John “zt0l” Lotz, 18, has hit Radiant every Act since Act 2 and made the NA leaderboard top 10 for the entirety of Episode 4—all because he couldn’t go swimming at the height of COVID.
In early 2020, zt0l was ready to return to practice with his competitive swim team. A new facility and a new coach even meant a possible shot at Nationals. For safety reasons, coaches were eventually no longer allowed to train with the team and the structure soon fell apart. That’s when zt0l decided it was time to place his competitive drive elsewhere.
“It was demotivating to keep swimming,” zt0l said. “I’ll just figure something else out. Anything to fill that athletic space.”
Like clockwork, zt0l now streams nearly every morning and is a mainstay in the Radiant NA lobbies as Sova and Fade main.
To be clear, years of playing other FPS games made it an easier transition to VALORANT. As a teenager, zt0l had already found idols in Yassine "Subroza" Taoufik and Tarik "tarik" Celik, who he now plays against every so often.
“I looked up to Subroza and tarik when I was 13 or 14 and now I’m able to play with them in this game. It's mind blowing,” he said.
It seems competition is the answer for all of zt0l’s woes. The only reason zt0l became a competitive swimmer in the first place was because his doctor suggested he find an activity to help with the low blood circulation in his legs caused by Lyme disease.
But while highly competitive on the leaderboards, zt0l has no aspirations as of now to pursue a pro career, even after a short stint on a Tier 2 team. He’s instead chosen the content route for anyone who wants to watch, and applies a similar level of discipline from his competitive swimming days.
“I think [streaming is] pretty much the same discipline as swimming,” zt0l said. “I make sure to wake up at the same time and stream at the same time for 6–8 hours—as mind-numbing as that can be, I really enjoy it.”
He continues to push for that coveted #1 leaderboard spot, but admits that his vendetta against Chamber players has made it hard lately.
“Well, I just don't like Chamber,” he explained. “He is the most annoying Agent to me.”
What should someone expect when facing zt0l?
[My playstyle is] very random and not smart. Unpredictable. I’ll do anything that you don’t expect. I do it for content or clips and it doesn’t always work, but then there is the 5% chance I hit a crazy clip. If it doesn’t work I’ll make up for it later in the game.
Ascent because I can Odin spam on the B main wall, and everyone gets so mad about it.
Favorite weapon/skin combo?
Oni Phantom and Reaver Vandal
Any pre-match rituals?
Coffee, warmup and TikTok. I watch TikTok until my next game, it’s a good way to pass the time with my chat.
Advice to stay healthy while playing?
I always try and dedicate a portion of the day for working out. Even if it's just walking. Do something physical. It will eventually help you in playing VALORANT.
It helps my mental, which is a huge part of VALORANT. It definitely helps me stay mentally strong and happy overall while playing. It keeps me fresh and mentally away from the game if I’m having a bad day and need to get away.
What would you like to see next in VALORANT?
Nerf Chamber. And um…yeah nerf Chamber.
Advice on how to get better?
The difference between Immortal 3 players and Radiant players—honestly a lot of it is just grinding and being consistent. One of the best things I learned is that trying to be very vibe-y on your team, enthusiastic or energetic, and keeping the team spirit up, helps. If you have the team spirit up in a ranked game, you will never lose no matter how bad the comp is. I’ve had 5 duelists on my team but we were just screaming ‘oh yeah!’ the entire time and we rolled the enemy team. When everyone is having a good time, is when everyone plays best.