Even though you are the one true Quake Legend, I guess some people might have missed the time when you were an active pro-gamer. How did you got in contact with pro-gaming at such an early stage?
I got into gaming when Doom came out, which is when true multi-player online gaming became a reality. There was no such thing as “pro gaming” before then, so I guess I helped create what is now known as pro gaming or e-sports.
Back then “id Software” dropped the games and there was no excuse for not playing them. Nowadays there are so many games, even new genres that are played on a professional basis. If you would start gaming today, would you still pick an id Software title?
I’ve always enjoyed id Software’s games most – maybe b/c I started with them I’m a little biased, but the other games like UT2k4, etc., just don’t have the same feel of crispness of aim and movement that id software engine based games do. Now, to answer your question - yes, I would most likely pick an id Software title if I were to start competing again.

Is it true, that id Software came up to you and asked for your input when developing Quake 3?
Yes - I helped with the multiplayer aspects of Quake 2 and Quake 3. In fact, as a way to thank me for my input on Quake 2, John Carmack built my config into the game. You can type “Exec thresh.cfg” on any Quake 2 machine and it would work. :)
So if you had the chance to produce a competitive game, what features would your perfect game include (e.g. Double jumps, QW style bunny hopping, fast weapon switching)?
How about what it wouldn’t include? I really don’t like bunny hopping – in some ways I think it lessens the importance of strategy and prediction b/c with everyone hopping around everywhere, you almost always know where they are.
Talking about id Software. How’s the Ferrari?
I finally sold it this past year as I had it for 7+ years and didn’t drive it often enough.
You not only won a Ferrari, but every tourney you competed in. Who was your hardest opponent and why?
The only opponent that comes to mind isn’t a single person, but a team. I’d have to say Clan 9 was my toughest opponent because it is the only time a team of mine has lost, let alone had our butts handed to us. ;-) With that said, I wish we had a chance to play when we were in our primes - by the time we played the match, three out of the four starters (including myself) on our team had moved on to Quake 2 and had to make a “comeback” to play Quake again. It would have been a much better match, though I can’t say for sure the results would have been different.

You were always decribed as a very intelligent player, that was always one step ahead of his enemy. How would you describe yourself as a player. What made you better then the rest?
I think that’s a pretty accurate description. I think my biggest strength was being able to get inside my opponents’ heads and know exactly what they were thinking even before they realized they were thinking it. Once I gained control of the map, the match was essentially over - I didn’t make any stupid mistakes to relinquish control.

When people used to watch me play or watch my demos, they wouldn’t be that impressed with my skills. I think that’s because I made the game look easy and slow, when it in reality is an extremely chaotic, fast-paced game – I was always in the right place, at the right time, and always in control. When that happens, you make your opponent look bad and the game look boring – even if your opponent is really skilled. In a way, it’s kind of like how Roger Federer can making dominating his opponents look easy on the pro tennis circuit.
Makaveli always had very much respect for you, and talked about you teaching him to play effectively. Something that helped him being on of the best Quake 3 players in the beginning of the Quake 3 era. How was your relationship to Victor and what did you teach him?
I’ve known Victor since when we both started playing Doom. The same goes for Immortal. Both Makaveli and Immortal had great aim, and relied primarily on it to dominate their opponents. (Immy’s aim was slightly better than Makaveli’s.) Thus, whenever they faced off against one another, Makaveli would get owned.

So finally one day, I told Makaveli to start recording demos of their matches, and I would teach him the strategic side of the game. We’d watch the demos together and I’d pause the game at random moments in the game and ask him what he was thinking, where he thought his opponent was, what he thought they were doing, etc., and then I’d tell him what I was thinking. This helped break the game down for him and understand WHAT, WHY, and WHEN he needed to think about things as the game progressed. I did this for him throughout his “career” and it showed with him finally being able to beat Immy, as well as him doing well in tournaments. Unfortunately, the one thing I couldn’t change about him was his inability to control his emotions, and that for the most part, was his biggest weakness.
After retiring from gaming you started your own business with gamers.com. Later you founded firingsquad.com and now you created xfire. Tell us little bit about the “Business-Thresh”. What where you doing while all the people waited for you to return and play again?
I think it’s a natural progression for people to want to make a business out of their passion and hobby. Becoming a pro gamer is doing just that - you’re building a business out of your success as a gamer. I never aspired to be the first professional gamer, it just kinda happened. I’ve always been an entrepreneur - I started my first business (around gaming) in 1995, even before I was a “pro gamer.” I started my first website (which later became Gamers.com) in 1996 with my brother. So in a way, I was never a full-time pro gamer, because I’ve always had other businesses to run while I was competing. Eventually, the other businesses kept me so busy that I had to retire from pro gaming to run them full time.
I know of a few other former pro gamers that made that leap, such as SK-Griff who started ESL-europe, Sujoy and Hakeem with ESReality, etc.
So Xfire is more fun than Quake?
Can we change that question into a statement? Quake is more fun with Xfire. :) Xfire makes gaming life so much simpler. Want to be able to receive IMs without having to ALT-Tab out of the game? Xfire does that. Tired of cut & pasting server IPs to join game servers? Xfire can do it with one click of the mouse. Want voice chat without the hassle of joining a TS of Ventrilo server? Xfire has that. Want to keep all your games patched and updated without having to worry about it? Xfire will do that for you, too. And Xfire is completely free. It’s a 2 MB download at: http://www.xfire.com.
OK, let's do some marketing. What else can you tell us about Xfire?
Xfire is basically an all-in-one gaming program. ~3.5 million gamers have signed up for Xfire in two years. There is one tiny ad window at the top of the client (kinda like the AIM one, but smaller and with no dynamic ads), which is how we support the program. There is no spyware of any kind.

