Halo Players Biographies
Matt Leto should be in a six-figure income by year's end

January 17, 2005 The New Video Game Super Stars Biographies Below:

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[My Biography] [Masters Tournament Article]

[Coin-Op World Records]

Video Game Players are making big money!

What is this phenomenon going to be all about?"

World Champion, Matt Leto Playing Halo at home.

With over 800 records he is deemed the best overall player in the world.

Billy Mitchell is the old school gamer and after 25 years of video game playing it looks like
we have a changing of the guard. Welcome Matt leto, the New Millinium World Champion!

In the early 1980's it was all about Billy Mitchell and the perfect pacman game, as well
as the first ever video game team.  Inception was on November 5, 1982, at time of the
Life Magazine Coverage. First Video Game Team Link

Billy Mitchell Champion (1984) His T-Shirt Promoting The 1984 Coronation Day Ceremonies January 14, 1984 Billy Mitchell, Tim Collum and Ben Gold are the top players as Computer Games and Video Games Magazine are crowned the champs of publishing. Link
Now there is a change in the guard and in the genre, which is the Internet Games. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Originally from Games X-Box Link Halo: Combat EvolvedPublisher: Microsoft Developer: Bungie Software Genre: Action Release Date: 11/14/2001 GameSpace Review Previews News Downloads Movies Cheats Check Prices WCG Player Profile: US Halo Champion Matt Leto The nation's top Halo player tells GameSpot what it takes to make it in gaming's big leagues. See it » Matt Leto always knew he was better at Halo than his friends, but he was as surprised as anyone when he suddenly started winning tournament after tournament. Now, under the gamer alias Zyos, he’s the number one Halo player in the United States. And this week, at the World Cyber Games 2004 in San Francisco, he’s preparing to take his game to the world stage. Leto, 20, made his way to the WCG Finals from Allen, Texas, which is right outside the unofficial hometown of first-person shooters, Dallas. His parents, sister, and brother are all flying in to cheer him on when his matches start Friday. “They’ve always been supportive” of his competitive gaming career, he says. And it’s a big commitment. “It interferes a lot with college,” admits Leto, a student at Collin County Community College near Dallas. “I had to take this semester off to just focus on these tournaments.” As far as training regimens go, Leto is pretty informal for a national champion. He doesn’t maintain a regular practice schedule; instead, “When I feel like it, I just give someone a call and say ‘You wanna play?’ and that’s practice.” Does that practice give him the confidence he needs in competition? “Actually, I get kind of nervous before competitions,” chuckles Leto, indeed a bit nervously. “I just play hard and hope to win.” As far as strategy goes, “I adapt to my opponent’s style of play,” says Leto. He spent Thursday watching some of the other players he’ll face when his matches start Friday. “I’ll see how they play against other people. I might practice a few games against them, and I’ll throw in some random things I might not normally do in tournament play, and see how they react.” Learning about his opponents pays off for Leto. “Some players have a lot of skill at the game, but they’re just not very smart. They can shoot very well, but they can’t think under pressure.” Leto looks for ways to exploit those weaknesses in his opponents. His advice for others who think they can crack the world of competitive gaming? “Number one is to practice,” he says emphatically. “Number two is to go to at least two or three tournaments. Don’t give up if you place poorly in your first one. I lost several of my first tournaments before I started winning.” To escape the pressures of competitive Halo, Leto unwinds by playing RPGs. “Games like that can totally take me out of my world,” he remarks wistfully. And while in San Francisco, he and the other WCG competitors have enjoyed playing poker at night. After-hours gaming practice isn’t allowed, but poker gives the players something else to do, and everybody knows the rules no matter what country they’re from. “I haven’t won any money yet. I’ve actually lost money,” laments Leto. Fortunately for him, if he focuses on Halo, the WCG’s top prize could net him $25,000 on Sunday. Track Leto’s tournament progress, as well as that of hundreds of other competitors, at the World Cyber Games 2004 official Web site. By Jennifer Olsen, GameSpot POSTED: 10/08/04 01:58 PM ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Halo 50,000 in Grand Prizes
Matt Leto Cleans Up at Cyber Games
Above: a plaque from one of the many tournaments Leto has won. He won $40,000 from World Cyber Games, just for playing Halo.
Have Gun, Will Travel How far can a video-game champ go? Ask Matt Leto. BY PAUL KIX Link
Welcome Matt Leto with his game of choice -- Halo. According to Walter Day, Matt Leto is the best player in the world today in 2005. Not only has he won all the awards in every category, but his team has also done just as well and now there is real money to boot, unlike the 1980's when you played just for the bragging rights. His video game income? It was $80,000 last year and is growing. Not bad for a teenager. Below is his story. If only we had the support in the 1980's when video games began, it would have been a different story with all of us relic classics games players. Twin Galaxies, Walter Day: "Matt Leto may be the premier video game player in the world."

