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Gaming Interviews

AHAD Goes ‘Inside The Screen’ With Aaron “Don” Dukes

This week’s Inside The Screen, hosted by Aaron “Don” Dukes, features special guest AHAD. AHAD is a self-described broadcaster and genius who jokingly regards himself as being rated #1 in female focus groups. As a content creator/broadcaster, AHAD pulls off the flashiest of plays and sprinkles in a bit of his personality while grinding in Valorant. While he’s been known to dabble in other popular first-person shooters such as Battlefield 2042 and Halo: The Master Chief Collection, AHAD is most known for creating memorable moments during his focused Valorant sessions.

Once the topic of putting in the work comes up, AHAD provided an interesting anecdote when it came to time management. “Last year, I was streaming Valorant from day one,” he noted. “I was streaming from 6 pm to 6 am every single day. And I was clocking in 300 and something hours streamed every single month last year. I would sleep for two hours, go to work in the morning, I’d come back from work at like 2 or 3 pm, sleep for two hours, wake up again, quickly shower, eat something, then go live at 6 pm again every single day. That’s 12 hours almost daily for all last year starting in March.” To say that AHAD’s schedule is not for the faint of heart would be a severe understatement.

AHAD is known for hopping on Twitter to vent about Valorant’s Ranked mode. In a very vivid description of the sometimes infuriating game mode, AHAD stated that “Ranked is like an ex, bro. It’s like an emotionally abusive ex. I just keep going back every day for 10 hours a day. I’m trapped. I’m not even in love, bro. I got an illness.” AHAD perked up a bit more when he began speaking on women gamers and their affinity for communicating/not communicating during his Valorant sessions – “I think girls when they don’t comm, it’s totally cool. But you know what’s crazy is girls at the Immortal/Radiant level will always communicate. There is never an issue of using the microphone or typing ever. I’ve noticed I have lots of friends that are girls that play Valorant at lower ranks that don’t use their microphone or prefer not to. And I totally understand.” AHAD clearly understands the toxicity that girl gamers deal with in an online environment, especially when it comes to playing competitive games such as Valorant.

Due to the 2020 pandemic, gaming ended up becoming a central hobby for many as they chose to pass the time while under lockdown. After Aaron spoke on the societal realization that gaming is now an essential part of everyday living. AHAD spoke on the influence of gaming on the casual side of things by stating that it doesn’t really exist anymore – “there’s probably a Tweet I put out a long time ago, something along the lines of casual gaming is not really casual gaming anymore cause everybody wants to attempt to go pro or get a contract. So any piece of mind that you get from playing games is gone.” Aaron and AHAD have clearly run into a whole bunch more “sweats” these days that go just as hard as them when it comes time to grab some W’s in Valorant.

Make sure you sit in on the rest of AHAD’s lit conversation with Aaron “Don” Dukes on the latest episode of Inside the Screen. Their chat takes a deeper dive into Valorant’s Ranked match woes, his past streamed games, the flood of younger pro players entering the scene, and so much more.

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Gaming Interviews

Popular Streamers KittyPlays and Krystalogy Talk Mental Health In Gaming

Mental health is important, and so is self-preservation. In order to be our best selves and perform at our highest levels, we have to make sure we are taken care of mentally and emotionally. One of the ways we can do that is through gaming. A recent Microsoft study found that 84% of respondents agreed that gaming has positively impacted their mental health over the past year during the course of this pandemic.

Researchers have cited numerous mental health benefits to playing games including lessened feelings of loneliness, to further help spread positivity in the world of gaming  Bai Boost, a new plant-based, caffeinated water drink from Bai Wonderwater, has partnered with Take This, a non-profit supporting mental health in the gaming community, as well as wildly popular streamersKittyPlays and Krystalogy to continue to bring light and education on mental health awareness.

We spoke with both KittyPlays and Krystalogy on the personal benefits of gaming and how they personally take care of themselves, while also getting advice on how to fit gaming and self-care into our busy schedules.

