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NEWS | Aug. 9, 2022

Kentucky Air Guardsman part of Air Force team that won Halo esports competition

By Senior Airman Madison Beichler, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Trey Christenson, a technical sergeant in the Kentucky Air National Guard, was attending an esports gaming competition at the beginning of May to see some friends compete, when a chance meeting led him to assist the United States Air Force team in taking the win by the end of the month during the first official Halo Infinite esports competition in the Department of Defense.

At a Halo Sporting Championship event in Kansas City, Mo., in early May, Christensen, an aerial porter with the 123rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, had an unexpected encounter with the founder of Air Force Gaming, Capt. Oliver Parsons. Parsons told Christenson about the Halo Infinite competition for the DOD, mentioning a last-chance qualifier and recommending that Christenson participate.

After qualifying, Christenson and his team competed in the United States Air Force’s final round at Patrick Space Force Base, Fla., May 17 to 23. After taking the win in the Air Force finals, the team advanced to FORCECON22 at the Tech Port Center in San Antonio, Texas, to score the DOD title in the final contest May 28 to 29.

Christenson says three things went into the Air Force team’s win: teamwork, attitude and strategy, which came naturally to the Airmen on his team.

“With the Air Force, there was a lot of teamwork focus instead of individual play, which I feel is prevalent already in the Air Force in general,” Christenson said. “Second was trying to maintain a humble attitude. We went in trying to show what we can do, not just to win. Esports is going to grow, so it doesn’t matter to me who won. It was great to win, but this is much bigger than the event and myself.”

His win came as no surprise to his fellow Airmen at the aerial port, according to Master Sgt. Charles Wilding, Christensen’s supervisor.

“His coworkers challenged him to bring his console to the shop and have a competition during lunch,” Wilding explained. “That was the first time I had a chance to see him play Halo, and I have never seen anything quite like that.”

The flexibility of the Guard and support from his coworkers allowed Christenson to participate in the competition with relatively short notice.

“Christenson called only two and a half weeks before the competition, saying he was selected to go to the event,” Wilding said. “It was a no-brainer to let him go. Absolutely, you’re going. We may not know what it looks like yet, but we will make it happen. Command was supportive as well. Everyone was behind it. Anytime there’s an opportunity for something special to happen to someone, we are 100 percent behind them every time.”

Wilding said the shop watched the competition through Twitch.

“He did not have to tell us he won because we watched it,” Wilding said. “Everyone was included in a group chat, and everyone tagged into the Twitch stream. I watched the whole competition during the finals and then the last game.

“He represented the state of Kentucky, the Kentucky Air National Guard and the aerial port shop tremendously,” Wilding continued. “He was a professional, kind and down-to-earth individual. We are a family, and he made the family proud.”

Christenson, who was the only Guardsman to compete in the competition, said he is grateful to the Guard for allowing him to pursue both his passion and his military career.

“I am able to have the best of both worlds,” he said.

Christenson was a professional Halo esports competitor from 2011 to 2014. As funding for competitions started to decrease, he looked to join the Air National Guard for an opportunity that allowed him to have a secure future while also keeping the door open if he ever wanted to go back to being a professional competitor. Last year, he secured a professional coaching job with Oxygen Esports.

“I do not think I would have been able to do the same things in my life if I had gone a different route,” Christenson said.

For anyone thinking about becoming a professional gamer, Christenson has two pieces of advice.

“Whatever community it is, whatever game a participant would want to compete in, the number one rule is to show up,” Christenson said. “The reward always goes to the individual who shows up to events and can network. If you do not show up, you do not get those opportunities.”

Christenson further notes that there will always be people who will try to get under your skin, but it is important to meet them with a compliment instead.

“When people made negative comments, I would always turn around and go, ‘You played really well,’” Christenson said. “Over time, those compliments built a friendship. Now I have had those connections for over 15 years and networked in a way that allowed me to be in a place where, two months ago, I had no idea about this competition, and now I can say I found a team and won.”

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