How I won a brand new Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V

This is a story about one of the greatest moments of my life. But it’s more than just that moment, it’s more about my journey of becoming a Professional Video gamer and how I used strategy and skill to defeat a field of 40,000 competitors. A story about how I went from playing video games in my bedroom to winning Nationwide Video Game Tournaments on the Xbox 360 and walked away with a brand new car.

I rarely share this story with anyone… my parents and friends have told way more people than myself. I hate telling the story because I want to give the story justice, but can’t articulate everything that went into how I ended up winning. I guess it’s because I want to tell the story like this, but people want a one to two word answer. Becoming a professional video gamer wasn’t something I stumbled upon one day, it was a quest. Nearly a life long journey that started in the 3rd grade and took 12+ years to fulfill. But people don’t notice the time and effort that went into it, but only look up and notice it when you do something remarkable. And really it wasn’t about winning a car, it was fulfilling a life long dream. It was about staying true to the words I said to Kevin Dole, “If I can make money playing video games one day, I’m going to do it.” And, after 10 years, I finally did it.

The beginning…

Let’s give justice where justice is due. I started playing video games in 3rd grade. I was at Target with my mom and in the $5 bin, there was a game called, The Indianapolis 500: The Simulation. A fucking brilliant game! I loved it. (It’s even possible to play it online here. Talking about it brings back great memories of sitting upstairs with our Compaq computer for hours. I played it so much, I even went to the doctor for carpal tunnel issues caused from using the arrow keys with my right hand.

Growing up I had other favorites, but nothing quite compared to Indianapolis 500: The Simulation. I loved everything about it. I loved setting new laps times, qualifying, racing. I even loved the game manual which contained countless statistics about the real-life Indianapolis 500.To get into the game you had to answer one of these trivia questions. And well, one day I lost the book. But fortunately I had enough of the book memorized, I could get into the game in just a few attempts. Within The Simulation, cars had different in-game personalities… Some cars were faster, others slower. Some cars more impatient and will crash into you just to get by. Sometimes I would start a race and just let the AI play without me just to see who would win the race. I knew that game from head to toe.

A little bit after this, I started hanging out with the neighbor, Kevin Dole. After school we’d run up stairs to his parent’s workout room and play on the big screen! It was like 36 inches, but back then, that was huge. For years we’d go up and play N64 games, trying to figure out on our own how to beat it. It was in that workout room that I decided I would totally try to make money playing video games if the chance ever came about.

Fast forward 6 years, I’m sitting around watching TV, probably spinning a pillow on my foot (one of my other unique abilities) and I saw a preview for a video game that blew my mind. It was for a game called Project Gotham Racing for the Xbox and that shit looked AWESOME. Xbox hadn’t come out yet, but it was gonna hit this coming Christmas. Xbox was in high demand and low supply, but I still begged my mom for it. Bless her heart, she searched everywhere for the Xbox and eventually found one! And on Christmas day, I was playing Project Gotham on my 13 inch TV. I was in love.

On the Xbox, I astutely noticed an ethernet port and I immediately knew what that was for, online play. But at the time, this functionality had no set release date. And after a few months, I drew tired of Project Gotham and moved on Halo LAN parties with my friends.

Then one day, I was walking through the mall, and I popped into Game Stop. As I’m browsing, I just happen to stumble across this thing called Xbox Live. This had been exactly what I had been waiting for seemingly my entire life! And I’m no dummy, I purchased that shit on the spot, no need to check google for reviews! To my surprise, I found out Xbox Live had just come out yesterday and I would be one of the first users! Talk about luck! Xbox live came with a headphone, a copy of MotoGP the Demo and a year long subscription. I thought I would be able to get the Gamertag, Dan. It was taken, so I went with XXXDanXXX, instead. I got a lot of great other nicknames for that choice, as your might image. Also fortunately, a year back my voice dropped so I didn’t get called a girl on Xbox live which was a favorite thing for trolls to do.

I played a shit-load of Xbox Live in high school. I loved MotoGP the demo and it quickly became my ultimate addiction, rivaling my addiction to Indianapolis 500: The Simulation. MotoGP was, again, a simulation racing game trying to mimic what it would be like to ride a real motorcycle around real-life tracks at 200+ MPH. After a short learning curve on MotoGP, I began setting top laps times and eventually cracked the top 10 in the world. I felt like a king.

