Aaron "ACE" Elam wins $200,000 Halo 4 Championships

20-year-old takes down Justin 'iGotUrPistola" Deese at this weekend's Halo 4 Global Championships during PAX Prime to claim top prize.

20-year old Halo player Aaron "ACE" Elam has won $200,000 and the title of Halo 4 Champion in a final match over Justin "iGotUrPistola" Deese at this weekend's Halo 4 Global Championships held by 343 Industries at PAX Prime.

"This means everything to me," Elam said immediately after winning the championship. "I've been playing Halo since I was nine years old, and I have to say, the games against Deese were the most intense games of Halo in my entire life. I just can't believe this. I feel like I'm dreaming."

"I watched the final, like everyone, with my heart in my throat and I basically don't have any fingernails left," 343 Industries Franchise Director for Halo Frank O'Connor told GameSpot. "The Halo 4 Global Championship did something a little bit different, offering every kind of player, from every region of the world, a chance to compete and win a huge individual cash prize. And for the final to come down to a tie break, between two amazingly cool people, and two genuinely excellent players, was a sports fan's dream come true. Congratulations to both players and especially of course, to ACE for taking the prize. I am incredibly excited about the future of Halo in the competitive scene, and we can't wait to do something even cooler in the future.”

The best Halo players in the world were on-hand to play in 343's first worldwide Halo Championships, held at Seattle's Benaroya Hall--the same venue that hosted Valve's Dota 2 $2.8 million International tournament. 343 Industries chose Free For All (FFA) as the game type of choice for the competition, with 1v1 being played in the semifinals and grand finals. Former Major League Gaming pros were invited by 343, while others qualified through events from GamesCom and RTX. Over 100 players began competition on Friday night. 64 players continued on to Saturday evening, and only eight remained by finals day on Sunday to compete for $300,000.

Elam is no stranger to victory, having won championships at MLG's debut Halo: Reach event at the Dallas Championships in 2011, and most recently winning the Arena Gaming League's eighth event in Knoxville, Tennessee for Halo 4. Even with those accomplishments, FFA is a different beast.

"In other Halo games I hadn't been the greatest FFA player, and I believe it was because I hadn't transitioned my playstyle from 4v4 to FFA," Elam tells GameSpot. "I don't know if it was because I hadn't played it enough, but I guess I just didn't know how to play it correctly. I played selfless in 4v4 and I didn't play selfish enough in FFA."

"Before the event, I was learning a lot about how I needed to approach the game in FFA. For example, to not be the initiator in fights, and instead wait for people nearby to start the battle and then come in and try to clean up. I learned that I needed to scan the map as quick as possible looking for weak players. If there weren't any, then you have to immediately worry about people spawning nearby you, and I would try to get first shot or sight on them. If I didn't, I waited until they got distracted by someone else."

Elam's newly practiced FFA skills earned him a place in Sunday's finals, among other players such as Deese, Ian "Enable" Wyatt, Bryan "Legit" Rizzo, and Cory "Str8 Sick" Sloss. A final kill by Elam in the waning moments of the Round of 8 FFA earned him a spot in the semfinals--and a 1v1 format to go with it.

"I actually had never played a 1v1 match until Sunday," Elam remarked about a tough finals day. "My first ever 1v1 in Halo was against Enable in warm-ups 3 hours prior to my semifinals match against Sloss. Coming into the event, I didn't think I could win, honestly."

The 1v1 games were played on the map Skyline, released in the Majestic Map Pack back in February. The map is small and symmetrical with a mixture of high and low spaces, with room for cover. Sloss earned himself a quick 4-1 lead with seven minutes remaining. With the pressure mounting, Elam got the kills he needed to bring it back and go on to win 9-7, advancing himself to the finals.

A win by Deese over Rizzo in the Semifinals set up the Finals match against Elam; one map for $200,000. With the crowd behind both players, the finals didn't disappoint, as Elam and Deese traded kill after kill with tie scores 3-3, 4-4, and 5-5. With one minute remaining, Deese scored a go-ahead kill to make it 6-5 and just a short moment away from victory. For the third time that day, Elam would not back down, tying it up with 25 seconds to go and escaping Deese's last-second aggressive move to send it into overtime.

"My goal was to get the power weapon and control," said Elam. "Getting the concussion rifle is the most important thing. If you don't have that, than I tried to use a variety of needler, boltshot, and assault rifle, and to make sure I put myself in positions to use those weapons effectively."

"While losing the game, I'm thinking 'I need to carefully move around the map and try to see him before he sees me.' That's basically the biggest advantage you could possible get. When I tied the game, I didn't think either of us would go for the win, so we just waited."

Overtime saw both players play both cautiously and aggressively, not wanting to make a mistake while trying to take advantage of any available opportunity. Elam would land a grenade onto Deese and send him running; moments later, Deese returned the favor. Deese piled on the aggression for the kill and the title, but Elam's defensive shots and positioning got him out of trouble, giving him an opportunity to take away all of Deese's shields. Another aggressive push by Deese was his downfall, and the final shots came from Elam, crowning him the Halo 4 Global Champion and making him $200,000 richer.

"No one besides select few friends and my brother thought I had a chance to win this."

"I learned from the previous game that he went straight for the concussion rifle bottom center so in the beginning I went to straight to watch it," said Elam. "I waited for him to make a mistake looking for me, and I caught him top center and he started running. I went back for the concussion rifle and pushed into the base because I knew he didn't know where I was and I wanted to flank him."

"Turns out he ended up top center with positioning on me so when I got weak I ran and the rest was just a battle. He came in flying at me which sort of gives me the advantage because it takes a second to get out of sprint. I jumped back and pulled out my battle rifle, and honestly didn't expect to see him there, I thought he would hide. It really was a sigh of relief at that point, and more of just shock and disbelief that I actually won."

"No one besides select few friends and my brother thought I had a chance to win this. I knew I was talented enough. I like being the underdog though, it motivates me immensely. All the hard work I put into this game finally paid off. I've played halo since I was nine, competitively since 2006. I've struggled so much to study hard in school and balance this game, I took tons of AP classes in high school and worked very hard."

The brother that supported him all the way is none other than Kyle "ElamiteWarrior" Elam, who previously won the Halo 3 National Championship and $50,000 along with it. Kyle Elam won his championship at the same time Aaron has now won his--at the young age of 20.

"I am still in disbelief of the events that corresponded this weekend," Kyle Elam told GameSpot. "I took ACE to his first event in 2005 when he was 12 years old. I always knew he had incredible skill, but just needed a little development. There is nothing better than watching someone that you care about more than yourself succeed. I was a little worried about the qualifiers and making it into the tournament and when I say that I mean for him really and not myself. I was way more confident in him than I was in myself this weekend. He has been playing out of his mind and was easily one of the top four players in the game. Besides being one of the best, you need to come ready to play, the term 'any given Sunday' seems only fitting with the magnitude and scale of this event."

"We talked for hours the night before the finals, strategizing, laughing about how crazy it would be to have the US Champion and the Global Champion in the same family. That's when I started to think and realized that it was five years ago, when I was 20, the same age ACE is now that I took my FFA Championship for $50,000. ACE has been the most underrated player in the game for five years now and I stand by that comment. People love flashy players, but what really wins you games are decision making and consistency, aspects of the game that unfortunately go unnoticed too often."

Although this tournament was a FFA instead of a traditional 4v4, Aaron "ACE" Elam is now considered the best Halo player in the world. Elam is modest about his accomplishments, but understands the gravity of the performance he just displayed.

"Honestly, as of right now, I don't see how you couldn't say that," said Elam. "Obviously all the pros are good and saying you're the 'best' could change any given day or time, it comes down to who played better that day/weekend. So yes I don’t disagree with that statement."

Catch GameSpot’s interview with Frank O'Connor on GameSpot eSports.

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172 comments
BarkingSpider81
BarkingSpider81

Did he take the time to teabag his beaten opponents though?

Robert Chapman
Robert Chapman

Technically he's a winner considering he just "won" the Halo 4 Global Championship and earned a sum of 200k doing so.

Simon Corbett Bsc
Simon Corbett Bsc

So in other words worst Halo player. Every proper Halo knows that Halo 4 was the worst, are waiting on Halo 5 or any other Halo games to dodge Halo 4.............

macca366
macca366

20 years old and 200,000 in the bank, nice. If it were me I'd put it away in a high interest savings account, and continue with college. Earning 5% in interest on that would be 10k a year

Nick Kennedy
Nick Kennedy

The country? The PAX events payouts have nothing to do with our government. God you people are all dumb. Why do I read the comments?

Harlequin Moon
Harlequin Moon

I summon my wizard to magic that check into my bank account .... whos the loser now :oP

Logan Farley
Logan Farley

see this is why our country is in debt wasting $200k on a loser whos good at a vg.

Markus Phoenix
Markus Phoenix

More envy, (though for me, not really) if anything at all Paul; this goes to show how the smallest of things and things that are often frowned upon in the world can have the largest impacts globally. The fact that people take the time to call him a loser is of no matter, because he'd probably say the same thing most would say if called a loser to his face: "You have 200K?" There are various ways to do what you enjoy (not saying that this is his career, because nobody here knows what he does for a living; this was just a tournament) and cash in on it. Regardless of what people say or point they try to make, the fact is (myself included if I were to trash him) those who belittle him don't have 200K.

Jevin Corkum
Jevin Corkum

Yes, you, the one who took time out of his day to call him a loser, who is the real loser I wonder. The one trolling a video game comments page or the one getting 200,000.00 for a Halo tournament.

Blake Smith
Blake Smith

We all clearly know that I am better

Felipe Garro
Felipe Garro

Are we still in the 20th century or something? I thought the "You cant be good at video games if you're not a lifeless ugly nerd!" stereotype was long gone.

Markus Phoenix
Markus Phoenix

Some serious Halo skill; congratulations! (and to all the people who say he has no life, I have some question for YOU: do you have 200K? Will you ever meet Aaron Elam? Do you think he gives a damn about what you say? Because you know, he has 200K and you are sitting there with your thumbs up your ass commenting he has no life..... when he has 200K and you don't, so uh... yeah. Why advertise your jealousy? Have a nice day. :) )

Daniel Green
Daniel Green

200k in the pocket and still will have no life

Sam Jensen
Sam Jensen

evan took the time to write this on the facebook feed of a games-focussed news outlet that he apparently subscribles to. Clearly evan needs to rethink his own priorities.

Brendan Richard
Brendan Richard

i mean 200k for playing halo...who wouldnt be jealous?

Nathan Young
Nathan Young

He earned it goes to show you video games aren't a wasted of time like some old ppl tell me lol

Diego Rago Vega
Diego Rago Vega

Hahahaha Dude, just stop being jealous, Just because you cant do that amount of money with your dumb fancy frat boys playing bear pong does not mean you can say he needs to get a life, im pretty sure he is happy where he is standing

Paul Rough
Paul Rough

He was a loser he needed to get a life, with 200k now i'm sure he will get a life lol

Nathan Young
Nathan Young

Yeah he earn it congrats Aaron well won't be hard for you to get a Xbox one haha once congrats you earned it

Ifan Galway
Ifan Galway

Butthurt geeks, butthurt geeks everywhere xD

Gudmundur Johann Ingason
Gudmundur Johann Ingason

I do love these kind of comments, they really show a persons childish ego. Don't be jealous dude... its not cool.

Christopher King
Christopher King

Even though I'm a PS3 fan, and don't care for 1st person shooters or games like Halo, I will have to say, good job Elam!

Daniel Arias
Daniel Arias

If Fallout 3/NV was multiplayer and they had money tournaments, I'd win over all of ya'll!

Jerry Goneau
Jerry Goneau

He just made more money in a single weekend then you will in the next decade. I fail to see how he needs to get a life.

Darren Tj Woods
Darren Tj Woods

Really dude he got A $200.000.00 check for doing what he loves, pretty sure he has A life with that kind of money.

Saige Upperman
Saige Upperman

^that loser who needs to get a life just made more money in a day than you probably do in 5 years

Cody Elford
Cody Elford

^ Someone's jealous of 200k. Shouldn't be too hard for him to do so with that kind of cash.

Ifan Galway
Ifan Galway

He also won the title of "Loser who needs to get a life"

hadlee73
hadlee73

I often wonder whether one of these Halo players would ragdoll if pushed down some stairs.

jayjay444
jayjay444

congrats, I know what I would spend that type of money on and that's after the PS4 and Xbox One lmao, oh and a gaming PC, drugs for my gaming, marry my girl friend I could go on all day, nice job dude enjoy your 200k, you jammy basdard! lol.  

somebody337
somebody337

I wish I had the skills to even win one match xD

DrKill09
DrKill09

Halo's multiplayer was the only decent thing about it.  Only reason I had 3.

And at that, it was only decent.  There were far better multiplayer games out there, but everyone was on Halo, so I begrudgingly bought it.

Far Cry Instincts Predator?  Great online play, and custom maps.  Nobody played it.  Saints Row 2?  People abandoned it after two months, despite being fun as all hell.  Why is it that everyone jacks off to Halo and COD, and gives none of the actually good games out there love?

Well, at least on consoles.  People still play Unreal 2004 and Red Faction 1 on pc. 

isv666
isv666

Congrats to this kid.  I wish I was good enough at competitive games to make a living doing it.  Regardless of what people say, whenever you can make money doing something you're passionate about, that's the absolute best.  It's sad that some people still have this stigma against competitive gaming.

LauraMyLuv
LauraMyLuv

Congrats. Don't spend the money. Save it or invest. 20 yr old is a good time to start.

Stevo_the_gamer
Stevo_the_gamer moderator moderator

Win that much money for just playing video games. What the heck, man.

cashx002
cashx002

@Markus Phoenix 

Haters gon hate. Baters gon bate. 

cashx002
cashx002

@Daniel Green 

Don't judge girlfriend. You have a kid. Much could be said about you. Are you jealous maybe? 

DrSpeedyNuts
DrSpeedyNuts

@nadal97 Oh come on, you must admit, there was a degree of entertainment & anxiety watching the match. It was a good final.

DrKill09
DrKill09

@LauraMyLuv Investing is a moron's game, and banks cannot be trusted.  He needs to buy a big fireproof safe.

jayjay444
jayjay444

@DrKill09 @LauraMyLuv Investing is a morons game? erm how do u think alot of the rich guys of the world ended up rich in the first place? looks like your the moron lmao.