Matt Leto - Halo Superstar
From houstonpress.com (This is a Reprint) Link Originally published by Houston Press Jan 06, 2005 ©2005 New Times, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Halo Challenge Master Chief, a weapons-toting super-enhanced human, is the only being who can save the earth. A video gamer from Texas is the world champion at helping him do just that — thousands of times over. BY PAUL KIX
When he was 17, Zyos told his parents he would one day make a living playing Halo. Walter Day: "Leto may be the premier video game player in the world." The tools of the MLG athlete -- yes, athlete. Zyos plays the video game Halo, plays it better than anyone in the world. His mother, Rhonda, watched him dominate the military combat game in San Francisco last year at the World Cyber Games — the gaming Olympics — and because of her status, because she is the mother of Zyos, Rhonda became a de facto celebrity herself. She didn’t expect that. She doesn’t even understand the game, in which you kill enemy combatants on your own or on a team. Yet gamers from across the world approached her. Zyos is a great champion, they said. One of them, an earnest kid from New Zealand, sought her out to tell her he’d flown to San Francisco to study Zyos’s playing tendencies. Zyos’s father, Steve, once got a call at work from a man in Oklahoma. The man in Oklahoma wanted Zyos to play his 14-year-old son. The man told Steve he would pay Zyos, pay him anything he wanted, if he would play one game of Halo — just one — against his son. Zyos, after all, was the kid’s hero. Zyos, while vacationing in Italy over Thanksgiving, went a week without playing Halo 2 on Xbox Live. Microsoft makes Xbox, and Xbox Live is the company’s latest and best advance. It allows a gamer to plug his Xbox into an Internet cable and play, say, Halo 2 against anyone in the world. It also keeps track of how often a gamer plays, and makes that information available to all others. Over Thanksgiving, on Day Five Without Zyos, the message boards of the online world were abuzz with rumors. Zyos has quit. Zyos is playing under a different name. Zyos is dead. Five pages of this, growing more fevered as it went, until one of Zyos’s handlers, one of the people in the business of “building Zyos’s brand,” logged on. “Guys,” he said. “Zyos is fine. He’s just on vacation.” It sounds like apocrypha, doesn’t it? But it’s not. Zyos is as talented, as sought after, as any myth you could make about him. And in the coming years, you will hear about Zyos. In short, Zyos is real. He lives in Allen, 25 miles north of Dallas. He’s practicing even tonight. Look at him. He’s hunched over in his chair again, shouting. “Bombs down in front of our base! There’s a sniper on the ridge…Sniper’s dead… He’s coming after your flag! There’s a ghost who just went in…Ghost is dead.” He’s got the headset on, the one with the microphone that wraps around the ear and drops down to his mouth, and on the television screen is Halo 2, the shoot-’ em-up head-to-head sequel to Halo that racked up sales of $125 million in its first day on the market, and in the air there’s a slightly stale stench, the sort that comes from a 21-year-old who plays the game for hours behind a closed bedroom door. But on the walls are his first-place plaques and oversize checks for $20,000. And in an hour he’ll leave his parents’ house, where he still lives, drive to Dallas and sign a contract with a company called Check Six, which will pay his airfare and hotel fees in 2005 whenever he plays Halo for money. Zyos plays Halo for a living, but the checks he earns are signed under his given name, Matt Leto. Major League Gaming signed Leto to play Halo professionally in the fall of 2003, when Leto was 19. MLG is a professional gaming league that holds tournaments across the nation and last year handed out $175,000 in total purses in its inaugural season — a season that concluded with MTV broadcasting its championship, further convincing MLG personnel that theirs is the new X Games. Hell, the new NASCAR. MLG loves Leto. In fact, the league was so confident he would succeed as a professional, it signed him before it held its first event. Now, one year later, a year in which Leto dominated all comers in single and team play, a year in which he won MLG’s single-player Halo championship and retained his title as best Halo player alive at the World Cyber Games, MLG has built a marketing campaign around Leto, staked its future on him. “He’s the face of our league,” says Mike Sepso, the CEO and co-founder of Major League Gaming. It’s not a bad move, for a few reasons. For one, Leto’s competitive as hell. Even the best Halo players in the world say Leto’s drive far exceeds their own. He has no girlfriend. Halo is his focus. Even tonight, one hour before he meets Check Six executives, even as he practices Halo with his teammates spaced across the country — all of them connected to one another by plugging in their game systems, their Xboxes, to an Internet cable — even on this self-described “fun” night of game play, Leto’s elbows are on his knees; he’s shouting at his teammates; he has no time for idle chitchat with the visitor who’s stopped by. There are still competitors to best. Second, and perhaps surprising, Leto’s not a nerd. He’s an athlete. He lettered in swimming at Allen High and still holds the build: His shoulders stretch wide the white T-shirt he wears tonight, and his quads and calves fill out his sweat pants. He’s handsome enough, about five foot eight, with the olive complexion of an Italian heritage. He sweeps his dark hair straight back, and a day’s growth of stubble is forever on his chin. He’s personable, too — once you yank the controller away. “He’s very laid back,” says Kim Murphy, an associate producer at Worldsport HD, a satellite channel that followed Leto around for a documentary it will air next month. Last, Leto has a wisdom beyond his years. At 17 he told his parents he would one day make a living playing Halo, though MLG did not exist at the time and there was no reason to believe it ever would. But Leto’s wisdom most often presents itself in his speech. For someone who’s played video games since he was four, sometimes for 12 hours a day, Leto is surprisingly articulate. “Oh, he’s very well spoken,” Murphy says. It’s incisive, his speech, in no way cluttered with the stammerings and non sequiturs of his peers, gaming or otherwise. He has a deep and confident voice, too. But it always sounds flat, as if he’s heard before how lucky he is and is tired of hearing it again. It’s for these reasons — the directness of speech, the tone of voice — that people often find Matt Leto cold upon meeting him. “Yeah, we’re working on that,” Mike Sepso says. He’s not kidding. MLG has hired a public relations firm from L.A. to train Leto in speaking to the media. Sepso and his staff talk openly about creating a marketable image for their star — an image similar to that of skateboarder Tony Hawk: pioneer, best ever, industry spokesman. It sounds crazy to talk this way about a kid playing a video game. But it was crazy 20 years ago to talk about a skateboarder like this. Besides, have you seen the stats? They’re crazy, too. According to the National Institute on Media and the Family, 92 percent of boys play video games. There are 108 million people over the age of 13 in the United States playing today, and 13 million of those are “hard-core,” people who spend upward of 15 hours a week under the glow of a television or computer screen. And the craziest thing of all? The money that’s out there. Last year, Matt Leto, college dropout, cleared more than $80,000 playing Halo, the earnings a combination of tournament winnings and endorsement deals. That spoke to him. Talk all you want about his competitive drive, the fame; it’s the promise of money, and more money, that finds him in that stale bedroom night after night. If all goes as plans, he figures, he should make well over $100,000 this year. Just for playing a video game. