Welcome to Training With The Pros, our pro-gaming series where we chat with some of Australia's best professional gamers about their training methods, and whether they have any tips and tricks for rookies. Today we meet the captain of Team Immunity's Halo Reach team, Matthew "Heff" Hefren.
Yesterday we introduced the former captain of the Call of Duty: Black Ops team from Team Immunity, one of Australia's leading eSports teams. Today we speak to another member of the team -- one of the top Halo Reach players in the country, Matthew "Heff" Hefren.
Hey Heff! Can you introduce yourself to the Kotaku community?
My name is Matthew ‘Heff’ Hefren, I’m 18-years-old live and I live in South-East Queensland. I’m currently studying Business at QUT and am the captain of Team Immunity’s Halo Reach team. Like most high level gamers I have been into it for a long time, starting with Super Mario on the SNES, and from then on playing anything I could get my hands on.
However, I didn’t start gaming seriously until I was about ten when I fell in love with Age of Mythology. Although, honestly, the biggest influence on my gaming in my early years was my older brother; he was always really good at games and being young than him by four years I always had to try out-do him, which gave me the drive to play more and more. What is it about Halo reach that made you want to specialise in it, and at which point did you decide you wanted to play competitively? It was a combination of a love for the game and a new-found skill in shooters. I’ve always liked the Halo games; I could pick up the controller any time and just be lost in it for hours, even at a young age. After years of playing it I started realising I was getting pretty good from playing online and against my friends/brother (finally beating him in something!) and found myself searching for better people to play against. I eventually found Aushalo, the predecessor of the Australian Cyber Leagues, and started playing against the best in the country. Playing with these guys was the first time I had played against anyone decent and, to put it bluntly, I got destroyed pretty hard. But that gave me the drive to keep playing and become one of the best.
What does it take to become a professional Halo player? Well the most basic skill anyone needs to play in any shooter is accuracy; some people are born with naturally good aim while others can get it from playing for hours on end. Without having a good shot it’s going to be very hard for you to become a top player. Having patience and drive is another big factor, you aren’t going to become the best overnight, you have to practice A LOT just like in any activity if you want to be the best at it. Most people will know it’s hard to practice a lot if you don’t have the drive to practice and be the best.
After acquiring those traits, there is still a gap between the good and the best. Communication and awareness are a must, your ability to let your team mates know what’s happening and your ability to perceive what they are saying work with that can win or lose you games. You will not be a top player without good communication. Finally, one of the biggest differences between ‘pro-gamers’ and your ‘average player’ is being able to think three steps ahead; planning and knowing what will happen in situations and outcomes is massive. A lot of people think it’s just about running around and shooting, but when it gets to the highest level of competitive play it’s like the fastest game of chess you’ve ever played, countering the enemy and attacking accordingly to ensure the win. Describe the amount of training you have to do on a regular basis. I try to play every day of the week having a break on Fridays and Saturdays and starting again on Sundays. At the moment I haven’t been playing as much because of university but after my mid exams are over I plan on getting back into my usual 2 – 6 hours a day sometimes a lot longer.
What are some of the biggest rookie errors you see people make when they play Halo?
One of the biggest errors people constantly make is challenging. Challenging is basically when the enemy has you outshot in a battle and you are most likely going to lose, but instead of backing down and trying again later or letting a team mate clean up the kill, people purposely stay out and try to win a losing battle. A lot of this is an ego issue, which I know for a fact because I had the exact same problem. Trying to get rid of it is not easy at all but if you can get past the fact that your shots are not always going to be 100% or it’s a lot better to back down then you will see massive improvements in your gameplay.
What tips would you have for an aspiring Halo pro-gamer?
Join up with a gaming league like ACL, get yourself a team and start playing better players. Practice and stay determined; you aren’t going to be the best overnight but if you want to and you are dedicated enough you can, I’m proof of that fact. Also never overlook the importance of going over your gameplay and watching a pro’s gameplay to pick up tricks to help you with your game -- everything little thing helps!