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Interview

"How are you going to be a fan of someone that isn't showing who they truly are?" - VAL's Verbo on honesty

By Josh Lee
Mar 26, 2018
LA Valiant Support, Verbo, chats with Blitz about his shotcalling strengths, overcoming difficulties, and the importance of honesty.

You built your career on your ability to shotcall. How did you impress IMT when you were trying to get picked up?

I'm really good at not attaching really any emotions to wins or losses. I kind of am able to stay consistent in that way, and I think that really helps with not tilting. I'm able to emotionally build up a team throughout the game as well. I think that's what they liked about me for sure.

Where do you think that emotional stability comes from?

For me, wins aren't everything. I feel like winning is an endless race that you're always going to be chasing, and you're never going to be satisfied.

I mean, you look at a lot of the interviews that some of the Overwatch League players do and it's like, "What's your Season 1 goal?" "Uh, to win Overwatch League." I mean, it's not all about that though.

I think the true victory comes from working as a team, becoming a better person and a better teammate. And that's--wins or loss, you still get that true victory at the end of the day for me.

I think you tweeted that as well.

Yeah, I did. A lot of people focus on that, but you should also love and be forgiving to yourself.

What is it all about to you, then?

Like I said, just developing as a person, and also being able to work together as a team. I want to look past just being a teammate and showing up and playing together, but also being able to be friends. That's super important to me.

Do you think your background as a swim teacher helps your communication?

Damn, you did your research, man.

It definitely helped me. I guess the only weakness that bringing my swim teaching to here is I only was able to deal with kids from ages maybe 3 to about 9 or 10, and coming here I'm dealing with people the same age as me, or even older. One thing I definitely learned is progression.

You have to learn how to build your way up, you can't just like, you know, "Here's the material, learn it. End of story." You got to break it down into small parts, which I think was super valuable.

Tell me about this picture.

Twitter @Verbo

I think... I don't know. My mom took it, and she sent me randomly. I think it was in scrims or whatever, she just sent me that picture and I was like, "Okay, that's cool." I decided to tweet it. I was like, "Aw, my mom sent me a baby picture."

How has your relationship with your mother grown as you've gone pro?

I knew that she really did care about the well-being of me. She thought I was ruining my life by doing this gaming thing, and she really made it hard for me to even pursue that. We ended up going through that because I knew she was looking out for me, and I wanted her to know that I was serious about what I wanted to do, and I was old enough to know to accept my mistakes. It was hard at first because it was kind of a, I would get home from school, she get home from work, we would go into our separate rooms, and then that was it. We literally did not talk to each other. But, I mean, we've grown from it, I guess you can say.

During this time, you said you had a friend in school that was supportive of you. How did that help while this was going on?

It's because it was someone in school that I could talk to about it.

I would show up to school in the morning and I would just sit down, and I was able to vent about some problems I was having playing, or even trying to pursue this career, or I was even able to share some of my memories, like, "Oh I won this tournament," or, "Hey , Immortals is even thinking about picking me up as their support."

And he was able to celebrate with me, and we would also talk about it with each other, and not a lot of people where I'm from really understand this industry of eports. So he was someone that understood it.

Do you guys still talk now?

Yeah, for sure.

Awesome. One of those ride-or-die friends, right?

Yeah. Yes, I hope so.

Jeremiah 29:11 is in your Twitter bio. Why is that Bible verse important to you?

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Because it reminds me that I wasn't put here to suffer. I wasn't put here to fail, right? Obviously failure is a part of success, but I know that, at the end that day, there's a higher power that's leading me the way and giving me the guidance that I need to be great and make an impact.

You made vague mention of wanting to start an esports company to "help people" after your professional career. Any more details on that?

(Laughing) Part about keeping it vague is so nobody really steals the ideas that I have, but I want there to be more of a structured and disciplined way of how kids or youth grow into becoming professional esports players.

I think it's very messy and it's hard, especially because I went through it to, it was like I've completely dropped school and just show up and play, and it's super hard to get recognized here. There's no real system put into place. So that's what I'm looking to do.

Is there one example of something that would help these other players transition into the professional esports world?

I mean, you see Contenders and the Open Division, that's some type of structure that I'm talking about, but I'm also--what I'm trying to gear towards is, because I get home from school and, you know, you don't really have a computer you can play on, or you feel like your computer at home is affecting your performance.

I want them to have a center where they can show up, play as friends, even form some bonds and teams. And then, say myself or some coaches can actually grade them, and then say they're looking for some teams, they can present that report to that coach, and that coach is more likely to pick them up on a team.

You're very open and honest with fans, and that seems to be really important to you. Why is that?

I mean, how are you going to be a fan of someone that isn't really showing who they truly are?

I'm not going to show up and put a persona that I don't even believe in, or I know that's not myself. My whole thing is I'm gonna show up, be honest, be true to myself, and my fans are more likely to listen to me, and I'm able to have more of an impact as well at the end of the day.

Have fans ever reached out about some specific impact you've had on their lives?

Of course. The video that I made, “Where It All Started”, where I basically just gave people my story of how I got here, I got a lot of messages.

There were a lot of Reddit comments saying I've impacted their lives and they can really resonate with what happened with me and what's happening with them. A lot of them asked me for advice, and I was very open to giving it to them. Even people sharing their life stories with me too was super amazing.

Do you feel a sense of responsibility with something like that?

I feel a sense of responsibility, but one of the main reasons why I wanted to come into esports was also to help the youth, because I feel like when you go through something tough in life, instead of turning to drugs or alcohol, gamers are turning to shoving their face in front of a monitor and playing eight hours a day. That's their escape, and that's what I dealt with too, and that's where I see help that I can provide.

Is there something you can share with the people who may be going through that same tough time right now?

One thing that kept me going was not holding back. That was a big hurdle that I'm still trying to jump over to this day, is I don't feel like I really give 100 percent all the time.

It's like if you go to bed at the end the day and you think to yourself, "Could I have done more? Could I have spent two minutes less on watching TV instead of working towards being somebody, or someone of impact within this world?" And that's what kept me going. Just don't hold back. Always give your hundred percent. Think to yourself, "Am I really doing all that I can?"

Anything else on your mind you'd like to address?

Honestly, you touched on a lot of good points. I thought this was going to be about like Overwatch or in-game stuff. I'm super happy it was about other stuff outside of game, I really like talking about that type of thing.

Disclosure: Crosscut Ventures, an investor in Immortals, is also an investor in Blitz Esports.

Interview
Josh Lee profile
Josh Lee
Josh is the lead Overwatch Producer at Blitz Esports. He's also been spotted casting a few Overwatch and League of Legends tournaments.
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