Chasing Cars — Dogman’s quest for success above adversity
The arid state of Arizona—where the dust and sand stand in beautiful juxtaposition to the Pacific Ocean almost less than a state away. In a strange way, Arizona’s regal mountains and trench-like canyons are symbolic of life. At some points in your life, you will stand atop the apex of mountains and, sadly, in others you will meet the generous hand of despair. These handful of natural wonders act as the old stomping grounds to one of Overwatch esports aspiring talents.
Hailing from Arizona, Dusttin "Dogman" Bowerman knew these same canyons and mountains, but he knew them as home. The Overwatch hopeful was fond of gaming ever since he was young, as it was an oasis of entertainment to escape the dry heat of the Summer months.
“I focused on being an athlete as a kid and although I played console games when I was younger, it was never more than casually.” Dogman seemed to open up at the question in regards to where his competitive drive came from. “The competitive spirit derived from playing in a Soccer club, or a Basketball team. Whatever it was, I always competed. It was less esports that called to me and more my competitive nature that did.” Long nights of Warcraft 3 and League of Legends dance as tantalizing memories as he slogged throughout high school. Even before the age of 18, he knew where he wanted to be.
With the explosion of the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) and the ever growing popularity of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) commanding the market of his mental real estate, Dogman knew that he had to find his game—his niche that he could excel at, but nothing seemed to “click.” MOBA’s weren’t his scene, and with countless hours spent in Counter-Strike, it seemed like he was treading water.
In July, he competed with team ELevate in the ESL Atlantic Showdown Qualifiers and the Beyond the Summit Overwatch Cup Week 2. That August, he competed in the Overwatch Open: North American Regional Qualifiers with the team, Sea Algae. This ultimately lead into the Overwatch Open: North American Regionals where the team floundered out at 13-15th place. This happened all the while his studies were put on the back-burner.
What could one or two missed assignments matter?
Dogman practiced diligently throughout the summer and autumn to compete in the Overwatch Winter Premier Qualifiers. His new venture with team Citizen7 looked to carve out a space within the top teams. They qualified, but failed to win a single map during the playoff stages and dropped out at 8th place. His determination was something to be not only admired, but applauded. I posed this quote to him and wanted to get his initial reactions, “No one is born a writer. You must become a writer. In fact, you never cease becoming, because you never stop learning how to write. Even now, I am becoming a writer. And so are you.” — (Joe Bunting)
Dogman and Jamerson casting the Tespa Collegiate Series.
Even though writing was not his profession, he got the jist of what I was attempting to get across. “I believe the quote to be very true. As a player, even if I know I'm good, I'll continue to focus on every mistake I'm making. Every tiny thing I do wrong I'll make sure I notice.”
He continued, “For casting it's a bit different for me. For example, in playing I finely tune my play, but in casting I'm taking very large strokes. There are so many things I need to learn in order to be a great caster. I feel like in my career as a player I need to just climb my way back up in teams. I don't feel like I can individually improve to a level I want to be at, unless I have a team that can do it with me. There will always be a part of me that focuses on my mistakes, I think accepting that I need to and will always learn more makes me a better player.”
That same determination and drive paid off when he joined Spylce Gaming and took home victories during Rivalcade Weekly #7 and 8. This success continued after Spylce as the core of that same Overwatch roster went on to form the extremely passionate team; Kungarna. Kungarna as a team showed confidence and exceeded expectations which netted them a 3rd place finish at Overwatch Rumble - May and during Overwatch Contenders Season Zero. Everything seemed to be looking up for Dogman.
One restless Summer evening in 2017, he opened up to the world.
His tell-all post, which shed some light on his personal situation, was not only brave, but a bit inspiring. After dropping out of university, the stress of pursuing a career in a field which was incredibly volatile put pressure on his relationship with his family. That Summer, Dogman was kicked out, but in the face of all of that, he continued to press forward with his dreams. Reading this, it made me recall a video I had recently watched where legendary Star Wars actor, Mark Hamill, spoke to the Oxford Union Society last March. Mr. Hamill’s words succinctly summed up my feelings while reading Dogman’s post.
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“If you can’t talk someone out of show business, they probably have a pretty good chance of making it, ‘cause sometimes I think tenacity is almost more important than talent, it’s equally important for sure.”
