“We’re not [going to] give up the throne, and we’re here to stay. [We] will make Viridis Arcus (VA) even stronger,” expresses Xavier “xavi8k” Juan, VA’s captain who helped secure a successful three-peat campaign in the last AcadArena’s University Alliance Cup (UAC) in October.
Juan, who put on a show by demonstrating his stellar aim and shotcalling throughout the competition, was also crowned the UAC season’s Most Valuable Player, tallying 99 kills and 18 assists.
These achievements no longer surprise xavi8k, who continues to prove that he is in a league of his own. Following his signing with BREN Esports—a Philippine-based, Southeast Asian professional esports organization—Juan aims to further expand his skill set and to make a breakthrough in the international gaming scene.
The pressure of completing a three-peat can be a tall order to accomplish. However, VA has proven time and time again that experience and chemistry go a long way in the face of adversity—helping them maintain a winning culture. “We have more experience than most of the collegiate teams since we’re back-to-back champions and most of us have professional experience already,” says Juan. “Mechanically, we probably have the best aim in the collegiate scene, and they trust my calls [as the in-game leader],” he adds.
The captain shares that VA is determined to remain on top of the collegiate level tourneys for years to come, “We want to go for a four-peat [in] the next AcadArena season, which is in three or four months.”
In addition to Valorant, xavi8k hopes that other VA teams playing for Mobile Legends, Call of Duty Mobile, and Wild Rift tournaments can achieve the same level of success in the organization. “I want to give opportunities [to] up-and-coming esports players,” he furthers.
Breaking the stigma
Amid esports’ growing popularity, Juan feels that esports is being “accepted” now, trumping the stereotype that video games are solely played for leisure. “Diba dati the stigma was [esports is for] patapon [people], or [that] it’s useless. Pero now the scene is big na and people can actually make a living out of it,” Juan points out.
(Before, the stigma surrounding esports was that they were only for wayward people and that gaming was useless.)
Sharing more about his experience in dealing with the stigma, Juan admits that it was difficult to devote time to his passion at first, “Growing up, my parents didn’t like it when I would play video games all day, and they never understood what a video game truly means to us [players].”
Luckily, his parents came around, despite being accustomed to their generation’s norms. “When they noticed I had potential, they actually put the effort into learning about esports, the games I play, and [gave] their full support,” xavi8k stresses.
Reaching a new status
As a college student entering the professional esports scene, such a decision could be inadvisable for some. However, Juan believes that it could actually lead to multiple opportunities down the road.
Similar to UAAP athletes that bring glory and honor to the University’s name, xavi8k explains, “A lot of grit and effort is [essential] for both [types of athletes]. From having set times to practice with your team, to having discipline to improve on your own, [we all] definitely bring our best foot forward in [what] we do.”
To those who wish to enter the competitive environment of esports, Juan advises those who “have the potential” but are too afraid of not making the cut to just try out. “Try out for your college esports team and then start from there. You just need experience naman talaga eh. Don’t be scared to try,” he offers.
Above all, Juan is devoted to delivering success for the school, deeply rooted in his hard work and perseverance as an esports athlete. He mentions, “It brings a lot of pride to carry the name of the school as we compete with other universities as well.” To continuously dominate the competition, Juan states that “the winning and growth mindset must always be there.”
Given his raw talent, xavi8k admits that his professional stint with BREN serves as a “stepping stone” for a possible career overseas. But he brings up that while one pursues a professional career in the industry, one cannot be reliant solely on their skills in esports. In fact, he encourages student athletes to remain focused on their studies.
Many young students across the Philippines—and across the globe—enjoy video games, especially Valorant. But with Juan’s story, esports continues to prove that it can be a lucrative career path that comes with joy and excitement. As long as you have your responsibilities in check, gamers who dare to dream can succeed and make a name for themselves.