I always wanted to be a coffee barista.
My life was pretty simple before I discovered Overwatch. That was when things took quite a drastic turn.
The first plane I ever boarded was heading to Poland, where I would participate in the Overwatch World Cup. It wasn’t long after that flight that I had the opportunity to move to another country…all because of Overwatch.
I had a hard time letting that sink in. Moving to another country to play Overwatch professionally – it didn’t make sense. It’s not something that I could have ever imagined when I playing in Apex season 2.
I remembered playing Grand Theft Auto in middle school, and I thought about how cool it would be to live in Los Angeles.
But transplanting yourself across the world is no easy task.
None of us on the NYXL knew the language or the culture, and it made us all pretty nervous to make the move. Unfortunately, there were a few racist incidents when we first arrived that made our initial stay here less than pleasant.
In the beginning, we all had to rely on Andrew, our manager, for just about everything. Things like setting up bank accounts and Visas were all done through him. We called him our “Superman” because of how much he’s done for us. I don’t know how we would have survived without him.
It was especially tough for me because I had just got married.
We had three wonderful months together and then we were an ocean apart. Those first months, when she wasn’t here, were very difficult for me.
Phone calls and video chats aren’t the same as being there in person, and I really wanted her to be there with me, experiencing this new culture.
Before every match, I would pull out a picture of her and stick it to the top of my keyboard, so that I could see her.
Early on, I asked NYXL if they could help me bring her to LA and they did that for me.
I asked them to help me get an apartment so that I could live with here. It wouldn’t be fair to bring her to a gaming house with all the guys. They did that for me.
I really love my team for helping me accomplish that and I wouldn’t want to play anywhere else.
The team helped me get through the tough beginning of my stay in the U.S. I realized after a while that the few incidents of racism in the country were not usual. There are a lot more people that are accepting of others.
I have enjoyed experiencing the culture and the energy that permeates throughout the U.S. society. It’s completely different from what it’s like in Korea. Sometimes it’s even the small things, like walking Bebe and seeing all of the other doggy friends around the neighbourhood.
I love getting into an Uber and being able to practice my English with them. I ask about how their day is going and tell them what I’m doing too. It’s very rewarding for me when we’re able to understand each other.
I do still miss Korea sometimes, of course. My father lives there with my step-mom and I miss being with them. Then there’s my parents-in-law who I also miss seeing…they make incredible food too, and good Korean food is quite hard to find in Los Angeles.
I do have a dog here that I mentioned before, but there is also another dog that stayed in Korea, and I miss him too.
But at least I have my wife here now.
Having her by my side makes me so happy, I can barely describe it. I just feel like I’m at home whenever she is with me.
When times are tough, she takes care of me.
When I wasn’t playing a lot this year, I didn’t feel like a professional player anymore. I had questions running through my mind.
“How do I get back into the league when I’m actually doing nothing?”
Each week I just watched my teammates scrim, practice, and compete in official matches. It made me want to give up and go back to Korea.
But my wife was here with me and she said she would take care of me when I was sad or hurt. She did, and she helped me get back at it and I returned to the Overwatch League. I couldn’t imagine being here without her now.
With the second season of Overwatch League done, we’ll be moving to New York soon. As much as I’ve loved spending the last two years here in Los Angeles, New York is my second home, not LA.
I love the USA and look forward to living in New York City with all of the fans and getting to know you. I enjoyed meeting you all when we last visited, and I know I’ll love meeting even more of you next season.
Until then… #EverUpward
Jeff Yabumoto assisted with the creation of this article
Image Credit: Robert Paul/Blizzard Entertainment & Nicole Carpenter/Dotesports