Exclusive: We Are The Elite

Kinect Sports Rivals World Championship Winners

The Kinect Sports Rivals World Championship semi-finals has now come to a close. During the last 8 weeks, players all over the world have been training to compete for a spot in the finals. Semi-finalists will meet at Comic-Con on July 26, 2014 for a live all-day tournament. Various cash prizes are up for grabs, and a destination trip from a choice of 4 locations will also be awarded to the grand prize winner.

I published an article describing my experiences with the tournament, including the obstacles overcome and friends I’ve made. It’s been an incredible journey so far, and it’s only begun. The next 7 weeks will be filled with training, practice, and determination to achieve the title of World Champion. I was very privileged to have all of the winners come together for this interview, as I was interested in hearing the experience they went through to claim the #1 spot in their country.


Congrats on the win! Let’s start with your name and who you’re bringing as a guest on the trip.

Mikey G85 (UK) – “My name is Michael Griffiths, and I will be bringing my fiancée Emma Watkins as my guest.”
NINJAxInfinity (US) – “Thanks congrats to you too! My name is Edward and I’m bringing my life partner Anisa, who happens to be carrying our second baby girl scheduled to be born at the end of this year!”
tomfortman2009 (US) – “My name is Thomas Fortman. I will be bringing my friend Brendan, my roommate at college.”
Wing l Halcon l (MX) – “I am Christian and my guest is my friend, Eduardo.”
FusedDaelin (US) – “My name is Keith and I’ll be bringing my older brother, Kyle.”
TRU3 CHOSEN ONE (US) – “My name is Josh and I am bringing my girlfriend. My son and mother will be attending as well.”
AlexVlas (AU) – “My name is Alex. As per the choice of who to bring: it is a difficult one and I have not made up my mind yet.”
Tiziusheik (BR) – “I’m Andrew, I’m taking my girlfriend.”
Lucktose (DE) – “My name is David Schiebort and I’m bringing my girlfriend as my guest; not only because of the ‘girlfriend bonus’, the main reason why I chose her is that she helped in a mental way as a kind of trainer. I know this sounds a little weird to have a trainer for this challenge but she helped me a lot.”
II Lilian 31 II (FR) – “My name is Lilian Trochon. I will bring my friend Emmanuel Ménat as my guest (Ranked 3rd for France) – His Gamertag : II Manuu 31 II
AestheticaL (CA) – “My name is Kevin, and I am bringing my brother. We’re both ecstatic to be a part of this Championship!”

How does it feel to be competing for your country?

Mikey G85 (UK) – “It feels absolutely amazing. I’ve always dreamt of representing my country and to be doing it at the San Diego Comic-Con makes it even sweeter.”
NINJAxInfinity (US) – “It feels great! Representing the US in the first ever motion controlled worldwide competition feels like an awesome accomplishment. Now I just need to put the icing on the cake and become world champion.”
tomfortman2009 (US) – “It feels great. We had a LOT of very good players here in the US, so it feels like quite an accomplishment to be one of the four selected to represent.”
Wing l Halcon l (MX) – This is very exciting, it’s the first time I’ve won something like this. I will represent México!
FusedDaelin (US) – “To be honest I don’t really look at this like country vs. country. Rather great players and people from all over coming to compete among friends.”
TRU3 CHOSEN ONE (US) – “It feels AWESOME! What an honor to represent USA!”
AlexVlas (AU) – “Very good I am happy to represent Australia for this competition.”
Tiziusheik (BR) – “I’m anxious for the competition to start, I’m hoping to perform well.”
Lucktose (DE) – “I’m not the biggest patriot but I know that I will be embarrassed to be labelled in San Diego as “The German.” It will be a great feeling to see the German flag next to my name as this is really a pleasure for me to get this chance, maybe Angela Merkel could change my patriotism by wishing me good luck from face to face!”
II Lilian 31 II (FR) – “I am very exited to represent France in this world championship. It is with a great pleasure and pride that I will try to put France in first place for this championship.”

Have you been competing since the start? Did you register before you got the game or after?

Mikey G85 (UK) – “I started playing Kinect Sports Rivals at the preseason stage. I was hooked on wake racing and competed in all of the challenges. I bought the game on day one and registered for the championship. The prize was too good not to!”
NINJAxInfinity (US) – “I knew of the competition since the start and also practiced in Kinect Sports Pre-Season to try and get the niche for wake racing down and be ready for the game’s release.”
tomfortman2009 (US) – ” Yes, since the start. I was on google trying to find the release date for the game, and found out about the world championship. I had fun and had a fairly good score in the preseason event, and it was free so I entered.”
Wing l Halcon l (MX) – “No, I didn’t know about the competition until the last week of May. When I started playing, I got to the first page quickly. The difficult part was the last week because I was 4 place, so I spent about 6 hours continuously playing. I didn’t sleep and fortunately won first place.”
FusedDaelin (US) – “I have been playing since the release of the game. I found out about the tournament several weeks prior and registered about a week before the release.”
TRU3 CHOSEN ONE (US) – “I registered before the game was released when I saw there was going to be a tournament.”
AlexVlas (AU) – “Started playing the game because I loved the demo, then I found out there was a tournament after.”
Tiziusheik (BR) – “I started competing once the game was released.”
Lucktose (DE) – “The whole idea to take part in this world championship had begun with “Kinect Sports Rivals Preseason.” After I reached second place worldwide in Wake Racing, I thought that I could also win the world championship, so I went to the store and bought the game to win this tournament.”
II Lilian 31 II (FR) – “I have been competing since the start of the competition, and played everyday to do my best and win the championship for France. I registered before I got the game, the day that the championship was announced.”

Do you play any real sports?

Mikey G85 (UK) – “I used to kick box and play rugby, and I am currently doing a lot of running (marathons and mud running events). I’m also in training for my first triathlon. I actually put my training on hold for this tournament, but I played so much I think my fitness has improved anyway!”
NINJAxInfinity (US) – “I’m kind of a sports junkie. I enjoy so many different types of sports to play and watch. In my lifetime I’ve played in tennis tournaments, a baseball league, ran track and cross country for my high school, and even amateur boxing. I’m very fitness oriented so I’m constantly eating right and exercising, so even though I’m not currently playing sports I would like to think I’m still very athletic!”
FusedDaelin (US) – “I don’t currently play any sports, and haven’t since my freshman year (2004-2005) of high school.”
Lucktose (DE) – “I’m only do sports in my free-time. Besides weight lifting, I like to play basketball, volleyball, and water sports as long as the weather is suitable.”
II Lilian 31 II (FR) – “I don’t actually play any real sports, just virtual sports like Xbox Fitness!”
AestheticaL (CA) – “Over half of the competitors said they didn’t play any sports outside video games!”

What was your best memory from the tournament?

Mikey G85 (UK) – “My best memory was when I got to 39 seconds in climbing, as it was the event I struggled with the most. A lot of people were around the low 40 seconds mark so the sense of relief I felt when I finally got there was intense.”
NINJAxInfinity (US) – “My best memory from the tournament would have to be the fun of waking up in the morning and checking the leaderboards to see if my time had been beaten. If it had, it would lead to me stopping everything I was doing to try and get the top spot again! The back and forth was fun and the feeling of beating the world record time was just euphoric and very hard to put into words.”
tomfortman2009 (US) – “Getting the 300 in bowling was my best memory, and the biggest obstacle I had to overcome.”
Wing l Halcon l (MX) – “The last few hours until the end of the tournament. It was killing me but I was excited to win!”
FusedDaelin (US) – “My best memory from the tournament was breaking the world record in wake racing with about 30 minutes left of the tournament. It was always exciting breaking a world record, but with so little time, it was a big moment.”
TRU3 CHOSEN ONE (US) – “Getting a 300 in bowling. I knew and told myself that when I bowled a 300, I had a really good shot. That’s why it was the first game I targeted, and I recalled it happened on a Saturday Morning right before I had to leave for a company picnic.”
AlexVlas (AU) – “Well that 289 in bowling felt really good!”
Tiziusheik (BR) – “When I got to 300 points in bowling was very happy.”
Lucktose (DE) – “It was definitely shortly before the end of the qualification, when I could score a new world record in Wake Race and got the sole lead in Germany back. I lost my voice for the rest of the day because of my yelling.”
II Lilian 31 II (FR) – “Thinking back to all the great moments, my best memory was a week before the end of the tournament when I achieved 299 at bowling. I was with my guest, and we had goal to have a perfect game of bowling. We had been playing for 5 hours but just couldn’t get it, always had one spare. It was approximately 2am when I scored 299. During was my last frame, all the pins fell except for one. It was the last one balancing on the left, but it didn’t fall.”

What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome?

Mikey G85 (UK) – “The biggest obstacle was playing bowling over and over again until I got a perfect score. Getting 11 strikes in a row and then missing a perfect score by one pin is pretty demoralizing.”
NINJAxInfinity (US) – “The biggest obstacle would definitely be (with out a shadow of a doubt) bowling a 300! This was such a heartbreaking process because I would go into the 8th frame and one pin would decide not to fall and I would have to do it all over again! My wife would sit there and watch me try over and over again with no success. I even went as far as researching the physics of bowling to try and increase my chances of getting a strike when my wife would say “Babe just rest a little bit and then try tomorrow.” I would tell her, “if I don’t bowl a 300 we’re not going to California” and she would laugh and tell me okay a few more tries! After about 3 weeks of trying to bowl a 300, the day finally arrived where my technique was peaked and with a little bit of luck, I bowled a perfect game. Me and my wife were jumping up and down as if I just won the super bowl! Good times.”
Wing l Halcon l (MX) – “The wake racing, that was way too hard for me. I played it over and over again many times.”
FusedDaelin (US) – “For me it was trying to find the time to play. For a couple weeks I was only able to play for a couple hours one day a week.”
TRU3 CHOSEN ONE (US) – “Getting 2:08 in wake racing, which I needed to secure second place!”
AlexVlas (AU) – “The 300 in bowling, which I did not overcome by the end! Maybe in the finals?”
Tiziusheik (BR) – “Beating my time in climbing was very difficult to overcome.”
Lucktose (DE) – “Bowling, definitely bowling! I tried it daily for a month to get the perfect game. Nothing more to say!”
II Lilian 31 II (FR) – “The biggest obstacle was wake racing during the last week. I couldn’t find where I was able to improve.”

Did you make any friends over the course of the championship?

Mikey G85 (UK) – “I started chatting with the top people from the States, France and Canada as the competition came down to the last two weeks. It’s great to know that there are people all across the globe striving towards the same goal. We couldn’t share tips as we will ultimately be competing against each other at the finals, but there was definitely a sense of community support and friendly competition.”
NINJAxInfinity (US) – “Not really. I felt a bond however between me and the elite competitors as I knew we were all going through the same thing in terms of trying to be the best in the world.”
tomfortman2009 (US) – “I befriended a few people, and sent some messages back and forth with TRU3 CHOSEN ONE.”
FusedDaelin (US) – “I developed friendships with a couple of the other champions, but mainly Lucktose. We started sending messages to each other on day one.”
TRU3 CHOSEN ONE (US) – “AestheticaL and I chatted a bit back and forth. We were looking forward to the end of the competition so we could get our e-mail confirmations that we had won! He’s a cool guy.”
AlexVlas (AU) – “I met most of the Australians that were competing to qualify, and they have all been very nice.”
Lucktose (DE) – “Yes, a couple. I had contact with someone from every country, we helped each other and had some nice conversations about the world championship. I would like to point out “Kevin Weiler aka AestheticaL” from Canada. He was the biggest mental support for me and he was as worried about my qualification as he was about his right until the end. He was on my side and I’m really happy to be able to meet him in San Diego, hopefully we can fight against each other in the finale – that would be really cool.”
II Lilian 31 II (FR) – “Not really, just some people adding me on Xbox Live to see my game clips and understand how I play.”

Who was your biggest rival?

Mikey G85 (UK) – “My biggest rival was balsey77. For the last few weeks I watched his times slowly improve and I had to play constantly to stay on top. Closer to home, one of my best mates westney1979 was also a strong competitor.”
NINJAxInfinity (US) – “FusedDaelin would have to be my biggest rival. There were so many changes between me and him in the wave race and rock climbing leaderboards. My hats off to FusedDaelin, he’s a strong competitor.”
tomfortman2009 (US) – “I would say my biggest rival was tazzbeatyou92. He was trying to knock me out.”
Wing l Halcon l (MX) – “AMANDINA, who was the second place finalist. I was first because I had 1 point more in bowling.”
FusedDaelin (US) – “Lucktose was definitely my biggest rival. He was an amazing competitor, for a little while we were just going back and forth with world records. For the US though my biggest rival was NINJAxInfinity. He had me beat in both wake racing and climbing for a bit early on in the tournament. Then AestheticaL came out of nowhere in rock climbing and it took me a while to finally beat his times. Those 3 were my biggest rivals.”
TRU3 CHOSEN ONE (US) – “The top 6 players on page 1 of USA, it was a constant battle going back and forth. It could have gone any way.”
AlexVlas (AU) – “Anteriorbobcat6. He took off 2 days from work to try and win the thing, and I didn’t sleep the night before the tournament ended. His dedication is admirable. Also Phileb and One2Awesome were good rivals.”
Tiziusheik (BR) – “OrangeAlexandre would have to be my biggest rival. He finished 2nd place for Brazil.”
Lucktose (DE) – “My biggest rival was Patrick1110B. I battled against him to be the number one in Germany. We were both equal but he had more luck with bowling, which made him number one for weeks until I could beat him with the world record in Wake Racing.”
II Lilian 31 II (FR) – “My biggest rival was France’s second place competitor, JeSuisUnMonstre. He was very good, and I want to congratulate him for his score and the motivation he showed throughout the competition.”

Did you always see yourself in this position or was it unplanned?

Mikey G85 (UK) – “I was in first position for most of the competition but deep down I thought that someone would come along in the last week or two and take it away. To be honest I still don’t believe that I have actually made the semi-finals.”
NINJAxInfinity (US) – “Honestly yes I did see my self in this position from the start because I’ve been the best in previous games that involved a timed event. I was first for a long time for my speed run in “Braid.” I was also mentioned in Game Informer magazine for my times in “Mirrors Edge” on Xbox 360, which during that time I was considered the best speed runner in the game so I never doubted this position. I only worried about the bowling!”
tomfortman2009 (US) – “Not originally when I signed up. I was in the top 4 pretty much throughout the tournament, so I was fairly confident that I would be able to maintain it.”
Wing l Halcon l (MX) – “No, definitely not but when the tournament was getting closer to the end I knew I could do it.”
FusedDaelin (US) – “When I first found out about the competition I thought I might have a good shot at top 4 in the US. I didn’t expect to be ranked #1 in the US, and I definitely didn’t expect to hold the world records in both wake racing and climbing. The final few weeks though I was just hoping my times would be able hold out.”
TRU3 CHOSEN ONE (US) – “At first it was challenging with so many competitors, but the more I played and the more I checked the leaderboards on the website, the more motivated I became to push harder.”
AlexVlas (AU) – “I wanted it more and more. It was not about am I going to win, but how can I improve my current scores.”
Tiziusheik (BR) – “It was a difficult race between myself and OrangeAlexandre, but thankfully I came out victorious.”
Lucktose (DE) – “I was actively trying to attain the lead in Germany since day one, so I was not very surprised but rather determined that I could make it. I would be a liar if I said it was going to be easy to pass the qualification round!”
II Lilian 31 II (FR) – “I always saw myself in first position, because I was very motivated. I was also not alone in this tournament, as my friend was participating as well. When I was unmotivated or had doubts, my friend gave me the motivation to stick with it and continue to play. There was one sentence that he told me all the time “The perseverance Lilian, the perseverance.”

How long have you been playing Xbox, and do you own any other consoles?

Mikey G85 (UK) – “I bought both the Xbox One and Xbox 360 on launch day. I like to collect consoles. I have an Xbox, Xbox 360, Gamecube, Sega Saturn, Sega Megadrive, and Sega Gamegear, as well as loads of games stashed away in my attic.”
NINJAxInfinity (US) – “I purchased the Xbox One on day one in November. I own other consoles but no longer use them.”
tomfortman2009 (US) – “I’ve been playing Xbox since 2007, but I joined Xbox Live in 2009! I had a PS2 before that, where I mainly played sports and Guitar Hero. I switched over to Xbox 360 for Call of Duty. I upgraded to the Xbox One and after playing the Pre-Season, I decided to buy it. I never owned the Kinect on Xbox 360, so this was my first Kinect game.”
Wing l Halcon l (MX) – “I’ve been playing Xbox since 2006. My first Xbox console was the 360. I still have my 360 and now the Xbox One. In almost 8 years of playing Xbox, I’ve accumulated 121,230 gamerscore.
FusedDaelin (US) – “I’ve been playing Xbox since the original back in the early 2000s. I don’t own any other consoles.”
TRU3 CHOSEN ONE (US) – “I’ve been playing Xbox since 2006. The game that really hooked me was the first Gears of War. I own an Xbox 360 and Xbox One, the best console in the world!”
AlexVlas (AU) – “I have been using Xbox for a while and won’t change it for anything else at this point. This contest is the reason why I play games. I love competition and Xbox gave us a great opportunity to shine.”
Tiziusheik (BR) – “I’ve had the Xbox One for 7 months, and I also have a PS3.”
Lucktose (DE) – “I’ve been playing Xbox since the Xbox 360 was available on the market. My first console was the N64, and between this and the Xbox 360 I used to play the PS1 and PS2. When I was little, my parents bought me a PS1, and I became a passionate gamer.”
II Lilian 31 II (FR) – I’ve been with Xbox Live since 2008, and have had an Xbox 360 since 2005. I also own the Nintendo Wii, PS1/2, Nintendo 64, Sega Megadrive, Nintendo DS, and many Gameboy’s. I am a great player, it’s a passion for me.”

Feel free to add anything else you would like!

Mikey G85 (UK) – “I can’t wait to meet all of the finalists in San Diego. It’s going to be such an amazing experience.”
NINJAxInfinity (US) – “Well I hope to meet all the people that I have been competing against for the past couple of months, and I wish everybody luck in the finals. Not too much luck though!”
tomfortman2009 (US) – “This has been a great experience!”
Wing l Halcon l (MX) – “I hope that my experience at San Diego will be very very awesome, I need to Thank my girlfriend because of her I bought the KSR, I was going to buy battlefield 4, dear god I didn’t do it!
Lucktose (DE) – I would like to thank Rare and Microsoft, that they are giving me this opportunity to make such a big experience. With the qualification to the Kinect Sport Rivals finals in San Diego I have Chance to travel for the first time to America and be part of an e-sports event. I’m not able to put my anticipation into words.

(Originally published June 15, 2014)

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