The Oceanic region is the origin of a whole plethora of unique stories for amateur players kick-starting their professional careers and turning their dreams into a reality. But there’s no story quite like that of Jarod “Getback” Tucker.
A normal guy hailing from Adelaide, his career is built on leaps of faith in the name of his childhood dream.
From a reality web series winner to Oceanic pro, he now plays as the mid-laner for Maryville University on a full-ride scholarship.
When Getback developed his passion for gaming, it was from a hospital bed. Ongoing and unpredictable health issues left him in and out of hospital throughout his schooling.
“When other kids were in their formative years learning to play sports and stuff, I just had to sit inside and play games,” Getback reminisced to Snowball Esports.
“I learnt how to read and write and do my times tables at a really young age as well. My parents actually taught me how to read because when I played video games, I’d always ask them what everything said.”
His older brother and cousins paved his love for gaming, with Getback making notable mention of the Smash Bros. series being an all-time favourite as he gamed alongside them.
Starting off with titles such as Mario Kart, Pokémon Stadium and Pokémon Snap, he grew out of his self-proclaimed “Nintendo Kid” era and embraced PC gaming through Runescape.
Yet, in his eventual introduction to League of Legends, it was far from love at first sight.
“It was 2012. My cousins and friends really wanted to play League of Legends. And I just thought League was the most dogs**t, awful game ever,” Getback said.
“I just f****g hated it. I was Level 28, I only played Amumu, I’d go bot lane and talk about how much I hated League but I played because I wanted to play with them.”
Building the retired jungle item Spirit Stone as he ran it down bot, he “refused to learn anything else” because he “hated the game.”
Yet, the authentic League experience of lane griefing led to an epiphany for 13-year-old Getback: “Something clicked in my brain and I actually started to enjoy it. I got to the point where I’d played enough and I wasn’t just going 0-10 every game and that’s where it started to become fun.”
Going on to hit the veteran capped level of 30, his journey into ranked began as the group played Ranked Fives in North America.
“I remember this vividly. We were playing in NA. I was Bronze V. Me and my cousin grinded a bunch of games one night playing Tristana and Alistar. We got to Bronze IV — the greatest achievement ever. Two days later, we swapped to OCE servers. I did my placements again and it placed me in Bronze V.”
Ongoing health issues prevented him from attending school, and he found himself sinking more and more time into the game.
His taste for competition came as a side effect of being the youngest in his family. With a natural affinity for gaming due to his early start, he made Platinum I on OCE “playing whatever was fun for me at the time”.
All of a sudden, his mentality shifted. He asked himself a single question: “What’s going to happen if I really tried to get good?”
He made the climb from Plat I to Challenger within three months — but doubts began to weigh on his mind.
Giving up these experiences in your youth in the pursuit of greatness – is it going to be worth it?Jarod “Getback” Tucker
Then came an opportunity that would change his life — the first step in his quest for the answer.
Along came ‘The Next Gamer’, a web-series where contestants would battle it out on Summoner’s Rift, competing for cash and a contract with the Oceanic powerhouse Dire Wolves — then Oceania’s League powerhouses.
Having only hit Challenger earlier that year, Getback doubted his abilities. “My mum’s actually the one who convinced me to do it,” he admitted.
“She said, if it’s something you’re really interested in then you should do it.”
His mother’s blessing and support was the push he needed to take that first leap of faith.
He found success with his application.
In the finale episode of the show, ‘Getback71’ took the title of The Next Gamer, and secured himself a position on their Dire Cubs academy team.
“The best part about it wasn’t [winning],” he confessed.
“The best part was that in the finale of the show, we had to verse the Dire Wolves. Phantiks was the mid laner and he was probably the best player in the region at the time. I was starting to get an ego — I was about 17 or 18 and I thought I was pretty good.”
“Then, I versed him. I got destroyed and embarrassed so hard that it settled my ego and since then, I’ve kept it in check.”
Following his first exposure to the competitive scene, playing for the Dire Cubs marked the first official step into his new life.
