Rise of iSolation Empire
The Man Behind the Empire
Video games have been a part of Michael “Mr. Happy” Berry’s life for a very long time. His first console was the Sega Genesis and his first game was Primal Rage.
“I remember blowing on the cartridges for hours,” said Mr. Happy “hoping i could get the system to read it.”
The James Bond game Goldeneye may be his favorite game of all time but Call of Duty will always have a special place in his heart. He has played the Call of Duty franchise since Call of Duty 2 and been involved with the eSports scene just as long. Even at the young age of seventeen, Mr. Happy was a leader. He already owned his first team, K1NeT1C, which he says could have done big things if he stuck with it. The team even had a theme song made by Pastor Troy and 2 Chainz.
The reason he didn't stick with that team was because he joined the military. He went on three deployments to Afghanistan rising through the ranks serving with the United States Marine Corps, received a meritorious promotion, and left with honorable discharge. Through this journey, however, iSolation Empire was born. The concept of iSolation Empire came to Mr. Happy while on his deployment in Afghanistan.
“It means in a nutshell ‘Though I live in isolation from those I love the most, we shall forever move as one,’” said Mr. Happy “One of the things that helps me make it through rough times and still to this day helps everyone around me overcome major obstacles. #WeMoveAsOne”
#WeMoveAsOne is something you’ll see all over anything iSo related; their team twitter, their owner’s twitter, and they even recently released a documentary on the team entitled: We Move As One | iSolation Empire Documentary. It’s their mantra and something they all connect with.
Continuity has always been a characteristic of this organization, supporting longtime sponsors and friends.
“Even though I have met some real hateful people in eSports I am thankful for the great passionate individuals that i have met especially the guys at @ergoguys,” said Mr. Happy “They are some of the greatest guys I have ever met.”
There was no lull between his return from deployment and the start of iSolation Empire.
“Whenever I had free time I was working on the concept of iSo,” said Mr. Happy “Still to this day the ultimate intentions I have for iSo have not been implemented but the core ideals of iSo have already laid the foundation for many great things to come.”
The family aspect is there, so what made iSo stand out to the current players?
“iSo is really in touch with us as players. They pay attention to our needs and are really hands on with everything.” said Justin “Silly” Fargo-Palmer
“iSo is more professional than any other organization I have been apart of. They are the only organization I have seen care about the AM community as much as they do and it sets them apart from others.” added Colt “Havok” McLendon
“The way the owners treat us as players and people. They really look out for our best interests and do everything they can to make us happy. Shout out to everyone in the organization that contribute to making our stay here worthwhile!” said Kenneth “Dedo” Dedo
iSolation Empire was officially founded in December 2012, by him and two others. One, Hope, was a childhood friend who he still talks to this day and the other, Chuckie, was in his unit in Afghanistan. These two friends left shortly after iSolation Empire was founded because simply put he “had more of a drive and passion to make the organization successful.”
Fast forward to 2014 and you find iSo at their first LAN, UMG Dallas. The first roster consisted of Infamous, Hazard, Jet Li, and Llama and had a respectable placing, finishing in the top-20 teams, for their first event.
Meeting the Team
One major difference in Advanced Warfare from previous Call of Duty titles is the lack of a definitive role for each player. Some teams do have players run certain roles 100-percent of the time, but many players have been forced to become more versatile and able to run different roles depending on the map or situation.
Kenneth “Dedo” Dedo
Background in competitive Call of Duty: “My start in Call of Duty in general started with team deathmatch in Call of Duty 4 back in ‘08 with a friend from grade school. He introduced me to the website Gamebattles and from there we would solely play deathmatch for fun. We started taking competitive more seriously when we transitioned from Team Deathmatch to MLG Variant and began competing in GB tournaments and testing our skill against higher tier opponents.”
Dedo is the main AR for his team. His job is to hold vital points of the map and slay out spawns. Another responsibility of his is that of team leader, meaning he is making the calls for plays and pushes by his team.
“Dedo is a veteran, said Silly “he’s been around forever and has also been my teammate before. We had a good amount of success together and I think he’s a good leader for this team.
Devin “Llama” Tran
Background in competitive Call of Duty: “I started taking eSports seriously back in Black Ops 2 when my first event was UMG dallas & placed T32 under TIC.”
The player who was on iSo’s first roster at a LAN event used to be their main slayer. This current team, however, his role is now that of the main objective player. With these teammates he is now able to focus more on his SMG and objective play, only switching over to an AR if his team needs it.
“My play style is very versatile,” said Llama “mainly a SMG in respawn or the third AR behind Dedo and Silly. I am also the main objective player in Uplink either through scores or assists to scores.”
“With Llama as an aggressive SMG, it makes everyone’s job a lot easier in Hardpoint and Uplink.” added Havok.
