Grinding from Day One

I’ve always been interested in pursuing esports as a career. I had played a few other games competitively leading up to Overwatch, but none of them really took off.

I didn’t want to play Counter-Strike, but I wanted to play an FPS so I put my hopes in these other smaller games and they never really panned out.

Prior to Overwatch, there were a lot of games where the devs gave the illusion that they were going to support esports really hard, but that’s very difficult to do. It takes a lot of money and infrastructure and experience. No dev really had that.

When Blizzard announced Overwatch, I started to think I might have found a game to make a career out of. I trusted Blizzard to make a quality product – something that people actually wanted to watch – and, more importantly, trusted that they would support the competitive scene.

The potential of something like Overwatch League was always in my mind. I knew that eventually, a game was going to come out that was going to take esports to the next level. There would have to be – that was just the way the trends were going.

I was fortunate enough to know some people at Blizzard, so I had an account really early. I played in the beta. I was on one of the first sponsored teams. I was on the original Envyus roster. I played in tonnes of tournaments before Overwatch League, I was at four or five LANs all over – in Korea, at Dreamhack in Sweden, at Gamescom in Germany…

I started out as a DPS player. Similar to the other games that I had played, at first I assumed the ‘fragger’ role. That was what I was really comfortable with.

It wasn’t until the middle of my time on  Fnatic that I transitioned to the off-tank role.

It fit my playstyle a lot better, because it’s a role where you’re capable of fragging out hard but also supporting your team at the same time.

I think I have a really selfless mindset, so I’m pretty good at supporting my team intuitively. That aspect of my personality suits the role really well.

I went over to Korea with Fnatic for APEX Season Two, which was kind of the catalyst for the end of that team. We struggled really hard during APEX, and the team died after that. Things were pretty silent for me for around six months.

At that point, I wasn’t really known in the scene anymore. No one knew who I was on. Luckily, I had the opportunity to play on the USA World Cup team thanks to the tryout process.

The World Cup ended up being really important for me. Since no one knew who I was, when they announced me on the roster everyone was like, “Who is this guy? Why is he on this team? He’s going to be so bad.”

It was like that for a couple of other players on the team as well, like JAKE.

We were the relatively unknown talent who got a chance to show themselves. That exposure was really important going into Overwatch League, because it gave me an opportunity to show that I was still a relevant player and I hadn’t turned bad overnight.

I could show I had been around since the start and I was still good.

It really catapulted me into a powerful position for negotiations on Overwatch League teams. I had tonnes of offers from teams wanting to get me, just because of World Cup. Without the World Cup, I probably would have got only got one or two offers, if I was lucky. But I ended up getting around 8 or 9 offers after the World Cup, so that whole experience was crucial.

I ended up signing with the Outlaws. Over the last season, we tried to create a brotherly culture, where we were always hanging out with each other outside of the game and doing stuff together. Earlier on in the season, we had more time to do that, later in the season that petered off.

Initially, for us, it was really difficult because we had this excellent first stage where we performed above everyone’s expectations.

It made us feel really confident, but then going into stage two, we had a bit of a wake-up call for our expectations. We went in expecting to do a lot better than we did. We took those first heavy losses in stage two way too hard.

We learned that it’s more important to separate yourself from the emotions, positive or negative. Don’t get too hyped up when you win, don’t be too sad when you lose. All you can do is focus on the next map.

Dwelling on the past and your failures doesn’t help you. You want to look at everything objectively and just improve off all of it.

I’ve learnt that the best thing you can do is find people who you enjoy playing with. People who you enjoy being around, in-game and out of the game.

I believe strongly that your mentality, and how much fun you’re having, translates directly to how well you do in-game.

When you’re having fun and you’re playing with your friends, you’re calmer and you can think clearer. You want to see your friends succeed and you want to help them as much as possible. I believe having fun and playing with the right group of players is a key part of maintaining a healthy mentality.

I’ve put everything I had into making it in professional Overwatch. I would say I’ve been pretty successful so far.

I started grinding from day one, and I haven’t stopped since.

Photo credit: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment. 

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