeah, so Like I was already drawing players who were way better than me, like really had no business teaming with me. But like attracting them to play and want to play with me. And we like even had success like I wanted like a $5,000 like game battles, Dr. Pepper pro tournament or something like that. So like, I saw the taste a success, but I, I like realized that that was going to be shut down, and there was no way around it. So what I started doing is going okay, like why don't I let someone who's way better than me fill my role to make the team that much better. And I'll just keep doing these, like managerial duties of scheduling the practices and finding, you know, people for us to scrim against and entering us in tournaments and handling the registrations and talking to orgs and all that stuff. So that kind of got me introduced on the management side. But I was still like competitive hungry, and I still understood the game. So I would sit in on the practices are, you know, I'm watching or somebody would stream it to me privately or when they brought in the spectator into the game, I would spectate the games live, and then give them my feedback, like, Oh, yeah, like that was good. You did this. What about doing this? Like, could you have done this, maybe you should have done this instead. And that was kind of my first taste in coaching and then working with other coaches, like people who are dedicated to coaching in the game that like kind of opened my eyes to what their role really meant. So then when, in 2015, I tried to kind of come back into gears as a manager for an org that I was working for, under Liga legends. I tried to get them a gears team, and it kind of like, fizzled out. So later, when I made another attempt, it was with it was honestly me just sending a DM to mental understand. And it was it was in September, it was like September 15 of 2015. or sometime early September. And I literally just had Hey, like, I'm an Esports manager, and coach, I work in Liga legends, I have contacts, all these different orgs let me come help you guys out. I'm sure orgs are talking to you guys. And I want to help you not get taken advantage of because I knew they were like young guys. I knew they were really talented from watching them. I knew that nobody believed in them to be really good because like they hadn't been to Atlanta event as a team together. And churches, you know, they were just kind of known as like the young online warrior kids. And I was like, like, I saw a potential there. Like I saw them being able to be more than that. And so I was like, let me come help make sure that you guys like if nothing else, let me help make sure you guys don't get taken advantage of. Yeah. And he talked to the RAS and they're like, all right, like it doesn't hurt anything. So I kind of got added into all the group chats and introduced to them. And then I asked if I could watch their scrims and they started letting me watch scrims which like, was super like taboo. like nobody wanted me on the scrim lobbies, like everyone was afraid I was gonna be cheating, being like spectating scrims and stuff like that. And there's a lot of teams that like wouldn't scrim them if I was in the lobby. And, but when I was watching them, like, at first I was kind of like, quiet and just kind of let them do their thing. And then I would notice, like, bad tendencies or good tendencies, and I would start pointing those out, like you do this really well. But we're doing this not so well, what if we change it up? What if we try this? What if we throw a smoke grenade from here, you know, just random little things. And they started under, like realizing and recognizing that, like, there was things like I wasn't dumb about the game, like I knew the flow of the game and how it should be played. And so they started listening to me more and it kind of, like, earn their respect, I wasn't trying to force anything down their throat, it was just, you know, like, here's some ideas, maybe try them. And when they tried them and worked, like the respect was earned, and that grew into me being more and more involved as a coach and then it became a thing like, you know, if I couldn't be in the lobby, like if I know the team was resisting, then screw it, we won't scrim you will get somebody else to scrim us and like, they just kind of they trusted me from there. And they gave me that opportunity. So we had like a really strong mutual belief in each other and I was able to hone my coaching skills and take everything that I learned from all the people that I work with and Liga legends and apply it to a game that you know, coaches were just stopwatch holders, and it kind of changed the face of coaching in years and I think in constantly sports

Unknown:

I love that you brought that up man because like you know, cuz cuz even tell you truth up until recently, like a year or two ago like, you know, like in halos, like what are coaches besides exactly stopwatch holders, you know, you had two timers on your phone and like in a and begged to answer the quiet like at like, had the question like what is really the involvement like how much should they get, you know, like, what is the is it really valuable to have them but I think like that's such a cool is it's a cool perspective, man, because it's, you know, you you understood the game, you understood who they were, you know, and you didn't, you didn't try to like impress upon them like what they should Do because they're the players and you're the coach. But I think that's a such a valuable thing that not a lot of people do. It's like if they're the coach, and it's their rules, or it's the highway, and it's like, it doesn't work man, like, yeah,

Ashes:

I think there's, I think for different games or different sports, it works differently. You know, it's like different, it's like cultural differences are our legal legends, you know, it's much more like this is your staff. And the staff dictates how the game is going to be played, and how the players are going to interact with each other. NFL? Yeah, it's much more structured like traditional sports, where I think in a lot of constantly sports up until recently, maybe with Cod, it was the opposite. You know, the players dictated the pace that the, you know, the players signed to an org, the org didn't invest in the support staff, because it's a constant, like, that just wasn't what you did with console games. Right. Um, but I think now, I mean, I think there's a lot of things that have helped legitimize it, I think, you know, there was coaches in Cod, but early on, and then they started getting taken away, because like, they couldn't be on stage with the teams because like, there was so many issues where coaches were just screaming across the stage at the other team and trash talking and not coaching. Right, right. And, and up until like, even up till this day, like coaches aren't on stage with pod teams in the comms, they can visit between maps.

Kyle Warren:

That's interesting.

