“Go to college, get good grades, get a good job.” That’s the message that’s told to most American high school students.
I was on that path just like everyone else. I was three years into college at Rider University in New Jersey, just one year away from graduating. Rider is a private school, it’s really expensive – like $60,000 a year for school, not including any expenses. Fortunately, I was on a scholarship, so that covered most of it.
I threw that all away to play Rainbow 6.
If I want to go back to school I will have to pay in full for my last year, but that’s not what’s on my mind right now.
I love the game and I want to play.
The Rainbow esports scene is much bigger now than it was when I first started playing, and it’s only getting bigger; the prize pools are getting larger and the tournaments are a lot more frequent. I knew I couldn’t possibly balance both school and playing, so I picked competing.
Competing is what I love to do but that doesn’t mean it was an easy choice. It was a big risk, I know that.
My parents certainly think so too. While they support me pursuing my passion, they think dropping out was a stupid thing to do. Even right now, a part of me thinks it was stupid, but I’m going for it. I want to see how it’s working out in about two years time, only then will I know if I made the right decision.
I was studying Logistics at Rider and I had chosen that because I knew I could make good money with that degree. I liked the financial security, which is pretty much the opposite of what I have right now with esports.
I know there will be a job for me once I graduate, but is that the field I want to work in for the rest of my life? I’m not sure I can really picture myself working in logistics. To be honest, I didn’t care at all about what I was learning in school.
By contrast, I love esports. I would love to stay a part of the scene in one way or another. I think coaching would be an option if my skills fall off, but really I would do any job that’s available to keep me involved in the scene.
Being a student whilst pursuing competitive Rainbow was challenging. It felt like all I was doing was either schoolwork or scrimming, with just a little free time here and there.
There were times where I would sleep just two hours a night. When I had a lot of school work and exams, sometimes I would end up going to bed at 8 am. It began to take a toll on me, I knew I couldn’t keep doing that.
So, about two months ago, I made the decision to drop out of school. I finished up the semester and decided I wasn’t going back. It’s been great. I feel like I can truly focus on playing Rainbow, which is what I love doing the most.
I’ve worked hard to get to where I am now. I started off playing on the console and got picked up by a team in season three. Being in the console league was my first experience of being pro, it was something that was new to me.
After that point, I started to take the game more seriously. I moved to a better team and was playing solidly every day. We made an invitational but just as things seemed like they were heading in the right direction, things changed drastically.
The console league ended up being disbanded, so I couldn’t compete anymore. I was at a crossroads.
I was considering giving up playing professionally, but I used the prize money I earned from playing on console to buy my first gaming PC and decided to continue playing Rainbow.
In a sense, I had to begin again. Learning to aim using a keyboard and mouse is totally different than a controller. It was frustrating. I think even more so because I knew the game so well.
I understood how the operators worked, I knew the maps like the back of my hand, but at the beginning, my aim just wasn’t there. It was like there was a disconnect between my brain and my body.
I feel grateful for getting picked up by Rogue; they have given me an opportunity I know many other players don’t have. While the Rainbow 6 pro scene is still growing, most players aren’t able to fully support themselves just by playing.
With the support Rogue gives us, I am able to be fully dedicated to being the best. The fans of the org, and especially fans who have been following me since my time in the console league, give me motivation as well. I don’t want to let them down. Ultimately, I want to be the best, and that’s what drives me.
Dropping out of school was a tough decision and a life-changing one at that. There’s no way to know for sure if it was the right decision or not; only time will tell. Until then, I plan on pushing myself in the esports world, as far as I can go.
Image Credit: ESL Entertainment & Rogue