The last time I interviewed Naded, I was in Walshy's basement for an Instinct vs. Legendz match about a year ago.
MLG PRO SITDOWNS
Each week, ESPN Video Games' MLG guru TheBuckStuff catches up with an MLG pro for an in-depth, often irreverent conversation about life in the gaming big leagues. Check back every Thursday for the latest MLG Pro Sitdown.
With the Walsh Man leading the way, the members of Instinct screamed their lungs out, pointed frantically at each others' screens and muttered curses to the damn producers at Bungie that spawned them with a grenade on their toe and a bullet in their ear.
But above the curses, gunfire, and thick basement walls, I heard a clear scream from the other room. "ROY! YOU ARE TERRIBLE! TERRIBLE!!"
"Who was that?" I asked when the game was over.
Everyone laughed. "Oh, that was Naded. You don't know Naded? You gotta go see this guy play. He's unreal."
In the other room, Legendz was set up a little bit differently than Instinct. While you couldn't fit paper between Instinct's televisions, the guys from Legendz had theirs about a foot apart. Naded was playing on a completely different table. And he had his feet up on it.
"I think I'm going to play like this," he decided.
"No you aren't," one of his teammates barked.
"Yeah. Yeah I am," Naded confirmed. Hey, no one ever accused the man of being normal. Naded does his own thing and walks in his own direction. Naded does Naded.
While other MLG Pros were racing for top teams at the beginning of last season, Naded created his own. When no one gave him a chance, he finished third in Vegas. And when everyone else played with their feet on the ground, you guessed it -- he raised his stinky dogs to the sky!
Without further ado, we bring to you ... Naded.
TheBuckStuff: How was your off-season?
Naded: Pretty relaxing actually. I slept in a lot, gamed a lot. I didn't do too much. Just relaxed. I did go to Disneyland, but that was my only real vacation.
TBS: Disneyland is supposed to be reserved for athletes that win championships! You know that right?
Naded: (Laughs) Yeah, yeah. We did pretty good though. Third place isn't bad.
TBS: Why aren't you still with Carbon?
Naded: I was kicked off. I still don't even know why. At Meadows, I was talking to Cpt Anarchy, and he said if I practiced more, they wouldn't have done it. Here's the deal. I was actually having a child with my girlfriend at the time, so how was I supposed to be getting on everyday? I think that's understandable. Anarchy told me that if I had said I was going to break up with my girlfriend, they would have kept me. It was shady. But it was a new reason every day. They'd tell people that I didn't work well with the team, or that I wasn't a team player, or that I was selfish, when the real reason was because I couldn't get on everyday and play.
TBS: If they had told you that straight up, would you have been OK with that?
Naded: That would have been the mature way to handle it. But everything on Carbon runs through Ghost, and that doesn't work for me. He was trying to control me 100 percent and I wasn't letting him. I want to do what I want to do, and I've always been like that. Still, we got third place in Vegas and could have won easily, yet I heard they wanted to kick me off the very next day. Ridiculous.
TBS: Naded, dishin' the inside scoop!
Naded: I'm actually still good friends with Ghost, Anarchy and Shockwave. I don't take "Halo" stuff personal. It's a business. After Meadowlands, they actually offered me a spot to get back on their team. They were planning on kicking off Soviet, I guess. I denied.
TBS: Did Soviet know that? Or is this how he's going to find out?
Naded: I'm not sure. Ghost runs everything on that team with Anarchy as a sidekick, so if he wants to kick off Soviet, it's going to happen. After Ghost offered me the spot, I tried to steal Soviet and Shockwave, but that didn't work out. Shockwave decided to stick it out another tournament with Carbon. He also said that even he didn't know they were trying to kick off Soviet. It was all Ghost and Anarchy.
TBS: Wow. Lots of dirty laundry! (Laughs) I think you and Soviet would play well together, for the record.
Naded: I think so too and I know Soviet would love to team. He told me that he's always looked up to me as a player and that he wants to team sometime down the road.
TBS: How'd you end up on VG The New Order, the team with the clunkiest name in MLG? The Michael Scott Paper Company would have been a much better name.
Naded: You don't like it? (Laughs) The original name was Illuminati because Karma and I have all these government conspiracy theories. Defy and Best Man didn't like it. I don't remember what happened, but Karma said, "The New Order" and I didn't think it was that bad.
Naded: (Laughs) Anyway, after I heard I got kicked off Carbon, I already knew Karma was a free agent, so I was looking at my options. Karma and I have been good friends for the last three years, so why not?
Karma and I had some deep talks about the ability to turn on a switch and completely be focused, like we used to be in 'Halo 2.' He found it pretty quickly and then he helped me find it too. When I have that switch on, I just cannot miss.
TBS: Y'all placed ninth at Meadowlands. Can't assume you were too pumped about that.
Naded: No, not at all. Before Meadows, Karma and I had some deep talks about the ability to turn on a switch and completely be focused, like we used to be in "Halo 2." He found it pretty quickly and then he helped me find it too. When I have that switch on, I just cannot miss. Before the tournament started, I turned it on, and I knew I wasn't going to miss. We played really well, I thought. Obviously, Defy and Best Man could have played better, but they did their best.