ONE37pm: This past Sunday was World Mental Health Day. How does gaming help to improve mental health?

KittyPlays: It helps a lot! Gaming allows me to participate and be social. It can also be very stimulating in the sense that you take on new challenges. It’s important to take care of your mental health, and gaming can be an easy way to connect with a group that has the same direction. You’re accomplishing something.

Krystalogy: I actually have a story about this. It was my freshman year of college and I was going through a rough time. I began playing Stardew Valley, and tending to my farm kept me sane rather than crying. It was soothing, calm, helped me stay focused and promoted positivity. Playing games can definitely help you stay centered and positive.

ONE37pm: Adult life can be super busy and sometimes we don’t have the time to play games. Any suggestions on how we can incorporate that more into our lives?

KittyPlays: It’s funny because I never thought I would be telling adults to game. I would suggest putting it as part of your nighttime ritual. Again you can join a group, explore a new world, and it can help you when you are going through something and life is getting too heavy. Also this can depend on the game you are playing as well.

Krystalogy: To add, I haven’t been playing a lot of games outside of my career lately because I have been trying to read more and decrease time. However if I were to play a game right now to relax it would probably be Valorant. I try not to record/stream every moment because there are things that I want to keep to myself, and I don’t have to worry about small things such as how I look or what facial expressions I am making.

ONE37pm: How do you take care of yourself daily to help you balance your career?

KittyPlays: I’m a huge fan of morning routines. I don’t touch my phone right away when I get up. I do yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, and journal. I have my lattes, do some reading, and then I officially start my day. So I would say it’s about setting that initial foundation.

Krystalogy: I’ve been reading a lot more because so much of gaming is about storytelling, and I love games and stories. I also read to reduce my time on social media because it can really be draining sometimes—especially with the negative comments. Reading, walking, etc., has been especially helpful to my physical and mental health.

ONE37pm: Is there anything else you want gamers to know about gaming and mental health?

KittyPlays: For me, everything is about optimism and positivity. This career can come with a lot of harassment, but at the same time gaming allows me to get in tune with myself. There are a lot of people who are complimenting and trying to tear you down at the same time, so it’s about being even keel. You have to really set a foundation because there’s tons of good things as well. Gaming can help you socialize and interact with many people across the world, especially in this pandemic.

Krystalogy: Don’t brush off your mental health! It’s okay to take a break, and it’s okay to give yourself time to rest because at the same time the quality of your work also reflects your mental health. Try that game! Go for that walk! Especially since we’re kind of still stuck at home because of this pandemic.

You heard them! Make sure you always take time to take care of yourself. You can keep up with both KittyPlays and Krystalogy on Instagram. 

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Gaming Interviews

Draynilla Goes ‘Inside The Screen’ With Aaron “Don” Dukes

This week’s Inside The Screen, hosted by Aaron “Don” Dukes, features special guest Draynilla. Draynilla is a prominent Apex Legends player and content creator whose electric personality garners plenty of laughs and positive vibes. The first-person shooter genre lies at the heart of his passion for gaming/streaming, plus he also makes sure to keep everyone’s Twitter timelines peppered with hilarity thanks to his outlandish thoughts. Draynilla chopped it up with Aaron about everything from good shower habits to focusing on one’s goals and not comparing oneself to everyone else’s accomplishments.

Draynilla leaves his mark on the gaming sphere through his full-time Twitch streaming gig. And as a member of SoaR Gaming, his lively Apex Legends content is regularly showcased on an even larger scale. Thanks to his father and his love for gaming, Draynilla grew to appreciate it as much as him during his early days running and gunning on the Xbox 360. When Aaron speaks highly of his “demonic” Apex Legends skills and being surprised that he’s not a competitive player, Draynilla speaks on not being all that interested in going pro – “I sometimes think that maybe I could compete or do something like that, but to me, it’s just boring. I just like to run around in pubs (public games) and have fun. Just shoot people and game instead of trying to strategize, pick a position, hold it down, and sit here & shoot people as they come in. I like watching it, but for me I personally just like running around and having fun.”

