When we were given the opportunity to pair up with the Houston Astros All-Star outfielder and avid gamer Hunter Pence, we knew right away that this was an obvious moment of greatness waiting to happen. After hearing that he was a big Call of Duty fan, we couldn’t think of a better professional CoD gamer than Hastr0 to come out and give him some pro tips on CoD. I mean, Astro Gaming + The Houston Astros + Hastr0… come on now… that’s a gently underhand thrown softball right over the middle of the plate. What we unraveled was a story that wove together professional gaming and sports even more than we imagined.
We initially met the MLG CoD Pro Mike ‘Hastr0’ Rufail a few years ago, but really got a chance to get to know him at the Gamers for Giving charity event in Michigan in May of 2010. That night, we found out that Mike originally grew up in Texas and was a HUGE Houston Astros fan in his youth. When he started to play online and it came time to pick a gamertag, his choice revolved around a sport that he loved, and a team that he had embraced. With that, ‘Hastr0’ was born. Knowing that he was a huge Astros fan, when we learned that Hunter Pence was a Call of Duty player, we knew these two would be a perfect match to share some pro tips about each other’s respective sport. We arranged to fly Hastr0 down for a day to meet Hunter, and went down to capture the shenanigans as they happened.
We picked up Hastr0 from the airport and headed out to meet up with Hunter. We ended up at the Hunter Pence Baseball Academy where Hunter, his brother Howie, and a number of other professional athletes host a variety of baseball academies in hopes of sharing their skills and stories to create other elite athletes in the Houston area. It was here that we first met Hunter and he got to give Hastr0 some batting advice and see what kind of Gamer/Athlete Hastr0 really was. After a few warm up swings on the batting tee , Hastr0 moved on to the pitching machine before stepping in against Howie Pence(who throws some serious major league heat). After Hastr0 got a few big swings in, it was time to head over to Hunter’s house so that he could show us his gaming setup we were about to gear up and have Hastr0 return the pro to pro teaching session.
When we arrived at Hunter’s house, it was clear from his setups that he absolutely loved gaming. He had dual flat screen televisions paired with Xbox 360’s in front of theater style leather recliners. He also had both a high end gaming desktop and laptop on his dining room table which we found out he uses for World of Warcraft PvP. Hunter told us that he gets approached all the time to join pro WoW PvP teams. Each time, chuckling and having to tell them that he’s not sure that it would be a good career move. We got to watch him make quick work of a couple of people, but were eager to see how he held up against and with Hastr0 in CoD.
Hastr0 got to hop in with his team and get a couple of competition matches in to get warmed up and share some insight from his professional level in gaming with Hunter. After a few rounds, they were ready to jump in and get some games going. During those games, Hunter also got to teach Hastr0 about “Schlobstering”. I was sworn to secrecy, but you can ask Hunter via twitter what it means!
Thanks to Hunter, the Houston Astros, Hastr0, Team EnvyUs, and the crew at Tritton(for being cool with us stealing Hastr0 for day). We had a blast pairing up this Athlete/Gamer and Gamer/Athlete. If you want to check out the quick video recap of the day, you can find it on our YouTube channel, or more pictures on our facebook page.