Boston Uprising’s Mikias Yohannes began gaming competitively when he was in sixth grade. He reached the Master League in Starcraft II, falling in love with most of Blizzard’s work, including World of WarCraft. In his sophomore year of high school, his family fell on tough times, and Yohannes eventually became homeless. This forced him to sleep in his father’s car, shower at his school’s gym, and spend a lot of his time at a church doing his homework. He repeated that routine for roughly eight months.
“During that time I was really looking for an escape from the struggles I was going through,” Yohannes tells me. “Video games were a huge part of that escape. I would go to any place that had internet to watch a bunch of videos of StarCraft II strategies and stuff. It would distract my brain from what was going on around me. I was able to be engaged with how the game was still being played.
In the following year, Blizzard announced Overwatch, and Yohannes immediately pegged it as a game he wanted to spend time with. “I was like “Okay, this game is a mix of everything I love in a game, and I want to go pro in it. When Overwatch was released, I couldn’t afford the game because my family was in a poor financial state, but I had a really good friend buy me the game on my birthday, as a surprise. I cannot be more grateful, especially looking back on it now. I played a bunch of Overwatch but was forced to play Mercy at the start because my PC was really bad. I played at 12 fps. I played Mercy on defense and Lucio on attack. That was all I played. I didn’t want to hinder my team by playing heroes like Widowmaker and McCree at 12 fps.”
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Yohannes was at a crossroads in his life, between wanting to play Overwatch professionally and giving college a shot. With a better computer to play the game on, he started to make tracks in the Overwatch competitive scene, and was placed on a team after performing well in tryouts. That team became the Renegades. He left before this identity was established to attend college to get a degree in computer science with a focus on game design.
“I tried college for about a semester, and really wasn’t enjoying myself,” he recalls. “About two months into my second semester, I slowly started to skip every class and every exam. Everything. I just played Overwatch. I was trialing with a team called Toronto Esports, and after about two months, I was lucky enough to play for them. I moved to Canada, and eventually got a try out for Boston Uprising.”
Yohannes now plays for Uprising under the name Snow, and plays Overwatch at a silky, smooth 300 frames per second. At this point, my family is in a wonderful state,” Yohannes says. “Both my mother and father are happy, and I love them both very much. They are always supporting no matter what.”