The Big Leagues
As the first member picked up for the OCS roster, he fought for the team he wanted to play with. “The idea of it was to pick up a bunch of rookies and inexperienced players to try and bring them in and grow,” he explains.
“I fought tooth and nail for a lot of the players that I wanted to play with so I ended up with the almost exact roster that I wanted.”
The initial 2018 Dire Cubs starting roster consisted of names like BioPanther, Udysof, Katsurii, Johnson and of course, our protagonist Getback.
The “almost” discourse within Getback’s dream team took place in the jungle, as he fought adamantly against bringing Toby “Udysof” Horne to the fray due to his lack of competitive experience at the time.
It’s something Getback looks back on and laughs.
“I can say it now because [Udysof] is one of my best friends but I thought he was terrible. He was a Diamond 1 Evelyn one-trick and I really didn’t want to play with him.”
The mid laner argued on behalf of Kaios with Coach Curtis, but it was the one decision that the coach was set on.
“The first time I met Toby, I mentioned wanting to play at the office in Sydney and he invited me to live with him since he lived close by.”
“I have so many years of my life to be boring – to be a normal guy. But I only have these years now to try and make something incredible happen.”Jarod “Getback” Tucker
“I wanted so badly to get better and be a part of that environment. I said ‘f*** it’, told my parents I was going, packed my bag, got on a plane and lived with this guy that I didn’t even know.”
“I look back on it and [Udysof] is insanely generous — he’s actually a psycho. I would never do that for anyone that I just met.”
Following Getback’s move across the country to be closer to the Dire Wolves’ High Performance Centre, he warmed up to Udysof, with the pair going on to become close friends as they bonded over the League of Legends and gym grind.
Udysof shares mutual appreciation for that period of their lives. “Jarod made me more than a better player, he made me a better person,” he told Snowball Esports.
At the conclusion of the Dire Cubs’ debut OCS split the rookie roster placed third, with the higher ranking teams in Intuition and The Chiefs Academy having experienced OPL talent sprinkled in.
The amateur roster made an unexpected jump to the OPL in 2019. Unfortunately, their first timein the big league was far from their peak form — the newbie Dire Wolves went 1-20 in the regular split.
But it’s within the flames that some of the strongest bonds were forged.
“We got s*** on. We got dropped,” Getback said bluntly.
“[Corporal, Udy and I] just wanted the best out of each other. It was a lot of tough love. We’d all s*** on each other, [pointing out] what we were doing badly. We were really tough on each other but we all really loved each other.”
Getback thinks back fondly about the memories shared with his former teammates.
“We were a really strong brotherhood. We had a really awful experience together and nothing bonds people like a terrible experience.”
“We were barely scraping by, making no money, trying to make the dream of being pro gamers. It really bonded us strongly.”JAROD “GETBACK” TUCKER
“I haven’t been in the same country as Corporal in three years and we still talk at least once a week. Still to this day, he often contacts me for advice,” Getback mused. “I feel like my role in his life is to be very much like an older brother. I love him to bits.”
“Now he’s thriving, full of confidence, hits the gym. Udysof and I teaching him how to take care of himself was definitely a bonding point for all of us.”
The 2019 roster’s support Ian “Corporal” Pearse echoes a similar sentiment to Getback’s experience.
“Jarod’s a brother to me. Not only did he help me so much as a friend throughout our careers, he taught me so much macro and concepts as well, especially while I was playing in Japan,” Pearse told Snowball Esports.
“He’s the most genuine person I’ve ever met. Something I’m a bit upset about is how criminally underrated I think he was and continues to be. I think meeting Jarod at the start of my career was one of my luckiest moments.”
The team worked in tandem for consistent growth.
With Getback staying in the mid lane in Split 2, he picked up the award for Most Improved Player. He remained with the Dire Wolves until he was picked up by Pentanet.GG as their starting mid for 2020.
The new PGG roster struggled to begin with, finishing sixth in their maiden voyage into the Oceanic League.
