How did I end up with the Battlefield series?
Contrarily to the Xbox One period, I haven’t really been an early adopter at the 360 era, even though there were multiple contacts with people around me owning the last-gen console. Maybe this oppurtunity of playing on it without necessarily being forced to own one myself explains, why it took me until 2008 to obtain an Xbox 360, and until 2010 to purchase Xbox Live for the first time.
The main raison for getting it was – obviously – Halo, as I played it a lot of times in my social circles. Playing on custom maps offline with guys you know has been a blast und might have laid some competitive roots. I wouldn’t go as far as comparing these fun sessions with anything close to a proper skill level on Halo though.
2010 not only marked the start of online gaming on Xbox for me personally, but also the release of Halo: Reach. I’m aware of controversial opinions on this one, but as the circumstances decided, it’s still the Halo title I played most.
Halo: Reach, a product of its time
I still disapprove of casual, blatantly appealing to the CoD userbase classes and features like the Armor Lock, but at that time, having played previous Halo titles didn’t create any resistance against Reach – I simply had no clue of competition and not a single contact with typical esport structures like clans, teams, tournaments, you name it. I ultimately lacked the knowledge to classify the changes of the Halo spinoff.
Getting more into it though, I stuck with the sprint class in public lobbies and decided to resign ‘noob stuff’ like invisibility, jetpack, or the already mentionned armor lock. This feeling of game features either contributing towards a balanced, satisfying experience in multiplayer shooters or not should gain more strength over time, and eventually lead to my support for promod rules on BF3 (M16A3/AK-74 only as primary weapons).
I’ve always had and still have a weakness for ‘justice’, leading from anger about people abusing M26 in BF3 to a lack of understanding for teams trying to get away with cheap wins by losing in-game but winning afterwards by some retarded rule.
In my idealism, I concentrated on the core features of Halo: Reach or any Halo, as known as map control. This first intense period of playing against randoms catched my interest for a passion which shouldn’t leave me anymore, exploiting game mechanics: Commencing with simple things like the spawn timers of power weapons, weak and sweet spots, concluding into individual map ‘strategies’ for the perfect game. Literally perfect, as the medal for achieving 15 plus kills in a slayer mode without dying is called this way.
First steps in eSports
As time advanced, I met some German guys and joined the first ‘clan’, and played the first low-level competitive scrims. Looking back, these guys were part of a mentality problem still existing today: The creation of a generic clanpage was a must, set roles from leader to squad XYZ co-leader, in other words a pathetic hierarchy to potentially make up for some lack of order in one’s personal life had to exist as well. Another praxis I strongly disagree with is the unspeakable process of ‘trial time’. Now that’s not something I personally had to make bad experiences with, but I find it incredibly stupid and backwards oriented. The most random group of people playing together would have some artificial rules to play by, including the trial time of say 1 month of ‘testing’ before joining and becoming a ‘real’ member.
Imagine you’ve been looking for a squad addition for a long time, and after playing several intense, packed days with someone new, and rapidly noticing that everything, from chemistry to teamplay, fits perfectly – why would you create a barrier not being useful at all like the trial state? It might be a typical German flaw, but as long as we’re not talking about professionals (= players living by their esport gains) having a contract at Optic, fnatic etc., there’s absolutely no point in this ‘tradition’.
It’s fascinating how gamers, theoretically open-minded people, saluting innovation and free boundaries, in fact tend to behave extreme conservatively. No matter if its the loud anti-feminist voices in the internet, the shitstorms about every change to a beloved series or the prime example – the Mass Effect 3 ending.
The traditional image of hierarchies in amateur teams and the incapacity of accepting minor tweaks in a game do strongly connect, but I’ll hold this thought back for this article. Anyway, the first experience with ‘clan’ organization, scrims, and teamplay definetely were precious, one way or another. As described above, it also helped me a lot to figure out which kind of structural patterns I fundamentally disapprove and/or approve of. A few years later, I should finally succeed and finish my personal teaming process by installing a solid 6-man squad after the example of the most succesful French teams. The experience built up over time determined my way of leadership: I couldn’t care less about classical classification of matches as set ‘clan wars’, fixed roles within a ‘clan hierarchy’, trial times and states, therefore stuck without all these things and established a flat hierarchy within my roster – not working out too badly, given our domestic dominance over years and the long-time loyal relation to ‘my’ players. The latter consists of nearly 4 years in case of AoRta and pEpE – respectable numbers in eSport.
One word of wisdom concerning Reach: As updates continued on Bungie’s last Halo, the game improved a lot, and eventually was even accepted by parts of the extremely conservative Halo community, still holding Halo 2 multiplayer high. The no sprint and zero bloom MLG variation (sadly introduced far too late) played fairly well competitively. Until today, I’m convinced that starting off with the map control, teamshot and objective based 4v4 matches in Halo has been the best way to enter eSports. There’s no other title on console demanding this amount of skill, as being forced to continously perform accurate headshots in order to win gunfights beats spray and praying of CoD or BF by far.
As the marketing battle between Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3 heated up in 2011, I took part in the latter hype train, and pursued every trailer, amazed by the incredible graphics and the perspective of all-out battles.
At the release window, I was still in my Halo team, but began enjoying BF3. It started off with grinding the M249 – yes, at this time, I didn’t play medic exclusively – and playing Rush. My memory of the early beginnings in BF3 consists of abusing jets in order to reach mcoms/flags in a quick fashion, strange M1911 montages, and getting torn apart by USAS and M26 mass.
It was around April 2012, when I got involved with competitive BF. As often in life, this was based on chance, and could have gone any other, strange way.
Two guys in my friend list, X Major Wayne X and HACKELMaN 501, already being part of my Halo team, did some tryouts for Legion of Glory, my future BF team for the next 14 months. It occured that they had some kind of internal training session on Squad Rush at the same time I randomly played BF3 on my own, and were apparently lacking one guy in the 8 man server. I’ve never really got into the 4v4 mode before and shouldn’t become a huge fan afterwards as well, but luckily, I joined the session of Kharg Island.
I don’t remember much of it, but I do recall going 11-0 in the first round, without having played a second of competitive BF before. Surely, having experienced some 4v4 matches in Halo before did help, but still didn’t only suprise me, but the other participants too. One can’t deny the irony fateful, random events like this may possess: Eventually, I ended up playing for LoG, and my 2 Halo acquaintances should not make leaving the ‘trial’ state.