PROUD FATHER: My son, Johan (JJ) Schwartz, aspires to be a pro gamer. Although it isn't racing, I can relate to the drive and passion he has because when I was his age I had the same bug, or as my parents would describe, obsession, for what I wanted to do in life. Since my son came to my wife and I and said "I am really serious about gaming and I want to go pro", we have done our best to learn about the gaming world and the specific games he plays, CSGO and now Fortnite, so we can best support his dream and his passion. Statistics say that the odds of winning the lottery for $1,000,000 twice is better than becoming a pro gamer, but this does not deter JJ in the least.
Gaming is not a hobby for JJ. It is not how he just wants to just pass his time. He has goals with his gaming, a routine and he knows where he wants it to lead him. Two years ago my wife sat down with JJ and mapped out his next five academic years, 8th grade - 12th grade. She listened to his desire to exit high school early so he could focus on getting on with a pro team. She held firm with JJ the need for education first and that one of our jobs as parents is to use our experience and maturity to make sure that as many doors stay open for him as possible, even though he may not understand the importance of each door at this stage of his life. With JJ's trust (even though he is a bright and gifted student and has not quiet accepted the need for school) class selections were made so JJ would be one year ahead of his designated grade. He is currently a freshman in high school but has enough credits to be finishing sophmore year. Our deal with JJ is if he gets signed to a pro team before he has graduated high school he can get his GED, but he has to have completed junior year credits.
In the last two years I have taken JJ to two gaming competitions as a spectator giving him the opportunity to experience the environment. At this time his primary game was CSGO and we attended Dreamhack in Denver, CO and EMajors in Boston, MA. My learning curve is huge in gaming itself, but what I knew I had the opportunity to do with these trips is to show JJ the importance of developing networking skills and practicing presenting himself. We had a great trip and his big moment was getting to give his business card to one of the managers for his favorite CSGO team Astralis (yes, they are a Danish pro team). Since those trips JJ has switched his game platform as it proved difficult to get involved with a 5 person team where schedules meshed enough to practice and play. Fortnite made some changes around this time and the appeal to JJ was the ability to play solo's and duo's, so he was mostly on his own time schedule and able to develop into a competitive player quicker.
Last Spring JJ set his summer goal of 300 wins in Fornite. Sounds easy, but it's not. JJ was determined and had a plan. In addition to his gaming JJ also had swim team practices and meets and a 3 week summer camp (sleep away). By the end of the summer JJ surpassed his goal and had over 400+ wins and was ranked here in North Carolina.
Over the summer JJ and my wife helped the JJ's school (Bradford) technology teacher, Tom Richardson, put on Fortnite Tournaments as fundraisers for the new technology lab the school was putting together. JJ's teacher is very supportive of JJ's goals and saw the opportunity to help JJ develop so he offered JJ a job for the school year helping to run two afternoon gaming clubs, Fortnite and Minecraft. Additionally, with the help of another parent, Tom Richardson started an eSports Varsity team approved and officially the Bradford Bear's entered two teams (Rainbow 6 and Fortnite) to the Fall Majors in HSEL (High School eSports League). HSEL not only provides the platform for the high school varsity eSports play is a portal to college recruiters looking for players to add to their collegiate eSports level teams. JJ played on both of the schools fall teams and the Rainbow 6 team was only 1 point away from qualifying for playoffs while with Fortnite JJ and over 430 players, JJ made it to playoffs and places second. A great start for his first official competition.