Even before Draynilla’s passions for FPS games took shape, he became enamored with the Sega Genesis and its mascot Sonic the Hedgehog. Draynilla reminisced about his 16-bit glory days in full – “dude, I’d play like Sonic. I’d play like Judge Dredd.” And when the topic of grinding hard at games came up, Draynilla showed even more love to the “Blue Blur” – Sonic Adventure 2, bro! You remember that one where you’d like, grind the Chao’s and stuff like that? It was on the GameCube. I’d also play Super Smash Bros., too. Then I switched to Xbox 360 and started playing Halo. And that was the first game I really grinded. I used to play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, too.” Back in the day, Draynilla was a traditional controller player. But now, he lights up the Apex Legends leaderboards through his expert mouse and keyboard skills.

When Aaron brings up one of Draynilla’s past tweets that tells his followers to stop comparing themselves to everyone else’s victories, Draynilla breaks it down from a content creator perspective – “Just be the best you. If you keep comparing yourself to people around you, you’re never going to appreciate what you actually do have. Just keep working on what works for you and brings you happiness rather than just focusing on what the other person brings and what works for them. Focus on what you got going for you. And if you can improve that every single day, you’ll be one percent better every day and just keep going.” A simple and concise statement such as that one should provide all the inspirational talk one needs to keep upgrading oneself at a steady pace.

Be sure to check out the rest of Aaron and Draynilla’s inspiring and hilarious conversation on the latest episode of Inside the Screen. You’re definitely going to want to watch as Draynilla reacts to his past tweets and reflects on one in particular that came to fruition in the form of a new Tesla.

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Gaming Interviews

Actress and Producer Akemi Look Is The Latest Call of Duty Addition

This week’s Inside The Screen hosted by Aaron “Don” Dukes welcomes Akemi Look. A woman of many talents, Akemi is an actor, writer, and producer, based in Los Angeles and one of the newest additions to the Call of Duty family where gamers were officially introduced to her character KITSUNE in the latest season of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. KITSUNE embodies everything Akemi Look represents in real life: fierce, badass, and the ability to command attention. It’s always an interesting experience when you can merge your passions together, and Don caught up with Akemi aka KITSUNE to discuss the latest happenings in her career, bringing KITSUNE to life, and more during their nearly 40-minute conversation. 

So how exactly does one end up with a role in perhaps the biggest gaming franchise in the world. Don asked Akemi the question we all wanted to know. “This was a totally random audition for me,” she says before going a little further into the audition process and how she ultimately landed the role. “I’ve auditioned for a lot of video games before, and this one was interesting. My managers called me and basically asked if I could jump on a Zoom call on the spot.

They couldn’t give me much information about it at the time, but the casting director remembered me from a previous audition. I hopped on Zoom, and the casting director told me to make all of these different facial expressions while he took pictures of each one. It was all kinds of faces from screaming to really intense looks. As an actor I was like “great.”

Pointing out that Akemi’s path into esports and gaming is one that not many generally consider, Don asks the actress if her life is now partially connected to the gaming scene since her fiance Patrick creates music for video games, and video gaming acting is a part of her resume now. “Oh yeah! My fiance does video game music and all kinds of composing. It’s funny because this is the first project that I’ve done where there’s been so much hype surrounding it. COD fans are freaking amazing! They love this character and I get really excited when I get messages from the girl gamers who tell me they play as my character all of the time. It’s so cool and badass, and all of the guys in Patrick’s squad play as KITSUNE too! “

As Don and Akemi continue to chit-chat, the conversation pivots towards women in gaming, and the challenges female streamers regularly face. “That’s why I got so excited for this role because I knew it would be for all of the girl gamers out there. It goes back to the age old saying of representation and having a new face for a badass woman in combat. It’s fiction and it’s centered in this fantasy reality which I really love.  