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“After all, the hackneyed first story inevitably is about the novelty of video gamers playing for cash, but what is the second story about this phenomenon going to be about?” — Electronic Gaming Business, October 22, 2003 Well, more stories, certainly, will be written about Matt Leto, so maybe the next one, for a change of pace, could focus on his driving to Houston, or Detroit, or flying to Seattle, on his dime, just to practice Halo against opponents living in those cities. Leto, of course, doesn’t have to fly anywhere. With an Xbox plugged into the Internet, he can play anyone, in any city, at any time. But the truth is, when he does that, there are 20 people who see he’s online within seconds. And all 20 will want to play against him. And none will be any good. It’s a big waste of his time when he’s preparing for a tournament. No, far better for Zyos to seek out the best players in the States and go to them. Still, that’s not telling the whole story, if we’re worried about moving beyond the hackneyed first attempt of profiling Matt Leto. Because Zyos does plug his Xbox into the Internet to practice. He plugs it in and “closes the room,” meaning only the select few he deems worthy can practice against him. So why fly to Seattle? To videotape the practice matches, of course. Yeah, maybe the second story will be about Matt Leto flying to Seattle before the World Cyber Games 2004, practicing for a week against Stephen Booth, a world-renowned player (and a freshman at the University of Washington), and videotaping every match. The two played for 12 hours a day during Zyos’s visit. But what Booth remembers about Leto’s stay is his analyzing the matches, reviewing the tape that had recorded every move, every shot, and looking for weaknesses in his game and Booth’s. “He puts in more time than anyone,” Booth says. Before Leto’s visit, he had never thought to record his preparatory games. Yet in Zyos’s closet there are more than 20 tapes of practice matches. “He does all the things that all the other kids won’t do. And that’s why he wins,” Steve Leto says. The second story will probably mention Leto’s youth, how, at four, Matt got a Nintendo with the infamous Super Mario Brothers included. He’d play and play and play the game. Then conquer it and ask for another. Then conquer the second game and ask for a third. Then conquer that and ask for a fourth. Soon, games like Zelda, games that take months to beat, Leto would be done with overnight. Yet he’d need more challenges, more games. “What’s the point?” his parents asked, “if you’re going to conquer it tomorrow?” But in the end, they always gave in. In an effort to show a balanced childhood, perhaps the second story will talk about the real-life games he played. Every team sport you can name. But, truth be told, “He’s never been much of a team player,” his mother says. Too many kids goofing around. Too many kids screwing up in key situations, times when Leto would have done better if only he had had the ball. But in individual sports, he controlled everything. Individual sports, he loved. That’s why he swam at Allen High, even though Allen didn’t have a pool. Practice was held in McKinney at 5:15 every morning, which meant Leto had to be out the door at 4:45, a gruesome hour by any account but made worse by his closing Chuck E. Cheese’s every night at 10:30. “He never missed a practice,” Rhonda Leto says. Her son was a three-year letter winner in three events. School bored him. Yet Karen Bradley, house principal at Allen High, says he was “one of the smartest kids I’ve ever come across.” And Brent Mitchell, Leto’s swim coach, remembers Matt more as an intellectual than a swimmer. He memorized the book on school policy, Mitchell says, not because he had to but because he wanted to. “He made a game of it,” Mitchell says, every morning explaining to the swim coach what he could and couldn’t get away with, testing Mitchell to see if he knew the rules as well as he should. If Mitchell doubted him, Leto’d say, “Look in the book.” “Verbatim,” Mitchell says. “To the tooth and nail of it exactly. It always drove me crazy.” It would be pretty amazing, too, if the next story could contrast Leto’s love for knowing the rules in the real world with his love of breaking them in gaming. Leto knew his games so well, he knew where to find glitches in the programmer’s code. That’s when he got really good at gaming. Because every game has glitches. When he properly exploited them, Leto’s finishing scores were among the best in the world. At 17, Leto broke the world record for points in a game called Crazy Taxi. Elated, he snapped a photo of his score and mailed it to Twin Galaxies, the official scorekeeper of all video games and publisher, every few years, of a book on gaming world records. But Twin Galaxies said Leto’s photo wasn’t good enough. It needed video proof. So Leto plugged the VCR into his Sega Dreamcast and broke the record he’d taken a picture of. Then, because he “always wanted to be the best at something,” Leto says, he spent a year breaking as many scores as he could. “He probably holds over 800 world records,” says Walter Day, the chief scorekeeper and founder of Twin Galaxies. Day doesn’t have a definitive count because, three years later, Twin Galaxies is still combing through Leto’s tapes, more than 30 of them. “Matt Leto may be the premier video game player in the world,” he says. Most guys hold world records in racing games or shooting games; never, Day says, in both racing and shooting games. Leto holds records across the video game spectrum. Any sort of game — ones based on the most kills, the best time, the highest points — on any sort of console: GameCube, Xbox, PlayStation, the old Nintendo Entertainment System. Leto has world records for them all, some for an entire game, some for an individual level. “No matter the game, he will be among the top 2 percent at it in a matter of days,” says Robert Mruczek, the chief referee of Twin Galaxies. And the glitches he knows. Maybe the second story will mention them; hell, it could be about nothing else. Here, one example will suffice: In Crazy Taxi 2, Leto found a glitch, or, as he says, an “exploit,” that’s invisible — traditionally, these are very difficult to find, Mruczek says — and it’s in the sky above the road. “Less than five people in the world know where this is,” Mruczek says. Yet he’s humble about this exploit and all those records, and maybe the next story on Matt Leto, if it needs a telling anecdote, will highlight how he never told his parents of the many exploits he knew or the records he held. “Really?” Rhonda Leto says. “Oh, my gosh. I had no clue. I had no clue.” Never told Major League Gaming, either. “No,” says Erik Semmelhack, MLG’s senior vice president, after a pause. “I didn’t know that.” --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

