Unstoppable: A chat with MechWarrior Online Champs, Empyreal’s prtNspz

In researching last week’s article on MechWarrior Online’s competitive leagues, I made an astounding discovery; reigning World champs Empyreal had a completely perfect record during their championship run. What made them an unstoppable force? To find out I reached out to Empyreal, and was able to sit down and talk to one of their players, Nik “prtNspz”, to get his epic journey to the winner’s podium.

The first thing you notice when you talk to Nik is he’s a pretty humble guy. When I brought up Empyreal’s record, he never let it seem like any match was anything but a hard-fought win. “There was always a challenge for me because it’s my first World Championship,” says prtN, who lets me know is short for “Proton”.

Despite the challenge, he certainly made it look easy, and I let him know. “I would say it’s not really, because we spend a lot of time practicing, and we got rewarded for that.”

We spend a lot of time practicing, and we got rewarded for that.

How much practice did it take for a perfect record? “We were practicing almost every day. And the only problem there for me is I am Russian, and the practices were in the early morning for me, like 5:00 or 6:00 a.m.” I know for me getting up that early would take some serious dedication.

It wasn’t all just practice. Knowledge of the tournament and which maps to focus on helped too. As Proton tells it, “We had a look at which maps are gonna be picked according to the [tournament] rules.” Each team captain would have the option to ban certain maps, and most teams eliminated maps that had balance issues leaving just a few options. “Tourmaline that is left, Canyon Network that is left, and, like HPG. So we [practice] those maps.” Although not quite to the exclusion of all others. “Of course we practiced the other maps just in case if something happens.”

MWOC Qualifiers - Lords_NA vs. EmpyreaL
Watch this video on YouTube.

That preparedness paid off. Undefeated in both the qualifying rounds and the regional finals, Proton was flown along with other members of Empyreal to MechCon in Vancouver to compete for the grand championship. The finals would pit Empyreal against the other regional winners, EON Synergy and the 228th Wild Ones.

Even with all their preparation, Nik knew they were in for a fight. “The best unit in the European region is EON Synergy. I know those guys. I know how they played […], and they literally had the same skill level as us.”

The final matches followed the qualifiers, with win after win going to Empyreal. Then, a surprise move from EON put victory in jeopardy. “EON just went all-in. They just rushed us, but we practiced”, and because of that practice they were prepared.

Instantly meeting their thrust, Empyreal arranged their lances atop Canyon Network’s rocky escarpments, giving each ‘Mech the perfect sight lines to reign fiery death on their attackers. “And after we killed the last ‘Mech I personally, I just, like, couldn’t believe that everything is over.” Empyreal accepted their accolades to screaming MechCon fans.

And after we killed the last ‘Mech I personally, I just, like, couldn’t believe that everything is over.

And for new players? Proton has some good advice. “You can’t just install the game and be good,” he explains, ”because MechWarrior Online is something different. It’s not just an FPS shooter. You need to be patient, you need to learn because the game has a long learning curve.”

Perhaps foretelling my own gameplay he adds, “You’re making mistakes, you learn from them because that’s how I learned. Even though I’m not considering myself as a professional player.”

I pointed out his World Champ’s medal, but he just scoffs. Like I said, Nik’s a humble guy.

You can read the whole interview with prtNspz here. You can watch prtNspz play and get helpful tips on his Twitch stream.

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About Sean

Hooked on BattleTech at an early age, Sean honestly can't remember whether it was the cartoon, the serial novels or the short-lived TCG that did him in. Whatever it was, his passion for giant shooty robots never died, so now he writes about the latest and greatest in 'Mech related news.

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