Midbox With KO

KO of NRG joins me for a new edition of Midbox.

Midbox is a reference to an old Gears of War tradition of challenging another player to a 1 vs 1 battle using only gnashers, the Gears of War version of a shotgun. Is someone talking trash, saying they’re better than you? “1v1 midbox me!” This is a series in which I will conduct interviews with various players, coaches and developers in the Gears of War esports space so that we may learn more about them.

On this edition of Midbox, I sat with Frank “KO” Tibbs, Jr. of NRG eSports to get a grasp on how he started in competitive Gears.

How were you introduced to competitive Gears?

“I saw on the GameBattles forums in the Gears of War 3 section there were threads called Hype scrims and from there I found out about Hypefestation and the competitive scene.”

What was it like climbing the ranks in Gears? For a while you were regarded as an online warrior and even after that, not considered a smart player.

“I took all the criticism as a learning experience and used it to better myself instead of trying to blame the game or others for my losses. Watching others play like my teammate Yadiel ‘SleepyTime‘ Hidalgo or my friends Gilbert ‘Xplosive‘ Rojo and Alex ‘SuMuNs‘ Ascencion gave me different perspectives on how to approach my opponents.”

You are one of the few top black Gears players. In a game that has a large audience among black players, why do you think there are so few of them on top tier teams?

“Damn this a hard one to answer. I feel like most black players have so much pride that they don’t want to hear others’ criticism in the game. It goes for any player who doesn’t think about what they could’ve done before they go and blame someone else.”

Many black players often complain about not being given a chance to compete on top teams, what advice would you give them?

“I think some black players just have to adjust to different environments and also be able to see others’ perspective on how the game should be played.”

I’d say your team, Goon Squad, for this past MLG Columbus was comprised primarily of friends and you guys played pretty well together. Did that help you loosen up our style of play?

“Immensely! Playing with friends gave me the peace of mind and confidence I needed to make plays in tough situations without fear of being blamed if something went wrong. Having my teammates as friends always made me want to do better for them, not just myself.”

We all know SuMuNs was already committed to joining OpTic Gaming after that event, but what happened with the remaining players? After a great showing at MLG Columbus, fans were quite shocked when the team completely broke apart.

“The way the team was made in the beginning was all of us knowing each other somehow, someway in the past. With the departure of SuMuNs, I felt that bringing another person into the mix wouldn’t feel right. Before Columbus, a few pro teams offered me a chance to try out as their fifth after Columbus and I wanted to go into Gears of War 4 with an established team, rather than finding two more players and basically rebuilding in my eyes.”

Well, you did land with NRG. How are you liking your new team? Where do you see yourselves ranked among the competition?

“I enjoy playing with the new team a lot. With SleepyTime and Marvin ‘Sicamore‘ Moya always firing me up while we are playing, it excites me and makes me more motivated to win. I definitely see us in the top four or top five, as the last two Gears of War 4 tournaments we’ve consecutively placed in the top four. We all still have so much to learn still and hope to bring home championships.”

What team do you want to play the most at the launch invitational this weekend?

“OpTic! I love to face the strongest opponents to improve myself and my teammates.”

Do you think you guys can take out the No. 1 team right now?

“I do believe we can beat the No. 1 team with given time and practice. ‘To be the best you have to beat the best’ has always been my mentality.”

Well with that, that concludes our interview. Good luck at the Invitational, any final words?

“No, but all I have to say is I hope to prove to the world that my team and I can compete with the best!”

What do you think of the current NRG Gears squad? Can they be a consistent threat and contend for the top spot? Let us hear your thoughts in the comments below, or tweet us @GAMURScom.

This interview was edited for clarity

Photo credits: esportsGears, JackFelling