“I Gave Myself One Year.” : Overwatch Streamer Nathan “KarQ” Chan Talks Esports, Streaming, and Getting into the Scene

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“I Gave Myself One Year.” : Overwatch Streamer Nathan “KarQ” Chan Talks Esports, Streaming, and Getting into the Scene

Overwatch player and streamer Nathan “KarQ” Chan sat down with ESTNN and talked about his exposure to esports, going pro and drops some tidbits for younger players for their journey in esports.

Overwatch player and Twitch streamer Nathan “KarQ” Chan has once again been elected as Team Canada’s community lead for this year’s Overwatch World Cup. Working with Team Canada alongside him are Justin “Jayne” Conroy, who is the team’s general manager, as well as Louis “Tikatee” Lebel-Wong, who is also currently an assistant coach for Dallas Fuel. 

On top of being the community lead for Team Canada, KarQ is a streamer for the Overwatch League team Toronto Defiant. Additionally, he often attends industry events like OverActive Media’s presentation of Esports: The Modern Cultural Revolution. 

Despite his busy schedule, KarQ sat down with ESTNN to share his esports journey and his thoughts on the growing industry as a whole. 

What Initially inspired you to get into esports? Were there games that you played growing up that you really enjoyed?

I grew up playing a lot of games on the PS4. My favorite game was actually Runescape, and that kind of got me started in gaming. I actually got an auto-clicker in Runescape. I was doing Alchemy, and I kind of got really bored one night and I really needed to get it done, but I really didn't want to click all the time, so I set that up. It was actually the fact that I got penalized in Runescape for breaking a the rules that opened me up to play other games like Call of Duty

When I first learned about Overwatch, it was a few years ago. I bought it and I started playing it for about six months. I was working a couple of part-time jobs, and while I was in school, I was just playing Overwatch for fun. Six months later, I was like, ‘You know what? I like making videos as a hobby. I’ll just make some videos for fun.’

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I put a couple of them up and got a few views and it’s hard when you first upload on YouTube. I shared it on Reddit and it slowly started snowballing from there. One day, I woke up to the YouTube algorithm that just picked up the video and I kind of worked it off that. 

Over time, I've used the audience I've built up on YouTube to stream on Twitch, because you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket, and here we are two years later.

How would you describe your experience with school and gaming at the same time? 

In university, I was playing a lot of League of Legends. I started skipping a lot of classes and I wasn’t the greatest student, but for me, my heart really wasn’t in school. I especially had to convince my mom. She grew up here, she raised me here, and the expectation is to finish postgraduate studies. So my goal was just to finish, but I didn't really have any plans beyond that. So I kind of did just enough to get by. The balance between school and gaming wasn’t really there. There was no balance, but I’m so grateful to have gotten to where I am today.

On that note, what was that process of convincing others of your pursuit in esports and Overwatch like? What was a challenge you had to overcome?

Whenever you tell your parents you want to do something, a lot of time, they‘re always looking out for you. They’re looking out for your best interests, they only want the best for you. 

No matter how many times I’ve told them that I wanted to be a singer, I wanted to be whatever, they’ll always be like, ‘Yeah, yeah. You should also study this because it’s reliable.’

It actually took the YouTube audience and comments to get to my mom to see that I was really good with what I was doing. She read the comments and saw the videos of me and saw comments like, ‘This is amazing, keep making more, keep making videos, don’t stop, I love your videos.’ When she saw other people’s feedback, she said, ‘Okay, this is really cool.’

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How would you describe your experience with gaming and esports when you’re comparing them between the past and today?

I think for gaming, now that the industry is booming, it’s a lot more reasonable. At the start, though, I don't think everybody goes into it wanting to be a professional player or YouTuber. These are jobs that kind of popped up as the industry evolved. 

The market now is a lot more accessible. Everybody now has a laptop or a smartphone or a computer. Everybody has access, and that form of accessibility means everybody is looking for videos to watch.

About fifteen years ago, I remember doing a project, and I was like, ‘Can you save this to your computer?’ And the other kid didn’t have a computer. That was in 2002, 2003. A lot of families do now. Accessibility has really changed the game.

What is some advice you have for the aspiring player or individuals who are interested in getting involved with gaming and esports? 

I think it goes for any major industry, like for music and acting. I think it starts as a hobby, a passion. It’s always good to have a reasonable backup plan but work towards your passion as well. Hopefully, one day, you can turn it into a sustainable career. 

There’s always this saying ‘If you don’t give 100 percent of all your effort, then what’s the point?’ I think I agree with that, but it’s always good to be reasonable and maybe have a plan to fall back on. 

I actually set aside for myself one year, and told my mom I would put my full-time job aside and try this YouTube and Twitch thing.  ‘Give me about a year,” I told her, ‘and if, within a year, everything is declining and there’s no progress made and I cannot sustain myself, I'll go back to the job.’ 

Esports and gaming is a once in a lifetime thing. There are opportunities, and I think you should take them. 

What’s next for you?

I’m trying to work with Overwatch for as long as humanly possible. A lot of people did give me their concerns like, ‘What happens if Overwatch dies?’ and I’m like, ‘I’ll worry about that when the time comes.’ I’ll just keep working at it, be part of the active community, keep on streaming, producing content, and getting feedback.

Image VIA: KarQ

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Amy Chen
Amy is an esports journalist and enthusiast who specializes in in-depth interviews and breaking news. A recent University of Toronto and Humber College graduate, she is passionate about building up the Canadian esports industry.