“FITNESS MAKES ME A BETTER GAMER”The eSports champion says it is his destiny (get it?—sorry, we had to go there) to lead his legion of gamers into battle.
Mike Chaves is built like a Marine, his 5-foot-7-inch frame packed dense with muscle. And he does spend his days shooting at his enemies. But the man they call Flamesword isn’t in the armed services. He’s an eSports star, captain of OpTic Gaming’s Halo team, a spokesman for blockbuster gaming hit Destiny and a perennial threat at the biggest tournaments in the world. The 25-year-old fitness freak talks about the unexpected importance of fitness in pro gaming and how to lead.
THE RED BULLETIN: In a typical day, you’re working out, gaming and organizing your team. How do you manage it all?
FLAMESWORD: A lot of gamers like to wake up in the afternoon. If I did that, my life would be in shambles. I have a system. I run in the morning. I come back and check my emails. I make a video. I start my stream up where I broadcast playing video games on the Internet for three to four hours. I take another break to get food. At night, I play with the team to prepare for tournaments. I sign off anywhere from 12 a.m. to 2 a.m. and reset the day.
How does fitness influence gaming?
Before I got hardcore into fitness, I had no championships. After, I won four. One of the other players on the team also got into fitness. The year we won our first tournament, he was in some of his best shape and I was in some of my best shape. It definitely correlated to us taking home the crown.
I’m older. I wanted to get really into the fitness thing. That required me to have eight hours of sleep and a consistent schedule. Once I really started getting into fitness, that organized my life schedule. That had an effect.
So that wasn’t always the case?
I can’t lie: There was a time in my gaming career, especially in my high school days, where I would wake up at 2 or 3 in the afternoon, rush over to put some Ellio’s pizza in the oven and game nonstop for hours. That part of my life is over. I can’t let that crazy gamer side of me run wild.
What reaction do you get when you tell people your job?
They always say that I’m lying. People think that I’m a wrestler or UFC fighter. Or a skateboard or BMX rider. One of the most important things I do is tell them that I’m a gamer because it’s something that many people don’t hear.
Do you think you’re changing the gamer stereotype?
I love to preach that there was someone before me who made it a certain distance to change the stereotype. Now I’m that person. When I’m gone, there will be another one who takes it even further. With skydiving and the Red Bull high performance boot camps that we’ve been to, we’ve showed that gamers can be as high-class physical performers as other athletes. We are being mentally pushed to our barriers just like any other sport.
Was it difficult to learn how to lead?
I’ve read books that people have suggested to me about karma and stuff like that, but the leadership skill was something that was in me and came out of nowhere. I take after my mom, who is a quiet person. I’ve always looked up to people like “The Rock” [actor Dwayne Johnson], who is a hard-working guy that people love to get behind. I have to make sure that I apply the best in the game and outside of the game. If someone on my team is having some personal issues, I talk to them. At the end of the day, I don’t treat it like a team. It’s a family.
Do you work on being a leader?
I enjoy making everyone around me better, but I enjoy trying to better myself every day, too. When I see people on my runs, I give them a high five, a thumbs up or say “good job.” If you smile and let the good vibes out, good things come to you and the people around you.