One Step Backward, Two Steps Forward

Qualifying for DreamHack Austin in 2016 with Gale Force really felt as though I was finally achieving something that was holding me back.

I was literally crying because I was so happy and proud that I was able to work that hard for a year and achieve that, but it didn’t stop there. We were happy with third place because we didn’t have many expectations, but after that, I wanted more.

We ended up winning the Summer Regional in Burbank and that was still one of the happiest moments of my life. I’ll always remember holding up that trophy and knowing that it was something that I was a part of; a team that accomplished being the best in North America.

While there was a lot of success we definitely had our ups and downs.

After we dropped Fury and picked up bkid we were performing alright, but not the level we wanted. We picked up Fan when rolfcopter decided to retire and then we didn’t even make it to top four at the Fall Regional at PAX West.

Our expectations were high, and we didn’t quite meet them. As a result, more changes had to be made and unfortunately, I was one of those cut loose.

My teammates thought I was focusing on other things too much. Mainly school and
streaming. Having to balance those along with team practice, a relationship, some semblance of a social life, and taking care of myself was difficult, if not impossible. Ironically, I was dropped right after I graduated. I felt like I could finally put 100% effort and dedication into playing.

It’s a little bit of a blow to one’s confidence when people view you as part of the reason why something isn’t working. It led to a lot of reflecting on what more I could do. As well as what I wanted to do, whether it still be pursuing Heroes or not.

I had to decide which route I wanted to take: stream for six months and try out for another team once roster changes came around, or try to get a job in the esports or gaming scene.

I didn’t deliberate for long because I knew I still wanted to play, even if I didn’t make the HGC. I had tried out for two teams, but neither of them chose me. I wasn’t satisfied with my career ending there. There was still so much more that I wanted to accomplish.

Going from being considered one of the best in your region to nobody wanting you is definitely a blow to your self-confidence. At the end of the day, I knew I was still a good player, I just had to prove it to everyone who was watching. I decided that if no one would pick me up, then I’d be a part of an Open Division team and fight my way back.

McIntyre and I had both tried out for one of the HGC teams together and neither of us made it, but we both still wanted to continue playing. We both still had so much more to prove.

Around that time BBJ had reached out to form a team with him and ishb00, then Arthelon came out of retirement and made everything fall together. We knew we were decent to start off with because we were practising against other HGC teams and doing fairly well. We knew we were good enough to get into the league.

We lost our first Open Cup then won all the remaining tournaments. The Open Division, at that time, really hadn’t seen a team of our calibre. We were also the first OD team in North America to become sponsored when HeroesHearth picked us up. That really excited me because I knew we could go pretty far with it and we did.

While qualifying through the Crucible was stressful it was a very pure moment for all of us. BBJ and ishb00 were getting in for the first time and Arthelon, McIntyre, and I were fighting back in.

We really proved that we’re good enough players, regardless of being the rejects that other teams didn’t really want.

The highest point that any pro player can ever aspire to, is to be the best in the world and retain that as long as possible.

While I might not ever achieve that, as very few players have, being the best in the world is still what I aspire to be. I wouldn’t really be living up to my expectations if I didn’t strive for that. Knowing that even if I don’t make it there I know that I gave it my all.

Qualifying for Blizzcon is a dream come true. It’s a step towards that goal. It’s a chance to compete against the best players in the world on that Blizzcon stage, and in some ways, that’s all I really ever wanted.

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