I’m black and Asian, and growing up I didn’t have too much to work with.
I learned that if I’m equal to someone else it means that the other person may get the opportunity over me. So I have to be better than them to get that opportunity.
That’s how I live my life.
I live by the philosophy that I can do more with less. That I can be more efficient with my time and as long as I maintain that I can outdo anyone given enough time.
I won my very first Lan when I was eight years old. I beat a bunch of teenagers and adults in Mario Kart for a hefty prize. It was then that people told me that I could really do something with video games. That I was maybe talented enough to make it.
When Overwatch came out it represented an opportunity.
There are a lot of other competitive games I could have gone into, but none of them were new.
It’s hard to get into a game that has been around for so long, so I committed to Overwatch. I knew if I went hard at the beginning I could build from the ground up. Plus, the game captured my attention like no game had done in years. I loved it.
Originally, I wanted to make a name for myself playing Overwatch on Xbox, but the pinnacle of competition is, of course, on PC.
I had hoped Blizzard would support console for the longest time, but after a year they signalled that they just weren’t interested. I wanted to be the best, so I had to switch to PC.
As long as I am surrounded by people I trust, I can be the best. And that’s exactly what I did.
Moving to PC and going into Contenders was one of the early steps of my career. Contenders has had its highs and lows and I’ve gone through Open Division three times now, making trials every time.
It was always one more step to make it to Contenders where we could finally make a name for ourselves. Where we could earn some credibility in the Overwatch community.
But as I said, highs and lows. Teammates being banned was one of the hardest things we had to deal with, multiple times. Scraping together subs and players from around the world is harder when you’re not signed to an OWL team.
In fact, everything is harder when you’re not signed to an OWL team. Being on the Montreal Rebellion makes that crystal clear to me. You no longer have to worry about things like having players play on high ping, whether or not they’re going to be there for each practice, and, of course, you now have the resources of an Overwatch League team.
Teams that are on their own in the T2 scene have to be so incredibly creative with how they manage their resources because of how scarce they are.
When you’re just a bunch of players trying to make it, you can’t have the same schedule than an OWL team has. Sometimes, your teammates just have other things going on.
But if you want to compete at the same level as OWL Academy teams, you have to be there practicing as much as they do and not everyone can sacrifice that much time to Overwatch.
When I made my run in Open Division Season 2, 2018, I was incredibly happy with what we did. It was when we ran what would later become known as the infamous GOATS comp.
It’s pretty cool to me that it was our team that showed the world how influential that composition could be.
It’s surprising that no one really discovered it before us – people said it went against the original philosophy of how Overwatch was supposed to be played. Now, it’s the pinnacle of competition. You’re either good at it or you lose.
We were nobodies before that insane run, but in an instant, we changed the game. A team that no one thought would make an impact suddenly did.
Because of that run, we were noticed by Overwatch League teams, specifically the Toronto Defiant who eventually signed me and a large part of First Generation.
Going from the bottom of the barrel to where I am now is a huge step up. That accomplished one of my small goals, but there’s still the ultimate goal of making it to the Overwatch League where I can prove that I can stand toe-to-toe with the rest of the pros, all while using a controller and hybrid setup.
For all those that follow in my footsteps, I understand that it’s hard. That banging your head against that brick wall over and over can feel futile sometimes. I had my own moments of doubt after I failed to make Contenders the second time around.
It’s not shameful to chase your dream like I am, or to even quit. Everyone has their own reasons for what they do and it’s nothing to scoff at.
The T2 scene is getting better, though it still has a way to go before it’s in good shape.
It will get there one day, but you just have to remember we’re at the beginning of it right now and there will always be trial and error.
You will always struggle before you can fly.
Jeff Yabumoto assisted with the creation of this article