Interview with the AGP
Friday, November 7th, 2003, 3:38 PM
Last week we introduced you to the
, a professional gaming organization that will be featuring Halo PC in their winter lineup next month. But what about those of us who grew up on the Xbox version and aren’t interested or don’t have the equipment to play the PC version? How can console gamers score fame and benjamins in what appears to be a PC-centric profession?
Enter the AGP –
the Associates of Gaming Professionals
, a professional gaming league that strictly deals with Halo on the Xbox. The AGP has been around for a while now but they continue to grow in strength and popularity and their next event is just a few weeks away.
I caught up with Jay Umboh, president of the AGP, to get his thoughts and share some info about his organization.
: Hi Jay, thanks for doing this interview! Before we get started, can you take a minute to tell our readers a little bit about yourself and what it is you do for the AGP? How and when did the AGP officially get started? What was the motivation or vision for forming this organization?
: No problem and thank you. I am founder and President of the Associates of Gaming Professionals (
). Starting the AGP has always been a big dream of mine. It’s like one of those crazy ideas that you discuss with your friends but never actually follow through. Well, as I got older, I started meeting people that could help achieve this goal. I saved enough capital to start the league and decided to follow through with this crazy idea. We held our first event on November of 2002.
I’m an avid gamer myself, so this idea just made sense. It has been a lot of hard work, but it is fun work. I do want to point out that none of this would be possible without the help of my talented friends and family. We started this together and plan on being in it for the long run.
For those of us who are unfamiliar with the AGP, what can you tell us about it?
Basically, we are a professional video gaming league that hosts big prize money tournaments. We hold LAN events using hotel ballrooms as venues. Currently, we are using Xbox and the game Halo as our tournament platform. We want to be the NFL of console gaming. We want to give gamers a stage to compete with the best, a place to meet other gamers face to face, a chance to win some cash and eventually allow gamers to be recognized nationally and pursue this sport professionally. For this to happen, we have to eventually get our events televised in a sports-like environment. Once this happens, the sky is the limit for the AGP and its players.
In what ways has the AGP changed and evolved since the beginning? Have sponsors been more willing to get on board as gaming has moved more into the mainstream?
We always strive to hold the best gaming events. If anything has changed, it’s that our tournaments have gotten bigger and that we are now recognized as the premier, must go Halo/Gaming Event in the nation. Sponsors are a major part of the AGP. They are still hard to come by, but having held some of the largest Halo events has made it easier to get doors opened and past the secretaries. We are a unique league, being very new in its infantile stage, but at the same time have become the premier Halo event in the nation and could give sponsors the most bang for their buck. Our current sponsors include Nyko, Revival Soy, Altec Lansing, Bawls and Xbox. We are always looking for new sponsors.
The competitive gaming scene is getting more and more crowded these days. How does the AGP differentiate themselves from other organizations?
This is very true. It’s funny when we go after sponsors; they would group us with other events being held in small gaming stores or even worse, someone’s basement. We are very different from many smaller organizations in that we always guarantee our prize money up front. Many organizations base theirs on number of entry. Our expense + prize money have always been greater than what we take in from entry fees alone. We spend a lot of money on presentation. We hold our events in professionally decorated hotel ballrooms, complete with a DJ, and a main stage with large screens to display pertinent matches live to an audience, which gives our event an exciting sports-like environment. The gorgeous AGP girls don’t hurt either :) All of this really shows through in the results. We have held some of the largest Halo events in the country fielding the best players in the world. Our next event will have 80 four man teams from over 30 states competing for over $10,000 in cash and prizes. I don’t think anyone can state this claim in the Halo scene including the CPL. But I’ve always said, the more tourneys there are, the better it is for gamers. Gamers will ultimately choose which events to go to. If yours is not up to par, it will not last very long.
Why was Halo chosen as the flagship title for the AGP? Are there plans to incorporate any other games or platforms in the future?
We needed a game that supports our vision of professional gaming. Sport genres (football, racing etc) were out of the question. You’re basically playing another sport. We wanted the game to be the sport. We also needed a game that’s visually appealing with great game play. The game must incorporate strategy, teamwork and skill. I chose Halo because it meets all of those requirements and it’s arguably the best FPS game ever made for a console. Another important factor was community support. I think selling over 3 million copies covered that issue. Incorporating other games or platforms is always a possibility, but we do not plan on doing so in the near future. Especially with Halo2 coming out.
Other organizations, like the CPL, focus solely on the PC for their events. Why has the AGP chosen to stick with consoles?
CPL having a strangle hold on the PC market and sponsors was taken into consideration, but is not the main reason. I think console users are greater in number and more of a mainstream market. These days, the lines between consoles and PC’s are getting blurred, with consoles starting to do many things that PC’s can do. But its main function is to play games. You don’t have to worry about the ins and outs of a computer, hence giving you more time to just play and work on your game. It really makes sense, everyone has the same console, so the playing field is always fair and constant no matter where you go, whether it’s at a friends house or at a major tourney. However, I would never have even thought about using a console before the Xbox arrived. Before, there were no networking capabilities, and consoles just weren’t powerful enough to run graphic intense games. With the arrival of Xbox, this was not an issue. The Xbox has networking and is powerful enough to free game developers to use more of their imagination when creating games. One of those games just happens to be Halo.
We get a ton of mail here at Bungie.net from people looking to get corporate sponsorships and set up large scale, high profile tournaments. Do you have any advice to pass along to these folks?
If anything, you do have to prove yourself first. Anyone can boast their dreams and goals and ask for money. If it were that easy, there would be many more large organizations. I see so many new leagues get so much hype and not even last long enough to hold their first event. So if you really want to do this, you have to use your own money and prove yourself by holding several very successful events. Only then you can ask for cash sponsorship. Also, knowing people in the right places doesn’t hurt.
What our readers really want to know about is your upcoming Halo event later this month. What can you tell us about it? How much money is on the line?
Is registration still open? Can anyone participate or do you have to be some sort of certified professional?
is on November 29-30, in Nashville, TN at the Downtown Sheraton. $9,000 cash + prizes are on the line. There will be a “Free for All” event culminating in a 1vs1 with the top 8 players where we will crown the #1 Halo player in the world. The FFA event will also help seed our teams for the main Capture the Flag Team Event. There will be allotted free play time and just an overall fun experience.
We have filled our 80 team capacity but you can still get on the waiting list as several teams have not turned in their entry fee. Anyone can compete. Our attendees range from average to elites. Even if you are not considered as a top team, it is still a very fun event to go to. You can meet a lot of new friends and not only play the best but also learn from the best. The field includes powerhouses [TDT] The Dream Team and [STK] Shoot to Kill. Some of our elites have become icons in the Halo community. Ask any Halo players who the best players are and no doubt that Darkman, The Ogre twins, Clockwork, Zyos, and Strangepurple, to name a few, will be mentioned. The atmosphere at the AGP is electrifying. If you love to compete and play games, you’re in the right place.
(ed. – Sadly there was no mention of “Sketch”)
Are there plans for any more Halo events down the road?
Definitely! Currently, we do this twice a year with more expected in the future.
What does the future hold for the AGP? Where do you see the organization in a few years?
Again, our main goal is to allow our players to pursue this as a profession. For this to happen, they must be able to make a living out of it and for that to happen, we have to get more sponsors and eventually be televised in a sports-like environment. Meanwhile, we will continue to prove ourselves by holding the best gaming events in the country.
Thanks for your time Jay. Any closing comments?
Thank you. If anyone has any questions regarding the AGP, please visit our website at