TBS: Folks were pretty pumped up about you after Meadowlands.
Naded: People keep asking me about that Pit TS game against Status Quo. They ask how I can do stuff like that. But if you could come to Karma's house and watch me play, that stuff happens all the time. I don't show off all my gameplay like other pros, so people think that I'm over-rated and it happened just that one game, but I do it all the time.
TBS: What went wrong?
Naded: It came down to who was going to win the most individual fights. SQ took control of the entire map, and we lost. I didn't think that series really showed who was the better team. Foundry gametypes are the stupidest ever made.
TBS: What could you have done different?
Naded: I really thought we should have played more as a team. We didn't really do that at all. Defy was playing "World of Warcraft" every single day and not getting on "Halo." I had stuff to deal with outside of "Halo." Best Man wasn't really getting on because no one else was getting on. It was a mess. We only practiced as a team like three times.
TBS: Three times? There are so many kids out there who look up to yall, who travel hours to watch you, ask you for your autograph at events, spend hours watching your VoD online, and who really, more or less, just want to be you. With all that, with the incredible opportunity to play a video game for a living, and with your income literally depending on the outcome, how could you only get on and play as a team just three times with so much on the line?
Naded: Exactly! It really upset me. Defy told me after the tournament that he had no drive to play. I want to hear my teammates say they want to win and want to do good. If not, why play at all? It really pissed me off. With him not having a drive to play, it's less fun for everyone.
TBS: Sorry for the soapbox! I know you're with me. These open tryouts sound awesome and should spice up pre-Columbus hype a little bit. Tell us about that.
Naded: Karma and I were talking with the Heaven & Earth guys, but they switched up on us like three times. Even before that, we were talking to Str8 Pimp. But we needed a fourth. One day, Karma said we should hold a tryout for everyone and find someone ridiculous. Coach Kill3n was down with the idea, so we decided to commit to it. I've played over 60 Gaurdian 2v2's in the last 12 hours. I'm honestly so sick of Guardian. I need a break.
TBS: Sounds like this interview was the break you needed. You are welcome, sir.
Naded: (Laughs) Yeah, thanks.
TBS: So you guys have gone all Willy Wonka on us and are handing out a Golden Ticket to join VG The New Order. Can you give us some names of guys that are still in the mix? Any other pros?
Naded: Not yet. I don't want to give anything out yet. Some older "Halo 2" pros like Mack and Mimic want to try out, but that's about it. We want to give someone a chance who hasn't had a chance already. We'll probably try to finish up in the next week or so, then we'll start practicing for Columbus.
TBS: Mackeo had some questions for you. You ready? He wants to know whether you enjoyed playing on The Agency back in 2007.
Naded: It was a lot of fun being on that team. The only problem I had was with Mackeo, actually. Everyone was talking behind each others' backs. He'd go talk to Victory and HaloGod would talk to me. It was ridiculous. It was a fun team to be on, though. I'd like to team with Mackeo again.
TBS: I love how everyone insists on still calling him HaloGod.
Naded: (Laughs) Seriously. What is SK? I don't know what SK even is.
TBS: Mackeo asked how it felt to get all those no-scopes on Pit TS.
Naded: Honestly, it was just normal for me. I've already done ridiculous stuff in this game, and it's just not that big of a deal. I've been playing for three years. I got a Killtac against Str8 Rippin. But the only time you'll ever see me show emotion is if I do something absolutely ridiculous. And I'll let people know I did it.
TBS: I'm the same way. I drop Killtacs like it's my job and I actually start yawning sometimes. So weird. Whatever.
Naded: (Laughs) If I got more than a Killtrocity, I'd probably start screaming. Killtac or less, I've already done it.
TBS: Mackeo's last question. Can the Lil' Naded game?
Naded: I've played with my son, Ethan, on my lap before, and while I was playing, he'd try to hit the controller and try to play. He's a born gamer. He'll definitely be gaming one day.
TBS: Amazing. Like every other pro, I need you to pick who we should interview next week, and then three questions I should ask him.
Naded: Karma. He's my best friend. Ask him if 1v1's came back, do you think you'd be number 1 still? Why does he suck at every single Xbox Arcade game he plays? And last, how does it feel to play a meager support roll, like he did in "Halo 2," alongside the best MLG pro in the world? (Laughs)
TBS: (Laughs) Fair enough. Shoutout time!
Naded: My son, my whole family, fans and friends back in the Bay Area, Sarah, and can you put a <3 next to her name? Also, the best coach in the word, Derrick aka Kill3n, and my two good buddies that are up and coming pro players, John and Joey, aka Mindfreak and Buckness.
Visit us every Thursday at 6 p.m. ET for a new MLG Pro Sitdown. Next week, we're going to talk with Karma, so send me the questions you want to have answered. I'll use the best one. Maybe. If you pay me $10. Hit up TheBuckStuff on Xbox Live with your feedback!