At first, there were two of them, Mike Sepso and Sundance DiGiovanni, playing Halo in the summer of 2002 in DiGiovanni’s downtown New York loft, the one with the projection screen that made the play larger than life and all the more addictive. Betting on their matches, where each was a soldier trying to kill the other, led to friends stopping by to place their own bets on who would win. Which led to more friends stopping by to gamble. Which led to still more friends, some of whom just wanted to watch. When are you two doing this again? the friends would ask at the end of the night. This is fun. Which led to an epiphany. When will we watch the best in the world on a projection screen? Sepso had been the co-CEO of Gotham Broadband, a nationwide broadband service, and DiGiovanni was the company’s creative director. But they left Gotham to answer that question. Over the next year, they flew across the country, hitting up every local video game tournament they could find. They took notes, talked about the passion the gamers had, how they played for the competition of it, because the cash prizes handed out — when they were handed out — were often less than advertised. They talked about a professional gaming league, a league that would organize tournaments across the nation, where each tournament was open to any competitor, provided the competitor paid an entrance fee. They talked about a league that would draw sponsors to hand out cash prizes unseen in any local tournament, a league that would take the best players from each game and help the players find endorsements in exchange for wearing league memorabilia. They talked about a league, like NASCAR, that would highlight the personalities of its players over the intricacies of its game. On August 3, 2003, Sepso and DiGiovanni took a limo to a Halo tournament in Saddle Brook, New Jersey. Zyos was there. He’d finished seventh in the individual tournament, and his team, The Dream Team, the team no one could beat, the team that made a video of itself playing and watched as the tape was downloaded more than 80,000 times on the Web — this team was once more in the championship game. But it lost that day to Shoot to Kill, a team formed for the express purpose of defeating The Dream Team. Undeterred, Sepso and DiGiovanni ushered the four teenagers — two from Texas, two from Kansas — into the limo and took them to a steak house in Times Square, where the pitch was made: We’ve formed a professional gaming league, and we want you four as our first signed players. And so a new industry began. Which is not to say professional gaming leagues didn’t already exist. South Korea has three. It has a governing body for the leagues, the Korean e-Sports Association, which ranks the standings for the 218 professional gamers in the country. Here in the States, there’s the Cyberathlete Professional League, a league started in 1997 by a 37-year-old Dallasite named Angel Munoz. But there’s a major difference between Munoz’s league and MLG: the system through which games are played. CPL is a personal computer-based league, meaning its athletes — and Munoz argues they are athletes — play their games on computers. MLG is a console-based league, meaning its athletes — MLG makes the same argument — play their games on a console system, such as a PlayStation or Xbox. Both are successful: MLG will hold tournaments for three game titles this year, for a total purse of $250,000; CPL has a $1.2 million ten-city worldwide tour in 2005 for its seven-game roster. But the leagues attract different sorts of gamers. Simply put, PC players tend on average to be more — how to put this? — computer-literate than their console counterparts. Their sponsors reflect that. CPL is en-dorsed by CompUSA, Hitachi and Intel. Last year, MLG had Converse as a title sponsor. “Each is a different culture,” says Daiquiri Jackson, promotions manager for GameStop, a video game retailer that’s endorsed both leagues. Yet both leagues are not without their critics. Doug Gentile is the director of research at the National Institute on Media and the Family. “We have an obesity epidemic in this country. That’s not my word. That’s the National Institutes of Health’s,” he says. “And one of the reasons is likely to be screen time…And now we’re giving kids more incentive to play more.” Mary Story, one of the nation’s foremost obesity researchers at the University of Minnesota, agrees that the leagues could lead to more kids sitting around but argues ours is a sedentary culture regardless of age or interest. To single out MLG over, say, corporate America, which asks its employees to sit in a cubicle for eight hours a day, is hypocritical, she says. Gentile won’t let MLG or any other league off that easily. He points to the work of Dr. Paul Lynch at the University of Oklahoma. Lynch has studied the physiological reactions of video games on teenagers for 15 years. In 1999, he published a study suggesting violent video games might cause heart problems later in life. Violent games, like Halo, raise one’s adrenaline level. And adrenaline, the study says, is nothing more than fatty acids that are used as an energy source. Yet these fatty acids released into the bloodstream are not acted upon by the gamer’s muscles, because the gamer is sitting and playing, not running or jumping or fighting. Since no muscle will use them, the fatty acids in the end make their way through the liver, where they are converted to cholesterol. “This could be a precursor for heart disease,” Gentile writes via e-mail. Could be, but the scientific community needs to further parse the data. In the interim, MLG is willing to respond to a more general question: Is paying people to play video games bad for the health of the nation? “My initial knee-jerk reaction is ‘Give me a break,’ ” says DiGiovanni, two years after his epiphany the executive vice president of MLG. “We’re encouraging kids to do what they already love. And a small amount of those kids can make a living at it.” MLG has signed 17 people to be pro gamers. Yet DiGiovanni says none of the 17 signed, nor the thousands more who attend MLG events, is a pasty-white, obese basement dweller. “These guys are competitive. These are guys who compete in other sports,” he says. And then, almost with an air of resignation, “Just come to one of our events.” --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Zyos has the rocket launcher. Mathieu Hebbada, from France, runs the halls of this abandoned, darkened warehouse with a shotgun. The game is tied at 14, and if Zyos scores one more kill, he’s crowned World Cyber Games Halo Champion 2003 and awarded $20,000. Zyos settles under a ramp, points his weapon toward a second-floor window and waits. Tournament Halo is played in one of two ways. What Zyos is playing now is single-player Halo . Before him is a television screen of his position in the warehouse, and in the screen’s bottom right corner, Mathieu Hebbada’s position. In single-player, the first gamer to score 15 kills wins. Then there’s multiplayer Halo. The difference between multiplayer and single- player is you’re on a team in multiplayer. A