Let’s talk about Jonathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel. Have you two ever met?
Yes, of course. We had lunch once when he visited the SF Bay Area, and I’ve chatted with him many other times at various events and such.
Gamespot.com once wrote about you „he is the first Michael Jordan of professional video gaming”. Fatal1ty is often quoted as the “Tiger Woods of gaming". Fatal1ty is always claimed for being the best gamer of the world, a title he inherited from you. Obviously there are some similarties between the both of you. What are the differences?
I think the main difference between us was our style of game play. Fatal1ty plays a more methodical, running patterns type game, whereas I played a more thinking, strategic style game. Fatal1ty is also more dedicated to being a pro gamer than I ever was. I think he spends 8-12 hours a day practicing, every single day. I used to play a couple hours a day at most until a week or two before a tournament, and then I’d ramp up my practice time to 4 to 8 hours. I think due to my more strategic style of play, I didn’t need to practice as much as he does as I didn’t rely so much on my hand/eye coordination.
After retiring, Michael Jordan had a comeback but he wasn’t the same anymore. Some people say the comeback hurt his reputation and it would’ve been better, if he had retired for good. Would you agree?
I don’t agree. I think Michael Jordan played exceptionally well when he came back. His jumper was still awesome and he elevated his team’s play a lot, even though he wasn’t able to dominate the game like he used to.
In a recent GGL Interview, the pro-gamer Purri, who is widely known for being the last reigning Quake 2 champion, said the following: “It might sound strange... No offense to Thresh, he was an awesome player in his time. But I never liked to watch him play. I started after he quit and made my own style that suits me. It’s like day and night -- can’t compare. He used a very slow paced game which didn’t suit me at all. Quake 2 evolved through the years into something else than when Thresh was active.”
I quote that, because there is always the discussion whether old “stars” could beat the “stars” from today. I guess you have watched some Quake 2 or Quake 3 matches in the past years. Have you seen something, that you would say you couldn’t beat? Or different: Has the game evolved too much or would you still be on top?

I always hear this argument and I think it’s ridiculous. What people don’t realize is that a lot of top gamers today, such as Zero4, Fatal1ty, czm, etc., _were competing_ at the time I was playing - they just weren’t at the top of their game then. In fact, Fatal1ty had tried out for Death Row and didn’t make the cut. (Though he tells me it was b/c he had a bad connect.)

Yes, the game has evolved - is it better? In some ways, sure. In other ways, no. The game had evolved a lot from Doom to Doom 2, from Doom 2 to Quake, from Quake to Quake 2, and so on. I was undefeated in tournaments in every one of those games. I’m sure my game would have evolved too. The slower, more strategic, thinking style of play is and always has been AGAINST THE NORM. 99% of players do not play that way. And that is why it works. People instinctively want to be super-aggressive, bunny-hop everywhere, grab everything and engage the opponent as quickly as possible because it’s “more fun and exciting” to them. When those types of players go up against someone who is out-thinking them and NOT playing at the same pace that they are, they get confused.

There were always those types of opponents in every game I played. The only difference now is that there is a shortage of the “thinking” style players, and so everyone assumes that the more aggressive, robotic style works better - when that may not necessarily be the case at all.
Have you watched the CPL World Tour and what’s your opinion on that whole event?
To be honest, I didn’t really follow it at all. Painkiller just isn’t interesting to me.
How do you liked the MTV broadcast of the WT? Is eSports on MTV is the next logical step?
I thought it was surprisingly well done and is a little peek into the possible future of e-sports. I think using the Internet as a broadcast medium could be successful way to turn e-sports into a spectator sport. TV broadcasts of e-sport events doesn’t seem realistic, at least in North America, any time in the near future.
So who is the WT Champion, Vo0 for winning most stops, or Fatal1ty for winning the Big final Event?
It should be stated in the rules whether the “Grand Champion” was determined by cumulative points regardless of who wins the last stop of the season (similar to NASCAR) or the grand final event (like the Superbowl.) If it wasn’t clearly stated in the rules, I think that is a huge travesty.
Best Quake 3 Player of all times: ZeRo4, Cooller or Fatal1ty?
I’d probably say Zero4 or cooller as they won most often during the peak of Quake 3.
Do you know any of the european Quake players of the past 3 years? If so who?
I still follow the scene here and there, so I’m somewhat familiar with all of them.
Next year Quake 4 will have some huge tournaments and there will be a lot of prize money to win. What do you think about Quake 4 so far?
I think it’s a lot like Quake 3. ;-)
What else do you play, if you have the spare time?
I play a little bit of Quake 4 and some poker.
What can we expect from Thresh in the future?
I don’t even know yet, so you’ll have to wait and see. :)
Mr. Fong, thank you for the Interview.
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