The Red Bull LAN is a couple of days away and will feature a weekend of straight pwnage from the best Halo players in the world. This invite-only professional gaming performance camp will be available to watch online from June 24-26, and former Halo pro and e-sport personality DMaq will serve as guest commentator. This 22-year-old from New Jersey, whose real name is Danish Maqbool, wagers that this “could be the biggest LAN stage that we’ve ever seen.”
The youngest of three children and son to a blue-collar retired member of the Pakistani Navy, DMaq says his love affair with gaming began at a young age.
“My dad always made sure that we had the first computer, the first Atari, the first video camera. He always made sure we had that technology -- even though he couldn’t afford it,” he says. “Super Nintendo was the console that was like crack to me. And then PlayStation came out, and my mom bought me one with Madden ’95. I’ve had every Madden since.”
Diehard Fans of Competitive Gaming
Despite the fact that DMaq is a former professional gamer, he doesn’t enjoy his time among the other pros. He prefers being among the diehard fans of competitive gaming. He feels the success of professional gaming rests entirely on the shoulders of the faithful who prowl the online forums, tune into the nightly streamed matches and travel coast-to-coast to this tournament or that LAN.
“What I love is that for some kids, this is the focal point of their lives, and this is what they look up to. They wake up and they can’t wait to see what happens in the league and who’s on what team,” explains DMaq.
“Kids who are making $200-$300 a month and then spend $500-$600 to come out [to an event] just so they could maybe watch Walshy or Enable and Assault -- for them to do that, it really means a lot. I really just want to make sure that we’re good to them. I was at that stage at one point, and honestly, I never made these treks across the country because I couldn’t justify it financially. Yet, these kids can’t justify it either and they still keep comin’ to every tourney just because they just have that much love.”
Putting in Work
DMaq’s certainly no slouch. He’s a man who believes that the only place where “success” comes before “work” is in the dictionary. “Honestly, I believe that in your early 20s, if you’re not working you’re doing something wrong. That’s just the hustle that I was taught from my father. I really try to have as little fun as possible these days -- I mean, I love to have fun, but I’m really looking forward to making something out of myself in my late 20s.”
DMaq certainly doesn’t expect everyone to be working as hard as he is; he just assumes -- and hopes -- that they are. “I’ve been sitting around talking with the boys about all these teams, all this development, it’s all hinged on how much they play. So I really want to see how much people are playing Halo: Reach going into the Red Bull LAN because this isn’t like the last year with Halo 3 where people were at their peaks already; people are still learning. There’s a big learning curve here.”
"These kids can’t justify it either and they still keep comin’ to every tourney because they just have that much love.”
Even with the life he’s lived in less than a quarter century, DMaq’s never short of stories to pass down or legends to recant, which could be traced back to his deep adoration for storyline-driven games. “Ninja Turtles, X-Men, WWF -- those were the games with the rich, rich storylines," he remembers. "Later I moved on and was like, ‘Ah, man, games just aren’t the same anymore.’ But then when I found Halo, I fell in love with gaming all over again.”
As far as the competition at Red Bull LAN, DMaq predicts a no-holds-barred marathon, which will no doubt have some serious implications for the future of competitive gaming. “It’s great having these three teams at this event, because there’s a lot of unanswered questions about each team. Sometimes, with some of the more cohesive, battle-tested teams, I know what to expect. These three teams need to find themselves at this LAN if they want any chance of taking the gold in Anaheim next month.”
Follow Red Bull Gaming on Twitter for the latest info.