two-man team or a four-man team. Together, you seek and kill the other team. The first one to score 50 kills wins. Zyos, in a couple of weeks, will play for The Dream Team in a tournament in New York, but it’s this sort of tournament in Seoul, the single-player one, where he excels. (He never really learned to be a team player.) The weapons one uses — pistol, shotgun, rocket launcher, what have you — are the same for both single- and multiplayer tournaments and are found throughout a level’s landscape. Zyos discovered that certain weapons are made available at certain parts of levels at certain times. But the times when they’re available never change. In other words, it’s clockwork. Zyos put a clock above his television one day, ran to the right spots, waited for the weapons to materialize and collected them all before his opponent could get any. Easy game. Today, in 2003, it’s the most common exploit known to Halo players. Still, despite his genius, Zyos’s parents remain skeptical. They doubt their son will ever make a living playing video games. They doubt the promises of MLG. Yet here he is in a packed auditorium in Seoul, South Korea, with thousands more watching him over the Internet, with a chance at $20,000. For Zyos, it’s a start. He focuses the rocket launcher’s scope onto the right half of the window. Seconds pass. Hebbada hasn’t studied the different levels as thoroughly as Zyos, doesn’t know that by walking in front of this window, he’s inadvertently walking into the line of— A blast from Zyos’s gun. And the game is over. The thousands in attendance, watching the action on a projection screen, cheer. One year and two months later, sitting in his parents’ living room in Allen, Matt Leto says, “That [win] changed everything.” Changed his parents’ perception of his dream, changed the way in which he practiced — if anything else, he became more obsessive, more thorough after World Cyber Games 2003. He gave himself to Halo. The year that followed Seoul was a blur of frequent-flyer miles and first-place checks. By the time San Francisco hosted World Cyber Games 2004, in October, Leto had won roughly $10,000 in MLG tournaments, in both single and team. He’d also formed and disbanded seven teams, because, despite their success, they still didn’t live up to Leto’s expectations. And he’d dropped out of Collin County Community College, because he could stand to win $40,000 more at WCG San Francisco and the MLG Championships in New York if he practiced nonstop. It started in 2000, and 2004 marked the first year any city outside Korea hosted the World Cyber Games. Roughly 700 gamers from 60 countries qualified for the five-day, eight-game event. San Francisco held it in the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, next to City Hall. There was $412,600 in total purses. Leto’s family came. Steve and Rhonda, younger sister Megan and brother Taylor. It was the first time any Leto would watch Matt in person. He’d breezed through the qualifying rounds in Miami and Long Beach, California. He was the favorite to win WCG again. Wherever he went in San Fran, a camera crew from Worldsport HD followed, shooting footage for a documentary on the Games. Zyos beat his first opponent, Nelson Triana of Canada, 15-1. Then Yoonho Choi of South Korea, 15-3. Even if he lost his next match, against fellow American Stephen Booth, Zyos would advance. The first day of Halo at WCG is a round-robin of four players per bracket, and no one else was 2-0 with one match left. Zyos lost his match to Booth 15-6. The loss had its upside, though. It meant both Americans would advance to the championship bracket. But the gamers watching, especially the Canadian Nelson Triana, now eliminated from the next round, thought something wasn’t right. Why had Zyos, normally a conservative player, one who waited for his opponents to expose themselves, become the aggressor against Booth, accidentally running into his fire? And weren’t the two, away from the controllers, friends? And to prepare for WCG, hadn’t Leto flown to Seattle and spent a week practicing at Booth’s house? Maybe they’d formed some sort of pact up there, to make sure they both advanced. Andrew Mayeda covered WCG 2004 for the Ottawa Citizen. He quoted three gamers who thought Leto threw the game. He talked to one of the match’s referees, “and I have to be careful how I phrase this,” Mayeda says, “but I suspect he thought that Matt threw the game, too.” The referee in question is Cody Walker, also a Canadian. Leto says, “Look, both of the referees were Canadian. Nelson was Canadian. The map” — the individual level on which his match against Booth was played — “is almost like a coin toss as to who wins it. Winning on that map is based more on luck than skill. It’s completely false that I threw the match…I lose games. Just to say I’m unbeatable is wrong.” No, there was no pact between him and Booth, he says. And Booth’s practicing against him for a week — could it not mean that Booth had learned in that time how to beat Zyos? In any case, in a decision they refused to explain, WCG officials ordered another round-robin among Zyos, Booth and Triana. Zyos and Triana advanced. That night Triana drove to Best Buy and bought a television so he could practice on his own. He went to bed around 4 a.m. Zyos was up that late, too. But he wasn’t practicing; he’d prepared enough for WCG. He was playing poker. Didn’t affect his gaming, though. He dominated his quarterfinal and semifinal opponents the next day; in the semifinal match, Sebastian Droschak, from Germany, failed to score a point. Zyos faced Triana for the championship. Triana had beaten out Dave Walsh to get there, the American some viewed as better than Zyos. But Zyos had already beaten Triana and he’d learned something while watching the Canadian’s other games: Whenever his match was the match displayed on the movie-style projection screen, the one hanging down from the roof so the thousands in attendance could watch from a distance rather than huddle around the television on which their favorite gamer played, whenever his match was the featured one, Triana would get nervous, play tentatively, be afraid to make a mistake with God and all of the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium And if any match were to be on the projection screen, Zyos thought, it would be the championship one. “Dad,” he said before the match started, when Steve Leto worried his presence might screw up his son’s concentration, “I’ve got this one.” Zyos was right. Triana was too nervous to eat before the match, and during it, as Andrew Mayeda of the Citizen wrote, “in a number of key confrontations, he couldn’t finish Leto off despite having the advantage.” Zyos won 15-9 and 15-11, the fist pump he gave at the end the only real show of emotion from the whole tournament. Another $20,000 check was his. From October to October, factoring in the money he’d won from MLG, Matt Leto now made more playing video games than most people did in their first year out of college. And he still had the MLG Championship in New York to consider. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

