Training With The Pros: Heff

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!

Can you show us your gaming set-up?

Check out our other interviews with top StarCraft II player, mOOnGLaDe, MvC3 player NefeliousG and Battlefield 3 player, obez.


    With the DMR, the game doesn't require accuracy it requires luck.

      I never got this argument. It requires you to control your fire rather than spamming the trigger. How does that come down to luck?

        Because the DMR (as well as the Magnum and NR) are capable of landing headshots. That means that regardless of how much health they have, they'll win the fight if one bullet lands somewhere close to the large hit box of the head. Therefor it's better to spam the trigger and get more shots off as only one needs to land on the head instead of waiting and hoping your one shot lands. In the time it would take for someone pacing to accurately land a headshot the spammer can fire off 4 shots and get lucky.

          Not in my experience, but maybe I've just been lucky. Sure, maybe it pays off from time to time, but it's a gamble.

          It's worth noting that every Halo game has had weapon bloom in some form.

            Once you play it a long time you start to see how broken the gun is. It's why so many people vote for Slayer DMR, or in regular rush the DMR after the Power Weapons. The game is much better with headshots turned off. It's annoying to jump a low-ranked player who has no shields with an AR only to have him turn around and spam 5 shots into your skull and win.

            Yeah, each Halo has had Bloom. But in Halo1 they didn't have enough time to fully test the game and how bloom was pointless in that game, and with how strong bullet magnitism is in Halo2 and Halo: Reach it makes bloom pretty pointless too.

              You butthurt because you suck at the game?

                Riiight, despite the fact that I didn't mention anywhere of my usual score...

                  You're saying an average player shooting wildly has the same chance as killing a pro? Right. Before they even get their first shot off, the pro lands a headshot.

                Dude as much as this is mean i gotta agree with klutar. Everytime someone mentions halo you spout your mouth off at how broken the game is because its all luck. IF IT WAS ALL LUCK THEY WOULDN'T PLAY IN THE PRO's. Maybe you just need more practice rather than comment about how the game is 'Broken".

                  lol everytime? I think I mentioned it once earlier this week.

                  I didn't say the game is broken, I said that bloom is broken.
                  and in case you haven't done some research, even all the "PROs" think that the bloom is broken and relies on luck. That's why they're all excited about the title update coming up that will give the ability to toggle the bloom and reduce it.

          To me, when you start arguing about a game mechanic this deeply - the game seems to lose its 'fun' factor and start to seem like it is a chore. I don't even know what bloom is or that you can hit people in the head-box to kill them. I just play and shoot and I do alright.

          I don't understand the mentality behind any gamer analysing the mechanics of the game so critically. Is that what the pro's do as well? It's interesting.

            A game can still be fun so long as it's balanced. Even if you lose, so long as it was because the other person is better can still be fun. But when something broken comes into play it makes the game unfair. It's annoying to get into a fight with someone, and just as you're about to win someone else comes around the corner and shoots you both in the head. It's why I don't really have a problem with SWAT (except a few spawning locations), because everybody starts off in the same situation and there's nothing else to pick up.
            Despite the fact that I hated Splazers in Halo 3, I had no problem with it since everybody was on the same level.

              Oh okay, so essentially your just saying that you aren't a fan of the unbalanced nature of the game and that comes from the DMR thing? I didn't even realise that it went that deep. It's interesting though - as I asked before, do you know if the pros utilise this or is it not critical because all the MLG rules essentially mean it can't be used advantageously.

              Ignorance is bliss for me, I guess.
              And by bliss I mean countless losses against players who are much more 'skilled' than I am. That said, I don't think this small unbalanced factor would improve my chances of beating a pro. Hours of experience with the game (even if you dont know the mechanics) will likely mean you are better than some 15 year old kid.

      So, it requires luck to consistently hit someone in the head, and the headshots, which -from the dmr- make no difference to shield damage, are a warping factor?

    Halo sucks...there you go, i've just rekindle the fires fanboy hatred:)

      CoD is for kids... there you go, I've just started the trend of hating videogames for stupid reasons :)

        I thought cod was for kids.......maybe I was misinformed lol

          Nah, CoD is played by kids who have bad parents :P


              i think it's a okay fish but its not as good as some other reef fish . Also barramundi

      The Kotaku Editor Training Manual didn't come with a "dealing with fanboy arguments in the comments" section, so let's hope this does not happen. :P

        This is when you call upon the shining and outstanding members of the community to bring righteous judgement down upon all those who would stand against me!

        I mean against them...

          i Got the paddle who do we get to smite?!

            Threatening a paddlin'?

            That's a paddlin'.

              Paddling the school canoe? Oh, you'd better believe that's a paddling

    Heff is an awesome person in real life, met him at ACL events.

    Congratulations on your results at MLG Anaheim. Top 32 after tearing through the Open bracket? Nice.

    I even turned away from the SC2 and Evo streams I was watching for a little while to watch you guys in action, and I normally don't like Halo at all.

    Well done.

    Am I the only one laughing about the fact that the Aussie Cyber Leagues have the same initials as the Aussie Christian Lobby?


      It would be quite amusing if the Cyber League became more well-known than the Christian Lobby. ;)

      I demand a duel to determine true ownership of the acronym.

      Plasma Rifles at dawn!

        No way, Jim Wallace has had real life SAS training so he would clearly be a boss at Halo!

          And by Jim Wallace's logic, Heff should be a crack shot too.

        Get them to play a few competitive matches of Halo. Winner gets to own the acronym.

    Has Reach got an option to turn of aim assist?

      It will get the option in an upcoming title update.

        Will it be done right though? I've found that in titles where aim-assist can be toggled on or off it's not actually "off" just reduced.

    Another fantastic interview Tracey! Hope some more to come! So fascinating finding out about these players, especially all these Team Immunity players.

    Ps. Halo > COD :D

    I wish Mark was here right now because he would know exactly what I'm thinking right now...

    With some FPS games becoming multi-platform nowadays (xbox playings against pc) do you think the xbox players using controllers would have any chance vs pc gamers using keyboards and mice ?

      It would be silly to even try vs a guy with a mouse vs a controller. The guy on the PC will win any FPS no matter how good the guy with the analogues is!

    WHY IS THE XBOX UPSIDE DOWN?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!?!

      It spins your players invisible hit box 180 degrees so people will need to aim at your feet to get a headshot. Also applies to any player you know who stands their 360 vertically - shoot slightly to their right.

    Heff if you win any money mate, buy yourself a nicer setup haha.

      In all honesty dude its not that big of an issue for me, I'm happy to have what I've got.

    Neo-Kaiser your arguments are really inconsistent.

    A. Yes professionals dislike the bloom because any amount of randomness or luck-factor in a game take away from the skill involved.

    B. No not just anyone can kill you with the DMR , if you understood how to challenge correctly you would win 99% of the time anyway. Just like Heff

    C. You branched away from the argument later and said that you hated it because you could be fighting someone and another could come and kill you both... that's your awareness not the bloom.

    D. Then you started talking about how you purposely don't use the DMR because it requires no skill because the bloom makes it luck. Therefore rendering it an inefficient weapon.


    hahahahaha I can't believe no one reading this stomped him out for it.

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