When 2019 began, Jack Martin’s dream of streaming full-time seemed out of reach.
But now the 22-year-old, aka NiceWigg, has joined a professional esports organization and is competing against some of the best streamers after a viral moment set his dream in motion. Now Martin, who competed in September at the Newegg FragFest at the HyperX Esports Arena, is no longer the one dreaming of his moment. He’s living it.
“I’m still getting used to it,” Martin said of his newfound fame as a streamer. “I’m still a big fan of streamers, so to have people treating me like I treated others, it’s one of the craziest feelings I’ve ever had in my life.”
Taking things slow has never been Martin’s style, but his path toward becoming a full-time streamer took a few turns.
“I’ve always thought of life as a race,” he said. “When you’re young, you want to be successful and there’s no time to waste. It put a lot of anxiety on me.”
But, Martin said, his definition of success wasn’t always rooted in what he really wanted.
“I was looking for my father’s approval,” he said. “I wanted to be a man in my dad’s eyes so I was trying to gain everyone’s approval around me without worrying about how I felt. I was feeling horrible about myself, but thinking it was OK because my parents approved, so it must be the right thing.”
Still, deep down Martin already knew where his true passions lay.
“I’ve been a fan of streamers my whole life,” he said during a September interview. “Watching the big streamers was all I did. I was always dreaming about being a streamer or a competitive player in general.”
One game had captured his attention: Apex Legends, a battle royale game. All he needed was the right push.
Change in direction
On the surface, Martin appeared to be getting along fine in New York, working as a personal trainer.
But inside he was miserable. “I thought, ‘This isn’t what I want to do. I can’t see myself working a normal job for the rest of my life. There has to be something else for you out there.’”
In February, things came to a head.
“I got into a fight with my boss, and I’m not a confrontational person in any way,” Martin said. “When he got confrontational with me, I thought, I can’t do this anymore, so I quit. I called my mom that night, crying, and I was like, ‘I don’t know what to do.’”
Over the next day, Martin said he realized the change could be a blessing in disguise. He told his mother he planned to pay rent for two months and try to be a full-time streamer. “I said, ‘I found another job at a gym and if, at the end of May, this isn’t working, I promise I’ll take that job.’ “
His mom was in full support. His dad was another story.
“We didn’t tell him that I wasn’t working,” Martin said. “I just told my mom, I promise this is going to work out. But there was a lot of doubt during that time and it was scary as hell. I had $2,000 in my bank account and I borrowed $200 from my mom to finance my PC and I’m still making payments on that because I was broke.”
Martin began what he thought would be a long grind toward building a following as a streamer, but in early April, he got the kind of break every streamer dreams of receiving. He ended up in a game with Dizzy, who Martin says is “the biggest Apex streamer in the world.”
“He’s helped make Apex into what it is today. I got into a game with him and the game went viral,” Martin said. “His chat rooted for me to play another game with him, so I joined his discord. Here I am, a guy with like 10 viewers playing with a guy with like 12,000 or 13,000. I out damaged him one game and out killed him one game. Then, he hosted me.”
That meant all of Dizzy’s followers could watch Martin.
Martin knew his moment had arrived.
“I just told myself I have to make something out of this,” Martin said. “I didn’t have a choice at that point.”
That kind of exposure set Martin down a path from around a dozen followers to more than 100,000 on Twitch today.
In May, Counter Logic Gaming asked Martin to join the professional esports organization.
“When I had 10 viewers, I applied for like 30 organizations to see if anyone would take a chance on me,” Martin said. “Funny enough, CLG didn’t know much about Apex, but they took a chance on a PC controller Apex player, which is almost unheard of. I’m forever thankful.”
Counter Logic Gaming fields professional esports teams that compete in tournaments across the globe in a variety of games, including Fortnite, League of Legends, and Counter Strike: Go.
His teammates, Christian Feliciano, aka Nokokopuffs, and Ryan Schlieve, aka ImMadness, joined over the following months.
“I like their aggression,” said Ronny Weyant, team operations manager. “They’re coming from a place of ‘I can take any fight’ to figuring out is this the right fight, is this the right time for this fight and am I in the right place for this fight. They had the raw skills, but their mental game is growing by leaps and bounds.”
The trio competed in the NewEgg FragFest at the Luxor’s HyperX Esports Arena Las Vegas on Sept. 7 and placed 16th at the Apex Legends Preseason Invitational in Poland.
Living for himself
Martin said he now has a sense of belonging in and that he’s finally living the life he wanted.
His journey has taught him a lot, and Martin shared some advice.
“I’d tell people to give it a shot,” he said. “Go for it. You can always put things on pause, but you can’t put your youth on pause. Time’s going to happen no matter what.”
Martin’s success has allowed him to become a streamer and esports athlete full-time. He recently moved across the country to San Diego and his sudden success has been so palpable, even his dad is now on board.
“He told me one day, ‘Just in case my boys ask at work, what do you do again?’ I know in my head, he wanted to know so he could go brag about me,” Martin said. “That’s how I knew he approved.”