As you can tell, Don and Akemi had a great conversation that you should check out not only if you are a gamer, but also into television and movies as well. You can continue to follow them both on Instagram.

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Gaming Interviews

A Conversation With Philadelphia 76ers’ PA Announcer Matt Cord

We are right around the corner from the release of NBA 2K22, and more details and features are starting to be released. The latest to come from the 2K camp is the announcement of the addition of NBA teams’ Public Address Announcers—the voices behind the mic of home arenas. 2K will be highlighting the stories of these formative figures that pull back the curtain of reaching their lifelong dreams as they contribute to NBA 2K’s commitment to creating the most realistic NBA basketball simulation ever. 

It is a super exciting feature that we all can’t wait to see (and play) and to get you pumped, we spoke with beloved Philadelphia 76ers PA announcer Matty Cord about his involvement with the game. Cord spent five days earlier this year recording his parts for the game in Mission Hills, California, going back in July to do some final touch-ups, and like us, he can’t wait to see the final version. Below is our interview with the 76ers legend.

ONE37pm: What does the introduction of team announcers mean to you?

Cord: I’m over the top! P.A. announcers are such a big part of the experience, and we are talking all of the time during the games getting people involved. It’s really cool that 2K22 is capturing that essence, and it feels like you’re in your hometown arena. 

ONE37pm: What was the process of recording the voiceover like?

Cord: It was a lot of mid-tempo, and then low and high tempo stuff. The recording process went on for a while because we wanted to make sure we covered the possibility of anything happening in a game. The biggest thing was making sure my voice was okay. We don’t really have very many back-to-back games, and I would start going crazy, then realize that I had to save my voice. We spent five days recording in California, and I had to make sure I had Throat Coat Tea, and cough drops because your voice is a tool. I went back in July to touch up some stuff and throw in some of the draftees and coaching changes. It was fun!

ONE37pm: Were there any challenges you experienced?

Cord: I had to preserve my voice, and also not having a crowd was hard as well. It’s nice to have a crowd behind you and feed off the fans. Having a crowd helps to make the job easier, and so that was the hardest part of the recording. It was sort of a similar experience to when we started off playing in arenas without fans. You know sometimes the fans correct me! They play a big role, so it was difficult to record without them there.

ONE37pm: As a legendary PA announcer we already know your prep game is intense. What was the prep like for 2K?

Cord: A lot of people don’t know this, but I do vocal exercises and singing scales. I do that in a room in the arena before games, and I make sure I have the pronunciation of the names down. I used to go into the locker room to do my vocal exercises, and one day Eric Snow came in and was like “You get to it!”

ONE37pm: Last question. Are you going to play?

Cord: My friend Rob has five kids, and I’ve played with his oldest Jonah—he taught me all about it. I’m going to play Candace Parker’s cover, and Luka’s too along with the legends. There are still some people that don’t know about it yet, and I know when they find out that I’m in there, they are going to want copies!

NBA2K22 will be available to download or purchase in stores on September 10th. In the meantime, we’ll be sure to keep you posted with any updates. 

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Gaming Interviews

FaZe Simp Chops It Up With Don About ‘Call of Duty’, Esports Majors and More

This week’s Inside The Screen hosted by Aaron “Don” Dukes features special guest FaZe Simp. Gaming enthusiasts already know what time it is when it comes to FaZe Simp, who has established himself as a recognizable face in esports and gaming, as a member of ATL FaZe where he took home the regular-season MVP trophy and battled with the squad for this year’s Call of Duty world championship. It takes a lot to emerge victorious as the last one standing in a pool full of talented teams, but ATL FaZe managed to do it seamlessly. Catching up with Don for a quick post-championship check-in, the two had a fun conversation that you should definitely check out if you are a Call of Duty fan. Below is a preview of their interview.

