Michael Chaves, more affectionately known as Flamesword, has been a main-stay in the professional gaming scene since Halo 2’s heyday and a close friend and supporter of Gamers Outreach for years. We got some time with him recently to find out where he’s been, what he’s been up to, and what’s next.
How long have you been involved in eSports for? How did it all began?
I want to say I’ve been involved since 2005 when Halo 2 was MLG’s main game — the memories just thinking back are incredible. I only started competing in 2008, went pro in 2009, and then finally started competing for the money in 2010 and a lot of good stuff has followed ever since.
Gaming for me started pretty normal: I was part of the launch of Xbox Live which — took gaming to a whole new level — and learned about MLG from running into other online gamers. I continued to work on my craft until I felt I was in top-tier shape to compete with the rest. I created my own team, did my best to lead them, and was able to foster some of the best experiences of my life.
You’re pretty well known for the physique you maintain in a career that depends on you being stationary for long periods of time. When did you first get into fitness, and what makes you love it as much as you do?
My cousin played a huge part in my love for fitness. He was this high school wrestling champ who was just always working out — I always wanted to be in the kind of shape I saw him in.
I started taking it seriously at the age of 22, which is the same time I ran into some stomach problems which actually encouraged me to take my health even more seriously. That ailment forced me to make sure that I wasn’t just in good shape, but to also make sure I was treating my body as well as I could. I think I fell in love with it all because this one body we have is the only thing that stays with us from start to finish in our time here.
When did you first get involved with Gamers Outreach? Can you tell us how it all began + everything you’ve worked on with us leading up to today?
I first learned of Gamers Outreach through fellow competitor and living Halo legend, Walshy. I saw that he was involved and wanted to know what part I could play as I truly respected the organization’s vision and message. Being a gamer myself, I know gaming can be used to help reduce stress for these kids who are confined to their rooms due to certain illnesses, so the concept of the GO Kart was something I wanted to get involved with immediately. I wanted to do whatever I could to spread the word and help build as many Karts as I possibly could.
What’s been your proudest achievement in your career to date, and what’s been the biggest roadblock you’ve had to overcome?
As I get older I see my answer to this question changing more and more often, but I think I finally have it down: I’d have to say my greatest accomplishment was taking a leap of faith and giving gaming my all. Altogether I’ve built years worth of memories and even though I retired from competition, if I could go back and hit “Play” from the beginning I wouldn’t change anything, because every single one of those moments made me into who I am today.
My biggest hurdle was probably the fact that I was constantly comparing myself to everyone because of my competitive nature, but after I learned to let that go, I just started focusing on what I had to get done. Ever since then, everything — and I mean everything in both gaming and life in general — it’s all become so much more simple.
What have you been up to lately? Can you tell us a little more about your work with OpTic?
I don’t game much nowadays! I usually will during a Halo tournament, because watching gives me the itch to get back into it all. I do plan on playing a ton of Destiny 2 (currently waiting for the beta to download as we speak)! Destiny the game itself has opened so many doors for me, it’s only right that I get back on the sticks and hang out with the homies. I honestly can’t wait to check out Trials in D2!
OpTic work is fun — we’re all independent at the house, really. Everyone has their own thing: Obviously I’m the fitness guy but I’m also the one who isn’t afraid to live on the edge; I’ve jumped out of an airplane 20 times on my own, own a motorcycle — anything that gets my heart going, I’m there. I’m currently continuing my health and fitness efforts by putting a lot of time into my second YouTube channel, OpTic Strength.
Besides that, I’ve just got to figure out when I want to grow the OpTic BEARD out again so we can have our infamous 24 Hour Live Stream at the end of the year! With the power of the #GreenWall and the entire gaming community, I’m aiming to crush our donation goal (as usual) and get as many GO Karts built as possible!
Want more Flamesword? You can find him on Twitch, keep up with his regular Vlog postings on YouTube, or see what he’s getting into at the OpTic House or on the road by following him on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.