Ups-And-Downs

I grew up with two older brothers and my parents, that’s five of us, in a tiny little apartment.

I didn’t really do a lot back then. We were right beside the beach, but I spent most of my time with my brothers. They played games, so it makes sense that I picked it up pretty early.

We didn’t get our hands on an Xbox 360 until I was in middle school, and I had barely heard of Call of Duty until eighth grade, or maybe freshman year when we got our hands on that for the first time.

Safe to say I was hooked on it pretty quickly.

I used to play on the jankiest setup you’ve ever seen. I’d like you to imagine what this looked like:

So I had a little picnic table, I don’t know how else I can describe it…it was a picnic table. It started out with a TV on it, but I did save up for a proper monitor after a while. Then I’d have a laptop in front of the monitor so that I could be on voice comms.

When I wanted to actually play the game, I had to half-close the laptop – open enough that it wouldn’t “sleep”, but closed enough that I could actually see the screen.

I’d be grinding that pretty late, and my parents would kick me off pretty much every day at some point.

They weren’t huge on the whole gaming thing.

My mom even used to lie to people about what I was doing when I travelled to Call of Duty events. She told people that I was away for baseball tournaments or something.

It’s funny because it’s so different now – she’s excited to tell people that I’m going to video game tournaments. She brags about me all the time, which is a nice change!

Neither her or my dad are tech-savvy at all, but they do try to watch me when I’m playing. Usually one of my brothers has to get them a link and try to explain what the hell is going on, and they still won’t understand, but they’re trying and that means a lot to me.

My journey to being a pro CoD player started in Modern Warfare 3 really. I watched a bit before that but I really started making moves in that game.

Having grown up with two brothers I had become pretty competitive, and once I found out that Call of Duty had a pro scene I knew I wanted to be part of it.

I just played with friends in MW3. That was the year that only had events in Europe, which meant a lot of teams were restricted to playing online tournaments. That’s where I started getting noticed a little.

The grind paid off in Black Ops 2 when TeC picked me up and paid for my first fully-funded trip to an event. Top 32 there wasn’t the greatest placing, but it did give me my first experience against an actual pro team in Complexity.

We had no business facing them at that point in the tournament. They got knocked down to losers super early for some reason, and all of a sudden we’re facing the world champions to keep our tournament run alive.

Losing to them made me pissed off more than anything because the games were closer than I thought they would have been. I played well individually, and it made me open my eyes and think: Huh, I guess I really can do this”

I did manage to get a top eight the following year with Team FeaR, but even that was tainted a little. For some reason, there was another event running simultaneously with UMG Dallas. Only half of the top teams in the world attended and our placement was devalued because of it.

But recognition is recognition. Progression is still progression.

All of that progression led to Call of Duty World Championships in 2014 when I was with RISE Nation on Ghosts. It was another top eight, but this one meant a lot more.

For the first time, I was walking away from an event feeling proud of what I’d accomplished there. I also banked about $6,000, so that was nice.

That money helped my parents understand how good Call of Duty could be for me. That was the start of that gradual change I mentioned.

It helped when salaries became a thing too. They weren’t really around until AW came out

Salary didn’t come into AW and it was kind of a shock. In AW I joined Team EnvyUS halfway through the year – I started with Team Kaliber, and it wasn’t salaried. I think the only teams salaried at the time were people like Evil Geniuses or Complexity because they were winning so it made sense.

When I joined EnvyUs my salary was about $500, maybe $750, a month. 

That was huge back then, at least for me.

Since then, I’ve enjoyed a pretty successful career.

My 2nd stint with RISE Nation was filled with success, right up until our collapse in 2018.

Obviously, Champs did not go to plan last year.

We did our part in the early rounds, but TK got upset in their pool and suddenly we had to face a team that we considered to be our kryptonite back then. We wanted to avoid them because we knew we could lose to them…and we did.

That Rise lineup was partially known for an amazing loser-bracket run we made at Seattle that year, so it’s not like we lost all of our confidence, but it shakes you when you lose so early.

In that Luminosity Gaming match, we started off very strong, going up 2-0, but then it just fell apart.

I remember Gunless just laying on the floor at some point after the match. None of us wanted to stick around and watch any of the other matches.

It sucked for TJ even more, because his brother had made the drive that same day to watch him play in the tournament. I’m pretty sure he arrived and almost instantly watched his brother lose on-stage. TJ just hopped in the car and they left together.

That turned out to be the end of my career on RISE Nation – three years in a row, four in total.

It’s well known now that Gunless and Slasher don’t really work together on a team that well. We made it work because we were all really good players, but to anyone paying close enough attention, you could see it.

It’s funny – you don’t really see that kind of thing when you’re winning, but the moment you lose, it becomes a huge problem.

If we had finished in the top three at Champs that year, I’m pretty sure that RISE lineup would still exist. In the long run, we would have lost at some point, but until that moment, we could make it work.

It turned out to be a good thing that Black Ops 4 made the game 5v5. With four on a team, we may have been tempted to just get a replacement for TJ – who had left for Optic – and force it to work, but with two spots missing, it became clear that we should head our separate ways.

That’s when I found myself in Splyce.

We should have won in Vegas, that’s for sure. The Optic Gaming guys were even thanking us for the throw, and then we lost to Eunited anyway in the losers final.

Fort Worth was a similar story but we just got a little further. Third and Second, and we were hoping for a 3-2-1. Obviously, that’s not how it went down in London.

We had some online struggles before heading to London, but we really thought that was just a blip, and that in the day-to-day of a tournament we could come out on top. After our loss to Heretics in the winner bracket our momentum just went from underneath us, and Team EnvyUs sent us home.

Despite that, we still believe in the strength of our team. We go into each event with big expectations from ourselves and from our fans and the community in general.

We want to prove to everyone that we deserve to be labelled as the favourites, or one of the favourites.

We’ve had our ups-and-downs so far, and the win hasn’t happened yet, but it’s coming.

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