Tools of the trade

Tools+of+the+trade

Mark Gibson

Geoff Norris was an MLG Halo 2 player in 2008. His team, Flub the Dub, placed 30th in the Top 32 pro bracket. Photo illustration by Christine Capozziello.

When a pro gamer is at his or her best, he or she strives to use top of the line headphones, controllers, computers and even keyboards.  So with Major League Gaming, the world’s premier competitive gaming organization, coming to Orlando this weekend to showcase the 8th annual Pro Circuit, we took a look at the equipment professional gamers use.

There is a strict equipment approval policy when playing on a professional level. It is required that every player has the same advantages.

“They wouldn’t even let me have LED lights on my controller,” said Geoff Norris, a former MLG Pro bracket Halo 2 player. “I used to glue a stopwatch to the top of my controller to keep time, but I don’t think you can even do that anymore.”

Here is a look at what an average pro gamer uses in practice and competition:

Headset

The most important thing in any gaming competition is team communication. The official headset of MLG is made by Astro Gaming. A basic wired headset will cost you about $130, but if you want the premium, wireless, surround sound, noise cancelling headphones, it will run you $290. In comparison to the common headset, it’s an average price. In terms of quality comparison to something like a standard Xbox 360 headset, however, Astro blows it away.

“I never play without a headset,” said Norris. “There are times when you get saved from a bad situation all thanks to the surround sound of the headphones. It helps you hear things that you otherwise wouldn’t.”

Controller

Competitors have the choice between wireless and wired controllers.

“I always use the wired controller,” said Norris. “In my opinion, I think nothing sends a signal faster.”

The only rule is that your controller has no modifications to it and is the standard Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 controller. Any alterations are prohibited. Later this year, MLG will be coming out with an official controller designed by Mad Catz. The controller will be so customizable, the competitors can even change its weight.

Computer

If you are a PC gamer, then Starcraft 2 is your Pro Circuit game. The Alienware AURORA is the official PC for MLG competitions. The AURORA packs an Intel Core i7 920 processor, 6GB Triple Channel RAM, and a 1.8GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 295 graphics card. In other words, this computer is ridiculously fast. If you watch a Starcraft competition, players move around the screen with intense speed. An average computer would crumble at just the boot up of an online battle.

Energy drink

Any true gamer knows that energy drinks are essential. Whether you’re up all night practicing or playing a full 10 a.m. to midnight on competition day, an energy drink can do you wonders.

“Last time I played at MLG, we got free energy drinks,” said Norris. “I drank more of those than I can remember.