Xbox Live continued to consume a majority of my life outside of school. I quit sports teams and extracurriculars to spend more time playing. I think one summer, when MotoGP2 came out, I played for 30 days straight and only left the house to go to church with my parents. My dad eventually said I had to leave the house and hang out with friends. I also stopped studying for an upcoming AP Physics exam 3 weeks before it happened because Forza Motorsport #1 dropped. Video Games consumed so much of my life throughout high school, I was concerned for my ability to focus on college. I decided to sell my Xbox and stopped playing video games completely when I went to college. I decided to focus on college and my studies because I figured the difficulty of college would make up for the void of competition. When I figured out college was a relative breeze without any distractions, it no longer filled that void.

All changed at the end of Sophomore year of college when I popped on the TV and saw one of my old Xbox live buddies, Jason X, playing Project Gotham 3 on TV. He was roping in a cool $3,000 a month, living rent free 4 blocks from the ocean in Marina Del Rey, CA. I could not believe my eyes. I couldn’t believe something like this existed, I couldn’t believe it was him. I couldn’t believe… he was Asian?! He sounded white! I was so taken back. I was in awe. I thought to myself… I COULD DO THAT TOO, I WAS JUST AS GOOD AS HIM! And on May 10th, 2007, I purchased a Xbox 360 and a brand new copy of Forza Motorsport 2.

On May 10th, 2007, my mission in life switched from being a good College Student to becoming to be the greatest Forza 2 racer in the world.

It just so happened 3 months later, in August, 2007 rumblings of a Forza 2 Tournament started swirling around. A huge grand prize. Unheard of in the video game racing world. The tournament was called The Nissan Sentra Challenge. The Grand Prize was a BRAND NEW 2008 Nissan Sentra SER Spec-V…

The tournament was broken up into three parts:

1) Qualification: Set your best Lap Time (Top 256 qualify)

2) Elimination: 6 Elimination Rounds via Xbox Live narrowing the field from 256 to 4 racers

3) Grand Final: 10 Lap Race: Winner gets the car

Everyone was WooHooing about the tournament, but I almost missed the entire thing by not qualifying.

A little background on Forza 2. Forza 2 is a game people rarely have heard about, even though over 2 million people had played it. Whenever I pronounce the name of it, people are like what? Forza? For-… sa? Fuck people, come on. It’s Forza. Forza 5 is out at the time of writing this, but back in the day, I played Forza 2. Forza is a simulation racer just like my other favorite games. That means you can purchase real-life cars, like a Nissan Sentra, pop on a bunch of upgrades, like a new motor, improved steering, better tires and turn your car into a super star!

And here’s how the whole tournament went down.

Tournament Phase 1: Qualifying - Set your Best lap time

The tournament was set up like a weird combination of NASCAR and the NCAA Basketball Tournament. You have 14-ish days to set your best lap time and depending on what seed you qualify, you’ll be broken up into NCAA style brackets, highest seeds vs lowest seeds. Then elimination rounds will be held Saturday nights all throughout the months of September and October with the grand finale happening just after Thanksgiving. If you get into the top 256 during the qualifying round, you make it to the elimination events.

The Nissan Sentra tournament was setup to use a Stock Nissan Sentra without and Upgrades. In the grand scheme of the game, the Stock Nissan Sentra, was a slow ass rickety piece of shit. No one wanted to drive that thing. In game, it was considered a D class car which meant it was slow as fuck and required very methodical and highly precise turns to keep momentum throughout the corners. Since it couldn’t accelerate quickly, any mistakes were compounded on the straightaway as you could never recover from slow exit speed. Anyways, I personally hated D class because I was best at driving cars where the wheels were about to fall off. Cars that were FAST, and had POOR handling. I was best at those because I could maneuver them around the corners, unlike other racers who struggled. I would always hit my braking markers. And if I messed up, I still was able to take the corner quickly.

