By Chris Scott Barr
If you’re a hardcore gamer, then chances are you’ve heard of Fatal1ty. This is the guy that everyone aspires to beat when they go to a world-class tournament for FPS like Quake and Unreal Tournament. Well while at E3 we had a chance to sit down and chat with the number-1 ranked gamer in the world. Hit the jump for the full interview, plus a little surprise at the end.
OhGizmo: Lets get down to business, first, we kind of want to know how you got started as a professional gamer. Like how did you switch over from a hobby to a professional?
Fatal1ty: Well basically it started out I just went to a lot of tournaments over three years when I was between 15 and 18. When I was 18 I realized that the guys I was training with were top players. I already knew they were top players but they actually went and won a championship. And I was like wow, I just beat this guy like 8 games in a row. So I must be pretty good too.
So that’s when I signed on to a pro tournament, I was 18 and I had $500 in my bank account and I spent it all on traveling to Texas. I went down there, won four grand for taking third place in my very first world tournament. After that I got the chance to represent the USA and travel the world playing video games. So basically it just flipped one day. I did it for fun, then I went to a pro tournament, won four grand and after that I was a huge hit.
OhGizmo: So how do you keep up on this? I saw the wheel out there, you have to really have some balls to walk out there and play with some massive handicap. How do you prepare for this kind of thing?
Fatal1ty: We do the handicap thing to make it more fair for you know, the average gamer that doesn’t really play the game that much. We haven’t actually used it at all here because most people want to play against the real Fatal1ty. I prefer to play without it, but I’ll do whatever the people want. I’m just doing it for entertainment and fun. I just love playing.
OhGizmo: How did you move from pro gamer into having your own company and your own product line?
Fatal1ty: Well I got sponsored a lot and I realized that the sponsors were making hundreds of dollars off of me using their stuff. So I just decided, you know what, I’ll create my own stuff. So I started my own company selling big mouse pads and it went from there. Then people were coming to me, wanting to sponsor me and I was like no, I’m not doing sponsors anymore, I make my own products. If you want to work with me and make a product with me, then I’ll do it.
OhGizmo: So that’s how you’re able to reach out to different companies and get a collection of some of the best manufacturers in the industry.
Fatal1ty: Yeah, the Fatal1ty brand covers the best products from Creative, OCZ, Fusion-IO and others, and now all of these products are under one name for gamers, Fatal1ty.
OhGizmo: How much creative input do you have on these products? Say something comes to you with your name on it, you test it and you don’t like it. What happens?
Fatal1ty: Well they can’t put my name on it until I like it.
OhGizmo: How does that process work, where do you come in exactly?
Fatal1ty: For the headphones I tell them what fabrics I like, and they showed me the new technology and I was like wow, this is some cool stuff. But I even added a couple of features that I wanted. Like I wanted the microphone to be removable. So basically it allows you to take the headset and play video games and talk to people. But then you can take it out into the real world, on the train, on an airplane and be able to use it without the mic getting in the way. Then you can get home, use it for Skype or something by just plugging the microphone back in.
There are other small things that I added in, like the color and stuff like that. But the main thing I was concerned about was how the headphones worked, how the microphone connected and stuff. With the technology inside of it they came to me and were like “hey, this is the new stuff we’ve been working on, do you like it, will it work for you?” I tested it and was like yeah it works, lets use it.
So I take my input from what I want, but also what everyone else wants too. All the products we make I have to work on it in some form or fashion to see if it helps me and improves my game. My goal is for the gamer to make sure they’re going to be happy with it.
OhGizmo: Where do you see Fatal1ty in the next 5 years?
Fatal1ty: In the next 5 years I hope to be in all of gaming, not just PC gaming but console gaming too. I want people playing on Xbox, PS3 to all be able to use my headphones. I think the quality of the technology we have is far superior to everything else out there. So I think it’s really going to help raise the level of gaming. It’s really important to be able to hear where your opponent is, whether he’s above you, below you, behind you. All of that is so much better to hear through our headphones than from your speakers. So that’s my biggest goal, I want to improve the game and improve the skill of all the players.
Fatal1ty: Have you heard much about the new Fusion-IO stuff?
OhGizmo: A little, what have they got coming out?
Fatal1ty: Well the ioXtreme is a new PCI-Express memory card. You’ve basically got 80GB of memory on a PCI-Express card. It’s not a hard drive, well it is a hard drive but it’s a PCI-E memory card. It’s not a solid-state drive or anything like that stuff. But you’re actually able to boot up Windows in one second using it. It’s super sick, super cool. Other than that you can load up your favorite games, your favorite applications and everything will load up instantly. There’s no more waiting for things to load and so-forth. Everything will be a lot more fresh, a lot more fluid and a lot faster. The coolest thing is being able to boot up windows in one second.
OhGizmo: Wow, that’s impressive.
Fatal1ty: If you have a lot of games like WoW, Quake or whatever, they run really fast and they load up information like maps and stuff so much faster for really fluid gameplay.
OhGizmo: To wrap it up, how do you keep on top of your game? With you traveling around to a lot of places like this, when do you find time to keep up on it?
Fatal1ty: Well really I just play. I usually play 2 to 6 hours a day on average, I do these shows a lot so my game is always pretty fresh, you know. I’ve been doing it for 15 years now so it’s started becoming like second nature. But I’m still always tweaking and tuning. If I want to get into tournament mode I train 8 hours every day and about 2 to 4 weeks in I’m there. So that’s how it works.
OhGizmo: I heard that you haven’t been fragged today.
Fatal1ty: (chuckles) Nope.
OhGizmo: Well thanks for taking the time to talk to us, I appreciate it.
Fatal1ty: Cool, thank you very much man.
Ever wonder what it’s like to take on the very best? Well I got in the ring with him for 3 minutes of Quake 4. I’m pretty decent when it comes to PC-based FPS, but how do my skills stack up against Fatal1ty? Watch the video and see.