Ashes:

And then for Halo, you know, coaches were on stage, but like we said, it was, you know, you over shields up and 30 you know, that kind of thing. So, like, it wasn't, it was valuable, but it's like, it's, it's like another it's another person who can call out and focus purely on comms, but at the same time, it's, it's not. It's not what coaching is when you think of the definition of coaching. And then, you know, in gear, same thing, it was, you know, a buddy of the team who wanted to go to the event would help chip in for the hotel room, or it was somebody who could hold a stopwatch. And I think, especially for gears, like when I came along and was like No, like, this is how a coach should be and like set the team on you know, like that there was a lot of things that were really like basic and rudimentary about gears. Like when you got on for scrims. It was like, Alright, what time Can everybody be on? Oh, 930 tonight, okay, cool. walgett on 930. And I'll tweet out that we need to scram when everyone gets on. It's like, I was like, why are we doing this? When in league I would know who were screaming for the next two weeks, like in advance and this is amateur level players. Um, so things like that, like I still help start like the first like scrim chats and started scheduling scrims like days in advance, which, like, that was like pulling teeth because I yeah, getting people organized to that level for gaming and gears and before like, the esports started to like, take off again. You know, giving feedback, taking notes recording VODs like all of those things were things that weren't being done. And and kind of got legitimize and then when other like, we started, like our run of like, Hey, we're winning everything. And going to events. Like That was when people go like, okay, shit, they're doing something different, and we need to start, like figuring it out. And I saw a lot of other coaches kind of like start actually coaching. So that was good to see. And I think the same thing, I don't know if there was a ripple effect into like other games. I know like when we were with optic, you know, optic Halo team with like lethal and snakebite in them. Like their coach royal was really like he was good. Like, I had a lot of conversations. Oh, I don't know how much he was doing. Like, I imagine he was doing it. Like, I don't think I had an influence on what he did. So I think there were coaches in Halo who were already doing those kind of things, too. But it was around that same era. And I think a lot of it comes from seeing um you know, what other games are doing like what Liga legends coaches, what Counter Strike coaches, Dota coaches, you know, all these other support staff are doing, why aren't we doing it in our games? And then it just kind of like, all started at the same time. So that's wild, man.

Unknown:

I mean, and I think you kind of just, you know, one question I have for you is like, if so, like, you know, you mentioned like, this is not what coaching is, this is not like, this is not what you're supposed to be doing. Like if you could kind of define like, in your like, in your own words, like what is coaching to you like, what is the right way to coach from, from your own experience?

Ashes:

To me, a coach is somebody who's there to make you be better at whatever it is you do. So what I bring to my team is a little bit of I mean, like, we're kind of we treat our team like a family atmosphere more than like a business, which I think gives us an edge trusting each other in game. Recent results, you know, aside. But I think like in our history, that's always kind of what's given us an advantage. On top of that, you know, like, you know, I'm there to be a help provide structure, I'm there to help provide feedback, both in real time during our practices, and like post through notes or when we watch VODs together things like that and give a different perspective. Give a perspective that's not emotionally attached to a specific player thing that happened in the game because i'm not i'm just seeing it from the perspective of I see everybody on the map and I see what you did. And you fucked up. You know what I mean? So let's revisit this and you know, you could have like, an emotional attachment to like, Oh, this was the only thing I could have done. I was so hurt. I had to do this. I had to, like, well, it let's take a step backwards. Why are you so hurt? Let's take a step backwards? Why did you put yourself in this position to begin with, like, I can help provide that perspective and not feel like I need to defend an answer. And I think coaches need to understand that they're just as we're always teaching, we're always learning right? Like, I don't ever pretend to know every single aspect of the game or how it should be played perfectly every single time. I think that's a collaborative effort. I think the players have a understanding of the game that I'll never truly be able to get because I'm not in there playing it every single day for hours. But at the same time, I have a perspective like we talked about that they don't get so i i think that balance of like I can learn from them and learn you know, maybe they notice something playing the game at some point and they want to teach it to the team like good that's information that I can take in and the next time we have a situation or maybe I can look how to apply that to a different map or whatever the case may be so I think like it's a lot of give and take is a lot of both sides both parties teaching and developing each other and that's why you continue to grow as a coach and as a team

Unknown:

fantastic man No, I like that because it's to me a lot of it a lot of it seems to be more off stream you know, like off like outside of gameplay and I think that's a that's a huge component man and I think regardless of what you know what what Coach like what whatever you are coaching like that availability needs to always be there. So I mean, that's fantastic, man. Got to ask like how did what was the journey like how did you guys get picked up by optic like, what was that like? That's it seems like a magical door that someone just doesn't walk you know, like they don't just find that randomly.

Ashes:

Yeah. Funny thing about optic is I was a massive optic fanboy like I watched it, I've been supporting optics and God knows when and was a big fan. You know, watch like, I didn't watch caught a ton, but I watched when optic was playing every single time. Yeah, I watched you know, their YouTube content. I watched hexes vlogs daily, like, you know, it was part of my routine, like, you know, sit down for lunch, pull up hexes log for the day, watch it while I'm eating that lap. You know, I feel like I'm part of the family or whatever, even if I'm just some weird fan. And yeah, I mean, I used to tell Liga legends teams, like even like 2013 2014 like, like, how cool it'd be if we could get optic in Liga legends. Like, I think this is the team like his roster like us, like the six of us, like we should go under optic. Like, I can't figure out a way to contact optic like, at that time. Like I knew a surprising amount of teams and orgs and players and stuff and I could never figure out how to get in touch with optic and, and it was so I think like that exclusivity in the lucidity of like, like it's just this small group. And I don't know how to get in. I can't even say like, hey, love your stuff other than like a YouTube comment, right? I can't shoot them a you know, a cold call and email and be like, Hey, I have a cool League of Legends team, which you know, hardly ever works. But now. Yeah, I it was just like a long time dream. And then we were playing. We had been part of denial for a while. And our contracts were coming to an end. And we had heard rumors of optic being interested in gears. And we were like, Okay, well, we win everything. So in theory, we should be the favorites. Like if anyone was going to get picked up, it should be us. And we had heard like other teams signing for salaries and stuff like that. So we told denial that we didn't want to resign, even though they were offering us a salary, which like at the time was kind of mind blowing. Yeah, oh, yeah. Denial had all of its issues anyways. Oh, yeah. So we we gave that kind of like notice that we didn't want to sign and then I don't remember I don't remember if it was I got an email or like a Skype message. I think it was a Skype message. I think I got added on Skype i j. And he liked introduced himself and I was like, fucking course I know who you are. Like, I want to have a call with you and talk about the Gears of War team. And I was like, Okay, yeah. And and I don't think hex was on the first calls but we we had a call and he just basically said, Yeah, like, We're interested. We want to sign you guys like here's what we would offer here's what you know you would do. And on actually the best and worst part, like cuz I remember, I remember that first call happened, like they were interested and they asked what we were looking for and what they told us like what they were like willing to offer. And, you know, like for obviously from business thing I'm like, yeah, we're super interested, like, let us talk about it and like, I'll get back to you tomorrow. And I like I remember going to my parents and like, just like crying as like, you know, a young adult and just be like, I were in like, we should be good to go with optic like, that's in like, well get paid a salary and everything. And obviously the team was on board. And then I had the follow up call. And he said, Okay, so like, this is all great. And just like, like, so there's no like, you know, miscommunication or anything. We're only interested in signing the four players, we don't really need any managers. And I was like, I was like, Okay, um, well, like, my heart sank, right? And oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. So you know, I'm not just a manager, I'm their coach. And he was like, okay, that's different. Can you send me some like examples of like, the stuff that you do for them? And so I did, I sent him like, you know, our practice schedules, and I sent them like, notes and stuff that I've done. And like, I don't know, if he like, talk to the players too. But I remember like, maybe like, a couple days later, he was like, Alright, well, it seems like you're a valuable asset to the team. So we'll be signing you as well. And, you know, you'll be under the same contract as them and salary and everything. And I was like, holy, like that was when it was like real, right? Yeah. And then we had our call, we got our contracts and had them like, read over and everything and sign and then we had our call with hex. And I'll never forget, like, during that call one, I was like, shaking with excitement. Because, again, like hex of watching Texas, vlogs was like, part of my daily routine, right. And so we were going over, like the announcement, and he was talking to us, like, the stuff that they wanted to do, and like, timing wise, and there was gonna be envision, and what experience? Yeah, and, and I was, like, just like, in disbelief, and like, trying to, like, my team was very quiet. I mean, they're young kids. So I'm trying to, like, be like, a calm voice of like, like, I'm the leader of the team. And you're just much of a fanboy. But I'm like, yeah, I'm just trying not to freak out. And and there was a point he was like, and I want you guys to understand that just because you joined optic, don't make don't mistake that as you've made it, like, this is the start of when I want to see you bust your ass to prove it. And and like, this is where the real work starts. And I remember that resonating with me, because I had already like, started a content creation, like daily uploads and streaming and all of that grind in hopes of joining optic and I'm like, Yeah, no, I've made it like, and I remember like, starting to kind of have those thoughts. And then hearing him say that, and I was like, Yeah, I like I got to prove that I belong here. Like I already kind of had to prove like, because it wasn't in their plan this I mean, I got to prove that like they didn't make a mistake and that I belong here. And yeah, I mean, it was just it was kind of history from there. We got our vision announcement and that was a great amount and yeah.

Unknown:

Well, I mean, he even like one thing that stuck out to me from hexes from from vision itself was like when even with with hitch like you know, it was brought on but he just like Make no mistake like you're just the fucking camera dude. You know, I mean, like, you're you're like, just because you're here like, it doesn't mean you are a part of the family like you earned your keep. Yeah, like once you give it like it sounds like he gives you the shot and if you don't make it on the shot, like then it's like okay, later you know,

Ashes:

yeah, optic optic was a you know, the the elusiveness of getting in touch with them to begin with? Sure. You know, you're part of the family when at those during those times, right like the real optic times. You were part of the family when you got brought in but you I'm trying to think of a way to describe it. That's not ever going to be taken as insulting. It was almost like like picture joining a frat like just because you join doesn't mean you're in that like circle right? Like you still got to prove that you belong and that you're all about it. Um, and like you can earn your your keep right which I'm not saying like optic was a frat, but I get it, dude. Yeah, you know what I mean? So it's like, just because we were there and we're wearing the same branding wasn't, it didn't mean that we're initially part of that inner inner circle, we had to like, prove that we were going to do a good job because because optic was so close knit and so tight. It was a I think a larger risk than we see now in eSports when another team was brought under that banner to wear that brand and represent optic You had to understand optics values and you had to understand optics culture and its roots and prove that those were the same kind of values that you had. So I think that was like you know getting job signing us as a team like as a business move made sense. It made optic oh yeah it optic is like a brand that dominated called like console because you have burgundy and cod team and you have the winning Halo to like, there was a month where we won back to back to back weekends. I remember that. Yeah. gears or Halo gears Cod. Yeah. And like, that's like, that's never going to be done again. Right? Like that's, that's, that's just done with, it's never going to be that kind of accomplishment is never going to be achieved again. It at least anytime in the near future. So we had to like make sure that like when we when we showed up, we represented what optic was about and that we understood and that that other part of it was like not letting it get to our heads, right? Like Yeah, I can only imagine a mistake that people make is like they join a brand like their dream org. And then that kind of like I've made it mentality and then they don't work is hard. And we were like, no, like we're gonna win everything. Like that's that we're not here to win one trophy and make hex proud. Like, we're here to like, have him like getting a box every day of like, oh, here's another gear trophy. Here's another gears trophy. Like Yeah, that was our goal. And I think we did a pretty good job of it.