But at the time of the tournament, I despised D class cars and I sucked at driving them. I wrote off the Nissan Sentra Challenge as un-winnable, and did not even attempt to qualify for the tournament. I didn’t run a single lap in qualifying, which lasted from August 26th - September 8th. I wasn’t interested in participating in the tournament. I don’t know what the fuck I was thinking.

You may be wondering… how did you win the tournament without qualifying? Did you cheat?

Not quite, other people cheated!

A Glitch in the system allowed me to qualify…

There was a glitch in the tournament system that allowed participants to qualify using UPGRADED cars, when you weren’t supposed to be able to use upgraded cars. This glitch delegitimized the qualifying results. And instead of punishing the small handful of cheaters, they threw out the entire round of qualifying and restarted the tournament!

To deal with the glitch they now allowed upgrades which suited my play style much more. They now allowed you to upgrade your Nissan Sentra to A class which meant that the rickety piece of shit, now drove FAST down the straights and had horrible handling. It was like a dream come true, and I was excited about the tournament for the first time. I actually felt like I had a chance to win under the new rules. To me, it’s way more fun to supe up your car with 540 horsepower and drive like a bat out of hell.

I decided it would be really really stupid not to at least “Try” at qualifying. So I bought a Nissan Sentra from the Forza 2 Garage, suped it up, and I qualified in the mid 30’s which I thought was decent. But then, the creators of Forza 2 offered up a prize, a unicorn car.

A Unicorn Car… My dream prize!

Many of the really strong players were sandbagging. They thought, “Hey if I qualify in the mid 20’s, I won’t be matched up with any good players and it will pave the way to victory.” Unfortunately, SO many good players sandbagged that the crappier grids were actually harder than the top grid. I was also a part of the sandbaggers until the tournament directors offered up a Unicorn challenge. The challenge was if you qualify within the top 10, you’ll receive a very sought after prize in the Forza world: a unicorn car.

I was only 20 years old at the time, and not that brilliant. I thought a unicorn car would be a car with an actual unicorn sticking out of the hood with a rainbow on the side. I visualized myself driving the unicorn car in regular races, dominating people while driving a car with a rainbow on the side. I was more pumped about this Unicorn car than I was about the prospects of winning a real-life car. I was so pumped about winning the unicorn car that I spent hours practicing. I set my absolute best lap time around 56.8xx which qualified me in 3rd place out of 40,000. I waited with great anticipation for my unicorn car. Unfortunately, when I received my prize I was sorely disappointed. The car didn’t have a unicorn… not even a rainbow… it was just a car that could not be won or purchased in the game. For me, it was a big let down. However qualifying 3rd turned out to be a super beneficial. The top bracket was not filled with the strongest racers and had one of the easiest roads to the finals.

Tournament Phase 2: Elimination Races

The elimination races were unique because you didn’t actually have to win the race to advance. Like in college, I was the master of the syllabus, in tournaments, I was master of the rules. A racer only needed to get within the top 4. Each race I only needed to be 4th and I would advance to the next round. I didn’t need to win. Hell, I wasn’t even supposed to be in this tournament, so everything was kinda gravy at this point. Given the knowledge of just needing top 4 to advance, I devised my strategy:Advance, Don’t Win.

So after all the qualifying and requalifying the brackets were set. I qualified 3rd, and the field was stacked with top talent.

Part 2 Elimination Rounds

Every Saturday for 6 weeks, all racers would report into a lobby at a specified time. Then for 10 laps we would battle it out and the top 4 finishers would advance. Collisions were on, so watch your ass. Also, everyone would know the track that we are playing so you could practice all week, tune your car and select upgrades. Trust me, there were no shortage of things to figure out.

Elimination Round 1… Don’t invite the #1 Qualifier dumbass

I remember being in the lobby for the first night of racing. It was intense, palms sweating, cold, goosebumps. I was nervous and…. confused…. about the amount of people in our pre-race tournament lobby. The pre-race lobby was also only filled with 6 racers, not 8! My room was supposed to be filled with the following qualifiers: #1, #2, #3, #4, #253, #254, #255, and #256 qualifiers. Who was missing? The #1 qualifier, O Liberty O! He was PLAYING HALO!

