With the release of the Master Chief Collection, a new wave of tournaments and aspiring pro players have begun to grace the competitive Halo scene. With this resurgence in Halo as an eSport, THF will be publishing articles discussing and reflecting on the Halo legends of old.
Ben Jackson, better known as True Karma, or Karma for short began his professional Halo career at MLG Las Vegas in 2004. Jackason did not place well, rather he used the tournament as a learning experience. On Xbox Live, Karma gained significant notoriety by pushing himself to the number 1 spot on the Bungie Leaderboards for both the Rumble Pit and Head to Head playlists.
Jackson attended his first professional Halo 2 event at MLG San Francisco in 2005, competing under the name True_Karma with team Not So STR8 RIPPIN. Being known an an "online warrior" at the time, Karma surprised his peers by placing 3rd with Fonzi, Foulacy, and SyNeRGy in teams and 8th in free for all. Karma skipped the next two major events but came back to MLG Orlando with Str8 Rippon and placed 3rd again in the 4v4. Karma did take home 1st place in the FFA, the first of many such wins. Karma's streak of taking home the bronze continued at MLG St. Louis where he placed 3rd with MLG Rockford, his temmates consisted of Fonzi, Foulacy, and Zyos. Also at this tournament, Jackson placed 2nd in the FFA, losing to future teammate, Shockwav3 in the finals.
Karma took the next few events off; 2005 holds the record for the most amount of tournaments in a single season. And since the prize pools backthen were not as large as they are today, it became difficult for every single player to play his way and travel to every single event without some sort of sponsorship. Jackson rectified this issue by becoming a part of iGameSpot and teaming with Gandhi, ShockWav3, and Defy for the first time. The move turned out to be quite fruitful as the lineup finished in 1st place over an early rendition of Storm Ventures. Karma took home 3rd in the free for all portion of the event, losing out to Strongside and Shockwave in the finals.
The next major tournament that Karma competed in was MLG/50K4 in Atlanta. His 4v4 team, FuzzyNemoknights tied for 13th, but Karma began to establish himself as a solid 1v1 contender, just barely losing to Ogre 2 in the finals and taking home silver. The following tournament, MLG Chicago saw Karma rejoin IGS. The team dropped Defy and picked up Strongside, but they still placed 4th and Karma placed 3rd in the Free For All again. This tournament proved to be a huge learning experience for the young IGS squad as they went into the MLG 2005 National Championships in New York with new focus and the experience of veterans. IGS re-invented themselves as Team Phreaks for this one event as they took out team after team on their way to grand finals in a historic series that went all the way to game 10 on Oddball Midship against team 3D. This game was particularly entertaining because the members of both Phreaks and 3D were using tactics, strategies, and button glitches that players and fans had not really seen utilized to their fullest potential. The next level tech and the ability to switch to a Claw-playstyle for up close engagements, propelled Karma to take home 1st place in the FFA portion of the tournament over Strongside and win his first national championship.
For the 2006 season Karma also signed a $250,00 with MLG, and the members of Phreaks changed their identity to the iconic name, Carbon. The group of high schoolers had high expectations going into the season, however they finished 3rd at the first event in MLG New York. Team struggles did not stop Karma though, he won 1st place in the 1v1s over Killer N. The following event at MLG Dallas saw the same exact results, Carbon finished in 3rd place and Karma himself won 1st again in the 1v1s. This time, he beat Fonzi in the grand finals. The following major tournament, MLG Anaheim, saw Carbon do a little better. The team finished second, losing to then unbeaten Final Boss in grand finals. However, while Carbon continued to struggle to get over the hump, Karma was making history. He beat out Walshy in the 1v1 finals, thus increasing his winning streak to 3.
MLG's following event in Chicago saw a major turning point in the season. Carbon proved to be at their limit with Strongside; especially after a highly questionably play by Strognside in the loser's finals on Sanctuary against Storm Ventures, involving the under-powered pistol, costed Carbon the series. Side was dropped in favor of an up and coming member of the pro scene, Ghostayame. The failure to make it back to the grand finals did not halt Karma's success though. Karma beat Naded in a close 1v1 set to bring his FFA winning streak to 4. The team change proved to be one of the most successful decisions in competitive Halo history. Carbon climbed the hill and splayed the dragon at the very next tournament, MLG Orlando. And, in a story that was starting to get old, Karma won the FFA again, this time, over Strongside...again.
Going into MLG's playoff event in New York, just about the entire competitive community believed that Carbon's victory over FB in the previous tournament was nothing more than a mere fluke. But the Cinderella story proceed to continue forward as Carbon beat FB in grand finals once more. And, as you may have expected, Karma kept doing the impossible and proceeded to beat Strongside once more in the 1v1 finals. By now, fans and players alike had come to the understanding that Karma was just not beatable in a Halo 1v1 match. However, those same people were not wholly convinced that team Carbon was better, overall, than team Final Boss. The last major event of the 2006 season saw to find out that answer once and for all. At MLG's National Championships in New York, Carbon once again beat FB in the Grand Finals, and Karma for a 3rd straight time, beat Strongside in the grand finals of the FFA. Team Carbon took home a nice little $100,00 check for their efforts (the biggest 1st place prize in competitive Halo at the time), and Karma took home a $10,000 check for himself for winning in Las Vegas. Even though the members of FB won more events in 2006, Karma earned the most money in the 2006 season because of how he finished out the season and his stunning record of not losing any of the FFA/1v1 events. Winning 7 major Free For All tournaments in a row and going undefeated the way Karma did in 2006, is something that has never been duplicated, nor will it likely be anytime soon.
