"Evil Geniuses are our kryptonite": an interview with Michael "Flamesword" Chaves

OpTic Gaming is one of the most revered names in console esports. With the launch of the Halo Championship Series, the organization decided to pick up a Halo squad. We sat down with team captain Flamesword to hear learn more about the team and his thoughts about the Halo Championship Series Season 1 finals.

ESL: Hi, Flamesword - thank you very much for sitting down with us. For everyone new to Halo, why don’t you tell us who you are?
Michael "Flamesword" Chaves: My name is Michael Chaves, also known as Flamesword. When I grow my beard out, I am also known as the OpTicBeard.

ESL: You just shaved that off for the charity Gamers Outreach.  
Flamesword: I had them come out to the Optic house. They helped me out with setting it all up and I focused on entertaining the people. We raised US$9,300 for the charity which allowed them to build two Xbox carts for children’s hospitals. One will be going out to Chicago, where I live now, and the other one to a New Jersey hospital - the hospital I was born in.

ESL: Congratulations! Will we see the beard coming back any time soon?
Flamesword: I will definitely grow it again. Right now I am working on getting dreads and then I will grow my beard again - I think I will look badass with dreads and the beard.

ESL: Can you introduce your team and the roles that everyone plays?
Flamesword: OpTic Halo consists of myself, Assault, Ace and our new player ContrA. I have been teaming with Assault and Ace since 2010 as part of a team called Status Quo. I legitimately call them my brothers as I have known them for five or six years. They know my parents and I know their parents on a good basis.

The three of us share the same playstyle - we are all that type of player who will do anything to win. Ace is definitely our best slayer. If he picks up power weapons, especially the sniper, there are moments when he just takes off. He has been considered one of the best players by many of the pros, if not the best when he is on top of his game. Assault is our support and main objective player. He will probably annoy you most in your base.

What I love about the three of us is that we don’t care if we die. We know that, if I do this play, two people are going to be weak and someone will be able to clean them up. We will keep pushing you back.

ContrA, our new player, is so good in 1v1s. When the rest of us are dead and he is by himself, he will win that 1v1, because that is his forte. If a game came down to the rest of us dead and it being 49 to 49, I’d trust him to win it. I think myself, Ace and Assault can make our fourth the best player on the team. No matter what their playstyle is, our play style will support our fourth and make them look great.

With Ace, Assault and ContrA we have the winner and two others from the the Halo 4 Global Championships top eight on our team. For me, it’s really rewarding to know that we have these great individual players with great individual shots and reactions.

ESL: Who calls the shots on the team?
Flamesword: Well, I am the captain. But I am at the point where I will tell you if I am good at this Halo or not. Because of that, I will be able to pinpoint who is the best player on our team. Right now, Ace is the best player on our team. So I will tell him: “Aaron, you need to call it. You have to step up to the plate.” He didn’t want to do it much in the beginning, because he is one of those players who zones in and does his thing, but he has been getting more into it. But at the end of the day, it is always a team effort.

ESL: You say of yourself that you are a structured person. How does that affect your approach to competitive Halo?
Flamesword: For me, structure in competitive Halo is knowing what the objective is for every game type, every map and every practice. Do we want to try out specific things in scrims or just play?

All of my teammates have girlfriends and I think they’re crazy for it [laughs]. With that, structure becomes even more important. Relationships just take time. Structure comes from communication, and I think it’s something that we have always excelled at.

ESL: Right now, you live in the OpTic house as the only Halo player. Still, do you think that living in a team house increase team chemistry?
Flamesword: I do. I have been in team houses almost my entire Halo career. Even when we would just stay over at someone’s house for the summer and play a lot from there, you could see how much better our team became. Having other teams over to play would help a lot, too, because you were able to watch these other teams and learn from them. You can see different playstyles, different approaches to the game.

ESL: Are there any plans to bring additional Halo players to the OpTic house or will you have to kick out Nadeshot in order to do that?
Flamesword: Nadeshot actually has the smallest room in the house, which is quite funny. We may have Ace move into the house. We have some things in the works to have both teams [Call of Duty and Halo] in the house.

ESL: In the last two online cups, you came in at second place after Evil Geniuses. You also lost to them at UGC St Louis. What is it about EG that makes them so difficult for you to beat?
Flamesword: EG are our kryptonite. What EG have is that they play our playstyle perfectly. Roy [from EG] has always been that person who I wanted on my team, but he has a twin brother and so you can’t break real blood. He’s always found a way to grind my gears and stop my team. Right now, there is something about their playstyle that just stops what we do.

ESL: So, hypothetically, you and EG in the grand finals...
Flamesword: I’d be scared!

ESL: What is your tactic, though? How are you going to take them down?
Flamesword: [Quiet for a couple of seconds] Oh my God... Our key to finally beating them would have to be to change up a lot of our gameplay. And I have to watch a lot more of their streams. We can take the things that other teams do that work against them and add that playstyle to our own.

We have played a lot of ladder lately, which offers you the opportunity to play teams who are not as good. This really help you to understand the spawns perfectly, where someone should be at a specific time. It’s little things like that that will help us improve.

ESL: What are your predictions for the season finals?
Flamesword: It will be tough, but if I had to take a guess... I would say that we have a good chance of winning. At the end of the day, it comes down to who is on top of their game that day. I’d say that Denial has the best team work right now. In my opinion, it comes down to who plays best on that Sunday.

ESL: Alright, give us names. Top three.
Flamesword: Us, Denial, EG.

ESL: The last words belong to you.
Flamesword: To all the OpTic fans, the Green Wall, you are legitimately the best fans out there. Not only in the console world, but you rival some of the best PC communities. So thank you for all of your support. Especially with Halo, which is something new to you - you have all come behind us as a big group. Thank you for showing us your ongoing support. Thanks to Red Bull for their support - we have energy for days. And thank you to the OpTic organization for welcoming this little Halo group.

You can see Flamesword and OpTic in action as they battle for US$100,000 at PAX East for the Halo Championships Series Season 1 finals from March the 6th to the 8th. To stay informed about all things HCS including live updates during the finals, make sure to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook!

Tune in at 10:00 EST from March 6th to 8th!

You can also check out our other Halo Championship Series Season 1 finals interviews below:


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