TRC Hoosier, the #2 qualifier, wanted to invite O Liberty O to come over to Forza to play with us. He’s probably an honest man with a family but his comment just about killed me! I rarely yell, but I started yelling, “WHAT? NO DO NOT INVITE HIM. DO NOT INVITE HIM. Why would you invite him? This is our best case scenario.” We debated for at least 3 minutes on whether or not to invite him. I’m not sure whether or TRC Hoosier invited O Liberty O or not, but the guy did not show up and that was a beautiful thing.

I always wondered why he didn’t show up, and I never knew why he didn’t show up until doing research for this post. Below is something he said earlier in the month, “I really hope collisions are turned off, or else it will be a joke.”

o-liberty-o-post-no-collisions

Collisions were on, so he gave up without even trying. Clearly English was a challenge too. But nonetheless, for him, collisions were a big threat to his ability to compete and win the tournament. For me, collisions were an asset! They turned out to be the greatest eliminator of talented drivers. It all came down to an effective strategy and understanding how to play the game. The game was advance while managing your risk. Get into the top 4 before the end of the 10th lap.

Two Strategies on Race Day

Despite only needing to finish in the top 4, most talented drivers still raced with the following strategy: Lead the most laps, be first for the entire race at all costs.

My Strategy: Never lead, Never win a race, Pass people when safe. Finish top 4.

I managed my risk. The biggest risk to advancing were people running into your rear bumper because they forgot to brake on time. Your car becomes the damn guard rail!

My strategy with all Elimination races was to Advance, top 4! I didn’t care about anything other than advancing. I didn’t care about being first, and in fact, I avoided being first because collisions were on. This caused the first few laps of the race to be complete and utter chaos! All 8 cars start on a really tight grid, and we’re using a car with 540 horsepower without any handling improvements. This car feels like it’s driving on ice and it’s likely for two or more cars to collide in the first turn! When you collide with someone your tournament is over. Your car is destroyed and you can no longer go fast.

My strategy worked in week one, I came in 3rd place. All the “good people” from my room advanced. And one crappy player. The #1 seed was eliminated, I thought that was pretty good for this week!

Elimination Round 2… Long Straights, Tight Turns, Watch your Ass

new-york-circuit-short

Week 2 rolled around and week 2 was on New York circuit Short. All the good players were practicing a LOT. They were practicing to be the fastest on each and every track. I didn’t actually practice that much at this point in the tournament. I knew I could easily advance after people destroyed themselves. At this point in the tournament, I spent most of my time playing a different game, Project Gotham 4. I was simultaneously competing in a smaller tournament where the grand prize was a nice set of tires from Michelin. I ended up taking 3rd in that tournament and winning a really shitty Michelin GPS unit. I spent a good Saturday getting back in the swing of things with Forza 2. It took me a couple hours of practicing to get back in the swing of things for this race.

This treacherous track featured long straight aways and tight corners. That meant a long period of braking, and a high high margin for error.

The starting line gives you a long run up to the first corner. Enough to get your 540 horsepower car to full speed. 8 cars separated by .3 seconds, braking from 200 MPH to 30 MPH: a recipe for disaster.

Towards the middle of the 1st straight away, I simply pulled my car to the side of the road and let everyone pass me. TRC Hoosier, on the other hand, wanted to be first going into the first turn. He was, but it didn’t end well. The crappy driver who advanced from week one crashed into him ON THE FIRST TURN.

I remember passing TRC Hoosier’s beat to crap car on the 2nd corner. His car was pulling heavily to the right and smoking. I thought to myself, “Wow, that’s too bad. Glad I don’t need to be first on the first turn.”

I ended up finishing safely in 3rd place on this race, enough to advance. #1 and #2 seeds eliminated… I’m the favorite now?

Week 3…Connection Issues

For me, this week was a nonevent. I do not even remember what track we played. I finished 3rd (I know this because I finished 3rd on every elimination race). I don’t remember anything terribly exciting happening in my race. But some excitement happened in other races.