Don: First I want to get your predictions on Rostermania. There’s a lot of great talent going into it. 

FaZe Simp: I feel like a lot of teams are going to switch up. I don’t know if it will be the players, but I do feel like a lot of the teams will switch because a big problem this year was group chemistry. If teams can stick it out through the course of the year, then they will have a shot at being pretty good. 

Don: What team shocked you the most this season?

FaZe Simp: Toronto is probably the team that shocked everyone most this season just because they weren’t really one of the top teams at the beginning of the year, but around Stage 2 or 3 they became one of the best for the year.

Don: We are getting “World at War” for the new Call of Duty: Vanguard. How do you feel about that?

FaZe Simp: From what I’ve seen it looks like Modern Warfare and World War II combined. I’m just hoping that it’s a little more polished and smooth than Modern Warfare because some of the cameras were slightly messed up. As long as they have that and more time to kill it should be fine.

Don: You guys have won three out of the last five majors. Did you ever feel like you all hit a barrier?

FaZe Simp: If we did hit a barrier it was around Major Five where we all started stressing too much about Champs. It reflected in the trust of our teamwork because that was the series where we couldn’t win a hard point. We lost control to Minnesota, and then Seattle as well since we couldn’t win a hard point. You can’t win without getting the hard points so that’s what we messed up on. 

You can check out the full conversation above, and be sure to keep up with Don and FaZe Simp on Instagram and Twitter.

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Gaming Interviews

ONE37pm Speaks With TSM FTX VP of Apparel Erik Marino

It’s only been a little over a month since TSM FTX VP of Apparel Erik Marino joined the company, but like everything else in his career so far, his first release with the brand was an instant success. Selling out within the first hour, the TSM FTX: Core collection is the first core program of their sportswear staples, and while TSM FTX has offered merchandise before, it has never been at this level. This collection is centered around the organization’s iconic logo, taking a clean approach in its monochromatic palette, incorporating raised embroideries, wax prints, and rubberized appliques ranging from fleece, tees, headwear, varsity jacket and bomber jackets.

TSM
 TSM FTX: Core Launch

TSM FTX continues to skyrocket as one of the most valuable esports organizations in the world, and Marino, who is the former Executive Creative Director of FaZe Clan, brings nearly two decades of experience developing high-level brands in streetwear. 

Marino has also previously partnered with hip hop legends Wu-Tang Clan, and was the co-founder of the internationally known music lifestyle brand Rocksmith, based in NYC and Tokyo. As mentioned earlier, the TSM FTX: Core Collection sold out within the first hour of its release, and we got a chance to speak with Marino following the drop to ask him about this collection, and what he has up his sleeve for TSM FTX Apparel in the coming months.

ONE37pm: First of all congratulations on TSM FTX Core selling out within the first hour! What was it about TSM FTX that attracted you to your role as VP of Apparel? It’s only been a little over a month!

Marino: Thank you. The reaction from TSM FTX fans was incredible! I joined TSM FTX because it’s a very prestigious org in esports that is globally respected. After my conversations with Walter Wang it felt like a good fit and an opportunity along with the creative freedom to build a true lifestyle and apparel component for the Org.

ONE37pm: You have an extensive resume with a long list of notable clients, how has your TSM FTX experience been different thus far?

Marino: Well, it’s just the beginning. I like that the Org is really focused on esports and winning, as opposed to companies that are fashion driven. This is refreshing to me as I have lived on the fashion industry calendar both for clients and with my own brands like Rocksmith NYC in the past.

TSM
TSM: Core Editorial

ONE37pm: What all went into designing this collection?

Marino: Really it was an objective to make a stylish but very core collection for our fans and players. This collection done in black and white, our team colors, is meant to be staple everyday wear items. We will be restocking in a matter of weeks and make this group readily available. Stay tuned for more collection drops and special projects!

ONE37pm: Obviously the demand is super high. Will there be another release of this specific capsule?

