23 6 / 2012

This interview is the first in a series of interviews that will look to delve into the mindset of the most prominent characters looking to drive the UK console eSports community forward. Looking across the community and picking out a range of individuals who constantly strive to improve the scene for the better. From the hard-working founders behind the biggest communities and organisations to the shoutcasters and players who make the live games a spectacle to watch, I’ll be looking to pick their brains and find out their thoughts and feelings about the Xbox gaming community and its’ future.

The first interview features M3lm0th aka Paul Kent, the founder of the WGL. The Warped Gaming League, for those who aren’t a part of its madcap and loyal fanbase, is a community with a difference. The site supports multiple titles such as MW3, FIFA, Gears of War 3 and Battlefield 3 with different league formats and rulesets for each game, ensuring that it is always possible to find something you’ll want to participate in. The community surrounding the WGL is its’ greatest asset however, with a strong emphasis on sportsmanship and enjoyment of the game, the competitive edge behind the leagues are tempered by each team’s determination to enjoy each match they play.

The WGL announced in early 2012 that it was partnering with Multiplay, the well-respected company behind the Insomnia LAN events, to present the Xbox eSports community with an opportunity to experience the joys of competitive LAN events coupled with its’ trademark emphasis on socialising and sportsmanship. Due to the success of the events at i45, the partnership with Multiplay has continued and the second event at i46 on August Bank Holiday is likely to further cement the WGL’s place as an integral part of the UK eSports scene.

Partisan: Paul, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for me.
I’d like to start by asking, for those who are unaware of The WGL’s beginnings, how did it come into existence?

M3lm0th: No problem at all. I’d love to say the WGL came into existence due to a great longing to give something back to the community but, if I’m being honest, this wasn’t the case. Traditionally I am a PC gamer and had been playing in online leagues since the age of 15 on my 28.8k modem. However, due to one reason or another I had to quit PC gaming and went cold turkey for a few years until I realised how much I missed the competitive buzz of playing. Rather than getting back into the PC scene I thought I would try the console scene. I soon joined a team but couldn’t quite believe that there was no UK based league in existence, only the GB ladders and realised how much console gamers were missing out, so with 8 teams the WGL was born in 2009.

P: What was your vision for the WGL when you created it in 2009?

M: The thing we all dreamed about as a kid was a place to compete. Doesn’t matter what sport or activity you were into as a kid, we all day dreamed about being good at something but unfortunately not all of us are born with the physical skills to take part in mainstream sports at a high level. I wanted the WGL to offer a place where everyone could compete, regardless of ability.

P: In your own words, what does The WGL now offer compared to Gamebattles or other competitive Xbox leagues/ladders?

M: The WGL offers a more complete community which provides a platform for players and teams to get involved as much or as little as they would like. Be that with our live broadcasts of games, player and team interviews or even betting with virtual money on upcoming matches. We also hold people to account which is part of the reason our community is known for being so friendly. On sites like Gamebattles if teams lose a game they can quickly close their team and start another one with a different name so they can have a perfect record, we don’t allow such childish actions on our site. Most importantly, we do not tolerate trolls and actively stamp them out which again adds to the atmosphere we provide which others don’t.

P: Speaking of which, you are notorious for your merciless wielding of the ban hammer, is there ever a way back into your good books?

M: I think this is more than a myth than anything else! The WGL now has roughly 6 thousand active users and we have less than 10 people who have been permanently banned. I do not suffer fools gladly and people who bring nothing but negativity to our community are simply not welcome. That said, I also understand people make mistakes and do things in the heat of the moment. These are the type of people who, when they calm down, apologise and hold their hands up and are more than welcome back again. Some other people just never accept they are in the wrong and find it completely acceptable to cause trouble and hurt other people for laughs, most of the time these people come with a giant chip on their shoulder and are not wanted in our community.

P: How much further do you believe you can take The WGL as an organisation? Can it rival an American organisation such as Gamebattles?

M: I would say the project is about 20% complete. However, it would be impossible for us to rival Gamebattles without serious investment and I would be surprised if that ever materialises.

P: Is outside investment a possibility then for The WGL?

M: I would love to think so, phone me! On a serious note, we would love to talk to anyone about investment as with investment we could start to make some of our dreams for the WGL a reality.