Two of the top, top players, General E Live and SACKAMONJARO were both eliminated from the tournament. General E Live was the best North American player in Forza 2’s predecessor. SACKAMONJARO was winning his races by over 10 seconds. They were top contenders in this tournament, but they became disconnected from their tournament lobby during their races. This disconnection eliminated them from the tournament. Simply bad luck. Easily 4 of the top players had been eliminated from the Tournament.

Week 4… Competition is Heating Up! Time for a new parts setup

picture-of-sunset-infieid-short-the-track

We’re on the same track as week one, just reversed. 32 players remain and the competition is becoming more fierce. In all previous racers I could easily out race 4 people in the room. If it came down to pure skill, I could out race them. But looking at this race, I realized there were 5 fast racers in this lobby. Two of them still sucked and could take you out at any time. It was a balance between safety and risk. I needed to be safe, but I also needed to go quickly enough to advance.

At this point, my major point of concern was my car setup. Almost as important as your racing ability is your Car setup. One of the competitive advantage other racers had was their racing clan: TRC, D2C, PPR, etc. These clans all shared part setups and they figured out the perfect part combination. I had not yet figured it out. These clans weren’t sharing any secrets. The perfect parts combination allowed you to start at the front of the starting grid and it didn’t negatively affect the performance of the car.

I wanted to figure out this parts setup. I spent more time in my virtual garage buying and apply virtual parts than I did actually practicing. At this point I had about 25 virtual Nissan Sentras with different color schemes identifying which one was which. Gosh, do you really want the gory details of how this worked? The grid position was based upon your car’s level 100-850, 850 being the best. Everyone has an 850 car at this point, but some 850’s are better than others. So it becomes like I have an 850.1 I have an 850.2. Except it doesn’t show you the decimals. The only way to see how well you set up your car is by looking at your garage and seeing how the cars ranked in your garage. So I’d put on different paint jobs to signify which setup I used, then throw parts on the car and see how it ranked.

I spent hours and hours trying different setups. I ended up getting the parts setup from a guy who was eliminated from the race. He was a dear friend, but I forget his name.

I was good at racing, but I even better at short cuts. My claim to fame in MotoGP was shortcuts and in Forza it was not different. If I really got into trouble I had found a shortcut while practicing. Taking the shortcut would saved me a couple seconds and also made passing another player very easy. If I really needed to bust out the shortcut to advance I would have, but fortunately, didn’t need to use it. I got 3rd again.

Week 5… I hope you aren’t thirsty…

maple-valley-long

The top players continually made poor choices leading to their elimination. Week 5 was no different.

At 7:52 PM, TRC Firebird, the “best” remaining player in the tournament, was thirsty and wanted to grab a soda before the race. He said, “I’m going to go grab a snack.” He got up, took his sweet ass time to grab a snack. Normally at 7:52 that wouldn’t be a big deal because he has 8 minutes until the race starts. Races typically start 10 minutes after the lobby is opened. The lobby opens according to Xbox Live Time at 7:50 PM.

But today the lobby was not opened at 7:50 PM. Somehow, some way, Wait4Me’s Xbox clock got set ahead 7 minutes. He opened the tournament lobby at 7:43 and tonight, the race would be starting at 7:53 PM. None of us knew this…

All of a sudden at 7:53 PM, the lobby timer starts 3, 2, 1, Race Starting… 7 minutes early It goes to the loading screen. Everyone is freaking out, like WTF IS GOING ON?! Is TRC Firebird back? Will he be here?

I’m starting in the back of the grid, probably around 7th position. I nearly ram into the back of TRC Firebird’s stationary car. I get slightly giddy and think THIS IS THE GREATEST THING EVER!! 45 seconds pass and he still hasn’t moved. He finally comes back and starts racing, at least ¾ of a lap behind on Maple Valley Long. I can imagine the utter shock upon his face when he walked back up to his TV.

With only 16 players left in the tournament competition is picking up and starting 45 seconds behind will essentially leave you eliminated. While Firebird is an amazing racer, he’s really far behind. Two players crash. I’m silently praying for no one else to crash. I watch his dot move around the track. He’s catching UP! This is unbelievable, he cannot catch them. Go faster you noobs!

Fortunately, time expires, he ended up either 5th or 6th, and was eliminated. I finished 3rd…. again.