Unknown:

Yeah, man, y'all, bro. Y'all are like any any. Like, during a vision series. It was just www I mean, there was hardly there's hardly any losses, man that and I think they did such a that's what's cool about optics. Like they they literally made sure that that was made very clear up front. Like, it's like, bro, like, cool. You joined you made it you hustle your ass off to get here, but it's like, you know, I think it's Same thing with the company. Like you don't just like when you're out when you get your offer letter. It's like, cool. Now prove it. You know what I mean? Like, you don't really get accepted by the team until you do something good for the team. Like it just just kind of how how it is, man? Yeah. That's awesome, dude. You know, so kind of walk me through like, you know, you you had the object as I imagine those are probably like, like, just glory days, you know what I mean? Like, that just seems like the the absolute dream The like the the dream job man. Like, what was kind of like the transition when when you went from like, get like from did you go straight from optic to UI you are like, kinda like, what did that look like? Kind of post optic? Like when it when you kind of sunsetted that?

Ashes:

No. Um, so obviously, like, we had the taste of the glory days. And then we moved out here detects is with optic and got to watch that whole catastrophe. Yeah, dude, that was wild. Yeah, it was a weird time to because I was like moving up in the company, which was my dream. Like, I got, like, hired to do more than just coach the gear team, I was coaching the gears team and working as a player manager, basically, like, like helping all the different teams. And then that got me moved up to being an assistant GM with a you know, basically because, like, I had a, an understanding of how optic like was, and I'm trying to re instill that in a more corporate atmosphere, which was, you know, a failing effort, because there was way too many cooks in the kitchen. Yeah. But, you know, we got to watch that. And then when we saw like, there was all the rumors of it selling. And we were already kind of getting, like, there, there was just a lot of like, bad things happening to us as a team. From like, an internal, like, you know, behind the closed doors aspect that we weren't happy about. So we wanted to leave, and which like, it was crazy to like process like route. Wow, like we really want to leave optic. That's why it was in such a you know, it was in such a position where it was like, it made sense, right? Like nobody really wanted to be there anymore. As it wasn't optic anymore. Like it was just like a, it was an optic. And so we we let them know. And they told us No. Because there was like the sale going on. And they couldn't like make any changes during that because there's all like the paperwork and everything. Which made sense. So once it was finalized, we actually like I had a call with Ari, who owns immortals, or is the CEO of Immortals. And I was like, he was like, Yeah, I hear like, you guys want to leave. And I was like, Yeah, like optics, not optic. And we don't like this isn't what we signed up for. Sure. And like no offense to you, but it's just, you know, and he was like, No, I get it. Like, yeah, we'll sign your releases and let you guys go and explore options. So that put his like out on the market and we were the most dominant team in gears history. So I felt like we were in a good position to find ourselves a new home. We had a lead coming up. For like the launch of Gears of War five, or gears five, but we didn't have like, a set, like, idea of what the esport was gonna look like, we just knew was supposed to be bigger and better. So we went to a league as because we were feeling I mean, like, I remember we were in Atlanta, like at a restaurant and I'm texting, like, you know, luminosity and like all these different orgs like fielding different offers, and you know, negotiating and, um, we we went to Vegas talks, you know, to like, yeah, to tie in with the the halo guys who have gotten dropped. So that was like a super cool experience. Like, that was a lot of a lot of fun. I remember I texted sneak by and I was like, Yo, I got this really cool idea. I don't know if you're down for it. But like, we don't we don't have an org, would you mind if we went as tox I was like, I don't need anything. We don't need anything. We can just like rock the name and the logo. And go and you don't have to pay us anything? or do whatever, just we'll go do our thing. And he's like, no, like, let's do this, like, let's send you guys jerseys and shirts and stuff to wear. And so that was really cool to like, tie back to like, what was real optic, you know, our team and and be with them again. And that was just for one event, it was just to have a team name for that event. And then we won that. And then we were kind of back on the market again, officially. And NRG ended up making us I mean, we talked to everybody, like I'm pretty sure like I either had a call or an email thread with like, if you could think of an org name. They're probably on that list. Yeah, and yeah, we had a lot of people who said they're interested we had a lot of people make offers and then it came down to energy made like the most compelling offer for us. And at the time, we had no idea that hex was joining or anything about Todd which ended up making a really cool because it felt like you know optic was reuniting just under a different brand. So we were super excited about that. And unfortunately we had like a rocky start to gears five and didn't meet their expectations and we were released. But yeah, that that helped us find a new home a new Oh, that's man.

Unknown:

Yeah, I mean, they they did pretty good about keeping that, uh, keeping that whole thing under wraps until it until it's official and I mean, you're kind of looking at the same thing with all the drama that's going on with like hex buying the optic brand and like, you know, like it that's a whole that's a whole nother storyline. You know, the cod seam never ceases to amaze me with the storylines that they produce. Like to me that's like why even in the roughest times of God like that that game has survived and has done not only survived but done well even in some of the roughest like, like games that would they've even had.

Ashes:

Yeah, I caught I mean, like, that's, it's kind of weird because I feel like a lot of other eSports have tried to copy with like, Todd and then brands like optic and phase and NBA have done or, you know, you look at Overwatch or League of Legends when they franchise like they require the teams to have those mini docu series around their teams. But like, you know, that I'm pretty sure that kind of comes from the roots of you know, it was it Todd was doing it first, like vision was there first, you know what I mean? Yep. So I think I think there's like a lot of things that caught are kind of trendsetters on trendsetters on, and you know, being able to tell stories, because of the people who have been involved like hex it's, it's pretty cool to see.

