Chase “BBJ” Dixon’s path in esports is similar to that of many others who try to make it in the industry, but a few twists have made him successful.
His drive to win at all costs, struggle for his family to understand that video games can be a career choice and tribulations that arise from dedicating time and effort into a passion only to come up short are all relatable.
What is unique about Chase is the level of success he has found as the Support player for one of North America’s best Heroes of the Storm teams, HeroesHearth Esports. Another x-factor in his journey is a woman named Elizabeth or “Libby”, as she prefers.
Libby and BBJ’s bond goes far enough that she was willing to fly out to Europe to watch him compete at the Mid-Season Brawl event in Sweden last month even though she, admittedly, has only a rough understanding of the game he’s playing.
Libby is Chase’s mom, a parent to a professional esports’ player who has enabled her son to follow his dream, regardless if it’s one she can’t truly wrap her head around.
All too common in the esports industry is the scenario where a teenager approaches their parents about their passion to pursue professional gaming as a career versus attending college only to be met with confusion, rejection and a decision to make. Do they continue to follow their heart with the hopes of their parents coming around someday or listen to their guardians, putting their dream on hold?
BBJ chose door number one and hit the esports lottery both on the stage and at home.
I got the opportunity to speak with Libby and Chase in Sweden where we discussed the decision to let a child live out his dream, the rise from anonymity to globally known and what an esports family looks and sounds like.
What did you expect Chase’s future would hold based off the type of kid he was?
Libby: He was very smart, especially with math and he was pretty social growing up and he was into a lot of sports. He has an older brother who is three years older so I probably let (Chase) play PlayStation just a little too early. Slowly and slowly in high school, all of a sudden, he was trying to play League of Legends and he was telling me he didn’t want to go away to college. I was like, we go to college, that’s what we do, the money is there. His brother went to Penn. State, I went to college and he was trying to explain to me that, “I don’t think this is my path and I’m going to try to become a pro video gamer.”
I didn’t understand anything about it so, finally, I went online to see if he was really any good because how would I know? He was trying to become pro at League which he wasn’t able to be picked up by a team for, then, all of a sudden, he started playing Heroes of the Storm for HeroesHearth and I thought, “Well, I might as well support it, you know? What’s the worst thing that could happen? You can always go away to college eventually.” I then decided that I’m going to learn as much as I can and we, the family, get excited about it. His brother’s best friend also lives with us and we watch it together as a family on the TV, screaming and yelling, even when I’m traveling.
So you actually understand what’s going on within the game?
Libby: Sort of and it’s been two years.
How much do you think traveling to Sweden for this event means to him?
Libby: Everything. A year ago he was on a different team, LFM and were dominant in the Open Division but then lost and didn’t even get to play in the Crucible. He was devastated and then instead of deciding to keep the team together, he reached out to Khroen who got kicked from GFE and McIntyre and they started to put a team together. Ishb00 and Chase were on the same team together previously so it all fell together.
What does seeing your son play in a global event on a big stage mean to you as a mom?
Libby: I’m so proud and excited for him. He’s living his dream. This is such a fabulous dream and he’s able to do it, it’s amazing.
“You should be at school, you should be working, I wish I could say I was on the bandwagon early but I wasn’t.”
When he was going through those tough times in his playing career did you ever push him towards returning to college as that backup plan?
Libby: Oh yes. You should be at school, you should be working, I wish I could say I was on the bandwagon early but I wasn’t. He had to wear me down and he did but I just decided to learn about it for him. We talk about the stuff he’s learning and I ask about the game and he tries explaining it to me. It’s amazing what they do as a team. The communication, not being mad when things don’t go well, they just say, “Oh, we’re just learning.” This team has such a great attitude. I love this team, they’re phenomenal.
Do you have any advice out there for any parents whose kids want to become pro gamers but are hesitant just like you were?
Libby: Just because we don’t understand it, doesn’t mean this isn’t a possibility, right? If your kid says they want to play minor league baseball, you let them. This is the same thing. Let them live their dream and support them.
To state the obvious, “BBJ” isn’t your real name and the longer version is even more interesting. Where did you get the idea to have this title be your gamertag?
BBJ: The long-form is “b1gbabiejesus.” I was playing Xbox Live when I was maybe 11 and my brother came down and said “Make your username Big Baby Jesus” and I thought, “Hey, that’s pretty good.” It’s a reference to ODB who is a Wu-Tang Clan rapper and since we’re from Chicago, we’re hip-hop kids as that’s the area.
“Hey, do your homework. Stop doing that (stuff).” Now it’s kind of like, “Wow, you’re actually going to Poland, Sweden, you’re actually in front of a crowd and you’re on TV in a way.”
Your mom said your influence in video games started when she probably let you play PlayStation when you were a little too young. Is that how your love for the industry began?
BBJ: [Laughs] Yeah, we would play PlayStation 1 with Spyro and those old games like Q*bert, I really liked that one. I remember my mom would even play a bit. We moved to PlayStation 2 and GameCube but those were kind of cartooney games then we got an Xbox when I was in 3rd or 4th grade and I was all about Halo. It took off from there.
How would you describe your family’s support for your gaming when you were a kid compared to now?
BBJ: Gaming when I was younger was kind of like, “Hey, do your homework. Stop doing that (stuff).” Now it’s kind of like, “Wow, you’re actually going to Poland, Sweden, you’re actually in front of a crowd and you’re on TV in a way.” Pretty much everyone is pretty supportive.
It’s cool to see your family taking an interest in your career so much so that your mom said she has tried learning Heroes after your transition into that from League. That’s not particularly common among gaming parents.
BBJ: Yeah, my mom and my brother’s best friend who has been living with us for a few years has been watching every game every weekend and they didn’t know exactly what was happening but they’d get very, very into it. They’d be standing up and yelling at the TV. It was pretty...interesting.
What was their reaction when you told them you’d be going to out to Sweden and bringing your mom with you?
BBJ: They knew that if we won the playoff match that we would be going to Sweden and they were watching in the other room. We were down 1-2 in that series and it was the final 2-2 match and they heard me yelling after we won but they thought I was yelling bad things because we lost. As the stream was on a two-minute delay, I walked into the other room and saw them react to the game and they were freaking out. It was pretty fun.
You grew up with a traditional sports background then transitioned into esports. When did your energy shift gears from one realm to another?
BBJ: I’ve always been very competitive in pretty much everything that I do as me and my brother are competitive individuals. We don’t like to lose, at all, especially to each other. I played football until sophomore year and junior year I was like, “Eh, I’m not going to play on Varsity and I’m not trying to ride the bench so I’ll work this summer.” I started to get more and more into video games at that time then I was like, “Well, I’m watching people play on a TV screen and they’re pretty good and if I try hard I could be just as good, if not even better, so, why not be competitive about it?”
"When we lose to something we don’t say, “Oh, what they did was stupid,” we say, “Wow, they did this and this really well. We should learn from that and copy it.”
When the HeroesHearth roster was assembled, what was your original expectations for how you guys would perform at the time?
BBJ: It’s kind of hard to tell how good you are when you’re going through the Open Division but then we started to scim against HGC (Heroes Global Championship) teams. I know Roll20 we were scrimming a lot against and that was when they were dominating HGC teams and we were very competitive against them in scrims. We thought, “Alright, when we get into HGC, we’re not going to be last place like everyone might expect an Open team to.”
Admittedly, it isn’t easy being in Open Division financially, psychologically, etc. Was there ever a time when you just wanted to give Heroes up and go back to school or get a “real job?”
BBJ: After me and ishb00 lost to Even in Death for LFM I thought, “Well, I could go back to part-time work and college and play video games a bit but not really put all of my time into it,” but then I decided that I still think I’m good enough and better than some of the Support players in HGC then. I figured I’d give it another six months and lucky I got a really good roster to play the next six months with and we’ve gone from there.
As a squad you’ve quickly progressed from Open Division to HGC to Western Clash and now Mid-Season Brawl, why have you done so well as a team?
BBJ: We’re all very passionate. Everybody does not like losing and we make sure to put a lot of effort into it to ensure that we don’t lose. When we do lose, we learn from it very well. When we lose to something we don’t say, “Oh, what they did was stupid,” we say, “Wow, they did this and this really well. We should learn from that and copy it.”
Looking back on it, how would you describe your performing at Mid-Season Brawl in terms of the Group Play and live event?
BBJ: Group Play was...interesting because we went 2-0 on the first day, which we kind of expected but we didn’t know how good they would be. We then took one map off Tempest the next day, which, I think, got our expectations higher than we had at the start because if we went down 0-2 to Tempest I think we would have been like, “Alright, that’s fine. We’ll just work harder for these next games,” but 1-1-ing them made us think we could/should top-2 this group. It made coming in fourth in our group, which was our goal coming into Group Play, feel kind of worse in a way. Once we got in the Loser’s Bracket we felt like we were playing with house money so any wins were gravy.
When do you feel the mentality of the North American region shifted to where being competitive wasn’t something that was hoped for but expected?
BBJ: Western Clash really helped us when we were taking games off of Tempo Storm and Europe and us getting decently far. It made us feel like, “Alright, the European teams aren’t that much further ahead of us and we don’t think that they are much further ahead of Korea.” It came down to us focusing on minor improvements every day and we can take down the best.
You’ve progressed very rapidly within North America, what’s the future hold for you guys?
BBJ: We have our eyes set on that number one auto-bid for BlizzCon, for sure. That’s the goal. If we can auto-bid and not have to worry about playoff stress and then just practice really hard going into BlizzCon, that’d be ideal.
Tim Rizzo is the editor and a reporter for Inven Global. He joined the company back in 2017.