Week 6… The Final Elimination Round and OMG it’s a MIRACLE I advanced

nissan-speedway-the-oval

The last 8 players remain in the tournament, the competition is downright fierce. Everyone in this lobby could win, especially on a track that doesn’t take that much skill. But in a Nissan Sentra with 540 HP, everything takes a bit of finess and skill. On the first lap,

We practiced all week. I was good friends with a guy named D2C Walhooshie. On this track, you could pair up with someone, draft with them and go really really fast. It was like Nascar, when you’re in the pack you go faster, if not, you’re going to go slower. Our goal was to be draft buddies throughout the race. Well it didn’t happen. On the second turn, he got blown up by a guy riding in person perspective.

On the first turn of the 3rd lap, I have an absolutely epic turn. Like damn! So fast. The video explains it the best

On the 1st lap, I had a great line, but all of a sudden, my car randomly got loose and veered towards the wall. Normally, at this point, you’re pretty much fucked and headed into the wall. Getting loose like this would happen in practice and 9 times out of 10 you’re in the guardrail. I remember, I just kept the petal to the metal and my car did not crash. Un-fucking-believable. I should have crashed, but yet another miracle happened.

However, this allowed the 7th place guy to catch up to me. We go into the 1st corner AT THE SAME TIME. Huge mistake. Leading into the turn, I said, “Back off I’m coming around the outside.” He doesn’t back off and our cars touch. Remarkably, I take NO damage. Normally the slightest touch sends your car flying into the wall, but miracle would have it… it didn’t this time. After that near disaster, I gained a tremendous amount of speed and catch up to the pack ahead and I pass TRC Takeout. This causes him to drop down to the lower part of the track where D2C Walahooshie is trying to make a pass. And they scream towards the wall and crash in an epic display of fireworks! All of a sudden I hear D2C Walhooshie on the microphone erupt, “I KNEW THIS WOULD HAPPEN. I KNEW THIS WOULD HAPPEN. FUCK THIS.” Little did I know, the most amazing miracle happened. TRC Takeout had taken out himself and the remaining best racer.

TRC TakeOut raced in person view. It’s like you’re racing a real car, except you don’t have any windows. He cannot see to his left or right. He was on the outside of the track and didn’t notice anyone on his inside. Just like in Nascar there were two different lines on this oval, the inside and the outside. The outside line swings down into the inside line (if it’s open). TRC TakeOut thinks the inside lane is open. He comes down from the outside and smashes into D2C Walahooshie.

At this point 2 cars have been destroyed. I’m now sitting in 4th place. I end up making another pass before the finish and finish in 3rd place. In a mere stroke of luck, I ADVANCED TO THE FINAL! I was so nervous after crossing the finish line, I didn’t save the replay, but 6 years later, I hit up TRC Blademeister for the replay and amazingly he sent it over to me. I couldn’t fucking believe it.

I just won an all expense paid trip to Los Angeles.

Leading up to the Final

At this point I was invested in the tournament. I thought long and hard about the environment I would be playing in. I anticipated differences between my home setup and the setup at the tournament. I knew we wouldn’t be racing on same standard definition TV that I had at home. So I asked the tournament director, “What TV’s will we be playing on?”

email-with-valuable-tv-information-24-inches 

Hmmm, A 24" LCD TV? I called my friend who was a monitor expert. We went out and bought a 24" LCD Monitor. We setup the new monitor, and it was completely different than what I was used to. Buying that monitor was one of the most important purchases of my life.

We were going to be at the LA Auto Show. I knew it would be loud in there. I practiced with background noise. I remember my friend buying a mp3 file that was a bunch of background noise.

I did as much as I could to simulate the actual experience of the Auto-show.

I appeared offline for the entire two weeks leading up to the race. I didn’t want anyone to know I was online and practicing 24/7. I thought, if they see me practicing, they’ll practice more. I prepared by running 10 laps and recording the lap times in an excel spreadsheet.

The final race was on the same track as the qualifying. The best lap I ever turned was 55.851. That was a damn near perfect lap and it was nearly an entire second faster than my qualification time. The improvement was astounding.