Unknown:

Yeah, yeah. I mean, they were pioneers in the space that was, you know, they were doing it before is cool, because that's, that was their vision, I mean, that that was their, that was their idea. And like, it kind of just goes to show like, there is a time and a place to have that bullish mentality, you know, where, where it's just like, this is how this is how it's gonna be. And this is what we're gonna get. We're gonna literally sacrifice everything to make it you know, yeah. That's, that's awesome. And, you know, like, I gotta ask, like, as a coach, like, probably what was one of the was one of the toughest times like in your coaching career, like, you know, like, what was probably, I guess, like one of the lowest spots like something that like was one of your major challenges? Um,

Ashes:

I think, I think there there's been kind of two I mean, since I've come into gears with this team, we've made only a handful of roster changes. Our original roster, we made a change because one of the players quit like just no showed an event. And that was when I had to like sub in and we still got second somehow.

Kyle Warren:

I remember hearing that on the cast. Yeah,

Ashes:

yeah. Um, and then after that roster, we added a player actually, well, that was like the end of gears of where you started Gears of War four, so it became 585. But like, that was our first roster change. And then, I think two events later, we had to make another one, which was kind of tough. Like I remember that one was like, I was like landing. I'd like to transfer flights on my way home. From an event that we lost, and I opened up my phone, like as I'm walking through the airport, and I see the text chat of like one of the players giving one of the multiplayer other players and ultimatum, like got to do this, or you're out of the team. I'm like, Ah, shit, I just turn my phone back off and get on my next flight, like, right now in the middle of North Carolina, like Charlotte airport. Yeah. So like, That was tough, but like, it was kind of expected. And after that roster change, like, we had to make another change, like, and we moved to Texas, and we're all here and we had to make a roster change. That one was really tough, because, you know, everyone at that point, like, we're all living in this same apartment complex. So it felt, you know, these guys were family before, but now it's like, they're like, actually, like, I'm seeing it seeing them every day. Um, that one was really tough. And it was for such a dumb reason. I've talked about dozens of times, so I'm not going to get into it again. But it was so dumb. No one was really tough. And it ended up working out because we ended up building a really strong roster after that. But I and we went on another terror winning like seven or eight events in a row. But I think the hardest point has been this last year. I mean, COVID, and everything obviously makes everything like a lot worse. The last live event, so we were first event of gears five, that wasn't a league because they're not counting that one for some reason. The first like big open event of years five was San Diego, and we got the worst placement of our careers, we got top eight. And it sucked. And it was a single elimination bracket, which like is part of it. And it was partly our egos because like we were destroying everyone online. So we went in there kind of like lazy, and just everyone sucked. And there was like changes to the game the Friday that of the event. So like, that caught us off, which was dumb, but we should have been able to adapt. So I was I was super upset about that. Right? But we didn't make a change because we believe that we could still like we looked at it like okay, this was a fluke like let's let's just come back we went undefeated in the Pro League and then losses event that doesn't make sense. Let's come back and stop or shut up. And then we went to Mexico, it was like right around when COVID was starting to hit. So it was already paranoid about that. And I'm already paranoid about Mexico cuz I get sick very easily. With stomach bugs. Oh, wow. Oh, I every time I go to Mexico, like I'm one of those ones who's like brushing his teeth with like bottled water,

Unknown:

or you got drunk, you got

Ashes:

a, we got eighth place again, right? We got top eight again. And it was so weird, because we were like, We were destroying the team that we lost to like it. We were beating them so bad that like in the middle of rounds, like we're looking up at the mainstage to see how that matches going. Because like they're just not even fighting back. Yeah. And we ended up losing that event. And it was that was like after that event, it you could tell like that team was done, that roster is done. So it was like a period of like confusion of like, what's going to be the change that we have to make? Do we have to drop one player? Do we have to drop two players? Do we who would we even get, because like, are still really good. But it's not working in this game. And I think that was kind of one of my lowest points. Because it's just a lot at once it's, you know, we got dropped by energy. We signed to iu IU and then immediately lose the next event. And so it's like, now I'm worried if we're gonna get dropped again. I have to figure out who we're going to replace. I mean, we're talking about it like, this is like, first time ever that we're like literally in the hotel room talking about like, what are we going to do? Like, no, this player played really bad, this player played really bad. And then who could be our potential options, like does, you know somebody need to go out and start like chatting with some of the other teams that have been eliminated already and start flirting a little bit? You know, it just like that it was so like the plane ride home. Like, you know, a loss like that, when you're expected to win is crushing a loss like that when people are hoping that you lose a which is kind of the case for us always because we win so much. Oh, yeah, that that's always tough. And then, you know, being paranoid about COVID and just not knowing what the future is gonna hold and worried that your organs gonna drop you because you lost just like the last one that seemed to have done and it just like was a it was just like a really difficult spot to be in. And I think that was like one of the toughest points. And honestly, because of that, you know, we did make tough decisions. We got two of the best players in the game from the team that had just won the event that we lost and the one before it. So I think that like getting them to buy into what we were about and what we want To do even though they were already on the back to back championship roster, like that kind of helped snap us out of it. And I was excited to have them on board and the new puzzle and just get back to it. So, but as a coach, that was that was really tough. I mean,

Unknown:

yeah, I mean, you hit on a lot of crazy points, and I think a lot of people don't understand is like, you know, who may be not, who are maybe not involved in eSports, or gaming or anything like that, like, that's a lot of emotions, a lot of pressure happening all at once. Because this scene is so like, it's you got to perform, like this is all a performance space, like you can't just kind of like kick it, you know, and expect to like, you know, there's days like my job where, like, I can take it a little easier than some days and not have to worry about that. Like, that's completely not the case in eSports you can't like when you have a shit day. Like that's, I mean, there's a lot of pressure from that, you know, like who gets dropped is anyone gets dropped? How much do we trust each other? Is the are the people upstairs thinking like, welcome like, you know, like that's that's a that's a that's a you know, an experience I think most people don't have to understand or don't really understand when it comes to this like it's always like, Oh, yeah, they're playing a video game they get to do what they want. It's like but if that's your career, like you're all in you know, like, if you could drop there's no more paycheck coming

