Dominic ‘Doom’ Wilson may be just 23 years of age but he's already had one existential crisis. Like most of us, he's asked himself "What does it all mean?" and what - exactly - he's doing with his life.
Though he may be young, he thinks he's already found the answer: Becoming an esports pro.
But the journey hasn't always been easy.
Only a few years ago, Dom Wilson had his head in a stack of books, reading about the human genome, taking notes about chromatin and hereditary diseases and Mendelian inheritance. Three years into his degree, he started to have doubts – an “existential crisis”, as he puts it - and took stock of where he was heading.
“I sort of realised that Uni, and what I was studying, wasn’t really my passion and wouldn’t really make me happy in life.”
Only a year early, Wilson's mum was involved in a serious accident that had debilitated her and essentially left her handicapped. The effects were profound. "From [the accident] stemmed many other illnesses and injuries which were life-threatening at some point," he explains. When we discuss his mother's battles, he brings up the fact she wanted him to make sure everyone knew he had, more than once, saved her life.
Confronting as that is, Wilson moved back into his mother's house and decided to quit his job as a waiter to help her out more - taking her to the hospital, making sure she made her appointments. The accident had changed everything and Wilson slowly began to recognise that.
The obvious changes came to his daily routines but there were other changes that he, perhaps, couldn't have predicted beforehand. He also had a lot more spare time and began to get heavily involved in playing CS:GO, which he quickly found out he had a natural talent for.
With his world turned upside down and an existential crisis under the belt, he took stock of where he was headed.
“I came to the conclusion that your life has the meaning that you attribute to it and that you should only do things that make you happy – because your happiness is paramount.”
As we speak, he pauses here, just slightly.
“From that moment on I decided to chase the dream.”
Dominic 'Doom' Wilson (left) with 'Tucks' from the Chiefs. Image: Joe Brady
'The Dream' has already started materialising. On Tuesday, Wilson appeared on renowned AFL commentator Gerard Whateley’s podcast to talk about his journey to GFinity's new city-based esports league. Yesterday, his name was up in lights at Fox Sports, one of the countries most visible and popular sporting publications. Things are starting to fall into place and he's excited to get going.
GFinity's new league, which officially kicks off on June 2, provides another avenue for Australian talent to be recognised for their skills across CS:GO, Rocket League and Street Fighter V to be on display not just to Australian audiences, but to the world.
How did Wilson get here? Earlier this year, GFinity ran their 'Challenger Series' where teams and players could compete for ranking points across three days every week. Every Sunday, Wilson would play for the 5000 points on offer, hoping that with each performance he could put himself - and his team - in a position to be drafted by one of the six city-based teams that make up GFinity's Elite Series.
"My team and I, at the end of the Challenger Series, we ranked from third to seventh. Then we got drafted all in different teams."
Wilson was picked up by the Sydney Chiefs CS:GO team and, though he doesn't expect to play in the first week of the tournament, he is buzzing about the opportunity.
"You get the experience to play in a big studio in front of people, which is not very easy to come by in Australia, and you get the benefit of playing with more experienced players."
It's obvious Wilson is confident, too. He speaks confidently and clearly and with a clear goal in mind. His skills have already been recognised in CS:GO - his current team is undefeated in the ESEA's Open CS:GO competition - so he knows what it takes to win and what GFinity could do for him.
"I'd say I'm definitely in a position to take it to the top level within six months. Especially if I do well in the games that I play - obviously that's going to have a lot of publicity and if I outperform by a mile, that's going to turn some heads."
The Dream is starting to come true.
"This is like an affirmation, I suppose," Wilson says confidently, speaking about where his skills are at right now. Then he looks further ahead, knowing how important it is to perform.
"It would put top-level teams' minds at ease that I can perform in a high pressure scenario"
Wilson's right to be confident in a high-pressure situation, too. The turbulent few years have been as high-pressure as you can get and he's barreled through it.
Before his mother's accident, he explains that he had moved out of home. The two were having personal issues, so he packed his bags and shipped out to Ipswich starting a life that sounds reminiscent of many fresh-out-of-home expats at uni: Getting about four hours sleep every night on a staple diet of sausage sizzles and pizza. Along the way, he began to patch things up with his mum, before moving home - and then eventually becoming her full-time carer.
That hasn't always been easy.
"It has been quite hard at times with Mum. She went from being an extremely independent women, a single mother to being completely dependent on her child."
It's easy to forget, especially with esports athletes who aren't always the primary focus at any one event, that there are lives outside the virtual ones simulated on screen.
Thus, the path to esports pro isn't just about sitting down in front of the computer and playing as much as possible. Life gets in the way.
Wilson's found his own ways to deal with that.
"I'm quite an introspective person. I understand how I am feeling and how it affects me and I work out problems before they become a problem."
That's likely to hold him in good stead, come match day.
When Dom participates in the GFinity Elite series over the next seven weeks, you’ll see him compete against some of Australia's best CS:GO talent, defending his patch of turf and proudly display his Sydney Chiefs insignia.
What you won’t necessarily see, is what sitting on the stage playing CS:GO really represents: An entire journey - one that started when he was five years old, playing Mario Kart against his sister. An entire life, moving out of home, moving back in, caring for his mother, quitting his genetics degree.
You may not hear it, you may not see it, but no matter the result, just by being on that stage, 'Doom' will be saying:
"Chase your dreams"
The GFinity Elite Series kicks off tomorrow, June 2, from Hoyts EQ in Sydney. You can stream the matches on Twitch and watch Rocket League live on Channel One Sunday mornings