Turning the COGs with OpTic Ashes
This is the second of hopefully many interviews in my series "Turning the COGs." Last week, I talked with Enigma6’s coach E6 Burger; click here for that interview. This week, I got the chance to speak to the coach of possibly the best team throughout Gears of War: Ultimate Edition and now a member of the Green Wall, OpTic Gaming's Nick "Ashes" Ridgeway.
Ashes has been playing Gears for ages and he was first introduced to the game by a friend. "He needed help beating General Raam on Insane and I was the only one dumb enough to try to help,” Ashes said.
Ashes has also been around the competitive scene since 2008 when he started playing Gears of War matches on the GameBattles website. “This was my first taste of competitive video games outside of having a bunch of friends over for a LAN party in Halo or Halo 2,” Ashes said.
So from just a couple friends playing Halo together to this day, Ashes has become the coach of the most widely recognised console esports organisation, OpTic Gaming. "Getting picked up by OpTic Gaming was one of the most incredible things to ever happen to us,” Ashes said. “It was what we listed as one of our "dream" orgs. When they approached us, it was sort of surreal.”
I then asked Ashes was how he and his team felt about Gears of War 4. “Gears of War 4 looks amazing," Ashes said. "Our players are ready for it, and the new game type is something we can’t wait for.” In case you missed the unveiling of the new game type, Escalation, click here.
With a brand new game and game mode, I took this chance to ask Ashes what he exactly did as a coach. Now in other games, such League of Legends or CS:GO, you might have a team of analysts as well as a head coach who relays all the information to their team. They will sit in scrims, keep track of individual statistics on players and maps, run VOD reviews, and come up with tactics.
Ashes does all of the above and more. He told me not only did he prepare his team for every matchup during the ESL Pro League, but also prepared his team with several default strategies that they could use on teams they were not so familiar with.
This coaching style combined, with a ton of firepower, helped them secure a win at MLG Columbus. “They are amazing players and I am truly blessed to have the chance to work with them,” Ashes said.
Now one thing I really wanted to find out is the effect of hype on Gears of War teams. Ashes pointed out that some teams rely on hype more than others. “Take a team like Dream Team,” Ashes said. “When they are losing, you can see them mentally crumble. When they start winning, they are a whole new beast.”
As I came to the end of our conversation, I asked Ashes about his thoughts on the future of Gears of War esports. “I think the future of Gears esports is very bright," Ashes said. "With big orgs involved (OpTic, Envy, tK, etc) and developer support, I feel like there is no way for the game not to succeed.”
Ashes also wanted to get a shoutout to some people who helped him along the way. “I want to give a massive shoutout and thank you to Jack Felling and The Coalition for their work to revitalise the game," Ashes said. "Also, shoutout to my players, who believed in me and gave me a chance and now continue to do so. They are amazing and I can never express how much I appreciate them. Thanks to OpTic Gaming for welcoming us into the family, and to their sponsors: Brisk Mate, Turtle Beach, Scuf Gaming, Gymshark and Lootcrate. And of course, to all of the #Greenwall for their amazing support,”
With that said, this brings my interview with OpTic Ashes to a close. Thank you very much for giving me the chance to chat with you. Next up in my "Turning the COGs" series will be Team EnVyUs's coach, Ryan “Ryan” Summers.
Who else would you like to see featured in this series? Let me know in the comments below or by sending me a tweet, @GAMURS_tnm. For all your Gears of War news and more, make sure you also follow us on Twitter, @GAMURScom.