Q: You must have had a whirlwind couple of days?
Owen: Oh yeah man, it’s exciting. We knew that we could easily get to Worlds. To actually do it was fuckin’ sick. A lot of people didn’t expect us to get through.
Q: I don’t know if you’ve heard of a chap called Malcolm Gladwell, but he has a theory that if you put 10,000 hours into something, you will master it. How much Halo have you played?
Owen: I don’t know. Just in Halo 3 alone I had like 30,000 games played. Let’s try and calculate this. An average game would be seven minutes maybe, and that’s just Halo 3. Then you’ve got Halo Reach, Halo 4, Halo 5.
Q: That's a lot! How did this particular team come together?
Owen: My team was team sidewinder, I was with Curtis and those guys. It was a PC clan. We had Spig and Coltek – the guy that’s on my team now. Spig went and broke his hand, that was a disaster. So we ended up having to try and replace him and we couldn’t.
Q: How did he break it? Drunken shenanigans?
Owen: Nah, he was putting stuff into the boot of his car, and he had his hand up on the side and a lady came through and slammed the door on his hand ‘cos she wanted to get into her car.
Q: What? My god.
Yeah, it’s just ridiculous eh. Then she just drove off. So yeah, that screwed him. So I was with Curtis – I’d been with him for about five years – and Coltek, but Coltek left to join another team, and me and Curtis were stuck there. That’s when we decided to get jak the bun and zerkil. We were doing alright, but we thought we could do better, so we ended up deciding to drop jak the bun – or he ended up dropping out so he could be coach – and we got Coltek back. We started to do even better. Then Curtis was like “I don’t think I’m performing”. He thought he was letting down the team, and he wanted us to swap jak the bun back in for him, so he could coach. We didn’t think that was our best option. That’s when we looked to Adz, the Australian god over there [laughs]. We got him and that was that.
Q: What was the feeling of the team going into the regionals?
Owen: Our whole team was really confident. We knew we could do it. There were a lot of doubters.
Q: You all looked very relaxed [at the qualifiers]. You were all laughing away and smiling, while everyone else looked really serious.
Owen: That’s the good part of our team, we’re all really relaxed. We can be serious, it’s just a lot of teams get stressed out, freak out and choke or something. Our whole team is just relaxed, so we can do what we need to do to win.
Q: Give us a brief recap of your run through the regionals.
Owen: Pool play was Team Reign, the other New Zealand team that made it, and Immunity. We played Immunity first and lost 2-0 in the best-of-three. We definitely didn’t play our best – we could have played a lot better – but it wasn’t that bad. We knew next we were playing against Team Reign who were probably the least favoured team to win. All respect to them though, you know! [Laughs] So we played against them and 2-0-ed them fairly easily. So that put us through to the bracket stage, which was the top four. We came up against the winner of the other group, which was Prime, and that was the heart of the tournament. We had so much support and the whole crowd was behind us. We ended up winning 4-1, which was such a good feeling. I can’t even describe that feeling.
Q: The team must have been pumped after that.
Owen: Oh, hard. We couldn’t even get back to that level because when we played against Immunity in the finals, we weren’t anywhere near as pumped up and good to go, because we made it to World already, you know? If we had that drive in that game against Immunity we could have beat them, but we just didn’t have it.
Q: You started well.
Owen: Yeah, yeah it was a good start. We were just too happy we made it to Worlds. I think I was the most keen out of all of us to keep going hard to win, but the other three I think were kinda satisfied, which I think is fair enough. We could have done better, but we made the Worlds.
Q: Do you have a pre-game ritual to calm your nerves and stay relaxed? Drink beers, give each other the brofist, hug it out?
Owen: I guess our thing was the brofist, psyching each other up, you know? We don’t really do much. We’re relaxed, we just kinda chill. Maybe drink a bit of water.
Q: So, the Worlds. What do you know about Excel, Denial, and Skyfire?
Owen: That’s not my pool.
Q: Wait. Oh no! I must have read it wrong! What do you know about your, er, Wold Championship poolmates?
Owen: So we have Infused, who are the team who won the European regionals.
Q: Ah, you’re in that pool!
Owen: Yeah, it’s meant to be the hardest pool.
Q: Yeah, I was gonna say: that’s way worse!
Owen: [Laughs] Yeah. So we’ve got Infused. They’re good, but I don’t think they’re the best European team. They’re good, but I think Epsilon are better. Not trying to be a dick to Infused or anything. They’re probably second best. They’re really good, but I think we can beat them. The other teams we have EG – Evil Geniuses, one of the powerhouses of America. It’s gonna be good to play against them, I’m really psyched, but it’s gonna be hard – it’s definitely gonna be hard. But once again, I definitely think we can do it. I have no doubt in my mind our team is good enough to place really well and beat some of the top teams. Then you have Renegade, probably the best team out of the teams from [seeds] five to eight. Once again, I think we can beat them. I think they’re more inconsistent than the rest. They could be having bad games.
Q: Does our geographic isolation make it tough to find quality opponents to scrim against?
Owen: Yeah definitely. Pretty much all our scrims have been against Immunity. But it’s hard to get our schedules the same – just for eight of us to be on. There’s always something, someone has to work, or someone can’t do this night, so we end up playing just twice a week if that. Just after regionals we played quite a few series against them, but we also had a whole week of not being able to play against them.
Q: Does being known as the #GreatKiwiHope (on Twitter) add any pressure?
Owen: Nah, that just adds motivation, you know? It’s pretty funny man, but I don’t think it adds any pressure.
Q: What do you play when you’re not playing Halo? Do you have time to play anything else?
Owen: I’ve played a bit of League of Legends in my time – I got to gold. But pretty much just Halo. Recently I played some Rocket League, that was good. And I did dabble in a bit of H1Z1, that was alright. I’m waiting for that to come to Xbox actually, which should be soon. Pretty much just Halo at the moment though!
Q: This question is good enough for Ritchie and Dan, so it’s good enough for you: which flag would you prefer to wear when you represent NZ?
Owen: Honestly, I don’t even care eh [laughs]. I couldn’t give two shits about it to be honest. But if I had to pick one, I dunno, I’d just go with the original I suppose.
Q: How do you explain all this to your grandparents. Do they understand what’s going on?
Owen: I don’t know if they even know, to be honest.
Q: They’re not on Twitter? What about your folks?
Owen: They fully support me man. I’ve been playing for years and going to these tournaments in NZ. They’re awesome about it eh.
The 2016 Halo World Championships goes live tomorrow at 8:40am and runs until Monday March 21. You can watch the action on the official Halo Twitch channel.