The Final Race…

Microsoft took really good care of us. They flew us out LAX. When I got off the airplane, I was told to find the guy who was holding my name. Ever wonder who the people are who have their names on signs at the airport? That was me. I was royalty. I was the guy with my name written on a card. I found the guy holding a sign with “OTTO” on it. I was like OMG, that’s my name, you’re my driver!!!

Microsoft took us out to dinner, it was a little awkward. What do you say to the people you want to demolish tomorrow?

The Remaining Participants

Four people remained, who would come out on top? Who was the favorite at this point? Everyone pointed to Wildchild as the favorite. This just goes to show how far under the radar I flew. People still did not consider me as a possibility to win. And I agree to this day, Wildchild is very talented at driving virtual cars, just like me, but he failed to do one particular step…. He failed to anticipate tournament conditions and it screwed him over.

He practiced, a lot, just like me. His best lap time was nearly equivalent to mine. But he forgot one major major component: Tournament conditions would be extremely challenging with a wheel. At home, Wildchild has an amazingly comfortable setup. It’s his perfect setup, probably has the wheel mounted to some really comfortable chair. It probably feels like he’s driving a real car. But, at the tournament, it’s different. He doesn’t have his wheel stationed to a table. He doesn’t have the pedals bolted in the floor. He’s not as good without his perfect setup. It’s quite frankly, impossible to be as good. When we get to the final race we were practically sitting on the fucking floor. The tournament directors did not at all anticipate anyone using the whell. Imagine using a steering wheel sitting on your lap. It’s practically impossible, I’m amazed he got second.

At home he was as fast as me. But in tournament conditions, he was running laps slower .1 - .2 seconds slower. Not a huge difference, but enough to notice he was off the pace.

TRC Blademeister - The old guy.

This guy was a really nice, but a nerd to the core. He practiced really hard leading up to the final. But when it came down to running perfect laps, he didn’t have the consistency. His best lap was probably around 56.1xx. A .250 difference is massive. He was good, he wasn’t great.

Wait4Me - The guy who didn’t practice

Wait4Me is a guy I’d been racing with for years. We’d do small tournaments, just for fun. And every time it was a battle between us at the top. He and I were equally capable of winning this race, no doubt. Except… Oddly.. for the biggest race of his life… He didn’t practice at all. This guy makes the LEAST sense to me. We spent leading up to this race. We maneuvered carefully around all the potential pitfalls (collisions, disconnections), and we find ourselves with a grand opportunity in front of us. You win this 10 lap race, you get a car!

We talked the night before the final race. He said, “I found a sick setup, ran a few laps and set my best time of 56.4xx. I figured that would be good enough and I’ll be really pissed if someone runs a 55.xxx.” I said, “Wow, yeah 55.xxx would be fast.”

Wait4Me and I go back years. We played back in the day when I was in high school. We played in other tournaments that were for no money. He practiced more for those tournaments than he did for a tournament where he could win a car! He even beat me many times in those other tournaments. I’m glad he didn’t practice because he was at least as good as me when he practiced.

I was primed to win… Execute and the car is mine!

My final race strategy: Qualify First, Lead Every Turn of the Race, Win by as much as possible.

My final race strategy was different than the one I used in the elimination events. Everyone knew what was going on, no surprises. No one was going to wreck me. If they did, the tournament judges would intervene.

The final race actually wasn’t particularly exciting. I qualified in first place. I led the first lap. I led the second lap. led every lap. By the 4th lap, I was building up a bit of a gap on Wildchild. I ran a bad lap on the 2nd lap and Wildchild ran a good one and he closed the gap for a turn, he thought he might have a chance. But I pulled away on the more technical sequence of the track. Now, WildChild, about .5 seconds back is back where he started. I run 3 really good laps in a row. Wildchild is now 1-2 seconds behind, really far. I end the race 5.5 seconds ahead. I dominated the final race.

Interviews, pictures ensue…

major-nelson-interview Me getting interviewed by the legend Major Nelse. I didn’t even know who he was tho.

nissan-sentra-tournament-car Me sitting in a Nissan at the LA Auto Show.

Picking up the car…

That is how I became a professional gamer. The Nissan has now driven me over 100,000 miles and continues to be an awesome car.

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