This write-up was inspired by Marcus Troy x Nike Sportswear micro blog, Maverick Project. For those who are not familiar with the definition of a Maverick, it is basically someone who goes against the common way (in a positive light). Instead of conforming to the norm, Mavericks choose a different path that leads them to unique opportunities, experiences and lifestyles.
I have traveled to more than 6 countries, visited more than 16 major cities, competed for over $50,0000 cash, and performed in front of over 100,000 spectators. This all started as a passion, belief and dream. From an early age, one of my passions has been playing video games. I can still recall sitting patiently, filled with anticipation for my turn, while my older brother and cousins would hog the Nintendo. When it came to video games, I loved every aspect of it, from playing to watching. From a young age, I understood the value of anticipating my opponent’s moves and being strategic. I would pay close attention to the way people would play—patterns, combinations, and habits—especially in competitive games, to ensure that I would beat them. Who knew this was the initial spark of my competitive spirit?
As I grew up I continued to participate in video games as a hobby, which took a turn when I was exposed to the Internet. In Grade 7 I was introduced to the world of online gaming through a friend, and to one game in particular called Counter-Strike (CS). It was a very popular team based video game that developed into a whole sub-culture as it grew in popularity among gamers. The concept of playing against people from all across the world was exhilarating and pushed my competitive spirit to the limits. After becoming better than the average player in the game, I decided to form a team with a group of local friends who, like myself, were competitive at CS and lived in Edmonton. During this period a huge community was beginning to emerge for computer gaming, and we were at the forefront. In the summer of ’99 I was invited to play at a local tournament and decided to let my friends in on the opportunity. At first I was very reluctant to go because of the stereotypes of a “gamer” being a super nerd, but the idea of wining prizes for playing a video game was a dream many kids my age shared. The first place prize at this local tournament was a bunch of computer hardware, which was worth cash, and at fourteen, I really had nothing to lose. This was the beginning of a new world of experiences.
During our first gaming tournament, my team ended up finishing in second place, but walked away with computer parts worth $250. This was the first time that I realized that gaming, or more specifically, my hobby, had a monetary value instead of simply being entertainment. Over the next two years I began traveling across North America, attending competitions, winning and losing, but getting exposed to the rest of the world. I was traveling places I had never been to across Canada such as Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto, competing in small tournaments. During these travels I met countless people living unique lifestyles, all before the age of 19.
As time progressed my team began to establish ourselves as the best Counter-Strike team in Canada. It reached a point that an individual was interested in developing my gaming team’s identity and brand image to attract sponsors. This was a huge point in time for competitive video games, because they were promoting gamers as a marketing tool. Shortly after, we landed a variety of sponsors including Intel Canada, and began traveling around the world attending different international tournaments. Being sponsored had the perks of being paid a monthly salary, and having all accommodations, travel, and food allowances at events taken care of. At this point in time international tournaments were awarding cash prizes from $10k – $70K, depending on the event. From 2003 to 2007 I travelled four to eight times a year attending events in Vancouver, Toronto, LA, San Francisco, Paris, Monza (Italy), Seoul (South Korea), Paris, and Singapore on a consistent basis. Being sponsored allowed me to travel around the world, for something I loved to do. I was exposed to a variety of different foods, cultures and lifestyles, which to this day have shaped me into a rounded, cultured individual.
During my first year of university I had a new opportunity to open a retail store with my brother and cousin that was a challenge I was willing to meet. In 2008 my business partners and I launched a clothing store called Room 322, a menswear boutique. I consider myself a Maverick because of obstacles and sacrifices I made in order to accomplish my goals and pursue my passion. I remember facing an uphill battle with my parents and peers, but slowly turned everyone into believers when they saw the wealth of experiences I had obtained from traveling across the globe at almost no expense. To wrap things up, opportunities don’t always come knocking on our door, but if they do and they involve doing something you truly love, why not open the door?