He got to New York at four in the morning sick as all get-out. Leto spent the next few hours between the bed and the bathroom of his hotel suite. Then it was off to the MLG Championship, to which only the top-ranked players were invited. The MTV and MLG people had wanted him to come earlier than the night before. MTV needed preliminary footage of Leto for the documentary on Halo 2 it would later air, and it would really be great, really help the piece along, if Leto agreed to come a couple of days in advance. But Leto didn’t agree. Said he needed to practice with his team, the Filthy Jackalopes, in Detroit. Said he wanted to be on top of his game. This from the guy who’d won WCG 2004 two weeks earlier. So he stayed in Detroit. Stayed until he had to go, drove from Detroit to Manhattan — 13 hours across the country, carrying with him what would later be diagnosed as food poisoning. The sickness “was coming out of everywhere,” MLG’s Erik Semmelhack says. In the morning, he took Leto to get a cup of coffee, then sat him down in the VIP section near the sound stage on West 12th Street where the tournament was about to begin. He wore his winter jacket while he played. In the Free For All, the event where it’s every man for himself, every man trying to score as many kills as possible while getting killed the fewest times possible, where two, four, or ten gamers can gang up on one to take him out, where it makes sense to do that — especially to Zyos, ranked first for the year in the Free For All — Zyos nonetheless took the early lead. And never looked back. To win the Free For All as Zyos won it, finishing some 20 kills better than the next gamer, “that’s just, like, unheard of in any tournament setting,” Adam Apicella, the vice president of operations for MLG, told MTV. “Let alone against seven of the best tournament players in the world. He just dominated the game, and I’ve never seen really a performance like that.” The win meant a bye into the Final Four of the single-player tournament. Dreary-eyed — even when the MTV cameras were on him — he advanced to the championship match. And then won that 15-8. “Yes!” he yelled, and pumped his fist a couple of times. The weekend went well. An $8,000 check for his first-place finish in the single-player tournament. A $15,000 endorsement from Nokia for taking first. A $2,000 check for finishing the season ranked first overall. A $5,000 check to the Filthy Jackalopes for finishing second in the four-on-four tournament. (Fittingly, Zyos had a new team by December.) And the money keeps coming. Erik Semmelhack says Zyos is looking at “mid-five figures” in endorsements alone this year. And with MLG’s tournament purse of $250,000 in 2005, Matt Leto, college dropout, professional Halo player, should be a six-figure 22-year-old by year’s end. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Welcome to WCG ! Link Press Releases WCG on media World Cyber Games Yields Gold for Netherlands, Korea, USA and Germany - 30,000 Spectators Witness World's Elite Players & Premier Digital Entertainment Festival - Dutch Win Medal Count, Americans Dominate Halo, CounterStrike in WCG's Most Thrilling Matches 2004-10-23 12:09 (GMT+9) (SAN FRANCISCO, October 11) – If you don't think computer and video games are spectator sports, tell it to the 30,000 fans who crammed in to the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium & Plaza to witness the 2004 World Cyber Games Grand Final.The World's largest computer & video game tournament drew to a close Sunday night amid fireworks after an intense week of competition between 650 players from 59 countries. With elite players, breathtaking matches and colossal stakes, the World Cyber Games is proof that the age of e-sports is upon us. Sunday's Counter-Strike Final featured intense action that brought the crowd to its feet many times as America's Team3D and Denmark's Titans battled into triple overtime before 5,000 fans. "It's awesome," said team captain David "Moto" Geffon of Westlake Village, CA. "There couldn't be a better place or a better tournament than the World Cyber Games." When the tournament dust finally settled, the Netherlands collected the most Gold Medals, winning Unreal Tournament, Project Gotham Racing 2 and, in a huge upset over the heavily favored Korean team, the WarCraft III competition as well. Gold medalist Matthew Leto of the USA took home $20,000, winning his second consecutive Halo title at the World Cyber Games. $412,000 was awarded overall to winners at the 2004 Grand Final. "The competition this year was the toughest ever," said Hank Jeong, CEO of World Cyber Games Organizer ICM. "Every year the World Cyber Games expands to include even more of the world's best players. This year's champions should be truly proud of their achievement." The WCG Gold Medal winners are: Team3D, USA (CounterStrike: Condition Zero); Jihoon Seo, Korea (StarCraft III: Brood War); Manuel Schenkhuizen, Netherlands (WarCraft III: Frozen Throne); Daehan Choi, Korea (FIFA Soccer 2004); Laurens Pluymaekers, Netherlands (Unreal Tournament 2004); Niklas Timmermann, Germany (Need for Speed: Underground); Arthur Vankan (Project Gotham Racing 2); and Matt Leto, USA (Halo). Samsung is the global sponsor of the World Cyber Games. Full results for all matches, as well as highlights, pictures and instant replay files of key games are available online at http://www.worldcybergames.com ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Welcome to WCG ! Link Press Releases WCG on media WCG Day Three: Four Gold Medals Won, Four Still Up for Grabs -10,000 Attend Gaming Festival's Hottest Day -Matt Leto Repeats as Halo Champion, Team 3D (USA) Upsets SKGaming (Sweden) in CounterStrike Semifinals, Dutch Take Lead in Medal Count 2004-10-23 12:02 (GMT+9) (SAN FRANCISCO, October 9) – A gate of ten thousand descended on the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium today to watch the Grand Final matches and participate in the world's largest festival of digital culture and e-sports during Day 3 of the World Cyber Games