Marino: Yes, the Core collection will be restocked. Some items like tees have already been restocked, and we offer a custom jersey option that is always available.

TSM
TSM Apparel Editorial

ONE37pm: Last but not least, what do you guys have in store for the near future?

Marino: We have plans to really build out TSM FTX as an esports lifestyle brand by way of Apparel, home goods and gaming related products. We will be doing projects in collaboration, as well as expanding categories internally, with the goal to have fun in the process!

Be sure to keep up with all of TSM’s latest apparel releases via the official TSM Store

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Gaming Interviews

Arcadia Is Changing The Sports and Gaming Landscape

The digital worlds of sports and gaming continue to evolve into unimaginable heights, and Arcadia is here to take things to another dimension.

Arcadia is a new sports platform that combines the athleticism of traditional sports and the limitless possibilities of the digital world through its stadium-sized video game format where players become avatars and directly control movement and progress by running, jumping, pushing, and sliding. Arcadia creates a complete athletic experience that allows 2-10 players to compete in the world’s largest, multiplayer VR arena that can be played inside or outside while encouraging users to play and compete against each other.

Later this year, Arcadia will launch a six-city tour called the Arcadia Trials, where they will search for its first-ever pro-Arcadia Athletes where both gamers and fans will be given the chance to vote for Arcadia to visit their hometown, and a shot at being crowned the Arcadia Champion.

Arcadia

Fans and viewers can tune into Arcadia.tv to participate in a competitive stream where they can watch athletes move and compete inside the virtual arena or follow the action from the athletes’ POV. Even more exciting, Arcadia has plans to launch original series, and recently partnered with Warner Bros. for a once-in-a-lifetime Space Jam game.

Additionally, Arcadia will be working with renowned brands, major film studios, and talent. It’s going to be a fun second half of the year and beyond for Arcadia, and we sat down with CEO and co-founder Chris Olimpo to get the scoop on what’s been going on in their world. 

ONE37pm: It’s so good to speak with you, Chris! Let’s first start by asking how you guys developed the concept of Arcadia.

Olimpo: So the truth is—it’s a collective idea that has been around for a while going back to things like Tron in 1982, but we have been able to bring the concept together. I had the privilege of being able to direct and produce Tom Cruise’s first VR film and having had that experience, I was able to understand VR on a deeper level by seeing the things that people can’t see. We have been able to make Arcadia a reality by bridging gaming and sports. We are creating a new sport, and it is an original idea that blends the two together while also focusing on solving specific problems to make as a visual.

Arcadia

ONE37pm: How do you see esports and Arcadia, in general, evolving as a medium in the next five years?

Olimpo: I do think Arcadia is going to be a new category that is between sports and esports. It is going to celebrate both and sit in between. Going forward, I could see esports including a sport like Arcadia, and that it will be a hit game.

ONE37pm: You guys will be going on a six city tour called Arcadia Trials later this year. What do Arcadia’s recruiting efforts entail?

Olimpo: It is going to look like a real sports tryout in a virtual dimension, and it will be broadcast on social media. We actually like to use the term “athletic gamers,” and we had tryouts in Montreal with over 1,000 players. It was interesting because we never knew who was going to win. Sometimes when it was gamers vs athletes, the gamers would crush it. Usually, the players that had a leg up were the ones that were both gamers and athletes. As far as our tryouts—you can go to Arcadia.tv/tryouts and register to vote for your city.

From there, we will have people line up, and we are going to film them, do interviews, etc. We are going to select two players from each city to fly out, and they will compete in a bracket tournament that crowns the first-ever  Arcadia champion. That will close out Stage 1 of Arcadia.tv. We are aiming for a fall start date, but it’s not confirmed yet. We may start this year, and go into the first quarter of next year.

ONE37pm: What are some of Arcadia’s proudest accomplishments thus far?