Colt “Havok” McLendon
Background in competitive Call of Duty: Previously only known for his talent as a Search and Destroy player he burst onto the scene after making the switch to variant gameplay.
“I had never played respawn before but I wanted to try it,” said Havok “I felt that there was more competition in respawn than Search and Destroy. In the beginning it was very difficult to place well and find teammates that had the same drive as me, but I worked my way up and kept striving to win. After bad placings but good individual performance, I soon got noticed around the top AM community and starting putting teams together until iSo welcomed Llama, Dedo, Silly, and myself to the family.
Havok’s role on the team is that of an aggressive SMG, much like Llama. He helps Llama with objective work while also slaying, constantly pushing hills and gunfights.
“He’s the reason we break most of our hills in Hardpoint.” said Silly.
Havok has shown his ability to in respawn but his Search and Destroy prowess is not to be forgotten. The most recent example of this prowess? UMG Dallas against OpTic Gaming.
Justin “Silly” Fargo-Palmer
Background in competitive Call of Duty: “I began to take eSports seriously in Call of Duty 4. Although, this is the only Call of Duty title I’ve consistently competed in.”
“I am the hybrid player of the team. Depending on what map and game type it is I switch between the SMG/AR role.”
Earlier this summer on June 21, 2015 a relegation tournament, held at the MLG Arena in Columbus, Ohio took place. The tournament consisted of the bottom four teams from the previous Pro League season, the top four teams from an online qualifier, and the top 8 teams in terms of pro point outside the Pro League.The top four teams qualified for Season 3 of the Call of Duty Pro League, iSolation Empire took first; taking home $5,000, 5000 Pro Points, and a secured spot.
This annual relegation tournament, held at the conclusion of each pro season, is a chance for new teams to break onto the pro scene and prove their talent against the top teams.
“We played in so many tournaments leading up to relegation,” said Silly “We secured a decent spot in pro point seeding for the event so we weren’t too worried about it. We grinded harder than anyone else and it really paid off. We were looking very dominant online and carried it over to LAN. I was very proud of my squad.
What pushed this team over the hump? Where was this team able to find success compared to past iSo lineups?
“The best way i can answer that is with a little story,” said Mr. Happy “ S3 Relegation, our team loses to Orbit to qualify for S3 and we have to play for our life tomorrow. Everyone goes back to the hotel a little depressed and we wake up bright and early to catch a morning bite of sweet blessing Chick-Fil-A and we all come together and even share a few laughs. We show up to the venue an hour early and as soon as we step through the door you can feel the intensity of how much everyone on iSo wants this and it is in moments like this no matter what doubts anyone could have, you become a true believer in them.”
The team believed in each other, and it led them to clutching a spot every team is gunning for, a spot in the pro league. Following the qualification the team was ecstatic.
“To me it meant a lot,” said Dedo “Getting turned down by multiple pro teams and players that I have teamed with in the past gave me motivation to get myself back to the top where I think I belong. I have been competing too long to be left in the dust every game. Also meant a lot that I can take two relatively new players and a past teammate and qualify that way. It really shows what I can do if you give me the responsibility of building a team from scratch. Thank you to iSo for giving me that opportunity!”
“It was a huge relief to know that we made it after beating Prophecy last map round 11! We were all very happy and took that positivity on to win the rest of the event,” said Havok “The transition has been tough but I have definitely found my place in the competitive scene. I love the fact that I can go to LAN events now instead of playing Search and Destroy tournaments just at home.
“It felt amazing,” added Silly “Winning the entire event was just the cherry on top.”
You would think that after such an accomplishment, especially in such a short amount of time for an organization as young as iSo, their owner would share that joy. Think again.
“It made me want to work harder,” said Mr. Happy “immediately afterwards we had a huge team dinner for the team, and I didn’t eat because all I could think about was getting back to work and figuring out how I can help the eSports community and extend this organization. Honestly I only average about 4 hours of sleep a night between playing smite, personal life and organizational matters.”
iSo has come a long way to even get a chance to compete for this spot, winning it only proves their potential and dedication to becoming the best. With these goals already accomplished and an owner as hungry for success as he is, the sky's the limit for iSolation Empire.
What’s to come for iSolation Empire?
“We can take it all the way to the top,” said Silly “Even though my team seems to excel online I do believe we are better on LAN. If we can learn to close out our matches when we have leads we’ll be unstoppable.”
Along with a bright future in Call of Duty, iSo will also be expanding as an organization overall.
“We will be looking into Smite, Boxing, MMA and many other aspects to extend iSo, sports and eSports,” said Mr. Happy “especially through a new concept we are partnering with some key behind the scenes members in all industries to allow a lot of teams in eSports to make a stable living. We are here to help everyone instead of drag teams down and corner the market.”
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