In four short years of professional play, Matt 'Nadeshot' Haag has risen through the ranks of eSports hopeful to become one of the most prolific and strategically-minded players in all of professional gaming.
Known for his tactical, calculated gameplay, 'Nadeshot' is perceived as one of the most strategic and adaptive players on the 'Call of Duty' circuit. His philosophy for success? A simple, age-old adage -- hard work pays off.
A Bit of Brotherly Competition
Growing up in Chicago, Nadeshot started playing video games as a hobby from a very young age, playing 'Paperboy' and 'Galaga' with his father and brother on the NES. But while gaming grabbed him as a hobby, it wasn't until he started challenging his older brother that video games really took hold of his interest.
“Gaming was a competitive aspect with my brother and me. The motivation was really to beat him in the beginning,” says Nadeshot. “We played a lot of EA sports games against each other, like Madden and NBA.”
By the time he was in middle school, online competitive gaming had reached the mainstream. Nadeshot began honing his skills in shooters specifically, and was a highly competitive top-level amateur in the first-person shooter 'Halo 2' and the popular third-person tactical shooter, 'Gears of War.'
“My friends are blown away by my eSports career -- it's something they never saw coming. I've traveled internationally to compete and I even got to work with Activision." -- Nadeshot
In 2007, he got his first taste of top-tier play, barely missing out on qualifying for MLG Chicago in 'Gears of War' play by one slot.
Determined to make it to the top level, he kept at it when not busy with school, sports or working shifts at the local McDonald's. As a member of the golf team at his high school and a natural team tactician, Nadeshot was drawn to the 'Call of Duty' series for the game's emphasis on teamwork.
“I was always attracted to teamwork instead of individuality, which is what drew me to 'Call of Duty' -- the team aspect,” he explains. His team-play intuition was right -- he competed in his first professional online tournament in 2008 and shortly thereafter, his first live, arena-style eSports appearance at MLG Anaheim in 2009. Nadeshot had reached the highest echelon of eSports.
Leader of the Pack
Driven by his passion to compete at the top level of eSports, Nadeshot's gameplay skills rose at meteoric speed. By 2010, he was asked to spearhead an aggressive move into eSports for what was then a well-known but non-professional YouTube squad known as OpTic Gaming.
The team honed their skills, practicing online with each other daily on top of their own individual training regimen. Their practice and teamwork paid off, and on top of several successful professional eSports outings the following year, they walked home with top honors -- and a $400,000 total team purse -- as the 2011 Call of Duty XP Champions.
Despite so much success, there are still times when Nadeshot can't believe how it has all worked out.
“My friends are blown away by my eSports career -- it's something they never saw coming. I've traveled internationally to compete and I even got to work with Activision and co-author the 'Brady Games Strategy Guide for Call of Duty: Black Ops II' in 2012. It has really come full circle.”
"One of my fans even gave me a Chipotle gift card at a tournament, because I tweet about eating there all the time." -- Nadeshot
Today, Nadeshot pours himself into the 'Call of Duty' scene, broadcasting his gameplay sessions online for several hours every day, and uploading videos to his popular YouTube channel, which has over 180,000 subscribers and 10-million-plus views.
His top-notch gameplay as well as his devotion to making himself available to fans, whether on Twitter, YouTube, streaming or live at competitions, has made him a celebrity on the 'Call of Duty' circuit.
“I've been recognized in the local mall and at airports a few times,” he says. “One of my fans even gave me a Chipotle gift card at a tournament, because I tweet about eating there all the time. I was really taken aback that my gaming has had that kind of effect on people -- that they want to give back to me.”