Olimpo: We are proud to have launched to the world, and we are already working on the future! We are also proud to have announced a partnership with Warner Bros and bring Space Jam: A New Legacy into our Arcadia Sports Platform. It was absolutely insane! It was one of the most fun games I have ever played, and I’m not being biased either. To have that partnership with Warner Bros. was amazing, and there is definitely a lot in store for the future.

ONE37pm: Definitely! I’m going to take it back a little bit. Did the pandemic have an effect on you guys last year?

Olimpo: It definitely had an impact, but there were pros and cons. We were actually in the process of raising an investment round in February 2020, which was right around the time the pandemic started, and our trips to San Francisco and New York were faulted. We had to send videos to people, and they actually thought the tech was fake. They didn’t believe it was real, and it pretty much slowed us down in terms of funding.

We eventually decided to take a leap of faith and fly to San Francisco to host demos, and they were like “Wow! I can’t believe this isn’t vapourware.” From a gaming standpoint, however, it was a blessing in disguise. Sports had stopped, but there was sort of this underground movement that happened, and many of our Arcadia players wanted to still keep on playing. So they were playing in parks and parking lots, and it was cool. In a way, Covid gave us access to that underground movement and space.

ONE37pm: Final QuestionWhere do you see Arcadia in five years?

Olimpo: I see Arcadia being a fully legitimate sport where we have sold out stadium events. I see it being similar to the Olympics where there are a variety of games. I also envision technology being lighter for athletes, and that there will be a new status quo when it comes to sports and gaming. Fans and audiences will come to expect this as a new reality, and we will have star Arcadia athletes.

We actually predict that a professional athlete will leave their league to join Arcadia, and that it will be a young up-and-coming athlete that makes that transition. We definitely think that could happen in five years!

Be sure to follow the official Arcadia Instagram for all of their latest updates, and check out their official website here.

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Gaming Interviews

“137SECS” with KCP ‘Valorant’ IGL Oderus

For the latest installment of 137Secs, host Aaron “Don” Dukes linked up with pro Valorant player Chad “Oderus” Miller. Oderus is currently a member of the Kansas City Pioneers esports organization, which houses teams for Rocket League, Rainbow Six Siege, Madden NFL 21, Call of Duty, and Halo. Another highly competitive game that the Pioneers have a squad for is Valorant, which Oderus just so happens to play for. Oderus has attained some strong wins alongside his teammates during the Champions Tour North America Stage 3: Challengers 1 event thus far.

Oderus’ retirement from Counter-Strike: Global Offensive pro play has allowed him to focus all of his efforts on becoming the very best Valorant IGL (In-Game Leader) there is. A simple explanation via TheSpike.gg of Oderus’ chosen role points to just how integral his participation truly is – “The in-game leader is one of, if not the most important role that a team must have in order to succeed at the highest level. The job of the IGL is to create and execute different strategies that the opponent would not expect. This also means that they have to counter the enemy’s strategies as well by creating plays on the fly.” Oderus’ Valorant play is mostly done through his mastery of the agents Viper, Killjoy, and Cypher. And his team synergy can be seen in action as he plays alongside Jason “jmoh” Mohandessi, Lucas “fiziq” Blow, “skuba,” and Tanner “scourge” Kages. Before aligning himself with the KCP Valorant team, Oderus competed for other esports organizations such as Morning Light, Dignitas, beastcoast, and FPL Circuit.

During an interview with Dignitas, Oderus spoke about his retirement from CS: GO and why he decided to focus his esports efforts into Valorant. “The tier-2 scene in CS was dying, and Valorant was just coming out,” Oderus said. “It definitely looked interesting to me and because it was more team-based it was definitely appealing. I hadn’t fully switched yet, but when I was playing the closed beta for a couple of weeks earlier this year, I just realized I was better suited for Valorant.” Oderus also noted that he felt Valorant is even bigger of a force in esports in comparison to the game he once competed in – “I think it’s going to be even bigger than CS:GO. There’s a lot of good things happening and Valorant is growing so fast. Plus, it’s really fun. I think that once everything in the world goes back to normal, Valorant is going to be a top-tier game. It’s so fun to watch and I think a lot of people are going to enjoy it.”