Ashes:

totally not only that, but you know, gears is one of the smaller eSports so like if you don't it's not like something like you know, call our sorry like football or something like that where you're signing like a multi year multi million dollar deal and yes, you know, it drops you still got enough money to live you know what I mean? Like we I don't want to say we live paycheck to paycheck but like we pretty much especially now with the scene kind of dying down some we live paycheck to paycheck. So it's like if you get dropped, you know, that's there's not a whole lot of like savings even with winning a bunch like there's not a whole lot of savings that you can fall back on so it's it's a tough you know, that's like kind of lingering on your mind and we hadn't experienced that at all before you know like optic fiber optic until the day we decided not to be optic. Yeah, the energy thing like shook us I think because everything was going great and and then we lost and things weren't going great. And I think there was other reasons involved in that decision. But you know, like from a business standpoint, but like you know, I mean like it just kind of like the timing like it affects you so now like every time you get a loss, it's like oh shit, like, does this mean my jobs on the line and not only that, but in eSports you've got hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of young hungry players gunning for your spot so if you're a player you know there's always that next one up who's a once what you have and will work twice as hard of you as you if you slip up to take that so it's a it's definitely a lot of pressure and then being the team that wins you know and that's that added layer of you know, people hate walking away yeah man

Unknown:

cuz I'll even admit like it's everyone likes the underdog story too. You know, like it's cool to see the winning team but it's also cool to see like dynasties kind of like someone overtake them every once in a while like you look at even the halo like what have with Halo like you had you had the time what the former tox roster it was I was getting so like, I respect the players man like they're they're like you couldn't have a better squad than that but it was just like, Who's gonna come along and beat him? Like who's gonna finally give them you know, who's gonna finally give him some competition and I just think that that you know

Ashes:

yeah that's a that's a pressure thing that's place Rosser show up and start like taking wins Yeah, no like I get it like as a fan I completely get it Yeah, um, you know I I hated watching the Patriots when or hearing about how great Tom Brady I don't even care about football but I still hated seeing that on my timeline. So like I I completely get it the the part I guess being on this side of it. It's funny because it's like, we're painted as the villains. Like if you looked at it, like you know gears eSports is like the WWE or something like that. Like we're the heels like we're the villains. But we're the nicest quiet as villains that like we're not going crazy on Twitter and saying like we lost this team sucks as and we shouldn't have lost or like alright, ggs you all played well. Like you know, we're not disrespectful. But like we're still painted as the villains by the casters and you know, the people in charge. So it's like, because all the stories is like it's against the underdog. Like, at this point, maybe I should just start talking crazy on Twitter and being the villain like bucket.

Unknown:

Be careful, man. I know. I know that I know. Seth and crimsix got fined quite a b t but that's I mean, it's CDL b t like they get they get fined f r things like that. Now it's c azy dude.

Ashes:

Yes at different times.

Unknown:

Yeah, a lot different times man. So you know kind of like Wrapping things up here man. You kind of like mentioned like, it's something that I've been in question myself like gears, gears five had a very rough start. Like it was just like a I remember as a fan. I'm like, okay, I enjoy the game. I have a passion for the game. But for someone who is kind of just if we're trying to expand To the casual audience, they're trying to expand. It's like, gear gears is like, you know, like Overwatch like, I watch that and I'm just like, What the fuck is going on? Like I get it, it's so hard to like, break that down and like understand that and then then making like, all these last minute like mechanic changes, and you know, all the people going off on the devs on the on the twitch stream like that was a that was just a wild time and like, where do you see gears? eSports going like do you kind of see it? Kind of like just something? Do you see it kind of like coming back into the forefront? Like what's your kind of take on that?

Ashes:

I think I think gears five

Unknown:

had an has all the tools that it needs to be a really strong game in esport. I think that the decisions made around the esport I think that the decisions made balancing and around the game were very, very poor. I think things were rushed. And I think that's put us in a very difficult spot, as like the competitors of the game. And I think it's on multiple fronts, right like IV five, like we've seen call you back before before I betting care should go back to four before, because that's going to lower the barrier of entry for orgs. Who want to compete, that's going to increase the number of teams is going to increase the amount of teams that are actually good at the game. Because, you know, you're gonna get one player from every one of the top four teams at the top roster right now, you know, in theory, right. So I think all of those things, I think the game mode that we play, escalation is convoluted and and way too complicated for anyone to understand while also being as a competitor, and as a coach, so shallow, strategically that it's boring. So like you've got the players getting bored, because it's so basic. And like one meta is the same meta for the entire year, because there's no changes. And meanwhile, as a spectator, it's difficult to watch like you said, Yeah, um, so you know, and then we asked for things that like, rather than getting what we asked for, they're like, Alright, we hear you. So here's our idea. Like, we wanted old school single life execution as a game mode. But with a change that prevents stalemates, because that was the issue with gears like years ago, well, yeah, it was a long drawn out, you know, two teams would fight run away, and then never see each other again, and repeat it, right. Nobody liked watching that we didn't like playing it because it was boring. So our solution was like, add some sort of mechanic that forces us back and add a ring that closes in, there's 400 VR games, I can do it, like added to execution, right. And instead, we got gridiron, which like, is not on, like, none of the pros like gridiron, right? So it's like, there's just so many things like that happening that are so unfortunate, right, and a lot of developmental decisions that now are getting better. It's just but like, you know, they've already done a lot of damage up until this point, like the game I've been on over a year. And it took a year for the games to start making changes in a positive direction. Right, right. From my understanding, mostly due to one person. So it's like, it's a really weird situation, because right now we're seeing the esport its prize money got cut by 75%. You know, last year, we competed for a total prize pool across all the events and gate and you know, things of $2 million this year, it's 500,000. So that's tough. Um, we've got COVID, which means there's no live events and because people are idiots, there's not going to be any for a while. Right. Right. Right. Um, so I think that in terms of like, everything, like those signs, it's like rough, it's like, you know, this is this feels like the downfall, right, but in terms of the development of the game, they're making positive changes. So they're making the game fun to play, you know, they're making their testing like playlists that have four before they're, you know, doing a developer playlist that like is our feedback as pro players. They're listening to our feedback now instead of going Yep, I hear you. Fuck you. And so like, you know, we feel like we're actually giving constructive criticism again, that's actually being implemented into the game and then getting positive feedback. So I think things on that end are looking good it's just so hard to tell when you have a prizepool being cut and the like covid hitting was so no live event which is where a lot of like gears is. Energy is you know, the live experience and the hype and the trash talk and stuff like that. Dude, I'll never forget my fir t gears event that I got to g to it was the the New Orlean 2017 Halo and gears like the ML Kumbaya. I was so I went pur ly for Halo is because like, hat's more the storyline I'm a tached to but uh, I couldn't h lp but notice even just on the s de stations hearing IC just com letely mouth off on one of the s de stations all the way across he building. I could hear the over the halo caster