P: Regarding the recent success of WGL’s involvement with i45, how did the partnership with Multiplay come about?

M: I actually met the owner of Multiplay (Wizzo – Craig Fletcher) at a LAN when I was 15 in Edinburgh, when he was supplying the network cable as a favour for the guy who was running the event. This was before Multiplay had even been born and, over the years, I have attended a few events and even presented prizes for various tournaments on behalf of Creative. It wasn’t until a year or so ago that I thought the WGL was ready to be involved with a LAN and so it was only natural to contact Multiplay to see if we could do something with them. Due to busy schedules these talks got sidetracked by a year but I’m pleased to say we did our first event with them at I45 and it was a relative success!

P: Do you think that Xbox interest will ever rival that of PC gamers at LAN events?

M: I think it has the possibility to surpass PC gaming but only if all the organisations and communities start working together in the same way the PC scene does. I could go into great detail on this but perhaps that is best left for another day.

P: Do you think a team from the WGL will ever achieve success at a LAN event?

M: I would like to hope one day it will happen, as like DC DaNoLd (Daniel Pesic – Quake player) once said; ‘Any player can have a great aim that comes down to practice, practice, practice’ and he was one of the greatest FPS gods of all time! With the addition of aim assist with in games such as MW3, this should be even easier. However what sets teams apart is teamwork and map control, this is something that can only be taught to an extent and is pretty instinctual the rest of the time and only time will tell if we have this in teams in the WGL.

P: Do you ever think that eSports can become a mainstream interest?

M: Most certainly, it’s only a matter of time. We have already seen the huge strides that MLG have made in the last few months to see the true potential in eSports.

P: OK, going right back to the beginning now. What are you first memories of gaming?

M: Playing Robocop on my Spectrum 128k is one of my earliest memories of gaming, however I would say getting Mario 3 on Christmas day along with a NES was my favourite earliest memory. Staying up all night playing what was truly an amazing game!

P: What game sticks in your mind as the first to get you really hooked?

M: Quakeworld. Never before or since has the world seen such an unforgiving relentless beast! Even now more than 15 years later this game is still evolving with new tactics and strategies. When I hear the console community cry about spawn systems it makes me chuckle inside as COD has it easy compared to this sinister beast. On certain maps you could die and then quite quickly die another 7 or 8 times within a few seconds due to the spawns. That’s what made this game excellent though

 This game truly had no skill ceiling and that is what made it so beautiful. I can still remember playing a Champions League match against a Swedish side on the map DM3, trying to hold a key area while waiting for the powerup, Pent (this made you invulnerable for 30 seconds).  I was spamming my team binds (we had no voice comms in those days) asking for help from my team mates while taking down the entire enemy team twice (8 kills) on my own with nothing but 3 rockets and a shotgun. 

P: Sounds immense! What is your fondest memory/experience of life in The WGL?

M: The T5 Tournament we did. This was an online cup quite similar to the Champions League which seemed to attract the imagination of the entire community and had huge interest all the way to the final.

P: And your least fondest?

M: Dealing with idiots, including one who tried to blackmail me.

P: Wow. I think we’ll steer clear of that topic then.
Going back to the subject of classic game titles, will The WGL look to cater for CS:GO upon its release?

M: We have already made plans to support the game and are really excited about it. For now, we can only hope it goes on to be the game we hope it will be and that enough teams get behind it otherwise it will die very quickly.

P: Are there any other games that The WGL plans to support?

M: If HALO4 or any other game takes off we would of course support it. It all comes down to the following really. If a game has enough teams wanting to take part then of course we would support it.

P: People will be dying for at least one member of the WGL community to get a shout-out so who has been the most individually skilled player you’ve come up against in your time in The WGL?

M: If you had asked me this question in regards to PC players I could have written you a novel! Unfortunately, in regards to console players I don’t really get to play that much anymore so I would have to go with 2 players that stood out when I did get to play. Doores and Disturbed were two players who, during the MW2 period, were quite frankly outstanding,

P: This question is something that also comes up quite often amongst the WGL’s newer members, can you finally put it to rest for us: At times the suitability of the Admin Council to make decisions for the WGL community has been questioned as potentially the wrong method. Do you think there’s any validity to these claims?