Grand Final. World Champions were crowned in Halo¢â, Matt Leto (USA), Need for Speed¢â: Underground Niklas Timmerman (Germany), Project Gotham Racing, Arthur Vankan (Netherlands) and Unreal Tournament 2004 Laurens Pluymaekers (Netherlands) grabbed gold medals and $25,000 in prize money. The Halo Final pit reigning gold medalist Matt Leto against Canadian Nelson Triana in a winner take all championship battle. American Leto fell behind early in Game One before taking a commanding lead that even a late comeback by the Canadian in the Second Game couldn't overcome. Lightning reflexes and amazing hand-eye coordination sped Arthur Vankan (KingTuur) of the Netherlands ahead of Austrian Juergen Unger in the Final for Project Gotham Racing 2. Vankan was thrilled to bring gold home to the Netherlands. Niklas Timmermann's expert driving spelled trouble for MyungChun Yoo from Korea. After careening corners at breakneck speed, these two commanders of the consoles brought down the house with a wild final round. Laurens Pluymaekers of the Netherlands combined hot skills with a cool head to prevail over German Maurice Engelhardt after a second place finish in 2003, making his country the current leaders in the medal count. The four-time WCG veteran was thrilled to win his first medal. "It feels great," he said. "Great to be first finally." Tomorrow will see finals decided in Warcraft III: Frozen Throne, StarCraft: Brood War, Counter-Strike: Condition Zero, and FIFA Soccer 2004. All winners will be crowned tomorrow in an official medal ceremony at the Civic Center Plaza at 5:00 PM. The ceremony will mark the closing of the largest World Cyber Games Grand Final event in history. Team 3D Upsets SKGaming in Counter Strike Semifinal It was standing room only as CounterStrike fanatics flocked to the WCG Cyberspace for a shoutcast of a semifinal between Swedish powerhouse SKGaming and Team USA's Team 3D, a rematch of the 2003 CounterStrike final. To the delight of 3,200 fans cheered on site and online. Team 3D squeaked through to the final where they will face the Titans from Denmark. Cyberspace was also the scene of some real live military action as soldiers Joe King and Chris Haigh of the US Army emerged as champions of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines in a special Halo Military Challenge. Prev >> World Cyber Games Yields Gold for Netherlands, Korea, USA and Germany - 30,000 Spectators Witness World's Elite Players & Premier Digital Entertainment Festival - Dutch Win Medal Count, Americans Dominate Halo, CounterStrike in WCG's Most Thrilling Matches Next >> Day Two of Grand Final Puts Pressure on Practiced Players WCG 2004 Grand Final Day 2 Press Release ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sector 7 -> News (Jan 9th 05) Thursday, January 6th 2005 Link Submit News - Archives - RSS Zyos - Halo-Playing Extraordinaire Posted: 4:52 pm by Wolfy - Community - No Comments Houston Press did a sweet story on Matt Leto - Zyos, one of the best Halo players around (and probably richest off tournament money). Really interesting, go read. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bill Gates- Mentions Halo 2 Link Posted: 4:18 pm by Wolfy - Halo 2 - No Comments During the annual 'Consumer Electronic Show,' Bill Gates himself made a speech about Microsofts progress throughout the year. He also made honorable mention to Halo 2, and Bungie - having been sold, worldwide, over 6.3 million copies to date. HBO provided a link to a nice summary of this speech, which is Eurogamer. Game-On guys! EUROGAMER: Link Tom Bramwell Microsoft chairman Bill Gates used his keynote address at this year's CES trade show to announce various initiatives in music, photos, movies, television and communications, but made no mention of company's next-generation Xbox 2 platform. Gates did touch on the Xbox's progress briefly, however, claiming "industry-leading sales for the 2004 holiday season," with a projected 40 per cent console market share for the months of November and December, and said Microsoft expected to have sold 20 million units worldwide by July 2005. AdvertisementHe also paid tribute to Bungie's Halo 2, which generated $125 million in revenue in its first weekend of availability in the US and Canada, Gates said, and has sold more than 6.3 million units to date - exceeding sales of the first Halo. Halo 2 has also driven adoption of Microsoft's Xbox Live online games service - which now has more than one million unique users according to Gates - and generated 69 million hours of play to become the most popular title on the service by far. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Link “Halo 2” mania continues. “Halo 2” drove astounding retail performance, with worldwide sales of 6.3 million copies since its launch, and we expect strong sales momentum to continue throughout the year. The “Halo” franchise, which includes predecessor “Halo: Combat Evolved” for the PC and Xbox, has now sold a collective12.7 million copies in just three years’ time. “Halo 2” was also awarded two awards at Spike TV’s ceremony last month – “Best First Person Action” game and “Designer of the Year.” ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The Story of a Halo 2 Champion Link Posted by Zonk on Thursday January 06, @11:23AM from the plenty-of-asskicking-to-go-around dept. Sam Machkovech writes "My buddy Paul Kix of The Dallas Observer did some digging to uncover the life of Matt Leto (aka Zyos), whose track record places him in the top rankings of worldwide Halo & Halo 2 competitions. Professional gaming leagues are nothing new to those who know about the CPL, but this story shines a light at console-focused leagues like the MLG that may very well get the mainstream crowd interested in gaming as a viable sport, along with gamers like Zyos who buck negative stereotypes associated with hardcore gamers -- 'perhaps surprising, Leto's not a nerd. He's an athlete' -- while still kicking virtual ass. Show this article to your parents/spouses next time they harass you about your habit."