Ashes:

That was a fun event. That was our that was our first event with the roster that we have right now, actually. So that or not right now. But we had at the time, it was like, right after a roster change. Yeah, that was that was a fun event. But, um, you know, there's been so many positive strides. And then so many taken back between Gary's four and gears five. So I'm just hoping things keep moving in a positive direction. I hope that the prize pool cut is temporary. And I hope that they start doing things that help the esport like, it feels like there's just been this like, artificial help. Like, I don't know, like content series, they tried that were just like, odd decisions and not done well. Right. But God knows how much money was put into those and time and resources. So it's like, I don't know, I have a lot of like, healthy criticism for for the esport. And, you know, I completely my stance on it is, given everything that's happened recently, I fully support and understand why mental left. Oh, yeah. So you know, that's, he made the right decision. And I hope that for because of my love for gears, I hope that things turn around. But, you know, it's kind of one of those things where not at this point, I have trust issues. So we'll wait and see what happens.

Unknown:

But I think it's a common thing, though, you're starting to see companies change. And I think in my opinion, triarch was it Mike is one of the first companies or first game developers that I've seen actually listen to their players and make real time changes even before the game has even come out. Like I mean, I think I think it's Tony flame. I came here what his name is on Twitter, but he's a he's a developer. And like, you know, the moment that PlayStation wanted FLV sliders, you know, for the game in the beta. He sent that he tweeted out the next day, like, fuck it, man, here you go, like, you know, it's like, it just they just seem like they under their feedback loop is bar none. I think that's one of the main problems have like, the the new way of doing things where it's like, the people who blame play the game need to have need to have a say, obviously, it's the developers game. It's like, it's their passion. There's people working behind the scenes, like this is their baby. And so it's like that, what's, what's that healthy mix of like, man, hey, we hear you, we can't compromise certain things. You know, I mean,

Ashes:

I definitely get that aspect of it. I think the problem was gears five tried their idea of growing the games player base was to make it more readily available and easy to play. To copy what cod does is Cod, like anybody can pick up the game with the first time and get a kill in their very first multiplayer match. And it was good because it's like, I killed that guy. I feel rewarded. I want to keep killing other people in the game. So I'm going to keep playing. And in gears, you could play 40 games, and never kill somebody and get annoyed and pissed off. And like, God, this game is so hard. I never want to play it again. And it's those who like push past that they're really starting to get the enjoyment of you know, that first kill and that first head pop, and you know, all that stuff. So yeah, they wanted to make it easier. They wanted to make it more readily available. So it was on Xbox game pass. And I think the problem with that was it became too easy. The game skill level got brought down. So at a pro level, it was a lot of decisions that sound great on paper to grow the player base, but you're also not growing a player base that's going to be retained. Yep, it's like a shotgun approach. Like they're throwing a bunch of darts and hoping that a lot of them hit on the board and stick and you're also hurting the esport and that core player base that's been here been supporting the game and are your billboards and out there playing it every single day or in are the ones that you're telling and asking to stream it. But you know, why would we when we get named past Timothy on our on our team and ranked matches, you know what I mean? So it's like yeah, it's it's like a weird double edged sword and I think they took one path and it didn't work and now they're learning the lesson the hard way from that and they're trying the other path. It's just hoping it's not too late.

Unknown:

Yeah, I mean, it's and you even even from even from what Halo is doing, like you know, like like I'm just starving for just every piece of content that comes out from that from that channel but it's just like they you know, they heard the feedback and and same thing with 34343 has been in a very tough position like I don't envy those guys one bit like cuz it's just like bungee exit on a masterpiece you know, I mean, like they Halo three that that was just a absolute masterpiece I think Halo Reach you know, but um, you know, they have literally the release for Master Chief Collection was bought from the beginning, then you introduce the game that has is completely different, not only mechanically but art style as well. You know, you create this divide in the community. All of a sudden, you take six years, almost six years of developing game it's like, bro, you know, like, I think they're finally getting Getting it though, you know, the recent like, okay, we're having eSports engine run our competitive tournaments. That was a huge W, you know, like Adam, massive because you've got the guy who literally basically invented MLG, like, logistics, you know, running that company, like,

Ashes:

someone who knows more eSports engine is tremendous. And like, that's another thing too, like, what our first partnership with Lucy was with pgl for gears, and it's like, well, I know, I know, after like, some time that there were other companies including eSports engine who put in bids. Why the hell did we end up with a company that does only Dota and, and in counter strike out of like Romania, or some shit, so they don't even like, barely speak English. And you're trying to work with like, the fears community, which is kind of ghetto on its own, like, Are you thinking that's gonna end up being successful? You know what I mean? So it's like, yeah, Halo like I? Tashi, right? That's, yeah, that guy. Yeah, he's making so many incredible moves. Both things that I've heard behind the scenes, but even like public stuff, like announcing the, like the partnership with eSports engine, like, I saw that and I was like, Yeah, I would go to Halo. Yeah, I would go coach a halo team, like easily and hands down. It's just like, it's so it's, it's such a step towards keeping the roots of what made Halo events fun, while also knowing that they're going to do a good job of pushing it into the future, because they had so much experience. They did such a phenomenal job as MLG and Activision with Cod. And you can only expect great things from them. Right?

Unknown:

Yeah. And I think they I think they, you know, nailed it when it came to like, I know there's a lot of debate on the the art style and the end, the mechanics and all this stuff of sprint and no sprint, and we won't even get into that. It's just, I'm so tired of talking about it at this point. But like, they were charged even within the game of like, how do you make the original fanbase happy but still evolve it for the new Zoomers who are going to be competing and bringing in the money ultimately to this organization? You know, and that's just a job I don't envy like I like especially Tashi, and I'm not sure if you know mankey He's the Josh manky. He's the guy who does all of the competitive stats and like the the MMR and CSR balancing. So those two like have some of the thickest skin on Twitter they've ever seen like they are they happier, bro, they just go it's just day after day of getting roasted, you know, by little by little timmies you know, like it and it's got to be the most frustrating thing. So it's just this, we're in this weird drought of like, people are just starving for a halo, but if you fuck it up, we're never gonna forget it's gonna bury the franchise, I don't I don't envy them not one bit. But I'm kind of want to kind of want to bring it back a little man, thanks for kind of indulging that with me. It's, uh, you know, it's I like I like those tangents. But you know, want to wrap it up by kind of like, having your perspective. Like, if there's if someone if there's someone who kind of has the skills or has the ability or is wanting to kind of strive to be a coach in the scene, you know, what's kind of like one piece you'd buy one piece of advice you give someone just starting out. Um, my advice to anybody who wants to be a coach in any sport, honestly, I don't think it's specific for gears. I think if you want to be a coach, you have to understand your game, you have to unlike know enough about the game, that you can build a reputation of being, you know, intelligent, when it comes to the gameplay, knowing how the game should play, knowing realistically how the game does play, because right now, gears those are two different things. You have to have an open mind. And you know, be able to take criticism, be able to take feedback, be able to work with your players, like we said or like way earlier in this, you know, different people learn differently. So be able to understand that, you know, my degree, luckily, it plays into coaching and player managing is in psychology and social science. So what I studied in college, or what I ended up eventually studying in college and getting the degree for was understanding why people think the way they do and cultural differences and things like that. So be being able to take a step back and go, okay, they're thinking or reacting this way, because of some outside factor, and here's how to better relay information to them to help them achieve their goals. I think that's super important for coaches, even if you don't have a degree in psychology or social science or anything related to that, I think, you know, just being a good human being kind of gives you that instinct of like, okay, maybe I need to approach this from a different way. I don't think I don't think having an ego or like a pride in that sense. Ever, ever will pay off in terms of coaching. And honestly, the other thing would be like, the same thing to any player, any coach content is king, you know, putting yourself out there and showing people why there's a reason that you have credibility. You know, being able to, you know, do vaad reviews and, you know, Coach anybody at any level and be able to like help develop people, I think you have to be able to want to help people. I think like that drive really is important. A lot of people coach is like, I can't play so I'll coach and it's like, well, do you want to coach you want to help people? Or is it just like, an option that you feel is is there because nothing else worked? Like, you know, I, I think I think there's eight coaches, so to speak. So I think, yeah, that would be my advice. Like, understand people, like, learn differently and behave differently for different reasons. Understand your game, be willing to grow and learn with your team, or whoever you work with and make content Fantastic man, dude, I reall appreciate it as much as this i a blast where you know, wher are you the most active wher can people find you on socia media I'm most active on Twitter. I would like to say it was a Twitch and YouTube but I've been struggling to find time to do that. But Twitter at @thyashes, Instagram at @thyashes, YouTube is @thyashes, twitch is, @t yashes, shout out to the peopl who took regular ashes on al those platforms and doesn't us it

Ashes:

Assholes But yeah, I'm active on Twitter. I'm I tried to I got to get back in the uploading grind.

Unknown:

I'll go ahead. And, you know, for those for those who like convenience, I'll go ahead and put the show, you know, put the links below that way you can go and find them there. But it has been an absolute pleasure, you know, thank you so much for coming on. I hope you have a fantastic day.

Ashes:

Thank you, man pleasures, all mine.

Unknown:

Thank you so much for tuning into this week's episode of the bona fide experience podcast. If you got value from this episode, please do me a favor and share this with any friends or family who may need to hear it. The main mission of this podcast is to help normalize the conversation of Esports and gaming content creation across the world. If you're looking to follow myself and ashes, I've listed both of our socials in the show notes below for this episode, y'all. I hope you have a fantastic day and even better week, and I hope this episode brought out a little bit of a boon in you

Nick "Ashes"

Guest

General Manager for UYU Esports / Former Gears Coach / 22x Champ / Winningest Coach in Console Esports