By: Anthony "Nameless" Wheeler
I walk into the CWL Seattle Open, and I see all the fans. Everybody's dressed in their jersey, but I'm not. I don't have to pick up a controller. I don't get to play.
I'm analyzing Call of Duty. That’s who I am now.
A few weeks before that event, my time at Evil Geniuses had come to an end. I was dropped from the roster and, although a few opportunities came my way to keep competing, I decided to walk away. (There’s no bad blood there. Real talk, if Evil Geniuses came out on top I would be extremely happy for that squad.)
I'm still a part of the action, but it's been weird playing a backseat role. I was having trouble coping with my new place in the community. It was hard not to think, “I could be playing right now," especially having been a pro for a very long time. It was hard not to feel like I’d lost something, but everybody was super supportive. They noticed I was sad, especially when I was watching matches, and told me, "Hold your head up, man. You're good. You were a great player for a very long time."
One person who was particularly helpful was MerK (Joe ‘MerK’ DeLuca), because he’d made the same transition from pro player to caster. He knew the emotions I was experiencing and helped me get through them. He played a huge role in my being able to just appreciate Call of Duty esports, rather than just being sad that I'm not competing at events. That chapter of Call of Duty was over for me. Time for a new one to begin.
I love Call of Duty, and I will never stop playing it as long as it's around. I’ll be playing online tournaments and watching streams; I love watching people play Call of Duty. Casting has added to that love.
One thing I’ve been thinking about is experiencing Champs from behind the desk. There have been pro players who have become on-air talent and then they go to a Champs or another event and then the next year they try to compete again. The itch gets them. I don't think it'll spark the me wanting to go back to play again. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.
I think it’ll be tough for me the entire time, not competing. But if I'm able to get through it and put on a good show, I think that part of my life will be over, and I'll be able to really appreciate Call of Duty esports even more.
I feel really comfortable being on the talent roster. It's something that I think I'm good at and I can improve upon. People usually don’t retire when they should. They win a championship, and then they get eighth place at an event the next year, and then they get 22nd, and they keep playing. People overstay their welcome. I don't think I overstayed my welcome, but I think that after three years without a championship, there’s believing in yourself, and there’s beating a dead horse.
The last two years I played I had constant doubts. I’d think, "Man, I can't get into that top group of players to make a team to win, and I want to win. What am I doing?" When I retired, all that pressure to become a Champion was gone. I was so stressed for the past two years, but now I have the chance to learn something new, to go and improve and not deal with all that weight.
Being on the desk is something I believe I'm good at and can improve upon. I've only been doing analyst and casting work for a few months now, and I've already gotten a lot better at it. The sky's the limit.
Tickets for the Nationwide Arena from August 17 - August 19, are available on the official CWL Championship page (while supplies last).