"We want to prove people wrong": an interview with Tyler "Spartan" Ganza

Tyler “Spartan” Ganza, not to be mistaken for the in-game unit, is excited to play in the Halo Championship Series Season 1 finals. The talented Halo 4 player has reached the finals with his team, eLevate, and talked to us about the team’s strengths and weaknesses as well as his path to the finals.

ESL: Welcome, Tyler! Please introduce yourself for those who may not know you already.
Tyler “Spartan” Ganza: People call me Spartan the Dog. I came around in Halo 4 and the only reason I got that gamertag was that I was on a team called Adventure Time and we based our names on different characters from the show, so I chose Jake the Dog. Everybody just kept calling me that after I was done with that team - it just kinda stuck.

ESL: So you switched over to Spartan the Dog?
Spartan: [Laughs] I’m just Spartan now, but my nickname will probably always be Spartan the Dog. Everyone will call me that. That’s just how it goes.

ESL: And you started out in Halo 4?
Spartan: I have always played Halo. When Halo 3 came around I really wanted to play competitively, but I was really young and I couldn’t travel like I can now. When Halo 4 came out, I was able to just say “okay, I’m gonna go.”

ESL: So it’s probably fair to say that you are still at the beginning of your Halo career. What does it feel like to be competing head to head with names like Ogre2 and TSquared?
Spartan: It’s what I always wanted. When I was playing Halo 3 and wanted to go compete, I was watching these tournaments and I was thinking to myself “I wanna be up there. I wanna be on the stream playing against these guys.” Now that I’m actually able to do it, it feels awesome. It’s an amazing feeling and I want to keep pursuing it. It is so much fun. The competitive atmosphere is where I belong. What I want to do is compete, and competing against big names is just such a cool thing. I cannot even think of the right term.

ESL: So it’s not intimidating to you? Is it more like a boost?
Spartan: Yeah, definitely. I am not nervous - I more want to show these guys that I can compete at their level. That is my mentality going into each series.

ESL: Anybody in particular who you really want to play? Maybe someone who you haven’t gotten the chance to play in an official tournament and you really want to beat?
Spartan: I would have to say Lethul.

ESL: And why is that?
Spartan: I feel like me and Lethul have a love/hate relationship. He’s a huge troll. That’s his nature. But he is also very much a boost to my confidence. He will say stuff and I know he is trolling, so it’s just funny to me. When I see him at tournaments, it’s cool to talk to him, to watch him and his team play. In Halo 4, when I was coming up and people were starting to see who I was, he was actually a pretty big supporter of mine. And I just have to give a huge shoutout to Lethul - he’s a funny guy and he is definitely motivational.

ESL: How did you get into eLevate? How did you all come together? Did you play with any of your teammates before?
Spartan: I got picked up by eLevate after Iron Gaming back in December. I had teamed with Gabriel before for an event in Halo 4. He already knew that he wanted to pick me up. Gabriel and Munoz had already signed with eLevate and they were looking for two more teammates. After Iron Gaming Columbus, I left my team and went on to play with eLevate. First we played with Shafer as our fourth, but now we’ve picked up Shooter.

ESL: What are the roles that each of you play in the team?
Spartan: Gab is the captain. He is the shotcaller. If he wants us to do something, we go do it. The rest of us, we do it all. We don’t really have specific roles - we like to play every role. I like to slay, I like to play objective, I like to play support. Same with the other two. It depends on who is on fire. Whoever is on fire, we will tell: “You take the Sniper. You go do your thing.” We all have our moments. No one is always the star of the show.

ESL: What do you think your strongest maps and game types are?
Spartan: Our strongest map would have to be Shrine. We work together really well on that map, especially playing against top teams like Denial and EG. We have learned a lot of things from them, and we have taken those things and utilized them and we have become much better. Game type would probably be Flag on that map - we are quite consistent in that combination.

ESL: Anything you feel you your team particularly struggles with?
Spartan: We hate King of the Hill Lockout. We hate that game type. We are not a fan of that combination. We just feel like it is so sporadic and we constantly find ourselves like... ”Crap. We forgot about this spawn.” So now we are penalizing ourselves because we are spawning bottom blue and they have sniper, and then we have to figure out how to break that. We have gotten better, but we still dislike it.

ESL: How did the experience competing at UGC impact your team chemistry?
Spartan: I feel like we play much better offline than we do online because at the tournament, we are all players who like to be constantly looking at each other’s screens. Callouts won’t get misheard because Skype calls won’t drop. It is simple little things like that that you don’t have at LAN events. At St Louis, we were definitely much better than we are online.

ESL: How does your coach Elitest help? How does the interaction with him work during and outside games?
Spartan: We just recently picked him up. He’s going to be our hype man. He’s gonna be the guy who, every time we do something great, is going to be patting us on the shoulder saying “Keep it up!”  We are gonna catch fire and he is just going to heat us up even more. He also helps a lot with our timing. We are fairly good at timing on our own, but having someone reminding you who is not playing helps a lot. He’ll tell us “You can go for it because you’re the closest.” Then we don’t have miscommunication as to who is going to go for what. He really keeps us organized. So we don’t have to worry about giving up map control because two or three people are going for the same thing.

ESL: Some people would view you guys as the underdog - does this make it easier to play without pressure?
Spartan: Being the underdog is almost a good thing. We want to prove people wrong, but we also want to catch teams by surprise. We know we can compete, and we know we have the potential to do big things together, so whether we're the underdog or not, we're focused on the win. It doesn’t create any more or less pressure for us whatsoever.

ESL: What are your predictions for the season finals?
Spartan: It's hard to make predictions when you're actually in the finals. However, I will say this: EG is on fire. I personally believe EG will make it to the finals uncontested. The other team that will make it to finals? Any team. I honestly feel that any team in the top eight has the capability of making it to the finals. It's all about which teams are playing better that given day, and about how well the team works with each other. So basically, EG against any other team in the finals.

ESL: Before we sign off, is there anything you’d like to say to your fans?
Spartan: To my fans. Wow. It's crazy to think I even have fans. I never thought I would even have fans. Going from a Halo 4 kid to making the Halo Championship Series Season 1 finals is crazy. Did anyone really think Spartan "the Dog" would ever make it to finals? To all the people who have shown their support via Twitter, showing up at events to root for us or stopping by any of our streams - you guys are amazing. The support really boosts our confidence, and we're going to try and make you all proud. Much love to you guys.

The Halo Championship Series Season 1 finals will go live on March the 6th at 10:00 EST (16:00 CET) and are being broadcast live on Halo’s Twitch channel. The tournament bracket can be found right here, and for further news and stories be sure to follow @ESLHalo and @ESL!

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

Still want more? Check out our other Halo Championship Series Season 1 finals interviews below:


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