FORT BRAGG, N.C. –
When a writer describes someone’s life has having come full circle, it’s often used metaphorically to help tell the story of how they achieved their success or overcame hurdles in their path to achieve a goal. For one member of the U.S. Army eSports Team, this phrase couldn’t be more literal.
At the age of 13, Sgt. 1st Class Joshua David was an aspiring gamer who excelled at the Halo franchise. Never ranked less than 24th in the world, “Strotnium,” as he’s known in the gaming community, had aspirations of parlaying that success into a career as a professional gamer.
“Before the Army, I played competitive Halo 2. I was ranked as high as 16th (in the world rankings), but I never really played below the top 24. I just floated in between there,” David said. “When Halo 3 came out in (2007), I was just awful at it! I went to the Halo 3 MLG (Major League Gaming) Opener and didn’t make it out of the amateur bracket. I quit Halo and joined the military three days later.”
David found the first Army recruiting center closest to his house and enlisted as an infantryman.
“I didn’t know anything about the Army. I walked in and said sign me up. I don’t care what MOS (Military Occupational Specialty),” David said.
While David enjoyed serving as an infantryman, he thrived on challenges and sought to test himself against the best the Army had to offer. To that end, he began a journey that would ultimately lead him to the pinnacle of the Army’s elite Soldiers, the Green Berets.
After graduating Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia, he went to Airborne School, Ranger Indoctrination Program, and then Ranger School.
As a Ranger, David deployed twice to Afghanistan and it was during one of these deployments that he saw his next challenge.
“I worked with an elite special operations unit on one of my regiment’s deployments,” said David. “I saw those guys, how they operated, and I knew wanted to go that route. I spoke to the unit's sergeant major, and he told me I could stay in regiment another four years, or I could go Special Forces for a couple [more years] before joining his unit. So, I googled Special Forces recruiting while deployed, found the goarmysof.com website, found a recruiter and went from there.”
After returning from that deployment, David attended the 21-day Special Forces selection process and then the 53-week Special Forces Qualification Course to become a Special Forces communications sergeant.
As a Green Beret, he deployed four times with his Special Forces Team. Despite the high tempo Army Special Operations Forces lifestyle, David never lost his love for gaming and continued to keep up with the latest first person shooters, like Call of Duty and the game that really started it all for him, Halo.
In 2017, David learned through social media that the Army was holding tryouts for their own 16-member eSports Team. The team would have members specializing in games such as Magic: The Gathering and FPS games like Call of Duty.
“The eSports program sent out an army-wide email and a Facebook post,” David said. “I did what everyone else did. I replied with interest and a bio of gaming experiences.”
David then joined Discord, an application that allows group chats, gaming videos and live streams to be connected on one platform, and waited for tryouts to be announced. Once tryouts for Call of Duty were announced, he was able to show off his skills and was invited to join the team.
“I started out on the stream team, so I just worked with the team after work and on weekends. After a few events, I got asked if I wanted to do it full time,” David explained. “I had just finished up with my dog handler team and had already submitted my packet to apply to become an officer. I didn’t really have to choose between the SF life and eSports because I was already focused on college and going that route. I mean, I absolutely miss the boys and I miss the group life, but I was already leaving and I saw this as a solid opportunity to give back to the ARSOF community and actually reach out and talk to people who might be interested in joining the ARSOF world.”
Fifteen years after giving up on his dream of being a professional gamer, David is now a full-time member of the Army eSports Team and can be seen live-streaming Call of Duty. Soon, he will reconnect with the game that started it all on its latest installment; Halo X. Full circle indeed.
Think you have what it takes to beat a Green Beret? David welcomes all challengers and can be found at twitch.tv/strotnium. You can also follow the full team and watch them wreck opponents at the U.S. Army eSports channel, also on YouTube. To follow the rest of the members from the Army eSports Team follow the links below: