This week’s affiliate profile takes a look at Matt ‘NaDeSHoT’ Haag, one of the most prominent Call of Duty players of all time and a name that still resonates with fans more than two years since his last appearance at a major competition.
Nadeshot started his Call of Duty career young, competing as early as Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. His rise to prominence, however, truly began on Modern Warfare 2, when his squad became the very first roster fielded by OpTic Gaming.
Even at the very start of their journey into competitive Call of Duty, the power of the OpTic brand meant that the team was immediately one of the most popular on the circuit. This was a time, however, in which rosters were immensely unstable, and come the next season Nadeshot found himself cut from the squad.
Though it may not have seemed it at the time, the decision was perhaps a blessing in disguise for Nadeshot. Unwilling to let go of a player in whom he saw potential, OpTic owner Hector ‘H3CZ’ Rodriguez offered for Nadeshot to retain a position as a member of the organisation, encouraging him to focus on building himself into a personality and even granting him a second team under the organisation at times.
While he continued to compete, Nadeshot also focused on making a name for himself on YouTube, the first pro player to really attempt such a thing. Then, come Black Ops 2, a perfect storm of circumstance saw his career take a dramatic leap forward.
Nadeshot found himself back on the primary OpTic Gaming squad, the most popular on the circuit. With them, he won the very first event of the season, UMG Chicago, raising the profile of the team even further, and with the groundwork already laid, Nadeshot became the most prominent player in the world as competitive Call of Duty saw its most significant growth to date.
In April of 2015, Nadeshot took a step down from competing with the OpTic Gaming line-up. The move came following a disappointing result at the Call of Duty Championships, in combination with the immense pressure he felt to perform on a roster that had perhaps the highest expectations placed upon it of any team in Call of Duty history.
Nadeshot originally suggested that a return to competition was likely at some point, and that he wasn’t retiring but instead taking a leave of absence, but he hasn’t competed at an event since.
Though the name Nadeshot was once almost synonymous with OpTic Gaming, in recent years that connection has faded somewhat, stepping away from the green wall in order to focus on his own sizable brand. Nadeshot dabbled in team ownership with the ill-fated Hundred Thieves, but after the original roster departed little more has been heard from the organisation. More recent hints, however, suggest the clothing line that the name was originally intended for might be on its way.
Fans of Nadeshot as a competitor should not give up all hope of seeing him back on a main stage in the future. He has, in the past, suggested that he would be open to competing at the inaugural event on a boots-on-the-ground title, and with Call of Duty: WWII now on the horizon, it’s not impossible that we could see a return in the not too distant future.
As part of OpTic Gaming, Nadeshot played for one of the premier Call of Duty teams for several years, not just in terms of fan-base, but by success as well. Nadeshot competed among the elite on many titles, but his crowning moment was arguably the part he played in the fall of one of the most fearsome teams of all time.
Towards the latter end of the Call of Duty: Ghosts season, compLexity were at the height of their powers. They hadn’t lost a single major event on the game, they’d won the Call of Duty Championships without even breaking a sweat, and it didn’t look like anyone else was particularly close to knocking them off their pedestal. With the squad’s stock at perhaps an all-time high, it was with the acquisition of that roster that Evil Geniuses stepped into Call of Duty.
The next major event would be MLG X Games, the very first time the X Games would feature an esports tournament. An X Games medal was up for grabs, making it one of the most prestigious events of the season.
The brand new Evil Geniuses squad were the heavy favourites to win, but Nadeshot’s OpTic Gaming stole their title. It was the first blow that began Evil Geniuses’ descent from the throne, and an epic victory for Nadeshot himself, who not only proved that he was a championship-calibre player, but did so against one of the greatest teams of all time, and in some ways a personal rival.
In game, Nadeshot was never the super-star player, but that doesn’t mean he had nothing to offer. In Nadeshot’s most successful years, the game didn’t require every member of a team to be an unbelievable slayer. The “objective” role was very real – someone had to do the dirty work that allowed players like Seth ‘Scump’ Abner, long time team-mate of Nadeshot, to shine.
In this, Nadeshot was one of the most effective in the world, because while he may not have been the most mechanically gifted player on the circuit, Nadeshot had a great mind for the game. Also a very vocal player, Nadeshot matured into a solid leader as well, enabling him to rally his team and call plays at critical moments.
It’s always harder to quantify the impact of a player like Nadeshot than with the game’s premier slayers. It’s not as simple as looking to the kill column. Though Nadeshot’s impact on his teams may have been a little less tangible than some of his super-star peers, it’s perhaps clearest in the position he held at the very top of competitive Call of Duty over a number of years.
As Call of Duty’s pre-eminent personality during his time competing, Nadeshot paved the way for the celebrity status now enjoyed by the game’s top players.
Starting a YouTube channel with the backing of the OpTic Gaming brand and later one of the earliest adopters of streaming as a Call of Duty pro, Nadeshot’s likeable personality and talent for engaging with viewers has seen him not only lay out a path for fellows pro’s to follow, but since transcend the game and ultimately transition into making content creation his full-time occupation.
These days, Nadeshot remains one of the most popular gamers in the world, boasting nearly three million subscribers on his primary channel, nearly an additional million on his secondary gaming channel, and over two million followers on Twitter.