— Mark Hamill
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“I definitely try and use getting kicked out as a motivating factor. It's taken a few major events for me to learn and appreciate growth and moving on.” His words were sincere. He continued, “Besides getting kicked out, I also was kicked out of my own team I created a few months back. I was extremely cocky and to be frank, a ‘giant ass’ to my teammates back then. However, with all major life changes, you learn and move on … unless you're, dumb I suppose. Hopefully I can prove to my parents one day, I made the right choice. It's definitely a huge motivator.”
Dogman now runs a wildly successful podcast titled, “The Ultimate Advantage” and is pursuing a career in casting. Dogman now shares the casting desk with the likes of James "Jamerson" Lee and Seamus “Seamoose” Anderson as they commentate over the Tespa Collegiate Series.
Would Dogman be trading in his keyboard and mouse for a suit coat and fancy lapel pins anytime soon? “Heck no. I still think I can be the best support flex in the world. I just need to be in a position to prove it. Plenty of people believe in me, but most of all, I believe in me. I don't think there's someone that I can't be better than. Sure, they may be ‘better’ than me now. But mark my words: when I get into a powerful team I will prove I'm the best. I'm no where near my last leg; this journey of playing has only just begun.”
The Ultimate Advantage Podcast, Episode 5 featuring Muma, Mendo, and Boink.
Taking another daring leap of faith had to have been quite the decision. I followed up asking him how the journey from player to caster has been thus far. “For me, I've always been interested in casting. You sometimes hear flawed logic from casters/analysts and for the most part you think you could do a better job yourself. I just took it into my own hands and started reaching out to casters/analysts. In Overwatch, no one is taking the path that I want to take that I can tell. The only people that come to mind is Reinforce—who wants to be a desk analyst—and Flame—who also, is a desk analyst. Both haven't dipped into casting and I really want to be known for being a good caster as well as player.”
He continued, “So people not only understand what I'm saying is quality information, but is also said in a way that is easy to understand. That said, people who are successful in one field, usually can replicate that same success elsewhere due to their inherent nature of good work ethic and a vast amount of tenacity. Did the drive to compete bleed over into what looks like to be a promising casting career? “They intersect in a lot if ways. As mentioned previously, I always feel like I can do a better job than someone else. And for the most part, I feel like as a caster, I could bring so much more to the job than pretty much every caster.”
He elaborated on his point further, “There's so many things I could point out that they don't notice or can't even elaborate on in a timely fashion because they don't think that way. I feel like that aspect of me carried over from playing. I always feel like I can do something better or bring something more than the next guy. And all it takes is an opening and an opportunity for me to play professionally or cast in the Overwatch League and people will notice the difference.”
This is just simply another competition to Dogman and he is here to earn the gold. His edge? Being a former player, he knows what it’s like to lose, he knows what defeat tastes like, and he continuously uses that fear of failure to propel him forward in esports and in life in general.
As a Overwatch esports veteran I asked him for some general advice that could speak to the esports novice in all of us and his reply was not only graceful, but mature. “Even if I'm ‘established’ I still don't feel like I've made it. I would say, never feel satisfied or complacent. If you do, you start to get worse at what you do and slowly decay. Keep active and continue to strive for a goal even if you've ‘made it’”. His answer reminded me of one of the more memorable quotes from the late Steve Jobs, “stay hungry, stay foolish.” To stay at the top, you must be willing to consistently learn and evolve, all the while removing the governor off of your comfort zone.
Everyone has bad days, everyone faces adversity. The trick is to not tread water, much like a dog might run up and down a fence line, in a futile effort of chasing cars. Dogman has transcended and refused to accept this cliche as a mental reality. Dogman’s canines have securely latched onto the proverbial Overwatch fender and he is not letting go.
At the end of our time together, I asked Dogman if he could give himself some advice at the beginning of his journey, what would he say to himself? “I probably wouldn't say anything.” He chuckled, “Every mistake I've made, every decision I've made, was something I would not wish to alter. If I said something to myself, it could possibly not have the same impact as me learning first hand. I'm very much the type of guy that needs to fail first to then get up and do it again.”
That same defiance is why he is still here today, grinding for the opportunity to chase his dreams within Overwatch esports and the Overwatch League.
Joseph “Volamel” Franco has followed esports since the MLG’s of 2006. He started out primarily following Starcraft 2, Halo 3, and Super Smash Bros. Melee. He has transitioned from viewer to journalist and writes freelance primarily about Overwatch and League of Legends. If you would like to know more or follow his thoughts on esports you can follow him at @Volamel.
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment.