Juan "jschritte" Passos appreciates the little things in life.
He has no other choice, actually.
It wasn't long ago that jschritte was a professional Heroes of the Storm player until Activision Blizzard, the game's publisher, pulled the plug on the competitive scene at the end of 2018, sending hundreds into unemployment in a moment's notice.
Everything that jschritte had worked for was gone. He was left wondering what to do with his life but knew there would be a light at the end of the dark and ominous tunnel.
"When there is struggle, when there are problems and everything is hard, you know how to appreciate the good things when they happen," said jschritte in a phone conversation with InvenGlobal.
One of the "good things" in 2019 came when jschritte stumbled upon Teamfight Tactics (TFT), an auto-chess title by Riot Games, that he quickly picked up and, through hundreds of hours of practice, became one of the best players in the world at. Currently, he possesses three accounts ranked in the top 0.01% of players and managed to sign a contract with Cloud9 as one of their official professional TFT players.
When he caught wind of a $75,000 TFT tournament taking place at TwitchCon in California over the weekend, he knew he had to participate. The problem? Well, he wasn't invited and didn't plan on going until the last moment. Literally.
"I wasn't sure that I could play because (a member of Twitch's team) on his Twitter like four or eight hours before the event started asking if somebody wanted to play. I think they had like six open slots or something like that. I talked to him and I said, 'What if somehow I go there and have a ticket? Can you make sure I'm going to play?' And he said, 'Yeah, sure. But you have to make sure that you have a TwitchCon ticket and a flight ticket.' And that's when everything started."
Focus through experience
As jschritte was not formally invited to the TFT tournament, he had to fight his way through the Open Lobby of players to even make it on the main stage for the grand finals. Over the course of the event, he played eight games in total. His worst finish was 4th place and he came in 1st five times against some of the best players in the world.
For him, it was business as usual. He may as well have been playing in his living room he was so calm.
"The last four years I have played Heroes of the Storm globally. Specifically the last four games I hear the sound (of the crowd) but it does not influence my game. I can only see my screen and I was 100% focused. It does not matter who I was playing against."
That includes some of not only the most well-known gaming personalities in the world (such as William "scarra" Li and Jeremy "DisguisedToast" Wang) but players whose skills are legendary as well (David "Dog" Caero and Rumay "Hafu" Wang."
When the grand finals match began, jschritte stuck to his training and played what was given to him, which just so happened to be a team composition he was very, very comfortable with.
As numerous players were piloting team compositions focused on Knights, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers, he forced what no one else was playing and made the plays that gave himself, in his eyes, the highest probability of winning.
"The thing about TFT is that you could force a comp that nobody else is playing and I knew that if I force the Akali comp that the probability of winning was high."
The strength of the composition is its' flexibility and ability to adapt under any circumstances.
"How you can transition with this comp is crazy. Due to how the meta has changed, your early game is not so impactful so you can make so much money and in the mid-game you can build a Zed which is a great carry until the late game. You literally just need Zed with Infinity Edge and Infinity Edge and it is enough. You need some Knights to block some damage but Zed is going to make sure you're going to be fine until the late game until you find Akali. if you don't find Akali you can make Rengar your carry or put some meat on Pyke. You can adapt so easily with this comp."
As the game progressed, jschritte found himself heads up against Hafu for all the glory. While players don't have complete control over their units, jschritte knew how he could manage to take home first place.
"I have played with and against that Draven comp so many times that I knew the only way it could win was if it killed one of my carries. I positioned my carries so that they would jump onto Draven to kill him."
And they did, earning him over $16,000 and thousands of new social media followers. All eyes were on him in the TFT world.
Remembering his roots
Once the dust had settled and jschritte was crowned Twitch Rivals champion, he made sure to thank all of those who helped him get to where he is now. Not only in the post-match interview at the event but for hours after the tournament ended as he laid awake in his hotel room, still shaking in excitement.
With over 10,000 new followers on Twitter, his inbox became flooded with messages and support. Jschritte ensured that each person who reached out to him knew they were appreciated.
"It doesn't matter how long it takes. If I need to respond to 1,000 people, I'm going to answer 1,000 people. I specifically talked to my mom. She is the best thing for me and was really happy."
The native Brazilian even made sure that his entire country knew that his victory was for them.
"I talk about this with everyone. When Brazil goes out and plays something, whether it be Counter-Strike or anything else, they bring their country with them. When we have big results I want people to know that this is for Brazil. I'm really happy to play for Cloud9 and represent for all the Cloud9 fans but I still have to represent for the Brazil fans. It is really important for me and I think for everyone in Brazil is like this."
When asked what he plans on doing now that he has been crowned champion, Passos says his life won't change too much, even if more eyeballs will be on him now.
"I'm going to get home and get back to practicing. I know there are a lot of good players that will be practicing and training every day so I'm going to go home and focus on myself. It is my job, it is my career and this everything that I do now."
Tim Rizzo is the editor and a reporter for Inven Global. He joined the company back in 2017.