I Did It My Way

One day, when I was six or seven, I came home from school and my mother told me: “You’re going to start swimming.”

I didn’t really want to swim, but you know how it is. My parents told me to do it, so I did.

Turns out, I love swimming.

There are a few records at my old local pool that still have my name on them. Every year I just kept getting faster and faster.

Although swimming was my big love, it didn’t stop me from taking part in other sports whenever I could. In fact, it’d probably be easier to tell you the few sports I didn’t enjoy at school: Rugby, cross-country, and wrestling. Anything else, I was game for.

My mom also told me to apply to Germantown Academy, which I was much more open to.

My day at Germantown started at around 5:30 AM, most days. Morning swim practice went from 6-7:40, and then I had 20 minutes to eat and get dressed for school. Afternoon practice ran from 3 PM to 5 PM, followed by an hour of weight training. If I was lucky I’d be home by 7 PM, and starting my homework.

The regimen didn’t leave a lot of time for other activities. Video games weren’t really on my agenda back then. I did have a computer, but it was just my mom’s old laptop – a Lenovo Thinkpad, I think. Not quite the “battlestation” I’d use today.

I spent nearly three months persuading my mom to buy Minecraft for me – my first ever video game. Youtube videos on my phone got me hooked.

At the end of sophomore year, while working on a project, I spilt water on the janky laptop and completely fried it. That’s basically how I ended up with a $300 pre-built desktop from Microcenter.

After about a day spent setting the thing up properly, I dove straight into Minecraft and had my mind blown by how smooth it was.

So after a long time spent becoming a Minecraft god, Overwatch finally started appearing on the periphery. My friend told me to try it out, and I honestly thought: “That looks dumb. I already have a game that I like, why would I need another?”

Then I watched a couple of those cinematics: Recall, Dragons, and Hero. I very quickly changed my tune and once again went begging to mom to buy it for me!

I hate to admit it, but I literally didn’t know what mouse sensitivity meant when I first got Overwatch. I had only ever messed with visual settings on Minecraft before. I even changed the bindings on my mouse instead of just changing them in-game – which is still something I do to this day out of comfort.

My mouse buttons four and five are actually six and eight because it’s been nearly three years and I can’t be bothered to change it again.

In my first few games of Overwatch, I played with 1800 DPI and 15 in-game sensitivity. It was something like 27,000 EDPI and I played without a mousepad. I was an absolute maniac.

Despite being a Support player now, initially, I was all about Hanzo and Mei. The first clip I ever saved was me hitting three headshots in a row as Hanzo. I thought I was incredible.

I tried out a few heroes as I got a little better. I remember being really mad that Tracer couldn’t blink vertically like she could in the cinematic trailers. That would obviously be incredibly broken…but it still annoyed me!

At one point I even became a Junkrat main for a while, even playing him on Illios Well. (Feel free to judge)

That was around Season 4, when I ended up placing in low silver after my placement games. My big achievement back then was finally grinding my way to Platinum by the end of the season.

I knew I could do better, though. Getting to GM became my goal, and as it was Summer at the time, I was able to dump around 100 hours into the game over a couple of months.

It involved waking up early – before swim practice – just to get a few Quickplay games in so that I could learn new heroes. I put pillows at the base of my door to block out the sound of the keyboard. My mom hearing the game through my headset was a concern, so I just didn’t play with in-game sound.

I realize how stupid that sounds now, but it genuinely did help me learn the visual cues of the game.

I soon became a one-trick Mercy player with a peak of 4214. Then I got called a boosted, one-trick, Mercy e-girl, and that did get to me a little. “I’m not a one-trick…I can play Lucio too!”

So I played Lucio in Season 6 and got to a staggering peak of…4217. Three SR higher.

Now that I’d proved I wasn’t a one-trick, I just went back to Mercy and finished top 500 in all of the following seasons.

Somewhere in there I started playing a little competitive with friends I’d met in-game. I was a flex support on an Open Division team for a while, not that I knew how to play the role properly. At the time I just had to play Zenyatta, which seemed kind of easy (Don’t tell JJoNaK I thought that, though). Of course, I was dead wrong.

Things changed, as they tend to do, and I got the opportunity to become the main support for the team. The team didn’t make it to trials, but I had a chance to prove myself, and that’s all I wanted.

The coach as Skyfoxes knew about me, and wanted to build a roster around me, which was quite the honor. But Boston contacted me three days later, and gave me the news I’d been waiting for – they wanted me.

I told my mom and they didn’t really understand at first. They said: “Wait, what do you mean? You’re going to get paid for this?”

Because of the scrim schedule and the fact that I was still in school, something had to give. Honestly, I hadn’t been swimming much anyway because of a knee injury, and I just started naturally drifting away from it.

The moment it became real was when I told my coach I wanted to skip finals to go to the Philadelphia Hometown heroes event to compete. He wasn’t happy and told me that making that decision would essentially mean quitting the team entirely.

So I did. I really wanted to swim, but Overwatch just means more to me now.

I competed at Hometown heroes and did well, but they ended the event early because of adverse weather. I suppose a free keyboard for finishing top 12 wasn’t too bad.

Now, I find myself as a member of the Boston Uprising roster.

It’s hard to believe that I made it this far. And I have to give a lot of credit to my family for inspiring me to do better. They’re a very competitive bunch, and they don’t let me sit still for long.

An example I recall is when I was talking to my grandmother a long time ago. I told her I wanted to be as good as a particularly talented teammate of mine in the soccer team. She told me I should be aiming to be better than him.

It’s because of them that I’m competing with players that I used to look up to. Players like ArK, Saebyeolbe, Moth and Geguri. I was really inspired by Geguri in particular. She broke the mould, despite being told that she’d never make it. I’m glad we’ve had the opportunity to become friends.

And lastly, I have to thanks my fans, which is crazy to say. I have fans!

I promise I’ll continue to work hard and show you what I’m made of. I’m no stranger to working hard, and I know I can get even better.

It’s been a grind to get here, but the grind is far from over.

Photo Credit: Swimmer & Overwatch League

Jeff Yabumoto assisted with the creation of this article.

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