If you don’t know Michael “Flamesword” Chaves from his success in the eSports arena, you can see him on 80 million custom designed Red Bull Energy Drink cans throughout the summer and into the fall. This marks the first time an eSports star has been featured on a Red Bull can.
The first Destiny-branded cans are available exclusively across 7-Eleven stores now with a full retail roll-out in August. Closer to the launch of The Taken King, special Destiny-branded 4-packs of Red Bull will be available exclusively at Walmart that contain a Mega XP Accelerator.
The promotion is part of Activision and Bungie’s Destiny: The Taken King expansion, which launches Sept. 15. The can will unlock a special in-game quest. Chaves will offer tips and hint for the exclusive quest. Gamers can also get codes for bonus Focused Light bonus XP through each can. More info on the promotion can be found here.
Chaves, who plays Halo for OpticGaming, will be among the first pro gamers to play Halo 5: Guardians as an eSport at a special 343 Industries invitational in Cologne, Germany on Aug. 7 at the ESL Arena. When he’s not playing Halo professionally, Chaves spends a lot of time in Bungie’s latest game world. He explains why Destiny could emerge as an eSport in this exclusive interview.
What’s it like being the first pro gamer to be featured on a can of Red Bull?
Bungie putting me on 80 million Red Bull cans shows that they want to take an initiative into eSports. It’s showing movement that maybe there is life in eSports for Destiny and maybe we’ll see something coming out in the future. Bungie has a 10-year plan with Destiny and dating back to Halo their games have grown a community. Halo eSports grew out of that community.
What do you feel Bungie would need to add to make Destiny better for eSports?
I do play a lot of Destiny. I’ve seen some good things, I’ve seen some changes that need to happen with certain weapons. With The Taken King they have released a huge weapons update that will help change the meta of the game. The game was originally designed around discovery and finding different weapons. It made it a one-dimension view of how to play the game. That’s being addressed with The Taken King.
From a spectator standpoint and player-wise, some weapons may have to be banned. I have to wait for the weapons changes to go into effect with the expansion to see, but the game does have eSports potential. The 3 versus 3 Skirmish tournaments are always happning. You play it like a custom game. That’s something that would need to be added to the game to make it more eSports friendly. Adding a private lobby could be good.
Do you think 3 vs. 3 would play better than 4 vs. 4 gameplay for eSports?
I’ve gotten into 4 vs. 4 Control matches, but it comes down to needing private lobbies and then with that you can test as much as you want. 4 vs. 4 has always been cool to see the triple kill and the extra fourth man adds a gripping moment to see if he can pull off four kills in a row, overkill style. Having four players makes players think more and it opens up the need for more communication as a team.
What’s it been like watching Red Bull grow as an eSports brand?
It’s been incredible how they’ve grown with eSports. They have an in-house studio at HQ that’s always ready to play. They have the stage set in the back and we got to go there before the Halo Championship Series Finals this past weekend (in Burbank). Little things like that show they care about us.
What are your thoughts on the Red Bull Lab?
We did the boot camp at Red Bull HQ. It’s incredible. The things they’re checking for are the things we need. There are still a lot of things to research. It’s super helpful. They tracked our REM sleep and all of these things. I’m a health and fitness freak. It changed how I eat and approach sleeping by giving me little tactics to change hand-eye coordination. It’s important to make sure our minds are still as young as ever to compete with younger kids with quicker hand-eye coordination.
Did you take part in the new eye tracking technology at the Red Bull Lab?
The other guys (on Optic Gaming) did the brain map and they played and they tracked them. The brain mapping wave picked up on all those types of things. We did do a few hand-eye coordination tests. We threw tennis balls and caught them after doing 360s to help increase our hand-eye coordination. When we were there we saw other Red Bull athletes in there from wakeboarding and skiing. It’s cool to see this crossover and figure out things that work with them and with us.
What are your thoughts on the X-Games now awarding extreme athletes and pro gamers the same medals?
It sends a great message to eSports. I’ve been around eSports since 2008. If you told me back then we’d be in the X-Games and earning medals, I’d have told you we’d need more time. But we keep doing groundbreaking things. Now I’m on 80 million cans of Red Bull. ESports keeps pushing boundaries.
Having large audiences on social media gives the gamer a voice. Since I’ve been in this industry for a long time, we got looked down on by many people from a business perspective. It was like, “They’re just pro gamers.” Now I feel like social media across all the gaming personalities and pro players, gives us a voice to be heard. We go to forums and talk to people to bring up things so they can be answered. When one of us tweets, people are seeing it.
How does that help sponsors like Red Bull?
If I’m sponsored, my headers or background can show the love that Red Bull supports me.
What are your thoughts on the ESL instituting drug testing for pro gamers across its events?
From a broader picture perspective, it shows more of a presence the eSports industry with real sports. It’s not just kids playing games. There’s a lot of money on the line for these tournaments. It brings more of a presence that these gamers are being tested just like the NFL or MLB.
What are your thoughts on the growing Fantasy eSports business that has sprouted up this year?
I play a lot of Fantasy Football every season. I enjoy Fantasy a lot. It adds an extra layer of interaction to learn more about a player. If they’re going to do these types of things, website holders are going to provide deeper analytics and statistics. It allows for a deeper level of analytical view to see how this team does so well, or why this player is doing so well. You get the extra fan interaction like, “Hey Mike, I have you on my team.” It adds more excitement to match. There’s more to follow as a fan.
What do you feel Halo 5: Guardians will add to eSports this fall?
I’ll be competing at the Halo 5 Invitational Tournament at Gamescom. I’ll be looking at Halo 5 to see if the feedback was heard and attached to Guardians and make sure it’s the best game they can come out with. I think Halo 5 is going to be huge. This is their first arena style gameplay, which is the more competitive side with 4 vs. 4. Gamescom is always a huge event and I’m pumped to be going for the first time and hear all about Halo 5 live. I know they want to come out with the best thing for eSports fans.