The Call of Duty World League Championship is well underway, and it’s so far shaped up to be quite the experience for both fans and pros alike. We had the distinct pleasure of speaking to Trei Morris (aka “Zer0”) of Red Reserve today after their first victory in the Loser Bracket. He didn’t have a lot of time, but he kindly spared a few minutes to give us a window into the life of a Call of Duty professional.
Call of Duty has a reputation for being a twitch-shooter that caters to the casual player. One would think that such a game wouldn’t be viable as an esport, and yet it is. There is something that separates high-level Call of Duty from its casual counterpart, and Zer0 gave us his take on what exactly that difference is.
“I’d say the difference between casual and competitive is more of a mindset,” he said. “A lot of people that play casually rage a lot; you can’t have that in competitive. You’ve just gotta keep a straight mind, and people don’t realize what it actually takes to compete at a high level. It’s very stressful. It’s that along with actually playing the game properly. You’d really have to put a pro player against a casual player in order to see the difference.”
Developing that mindset doesn’t happen overnight though. When asked if the ability to maintain that mindset develops with experience, the pro gamer agreed. “It’s definitely gotten easier over the years,” he said. “I used to get worried about who I’d be playing against, but now I’m always of a mindset where I feel like I could beat anyone. I don’t get scared; I don’t lose composure.”
Beyond developing a competitive mindset, professional gamers have to deal with all manner of situations unique to esports and its individual games. One of high-level Call of Duty’s idiosyncrasies is the fact that the game being played changes each season. One would think moving from the high-flying Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare to the more grounded Call of Duty: WWII would throw-off a player’s game, but it’s actually not a terribly major problem. According to Zer0, it’s mostly just a matter of getting used to the new game’s subtleties. “It definitely transfers over,” he said. “Your gun skill your smarts on the map…it’s always going to be the same. You’ve just gotta take time to get used to it.” He went on to say that it typically takes anywhere from two to three weeks to adjusted to the new game, maps and all.
Our brief discussion concluded with a quick look at what makes pro gaming worthwhile. For Zer0, it can be summed up as a combination of being truly good at what he does, good enough to shoot for the top, and being able to make a living doing something he really enjoys.
Zer0 and Red Reserve were knocked out of the Winner Bracket yesterday, but they’re not finished yet. The team has already won its first match in the Loser Bracket, so we may yet see them in the Championship Match. It’s just a matter of whether or not they can maintain their resolve and mindset as they move into their next few matches.