Oderus can be found through his Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram pages. Plus you can watch his expert Valorant play in all its glory via his Twitch channel.

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Gaming Interviews

Inside The Screen With The Founders of SWIPE

On this week’s edition of Inside The Screen, host Aaron “Don” Dukes sits down with Jay and Julian, founders of SWIPE to talk about all things related to their company. Jay has roughly five years of experience working in esports and gaming starting at Infinite (which is where he met Julian), and eventually moving over to Complexity Gaming where he has spent the last two years working in graphic design. Jay also does graphic work for a creative agency, and uses all of his skills now with Swipe Mouse Pads.

Julian has been leading esports organizations for nearly ten years, starting at Obey Alliance before jumping to Luminosity Gaming, and similar to Jay, Julian also uses his many years in the gaming industry as a basis for how he approaches SWIPE as it continues to grow as an organization. Don chopped it up with Jay and Julian in a 30-minute conversation that you will definitely want to check out. Here is a preview of their interview.

Don: What Inspired SWIPE? There are a lot of mouse brands out there, but what specifically inspired this one?

Julian: I think there is a lot of value in doing something that isn’t just gaming, and myself and Jay talked about doing something new. We are always in esports and working on all of this different stuff that is team based, and we began thinking about how to build this brand from a sponsored perspective. When it comes to SWIPE, the model we take on is very much one with a creator mentality.

The concept of creating a peripheral/mouse pad company was extremely exciting for us because I don’t believe there’s a lot of mousepad companies in this space that are going to be able to accommodate creators the way we can. The main reason that we wanted to start our business was because of the network we already had, and the excitement of the model we are applying to our company. It just felt like a really cool thing to do. 

Don: What video games raised you guys?

Jay: I was raised by a ton of Pokemon and fighting games. I actually stopped gaming for a while, and was into skateboarding for about six or seven years. After skateboarding I was full on Call of Duty! I played Call of Duty tournaments for such a long time, so I would say those were the games that shaped me. 

Julian: I say Call of Duty as well, and I think bo2 because that was the game that blew up the trickshotting and sniping scene for me, so I’ll always remember that!

Don: You guys both dropped out of college and started doing something that you were passionate about and could make capital from. What is the vision for Swipe Mouse Pads, and where do you want to take this?

Jay: For me, I am really big on branding. I want SWIPE to have an amazing brand that is known through the creator community, and I want us to create value for creators, esports players, and the consumer that buys the product. One of the biggest things I’ve seen in gaming recently is creators taking deals to strictly benefit themselves and not their fans.

SWIPE offers creators the opportunity to think about how they can create a partnership based on the value to their fans, not just on the check they are going to get. We’re here to serve the community, and that is what I feel is lost by brands specifically in the creative space because they are giving checks to creators without a second thought to their supporters. One of the visions I have is to be a brand in which creators can rely on. 

Julian: Jay is right on point. Swipe is a real natural partnership with our ability to customize and create a product for creators. It’s not just about “selling a swipe mouse pad”—we aren’t going to leak too much, but we’re making full blown products, packaging, and everything made by the creator with Swipe being secondary because we realize how important it is for creators to have their name on products and really own it.

This is something that I’ve talked about even from an esports team perspective because fans are very self aware of the deals that go on, the amount of effort that creators put into their deals, and even when their favorite creator is signing a new one. Fans know those things, so it’s important to have products that they can get behind. If I just went to a creator and asked them to promote—the engagement rate would be very low, but if I were to go to a creator and tell them to make their own mouse pad and put their name on it, that would go much further than any advertisement. 

Don, Julian, and Jay have a dope conversation that you can above. Be sure to follow all of them for their latest updates.