M: Yes of course there is validity to these claims. If there was a perfect system for leagues to use that would please everyone then every sports organisation in the world would be using it. Unfortunately, of course there isn’t and every system has its pros and cons. However, I would suggest the system we are using just now, although not perfect, does work and this statement is backed up by the fact that our league is growing every single season.

P: And finally, for those looking to get involved in joining the community at the WGL and playing in a league, how easy is it for them to add their clan/find a clan?

M: Very easy! Just hit the register button on our site and after a few more clicks your profile will be created! From here you can either use our in built clan management system to create a team and join a league or head on over to the forums and put up a free agent post!

P: Thanks very much for taking the time to answer these questions Mr Kent. Look forward to seeing you at i46!

M: No problem at all, I hope I can finally shake off my image as the grumpy, ban hammer-wielding Scot around the place now!

P: Little chance of that. Byeeeee!

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That brings the first mammoth interview in this series to its conclusion, for those that managed to make it all the way to the end, I congratulate you. There is no prize, other than the priceless knowledge bestowed upon you from reading such an epic volume of work.

For those interested in participating in The WGL, please check it out here.

Make sure you follow me on Twitter at iamPartisan for more details of the next interview in which I’ll hopefully be talking to one of the UK’s best shoutcasters.

Thank you kindly fellow gamers! Toodle-pip!

24 5 / 2012

After receiving some extremely positive support from members of the WGL community (Warped Gaming League - link at foot of page) about my first bits of content for the blog, I was delighted when I got some further good news.

Recently I attended Insomnia 45 (also called i45 for those too lazy/busy to give it its full name), a well-established PC gaming LAN hosted by Multiplay, which has just begun to embrace the Xbox competitive scene through its Modern Warfare 3 X360 tournaments. I had the pleasure to meet a variety of characters over the course of the event through our shared love of gaming, poor diet and consumption of alcohol. One of these fellow sorry souls was Alan Brice aka BR1C3Y; Xtreme Gaming UK’s community manager, eSports shoutcaster and advocate of EnduranceCOD.

EnduranceCOD for the uninitiated was the product of an insane decision at 2am at i45 to begin a best of 7 Sabotage game on COD4 with no time limit on Overgrown. Sounds like fun huh? The game lasted 3 hours, almost resulted in my crashing the hire car at least 4 times on the way home and left some participants unable to even reach their beds before succumbing to exhaustion! (See exhibit A for the damaging effects of EnduanceCOD - http://youtu.be/BEXw3xjJLsg)

Apparently a common side-effect of over exposure to EnduranceCOD

Perhaps feeling some guilt at almost killing me through his reckless recruitment of the unprepared to his EnduranceCOD cause, BR1C3Y agreed to help me pursue my goal of getting game-related content out to as many people as I could. As a result, Xtreme Gaming UK, the first Xbox 360 dedicated game centre in the UK, have agreed to allow me to write content for their website and will publish future reviews and articles that I write.

To say I’m overjoyed at the prospect of writing content for a (hopefully!) interested and captive audience is an understatement! Xtreme Gaming UK provide a state of the art environment in Colchester, Essex for gamers young and old to pursue their hobby using the best peripherals and equipment available. I feel honoured that a company at the forefront of the UK gaming scene is willing to take a punt on little old me and let me share my thoughts on the latest news and releases.

Make sure you head over to their website at http://www.xtremegaminguk.co.uk to have a nose around at their site and cry a little bit inside when you realise that you don’t have something similar where you live. Make sure you check back frequently as articles should start appearing soon and any support would be much appreciated.

Also, if you’re daring, track down BR1C3Y and ask him to show you the white-knuckle ride that is EnduranceCOD.

Just make sure you don’t have to drive the next day.  

If you’re interested in competing against like-minded clans across games like MW3, Gears of War, Battlefield 3 or FIFA then visit The WGL and sign up – www.thewgl.co.uk

LAN gaming more your thing? Take a look at the Multiplay website for the forthcoming i46 in Telford and book a ticket to meet fellow gamers face to face - iseries.multiplay.co.uk/i46/

Keep up to date with the world of Xtreme Gaming UK by following all the news and announcements via its Twitter profile - twitter.com/#!/Xtreme_Gaming

And lastly, if you stumbled upon this blog by accident and enjoyed it then you can get daily bite-sized chunks of garbled nonsense through my Twitter profile - twitter.com/#!/iamPartisan