For the 2007 season, Carbon kept the same lineup and went into the first event, MLG Charlotte with championship victory expectations. However, the squad came just short of another 1st place victory as a new and revitalized Final Boss put themselves back atop of the Halo world. The loss came as a deep cut to the squad, because not only did Carbon lose, but they also lost to Final Boss' new member, Strongside. The very same player that Karma and crew dropped, mid 2006. Looking back at how all these events turned out, you cannot truly blame Carbon for dropping the player that would cause their downfall in 2007. With how Side was playing in 2006, it was the right move at the right time. It was just unfortunate for Gandhi, Wav3, and Karma, that Strongside fit perfectly on a team with the Ogres and Walshy.
2007 also saw MLG alter the FFA portion of their events as well. The league threw out the 1v1 aspect of the FFA, thus ending Karma's reign as the undisputed best FFA player in Halo 2. This rule change, combined with Karma's decision to focus more of the team aspect of Halo 2, resulted in Karma never winning another FFA or 1v1 event again. It still does not diminish the amazing feats he accomplished in 2005 and 2006.
The second event in 2007, MLG Meadowlands, saw Carbon lose again to Final Boss in the grand finals . By MLG Dallas, the boys on Carbon were a little fed up with how the season was turning out so far. They came out of the gate firing on all cylinders, as they defeated FB in the finals. Many say that this was Karma's personal best event; as an individual mastermind, when Karma was playing on point, it his extremely hard to stop him in game. Unfortunately, the success of MLG Dallas didn't transfer over as Carbon placed 4th at the next at MLG Chicago and 4th again at MLG Orlando. Part of Carbon's inability to place 1st as many times as they had done in 2006 was due to the fact that there were many new players and teams stepping onto the scene, as well as outside things taking away some motivation for certain members of Carbon.
Even though the season was not shaping up to be as financially successful as it was for Carbon the previous year, Karma and his teammates were determined to at least win the last event and prove to all the haters that they were the best Halo team in the world. At the National Championships in Las Vegas, team Carbon came into the event with fire and new found determination. They beat Str8 Rippon in an intense Loser's finals matchup, and then proceeded to lose 6-0 to FB in the grand finals. On the Free For All side of things, MLG announced that this last event would feature 1v1s in the finals again. Hearing the news, Karma was eager to compete and try to win another large check. However Karma fell just short in the FFA bracket and was not able to make it to the 1v1 brackets. KGB Soviet ended up winning the 1v1 national championship, although many fans still speculate about what would have happened in Karma had made it to the top 8 and competed in the 1v1.
The 2008 season saw MLG drop Halo 2 for Halo 3 and of course with each new game, everyone starts out on an equal playing field. The league also dropped FFA and 1v1 events all together for Halo 3; this decision did not sit well with the community or pro players. The first event at MLG Meadowlands saw Carbon place a very disappointing 6th place. Whether it was lack of motivation for the new game or outside factors, team Carbon would never win another major Halo event. But that did not stop Karma for competing and winning. After the team placed 4th in the next event at MLG San Diego, longtime member Gandhi was released from the roster. Carbon picked up Cpt. Anarchy and placed a career low 7th at both MLG Orlando and MLG Toronto. The poor placings promoted Karma to leave Carbon and join up Triggers Down, a rising group of young players who had proven to be quite formidable in 4v4 play. This tD lineup of SK, FearitSelf, Hysteria, and Karma saw immediate success as they beat out Str8 Rippon in the grand finals at MLG's playoff event in Dallas. Karma was once again a champion.
With Halo 3's first National Championship being held in Las Vegas, everyone was wondering whether Triggers Down would carry their momentum and win it all. Unfortunately, quite the opposite happened, tD finished in 5th place and really put a nail in the coffin of Karma's competitive career. He did attend events in the 2009 season, playing under the name VG The New Order with Naded, Defy, and Bestman. The team placed 9th at the opener in MLG Meadowlands, a career low for Karma. Although Karma continued to compete, fans could tell that the drive was not there. For the next event at MLG Columbus, Karma and Naded decide to host an open tryout for anyone who thought they had the skill to win an MLG event. After running games online with thousands of competitors, the duo decided to pick two well known online warriors Tensor and Tetra Shot. MLG even published an article on it and chose to advertise the "Golden Ticket" on the front page. The team did not place as well as they hoped, as they failed to make it out of the open bracket. The Golden Ticket fiasco really put the writing was on the wall. Karma finished a meager 8th place finish with Heaven and Earth at MLG Anaheim, and the suffered another career low, 15th place finish at the National Championships at MLG Orlando. It was evident, Karma did not want to be a professional Halo player any longer.
Even though the last year of Karma's Halo career saw a gamble and downfall, the 2009 season does nothing to diminish the success that Jackson saw from 2005-2008. Many put Karma as one of the top 10 greatest Halo players of all time. An old MLG article puts it best here:
"Having earned championship titles in both singles and team play, Karma has reached the peak of Major League Gaming’s world-class competition. Holding what can only be described as a dynasty, Karma’s incredible unbeaten streak in 1v1 competition dates back to the 2005 season. Karma’s singles game is marked by an unparalleled ability to aggressively fortify a stage’s vantage points and force his opponents to approach from disadvantageous positions. In stark contrast, he adopts a supporting role during team play, enabling his teammates to step into the more glorified slaying roles."
Notable Career Accomplishments
- 3x MLG National Champion
- 2005 Pro's Choice Best Battle Rifle
- 2006 Pro's Choice Best Battle Rifle
- 16 Major Tournament Wins
- 10 FFA/1v1 Wins (Most All Time)