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It was only the second time VALORANT had released official North American leaderboards, but people were already asking one question:


You might know him simply as Poiz, bladestorm, or shadowGOD399 — all account names he’s managed to place in the NA top 25. He plays Jett and has every intent to become known outside of the leaderboards.

“A lot of people say ranked skill doesn’t really translate to tournament skill. So hopefully I can prove people wrong,” Poiz said, referring to his current trajectory to play on a tier 1 esports team.

About two years ago, Michael “Poiz” Possis from Dallas, Texas, had a good thing going. A proficient Overwatch player—at one point breaking into the top 30 ranked—Poiz was searching for some type of career in gaming but believed he was too far behind to enter at the pro level.

The VALORANT Closed Beta was the opportunity he needed.

“VALORANT caught my eye because it was kinda similar to Overwatch with their characters, but it took on more of an aim-intensive style, which really attracted me because I played hitscan,” Poiz said. “I decided it would be a good switch, and I ended up loving VALORANT.”

If he could just get in early enough, Poiz said, he might have a shot at the pros. The climb was real, but Poiz found himself with a familiar problem. Hardstuck at Immortal 1, he knew it wasn’t enough to capture the attention of an esports team.

Fortunes changed once he began to master Jett halfway through the closed beta. Poiz in part credits watching players like TenZ for getting him over the hump.

“I was hardstuck but I didn't doubt that I could get better and simply didn't stop. I’m glad I didn’t stop,” he said. “The grind paid off.”

Ranked was where Poiz played to learn VALORANT and test his skills among the best. But one October morning, a tweet, and subsequent replies, started the DOINKMACHINE97 chatter. Poiz admitted being blindsided by the sudden flurry of notifications and messages from friends telling him he’d nabbed the number two spot—right behind the player who motivated him into Radiant.

As if a top spot on the VALORANT leaderboards wasn’t enough, Poiz also took the number 13 spot and earned more throughout the year. He says he wasn’t trying to rig the leaderboards—rather, playing under a different name gave him confidence to play without repercussions to his main online persona.

Shortly after the buzz, one of the players he’d met through ranked messaged Poiz directly saying he should really be playing on a team.

“I was iffy. I didn't know if I was ready for a team. I said yes, and I’m really glad I did,” he said. “It’s what got me noticed after the leaderboards.”

Poiz spent a few weeks with that team, played one tournament, and has since left. He’s currently taking a semester off from college in pursuit of a new tier 1 esports team.

“Hopefully I’ll be a pro playing in tournaments, proving my worth,” he said.


What’s your playstyle?

I go in first. Entry fragger I’d say. Sometimes I also OP, because I’m a Jett player. It depends. If you’re playing Jett you kind of have to do that.

What do you like about Jett?

Who doesn’t want to fly around the map and headshot people and throw knives? I love her kit, I love her dash—playing around smokes.

Who do you play the least?

Cypher is not for me.

Who do you play if someone insta-locks Jett?

Reyna. Or maybe Phoenix.

Favorite map?

Icebox. It’s excellent for Jett—it’s her playground.



Favorite weapon skin?

Singularity Phantom and Ion Operator.

What do you want to see from VALORANT in 2021?

I would love to see new Agents [and] the meta changing drastically.

What does DOINKMACHINE97 and Poiz mean?

I got DOINKMACHINE97 from a League of Legends player. They got rank 1 on League and I stole it from them. I changed the numbers at least. He played the same champion as me, Ivern, so I was already a fan.

My original Minecraft name was Poison. But there were two people named Poison in my Minecraft friend group, so I just shortened mine to Poiz.