But once Jackson “Pabu” Pavone was signed, role-swapping from the top lane island into the jungler role, everything fell into place.
“I love [Pabu]. He brought such arrogance and it rubbed off on the rest of us,” Getback explained. “He had so much confidence and belief in himself. That confidence was worth more than anything he could have brought in gameplay.”
In the following OPL split, the team finished third with a scoreline of 13-8 as the team’s mentality shifted for the better.
With the beginnings of the pandemic and lockdown, a majority of the off-split was spent with the PGG team bonding in the house over beers while playing D&D and Warzone. “We had a lot of fun in that season,” Getback said. “We’re all good friends. We’d just hang out and play games every day.”
“I didn’t really know what to expect when I joined a team with Jarod,” said Pabu to Snowball Esports. “I knew him a little, but we weren’t particularly close or anything.
“We became very close on PGG. I think we were just like-minded people at a similar point in our lives, you know? We just kinda understood each other, while both having strong, different perspectives on life and the game that we could talk about.
“He wasn’t particularly authoritative, but understood his role in the game, and was always eager to play the game the way that the team thought was best.
“I found it very easy to work with him, and even easier just to talk with him as a friend,” Pabu added.
“We could bounce off of each other very well, and as a result, I think we could pretty reliably farm most mids in the league. I swear, people hated scrimming us since we’d just 3-4-5-man mid every second wave.”
“We don’t catch up as much as I would like, but he’s one of the true friends I’ve made in esports and I like to keep up with his life.”
Following the dissolution of the OPL at the conclusion of 2020, Oceanic players no longer counted towards import slots in NA.
Continuing into the following year, and with the title of The Next Gamer under his belt–as well as experience in Oceania’s top flight in competitive League of Legends, Getback wasn’t shying away from any more opportunities that came his way.
Despite receiving offers from a variety of Oceanic teams for the 2021 season, he decided to take the leap, trying out for a trial position as the mid laner for Maryville University’s collegiate team — with an accompanying full-ride scholarship.
Within minutes of the trial matches, he received a message on Discord from the team’s coach: “We’re really interested in you.”
With that, Getback went international.
Esports is a temporary station for Tucker, fulfilling childhood dreams of pursuing his passion as a career. Unfortunately, it isn’t one that’s built to last forever.
But now that he’s on a full-ride scholarship secured through Maryville’s Collegiate Team– and well into a degree in cybersecurity–he made the decision to move to another country to chase his ambitions while he’s got the time, in both his professional and personal lives.
Currently, Getback lives and breathes in the world of esports, and he’s well-aware of the sacrifices made in bringing his dream to life.
“You have to be willing to give up your life in the pursuit of mastery to be the best. That’s the reality. The pressure of: am I missing out on living life as a normal human being by doing this? Missing out on the beautiful parts of life?”
“I had to give up relationships because I was moving, I had to give up chances to go out and I guess that’s where most of the pressure comes from.”
Despite giving up a “regular life”, Getback focuses on the silver linings of the esports dream.
“The experiences I have made are irreplaceable.”
“I still stand by what I said earlier: I have so much time to be boring but I only have so much time to do something great and I think I’ve made the right choice.”
“But, if you want to be the best, there is no balance,” Tucker warns.
“I have this vivid memory — I hadn’t been out of the house in a month. I was at a party in week six of the OPL and I hadn’t been out all split. I was sitting there with these people I’d never met who were asking me about myself and in my head, I was thinking about how I’d play out the first three levels of Lissandra versus Ryze.
“It consumes you.”
Although spread thin for free time beyond scrims and studies, he spends it with his roommates, teammates and new friends, making the most of what he’s given.
The five year career following The Next Gamer has given Getback opportunities which he never even dreamed of.
From hitting a high rank in solo queue to moving across the country, to moving across the world, the memories and friendships are invaluable — he’ll cherish them for life.
So: “Is it worth it?”
Although his journey has yet to come to an end, Getback is already set on his answer: