Sitting in front of your PC and playing videogames for a living; the bright lights of the microscopically high-res monitor, the silky onscreen movement caused by invisibly high framerates - a necessity in the twitchy, mercurial world of eSports where every microsecond counts. It’s a dream job for gamers Who knows, maybe one day you’ll even get your own Rocky-esque training montage video, showing you doing rigorous hand-stretching exercises and moving your mouse 150 times a minute.
A flight of fancy, maybe, but the reality isn’t that far off. Rocket League pro Sebastian Adamatazky (aka ‘Sebadam’) is yet to do the eSports equivalent of running up the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but with him only being 17, there’s plenty of time for that yet. In conjunction with HP and their Omen gaming laptops, we profiled Sebadam on his journey to becoming an eSports pro.
Leading a double-life worthy of a DC comic hero, Sebadam is a 17-year-old A-level student by day, but a pro Rocket League player by night (well, ‘by evening’ on schoolnights, but allow the hyperbole).
With Sports and eSports relying on comparable levels of competitiveness and mental fortitude, it’s unsurprising that Sebadam was a sporty kid, participating in Tae-Kwon-Do, Tennis and Football (foreshadowing his talent for Rocket League, perhaps?). A knee injury put paid to his athletic ambitions however, leaving him time—and a great excuse—to pursue his main passion, video-games, at every opportunity. In his own words, he was “always more of a gamer”.
Sebadam’s love of gaming was nurtured by his brother’s vast (and pirated, tsk-tsk) games library that he’d regularly dip into. He quickly discovered that the competitive rush of multiplayer compelled him far more than single-player games, and after a stint as a 7-year-old with World of Warcraft (during which he confesses he had no clue what he was doing), he moved onto Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike: Source and Garry’s Mod.
The ragdolls and realism of the Source engine fascinated Sebadam, and the role of the Spy in TF2 awoke in him an interest in the psychological aspects of multiplayer: “I had a ton of fun making the opponent think that I was going to do one thing and then turning around and doing another”, he says. “The mind-games in particular were very interesting to me”.
MOBAs came next, and during a five-year affair with League of Legends, Sebadam got his first appetiser of eSports glory at the age of 14, when he swept to victory in a local 1-v-1 LAN tournament. This, along with his self-declared superiority over his pals when they played together, helped Sebadam realise he had a knack for this gaming malarkey, and could play them at a higher level. It was just a case of finding the right one...
Breakthrough in Rocket League
Sebadam’s talents and reflexes found their perfect vehicle with the release of Rocket League in 2015. Drawn to the game’s precise ball physics (that reminded him of a simple online browser game he used to play called Soccer Heads), Sebadam jumped straight into the unforgiving arena of 1-v-1 Rocket League, where every little mistake could lead to a goal conceded.
He was a natural, and before long Sebadam started hitting the top 100 regularly and winning small 1-v-1 tournaments, steadily moving onto bigger stages as he continued beating players ranked well above him. When he started winning North American $50 tournaments—despite his constant underdog status and poor ping - he began to look in earnest for ways to go pro. “Even if it is said that it's easier for the underdog to win, these victories still required a great deal of confidence on my part,” he says. “With that, it showed that I had the competitive mental mindset needed to compete at the top levels—especially as I was having fun every step of the way”.
While searching for a team to play in the third Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS 3), Sebadam went on trial with Rocket League veterans Doomsee and Bluey for a couple of tournaments. They clicked, and quickly took him on for the long haul. A couple of months later, the trio were picked up by Team Infused to compete in the Gfinity Elite Series. So far, they’ve been runners-up at Insomnia 61 and the Mock-It Championship Series, have ranked 7th in the Gfinity power rankings for Europe, and have won a number of smaller tournaments.
The Training Regimen
You’d think that becoming an eSports athlete would mean committing more time to a game than ever, but for Sebadam it’s (marginally) the other way round. Where before turning pro, he would play Rocket League for 3-5 hours on schoolnights and 7-8 hours on weekends, now it’s 3-4 hours and 6 hours respectively—when he’s not preparing for tournaments, that is...
But in tournament mode, things heat up. In the buildup to competitions, Sebadam and his teammates compete in daily tournaments every day, and after every match they carry out an in-depth replay review of where their tactics could improve, particularly scrutinising each goal that they concede. “With the team I made for RLCS 2, Summit, we would do a replay review for up to two hours every Saturday before the RLCS game on Sunday,” he says. “We’d visualise what went wrong, bullet-point what we need to work on, then focus on those things for the future”.
Becoming master of your craft requires sacrifice, and these days Sebadam has no time for movies, TV shows or books. He will, however, kick back with other online games when not knee-deep in Rocket League. Town of Salem, H1Z1, and everyone’s Hunger-Game of the moment, Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds are his current ‘relaxation’ games… because nothing puts you in a Zen state like competing in a 100-person Last Man Standing showdown armed only with a frying pan...
At the tender age of 17, Sebadam is still a ‘Hot Prospect’, as Football Manager would put it. But with many eSports competitors retiring by 25 due to its exceptional demand for laser-sharp reflexes, it’s a career path where the end is never too far over the horizon.
Sebadam believes he still has some way to go before reaching his peak and isn’t contemplating retirement any time soon, but when he hangs up the proverbial gloves - or puts the proverbial controller down on the proverbial desk - for the last time, he wants to stay involved in eSports, possibly as a wise old pundit who can share valuable insights from his years of experience as a pro. “I couldn’t continue enjoying eSports only as a fan because I love being a part of it all,” he muses. “eSports is growing in a big way right now, so it’s a perfect time to be involved at all levels”. HP know that as well as anyone, which is why they’re supporting eSports with their Omen gaming laptop range - a piece of kit worthy of any eSport athlete’s training bag.