StrongSide Spotlight: A Professional Gaming Legend - Prima Games

StrongSide Spotlight: A Professional Gaming Legend

by Prima Games Staff

Michael Cavanaugh, AKA StrongSide, is a pro-gamer poised to take the win and $200,000 grand prize at the Halo 4 Global Championship at PAX this weekend. Let’s learn more about this Pro Gaming Legend . . .

Name: Michael James Cavanaugh
Occupation: Professional Video Gamer
Birth Date: August 30th, 1988
Place of Birth: Chicago, IL
Current City: Edgewood, KY
AKA: StrongSide
Nickname: Side


Who is StrongSide?

Michael Cavanaugh, the MLG Halo player also known as StrongSide, was born August 30th, 1988 in Chicago. At two years old, his parents adopted him and Cavanaugh began his new life in Edgewood, Kentucky.

Cavanaugh’s love of gaming started at age five when he and his mom started playing Super Mario Bros. As a teenager, he branched out into cross country, soccer, and swimming to fill his afternoons, but competitive gaming quickly became his number one priority.


Early Career

While still in high school, Cavanaugh competed in his first Halo event in Philadelphia, where he didn’t even place in the top 100. Unlike many others, however, this defeat gave Cavanaugh new purpose: to become the best. This newfound drive led him to enter as many tournaments as possible, with numerous days of school missed on Cavanaugh’s quest to compete. His parents didn’t think it would turn into anything big, but they supported their son regardless.

Endless hours of practice soon began to pay off. Cavanaugh started making a name for himself in the Free for All (FFA) brackets, where his sneaky routes, insane battle rifle and ability to stay alive made him a player to watch, and his reputation  in pro-gaming continued to grow.

Chicago 2005 was Cavanaugh’s break-out event: he took down the formidable, and previously undefeated, Ben Jackson (aka Karma)—a player well-known for his FFA and one vs. one (1 v 1) skill. After that event, everyone started to keep their eye on Cavanaugh.

In 2006, Cavanaugh made his biggest debut yet as a member of Team Carbon, where he played for one solid season. His play continued to get him noticed, and in the off season of 2007 he was drafted onto what would become the world’s best Halo team, Final Boss.

The Making of a Champion

As a relative newcomer on the elite Final Boss team, many expected Cavanaugh to choke—and that’s just what he wanted people to think. Keen to prove himself and defy expectation, Cavanaugh threw himself into Halo 100% in preparation for his first event. He got that chance to prove himself on the sticks in Charlotte, 2007 where he helped the team make it to the finals and take their first team win. Cavanaugh and team Final Boss went on to win five out of seven tournaments that year (they placed second in the other two events), earning them a place in the National Championship in Las Vegas. Team Final Boss stormed through the championship without a single game lost; they were the first team in competitive gaming history to do so. Naturally, they took home the gold and became the number one Halo team in the world.

Halo Tournament Victories

StrongSide Career Highlights


  • First to defeat the undefeated 1v1 player Ben “Karma” Jackson


  • Won the 2007 National Championship in Las Vegas, NV without losing a single game – Team Final Boss
  • Red Bull sponsorship
  • NBA player Gilbert Arenas sponsorship


  • NBA player Gilbert Arenas sponsorship


  • Bic Flex Pro FFA – 1st place
  • NOS Energy drink sponsorship
  • National Guard Sponsorship


  • NOS Energy drink sponsorship
  • Red Baron Pizza Spnosorship


  • Won 343 Industries and Virgin Gaming “Infinity Challenge”
  • Placed first place in 12 major competitive tournaments
  • Placed in the top four in over 30 major competitive tournaments
  • Multiplayer Author for Prima Games for the Halo 4 strategy guide
  • Multiplayer Project Manager/Lead Multiplayer Author for Prima Games for the Battlefield 4 strategy guide

Cavanaugh’s dedication and drive are key factors behind his gaming success, as he explains, “Hard work is what moves you forward; doing nothing will get you nowhere.”

In January, 2013, Cavanaugh took home the grand prize in the Halo 4 Infinity Challenge, hosted by 343 Industries and Virgin Gaming: a 2013 Ford F-150 Raptor decked out with Halo edition seats, paint job, and an Xbox 360 in the back seat for off-roading Halo 4 action!


What’s Next

Cavanaugh is currently training for the Halo 4 Global Championship coming up on August 30th in Seattle. He’s also working with Prima Games on the new Battlefield 4 strategy guide as the project manager and guide author.


Check out Home with StrongSide to learn more and check back for more on StrongSide as we join him on his journey to the Halo 4 Global Championship.

Prima Games Staff

The staff at Prima Games.