Imagine a tournament where you are competing against the top 120 Halo players from around the world going for a prize pool of $300,000. From August 30 to September 1, players from Europe, North America, and Asia flew down to Seattle, Washington to compete for the title of best Halo 4 player in the world. These players competed in an eight-man free-for-all (FFA), where the top four players in each round would continue on until there were only four players remaining. The final four players would then play against each other one-on-one, until there was a single player remaining to take the $200,000 prize. When the dust settled, Aaron ‘Ace’ Elam took down Justin ‘IgotUrPistola’ Deese in the finals that went into sudden-death overtime.
Not lost in the whole matter was Kyle ‘Krizen’ Smithers, who, through every single round, managed to keep up with the professional players, and make it all the way to the semi-finals. Smithers, who is a digital media arts student at Seneca College in Toronto, was not even considered to be among the elite class of players heading into the event.
“I’ve always been a very competitive person when it came to sports, video games, etc. … I started playing Halo as a hobby at first in 2004. My friends and I would all meet up after school to play Halo 2 for hours. After months of doing this, I noticed that I was getting much better than most of my friends. This is when I decided to make an Xbox Live account and play online with people all over the world,” Smithers said.
Smithers started attending tournaments, and put to rest any doubts from his local circuit when he won multiple tournaments at Toronto’s LAN Centre. Smithers continued winning local tournaments, but once he started to take his talents to the Major League Gaming (MLG) circuit, he continually fell just short of gaining a professional status.
It wasn’t easy to qualify for the invite-only event in Seattle. In his spare time, Smithers began playing in the first week on the online qualifiers where he was only able to play a couple of games due to his schoolwork. However, when week two rolled around, he had more time on his hands to compete. Smithers climbed his way up the leaderboards to find himself ranked in the top twenty.
“This gave me the motivation to keep playing. I continued to play as many games as I could, and by Saturday night I found myself ranked first place on the leaderboard,” Smithers told The Argosy.
“On Sunday, a few players began to pass me, however, by the end of the week, I still found myself in the top four and thus advancing to the finals!”
It was an exhausting process as Smithers went undefeated in online play for over eighty consecutive games in order to qualify.
When asked how this tournament compared to others, Smithers said, “Seattle was one of the best experiences of my life. I’ve been to a bunch of gaming tournaments, including a number of MLG events, and nothing compared to the Halo 4 Global Championship. 343 industries and Virgin Gaming did an amazing job with this event.”
By qualifying online, Kyle entered the top sixty-four in the tournament. However, in his first round on the Saturday, he was faced with some heavy hitters. Two of the more notable players were Deese and legendary player Tom ‘Tsquared’ Taylor.
“Going into the round I was fairly nervous, however when the game started I was ready to go … Throughout the entire game I was in the lead and eventually went on to place first. Although I knew I was in a heat with solid FFA players, I was still a bit shocked that I had just won.”
The dream wouldn’t end there for Smithers, as the final thirty-two players played in the mainstage area in front of thousands of people cheering on their favourite gamers. The first heat Smithers played had one of the most intense finishes in the entire tournament. With one minute left, Smithers was battling for the fourth and final spot to advance with European pro-player Zyrus, the score was tied between them until five seconds left when he connected with a couple headshots to take the fourth spot by one kill. Smithers eliminated one of the favourites to make it to the final sixteen. He was still determined to make it to the finals.
Unfortunately for him, he came up a couple kills short, and finished sixth in his heat, giving him a top twelve finish.
When asked how it feels to be officially regarded as one of the best Halo 4 players in the world, he said that it is “truly amazing. Ever since I began to play Halo competitively, I’ve always wanted to be recognized as a good player. After placing within the top sixteen at the Halo 4 Global Championship, I think I was able to achieve that goal.” To follow more updates on Kyle as he pursues more video gaming glory follow him on Twitter @Krizen.