Alejandro ‘Alex’ Ascension grew up in a Nintendo household. His brothers and sisters were, as with many, fans of Pokemon in particular, though he more fondly remembers the various Mario games they played. In particular: the Gamecube’s Mario Sunshine, which they collectively sank hours into.

But it’s one thing to grow up with a game or franchise. It’s another thing entirely to be drawn to it – and find yourself driven by it.

“The first game that got me into gaming – I’d probably say Gears of War 2, introduced by a friend when I was about 12 years old," said Alex. "He was on my swimming team – I just went over to his house, and he introduced me to it.”

The contrast between Gears of War and what Alex normally played with his siblings was, of course, self-evident. “I really liked all the gore, and wall-bouncing was something that really caught my eye,” he recalled. “Ever since then, that’s all I played, pretty much.”

You can draw a straight line between those after-swimming sessions and Alex’s status quo. And like teammate Xplosive, it was ultimately Gears that brought him to the most vividly important moment in his gaming history.

“It was the first-ever event that I won,” said Alex. “I was competing for about a year and a half before that, and before then I was playing a lot of Gears of War 3, basically in the Gamebattles scene just coming up. My current team now – they’re the ones that picked me up out of nowhere. They were really close friends with me back then, and to be able to win a championship with them was something to be proud of.”

Columbus, Ohio. With the lifting of the trophy, a legend was born.