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interview with
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NICK CANNELLA

Progamer and Husband

As one of the only married pro players on Team Liquid – and in the entirety of esports - Nicholas "nitr0" Cannella is a bit ahead of the game. And with so many players on the scene with girlfriends, it only makes sense for us to go to Nitr0 for some much needed advice on the married life of a professional esports player. We asked the successful CS:GO player, how do you keep your wife (and dogs) happy while also racking up those sweet W's?

Support One Another

When nitr0 met Harper in middle school when they were 14 they really bonded over their first date movie, “Drag Me To Hell.” They thought it would be scary, but found out they both found it to be pretty cringe. Their similar humor and mutual happiness just to be together despite the onscreen monstrosity before them solidified that they were meant to be.

Despite their initial attraction, nitr0 said he was embarrassed to admit he played video games.

“I didn't want her to think I was a nerd back when I was in middle school,” he explained.

But after getting into CS:GO with his brothers and becoming very competitive with the game, it had become pretty hard for him to hide his “addiction.” When Harper came over to hang out sometimes he'd end up playing. Fortunately, Harper was very supportive of his interests.

“She supported me because I loved doing it.”

His first taste of competitive esports was in Sweden when they were in college. Since he had upcoming exams and would have to quit his job to make the trip – his first international flight – Harper was “completely against it.”

nitr0 had come to Harper before he made the decision to leave, to “see her reaction.” But he still went despite her concerns, since they both knew it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

When it comes to Harper's decision to switch to veterinary school, nitr0 is equally supportive. And her decision to get five dogs. And a cat. He said he has no idea how it even happened, but now that he's used to it he loves having them around.

“It can be pretty hectic,” he admitted. “It feels like I have two kids. They're pretty chill, though. They basically do whatever I'm doing.”

While Harper is not a huge fan of attending his tournaments — both her and nitr0 went to some college football games and didn't like the environment (rowdy crowds) and feel esports stadiums can be a little similar — she watches all of his matches online.

“It's pretty cool,” he admitted. “But she gets pissed at me when we lose. I usually expect a mean text soon after.”

Have Your Own Experiences

Contrary to what the online community says about “finding a gamer grill,” nitr0 says that having different hobbies from his wife is what makes them an even stronger couple.

“I wouldn't want a wife who play games,” he admitted. “I like having my own hobbies. And I'm always playing games. I think it would cause a lot of problems that shouldn't happen if she was always wanting to play games with me.”

After scrimming with his team for six to eight hours a day, nitr0 fears that he wouldn't be in the mood to play even more games with a game-a-holic girlfriend, and is instead happy to curl up on the couch with Harper after work and relax with some Stranger Things.

Even though they used to play Call of Duty together with their friends in 9th grade, Harper hasn't really had an interest in gaming since despite being “alright.” Instead, Harper has been chasing her own dreams, something nitr0 deeply admires.

“She's very into animals,” he gushed. “She had a degree in criminal justice, focusing on forensics. But she's switching to animals. She realizes that's her true passion.”

And with five dogs and one cat, that's definitely a good thing. Between taking care of their brood, going to school and working, Harper is quite busy. But that doesn't mean the two don't want to spend some time together.

Find a Balance

To keep up his CS:GO skills, nitr0 practices six days a week, averaging six to eight hours a day. This can get quite time consuming, but he has found a way to still make time for his wife and pets.

If Harper is not working, he will spend an hour hanging out with her between each scrim block. During each scrim itself there's also five to ten minutes, where nitr0 will let out his dogs. Then once he's done scrimming, he and Harper will hang out at night with some more Netflix, check out a movie, or go to the gym together.

“We're homebodies,” he admitted.

Sometimes nitr0 can be gone for weeks at a time for bootcamps and tournaments. During that time, the housework falls on Harper. But when he's home they evenly split responsibilities.

“I'll clean the dishes the morning after we eat,” nitr0 explained. “Sometimes we'll cook together. We clean together. We just split it all up a bit.”

When it comes to married life it's all about having each other's backs.

Love What You Have

Appreciating one another and what they have is what makes their marriage stronger, despite various obstacles thrown their way.

In fact, nitr0 pointed out that having a wife is optimal for a professional esports player.

You're past that “puppy love phase,” he explained. “A girlfriend can be a distraction from esports. But right now, my wife respects that I'm not going to text my wife during practice. I'm focused on CS:GO.”

The CS:GO team seems to all have a similar mentality. Most have steady girlfriends, nitr0 noted, and they're not out partying at clubs. The team is “quite chill” in that sense. When it comes to bootcamping, the CS:GO team is completely focused, which may be why they were able to breeze through the Challenger stage of the Major.

When nitr0 is gone for weeks at a time for work, he and Harper usually stick to texting. Sometimes they'll FaceTime each other. But both of them aren't really phone call-type people now, despite spending “thousands of hours” talking on the phone when they were younger.

Of course, when nitr0 isn't busy with practicing, he gives Harper a lot more of his attention and time. They try to make the most of the shared time they have, since both of them have crazy schedules.

Harper and nitr0 were married on September 16 of last year, after dating since 2009. Even though a Counter-Strike tournament left their wedding a bit rushed, the two had a blast at Disney World for their honeymoon. It was Harper's first time going on a roller coaster and she loved it. In fact, “she's obsessed with roller coasters now.”

They’re planning to go back.

Love Each Other and What You Do

“The coolest part about being a pro player is being a role model for some people,” said nitr0. “I've gotten respect of people I don't even know. It's just very cool to have fans behind you. I'm happy I get to experience that.”

But nitr0's biggest fan will always be Harper. And he will always be hers. When asked what nitr0 loves most about being married he had a few answers:

  • He likes having a ring. He likes rings.
  • Sharing vows was cool and made it feel more official.

And most importantly, the “respect,” he emphasized. For each other. And what they do. Their passions. Hobbies. Dogs. Lots of dogs.

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