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Local X-Box master conquers gaming world

Former Baldwinsville resident Tom Taylor has become the face of gaming world by mastering Halo 3.

In Orlando, Florida, the forecast, yet again, is 85 and sunny.  It's a beautiful day out.  And yet, 22 year old former Baldwinsville resident Tom Taylor sits indoors playing video games.  He's been inside staring at a television screen the entire weekend and even the whole week before.  And yet, his parents cheer him on, along with hundreds of other people. 

Photo: Kyle Bonn
Tom Taylor, under the alias Tsquared, practicing in between matches at his team's personal booth.

Taylor, otherwise known by his fans as Tsquared, is a professional video game player.  But he's not just any pro gamer.  Tsquared is the face of Major League Gaming, the company that runs the professional gaming circuit.  He's been their posterchild ever since he signed a $250,000 contract with MLG to play the best-selling X-Box 360 game Halo 3 professionally for them. 

Since then, as the captain of the team Str8 Rippin, he's traveled the country for tournaments, appeared regularly on the TV channel G4, and had his face on 175 million Dr. Pepper bottles. 

But it wasn't always fun and games on the road to success.  Taylor dropped out of high school to go pro, and his parents were none too pleased.  Legend has it he slept on radiators in order to afford traveling to tournaments.  "The way it all started was very locally, just playing Halo with my high school buddies.  And through trial and error, what happens is people go to college, people get girlfriends, people don't live up to the expectations of the team, and you make changes" Taylor said.    "It took a lot of hard work, made a lot of sacrifices.  Dropping out of school was one of those sacrifices, a lot of my friendships had to go out the window because I didn't have enough time to maintain them, girlfriends, things like that."  Now, he's sponsored by Dr. Pepper, Doritos, and Stride Gum, and MLG has made him a star.

Taylor is the captain of Str8 Rippin'.  His teammates are Bryan "Legit" Rizzo, Eric "Snipedown" Wrona, and the newest addition to the team, Richie "Heinz" Heinz.  Heinz is the reigning Pro's Choice Award winner, which recognizes the year's best overall player.

Taylor says during tournament season, he practices anywhere between 12 and 15 hours per day.  And now that tournament season has begun, you can probably either find him eating, sleeping, showering, or playing Halo. 

His father, also Tom Taylor, owns Sammy Milone's, a pub in Baldwinsville.  Mr. Taylor says he remembers the first tournament he went to watch his son play in after the contract was signed. "I brought my youngest son, Colin, with me.  You go to these tournaments and you don't realize what huge stars they are.  People are coming up asking for his autograph, I was like wow, this is bigtime, this is pretty cool."

Taylor and Str8 Rippin' had to settle for 8th place at this year's season opener in Orlando.  However, Str8 is often known as a slow starter, and with more practice and more time to develop the chemistry with Heintz, the team hopes to get back on top at the next tournament in Chicago in June.  As for now, he's going to keep up the hard work...if you can even call it that.

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