Written by: Zachary Lange
Most days for Chris “Affinity” Curren take a similar shape.
He clocks into his job as a software engineer around 7:30 a.m., works until the early evening or as late as 8 p.m., then comes home and engages in his nightly routine, which usually includes a quick dinner followed by hopping online to coach the eUnited Gears of War team through their scrimmages.
It’s a grind that often leaves him without much time for anything else.
“I make sure I get about seven to eight hours of sleep most nights, so I wouldn’t say I’m struggling to get through the day,” Affinity said. “But I would say I drink more coffee than most people.”
The 26-year-old began as a pro player in 2008 during Gears of War 2. By 2009, Affinity was placing top-3 at events and beginning to turn heads in the scene.
After several years of attending multiple tournaments a year with teams such as “Get Bronco”, Affinity took a three year break due to a stagnant event circuit from 2012-2015. It was inevitable that Gears of War wouldn’t be long-term career path on its own any longer, so he went back to school at a local community college in his hometown of Orlando, Florida before obtaining his bachelor’s in software engineering from the University of Central Florida.
But with the release of Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, he knew that he had to return to compete in the game that he loved. Affinity joined Enemy before joining Enigma6 Group to make Season 2 of the ESL Pro League and attended events as a player all the way up until April of last year.
This time, his break from competing is final. But the tactician is still awake, sometimes until close to midnight, developing a new generation of Gears of War players.
“I feel he's best at keeping the team composed and coming up with strategies on the spot to help us win the round,” said slayer and eUnited newcomer Kevin “Rezik” Ibarra.
After the Gears Pro Circuit event in Dallas, Texas, team changes were made that saw the departure of players from the roster who had been Affinity’s friends for most of his professional Gears career. In acquiring four players from Team Allegiance, he had to shift his mentality to coaching players that he had little prior interaction with.
“It was the first time where I wasn’t coaching multiple friends on a team,” Affinity said. “Throughout my entire career, I always teamed with friends. I always made it work and placed well."
This change was a challenge he was welcome to, however.
“I definitely had to adapt (and change) my methods to this team because they’re all on the younger side and have a lot of emotion and passion. Learning how to work with these guys was definitely a struggle at first. I think they just need someone to be hard on them, someone to tell them to shut up,” he said.
But in telling them to shut up at times, he too has listened and learned a newer style of playing the game he holds dear.
With the new title, the gameplay has sped up. Gone are the days of sitting around corners and waiting for enemies to come to you methodically. Now enemies tend to push the opposition with numbers advantages or recklessly altogether. Gears is already known for its high octane trash talk and personalities outside of the game, and now more than ever it has the gameplay to match.
“He's incredibly smart and sort of a genius when it comes to the game with him being a former pro player, so he knows Gears inside and out,” said team captain Chris “Lava” Anderson. “I know I wouldn't want anyone else standing behind me on LAN as a coach.”
And that is where he will be when the eUnited Gears of War team travels to Las Vegas from April 6-8 for a $150,000 tournament on the Gears Pro Circuit. Calling out the shots and using what he knows now to steer a team of veteran leadership and youthful explosiveness. It is a recipe that the team hopes will land eUnited their first Gears of War championship.
Until then, most days for Affinity will be spent engineering a plan in-game and out.
“My daily life is work,” he said. “But I’m doing two things I love.”