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Halo Review: Link ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Halo: Combat Evolved 2/12/2002 Console: Xbox Company: Bungie Rating: 9.9 out of 10 Genre: FPS Reviewer Name: Mike Peterson Halo is easily the best first person shooter I've ever played. It's as easy as this, if you have an Xbox, you must also have Halo. With this game Microsoft showed the gaming world that they can be a major competitor. The story goes like this: It is far into the future and hyperspace travel is a reality. The humans have ships exploring all over the galaxy. One day they encounter the Covenant, another advanced race with technology ahead of ours. Part of the Covenant religion seems to that all of humanity has to be wiped out, because once they discover that we exist, all they want to do is destroy us. You are the last of the Spartan II's that were created, they are bio-engineered marines that have had a special robotic armor installed on them. All the rest were destroyed, but the ship you start on made it out with you (actually 3 others escaped but you don't find that out in the game). However, the Covenant tracked your ship's hyperjump and got there before you. They've crippled your ship and are boarding in hoards, in the first level you must report to the captain then make your way through the ship to an escape pod to get away. One of the great things about Halo is how long the levels are. They usually take around an hour, except if you're playing on a hard difficulty level. They can take forever because of how amazing the enemies A.I. is on difficulty levels like legendary. The graphics are unparalleled, no other game has ever had such detail and such expansive landscapes. Physics in the game are amazing, if a grenade explodes around a dead body it will fly in the correct direction and possibly hit a wall and fall to the ground. All the marines and the enemies know what's going on. If a grenade falls next to the marines, they yell to duck or get down, then they scream if it explodes next to them. When the Covenant grunts see you they yell "He's here" or something like that, then they jump behind a box or wall to hide until you come closer. The enemies often wait until you reload your weapon, then they jump out and shoot you until you shoot them a few times. The only thing I don't like is that there aren't bots in the multiplayer, otherwise the multiplayer is great and there are tons of options in it. Since Microsoft wanted Halo to be one of Xbox's release games, they didn't have time to include a code for online play. However, it's rumored that Bungie is currently working on the multiplayer part of Halo for online play. If they are it will probably be released this summer when Microsoft starts its online service. Also, I didn't gave this game a ten because I feel no game can be perfect, although Halo comes pretty close to it. I highly recommend getting this game, it's hours of fun and the multiplayer is absolutely awesome. So, remember these words "If you own an Xbox, you own Halo."

Halo Link Year: 2003 Publisher: Bungie Software - web Developer: Gearbox Software - web Genre: Action Platform: Win9x Web Site: halo.bungie.net Halo: Combat Evolved will have you battling through amazing indoor and outdoor environments, in vehicles, and on foot with the largest arsenal of futuristic weapons, vehicles, and combat roles of any shooter ever. The PC adaptation is based on the game's original concept, where your objective is to uncover Halo's horrible secret, and destroy ankind's nemesis - the Covenant. Bent on Humankind's extermination, a powerful fellowship of alien races known as the Covenant is wiping out the Earth's fledgling interstellar empire. You and the other surviving defenders of a devastated colony-world make a desperate attempt to lure the alien fleet away from Earth. Shot down and marooned on the ancient ring-world Halo, you begin a guerilla-war against the Covenant. Fight for humanity against an alien onslaught as you race to uncover the mysteries of Halo.

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