There's a hint of awe in Coby "Dizzy" Meadows' voice every time he talks about the upcoming ESPN EXP Apex Legends Invitational at X Games Minneapolis.
Disbelief punctuated his every answer, a taste of doubt that everything in his life since Apex Legends' release has actually happened. Each of his sentences starts with a variety of incredulity.
"It was insane because --"
"It's pretty insane, actually --"
"I wasn't expecting --"
When asked what he would say to himself a mere six months ago, were he able to go back in time and tell his younger self about his current life, he laughed.
"I would not believe myself," he said.
"Everything that has happened to me, I never thought it would happen."
A cursory internet search for the NRG Esports star will reveal a somewhat lengthy list of reaction videos of popular streamers such as Benjamin "DrLupo" Lupo watching Dizzy play. The headlines all begin with "Who is Dizzy?" or "Meet Dizzy," implying that he's an unknown quantity with a certain mystique behind his meteoric rise.
That sentiment is shared by his 19-year-old self.
Dizzy's first-person shooter prowess first came from Counter-Strike: Source and then Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. He sank more 1,300 hours into the game, grinding his way as a semiprofessional player on Mythic and later Selfless Gaming. Throughout his time in CS, his priorities were more aligned with streaming than breaking into the pro scene, despite immersing himself in playing the game as much as possible for stretches of time.
"I didn't really consider myself a pro CS player. I was never contracted or anything," Dizzy said. He credited CS for the development of his skill in Apex. "It transfers a lot. Basically everything I learned from the thousands of hours of CS applies."
On Feb. 4, Respawn Entertainment and Electronic Arts released Apex Legends, a free-to-play battle royale game, in an increasingly saturated market popularized by Bluehole's PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and Epic Games' Fortnite. Apex Legends dropped without any advertisement or buildup, a fairly unique marketing strategy in the gaming space, particularly for a game like Apex Legends, which is an offshoot of Respawn's well-known Titanfall series. By the end of its first week, Apex Legends had attracted over 25 million players. One of them was Dizzy.
"Oh my God, I want to play," Dizzy said, describing his initial reaction to the game when it dropped unexpectedly. He played Apex for 21 hours straight upon release and continued to rack up hours on his now-signature legend, Wraith.
As the popularity of Apex Legends soared in the game's first week, Dizzy became one of its rising stars alongside more prominent streamers like Michael "Shroud" Grzesiek and NRG teammate Richard "KingRichard" Nelson.
Eight days after the game's release, NRG Esports announced it was dropping into Apex Legends with an 18-year-old Dizzy as its first signing. That same day, Dizzy was partnered with KingRichard and Fortnite streaming sensation Tyler "Ninja" Blevins for Apex Legends' first esports event: Twitch Rivals Apex Legends Challenge.
Now he's the crown jewel of NRG's Apex Legends team alongside Brandon "Ace" Winn and Marshall "Mohr" Mohr.
Streaming popularity goes hand in hand with the battle royale genre, and Ninja is by far the most recognizable name in gaming. Playing with him in the Twitch Rivals event gave Dizzy the largest platform available to showcase his unparalleled Apex Legends skills.
It's rare that Ninja takes a back seat to anyone in terms of attention and popularity, but that's exactly what happened when Dizzy took the stage at Twitch Rivals. His streaming and social media followers rose throughout the event, and exploded when Dizzy became the breakout star and the big reason Ninja and KingRichard took home a title.
Dizzy said he wasn't nervous to play on a team with his uber-popular teammates in that moment, but the surge in attention that followed was staggering.
"It was a little overwhelming," Dizzy said. "It was just so much that was happening in such a short amount of time."
At that time, Dizzy was only a hand on a mouse. He continued to stream with other NRG pro players from various games before revealing his face a little over a month after his Twitch Rivals victory.
Approximately 45,000 people tuned in March 16 to watch the 18-year-old take off a Spiderman mask, showing his face to the world for the first time. His popularity has only continued to rise from that moment, and he's still the best Apex Legends player in the game.
"I did not expect it to be that big," he said of his face reveal with another laugh.
Dizzy is a slight young man with a sweep of blond hair. He's soft-spoken but direct. At the recent ESPN EXP Pro-Am at the ESPYS, Dizzy's teammate, Jonathan Solofa Fatu (WWE's Jimmy Uso), towered over him as they and fellow teammate Sydnee Goodman of IGN held up the winning check.
Moments later, Dizzy was holding an MVP trophy nearly as tall as he was as a small flock of people waited in line for pictures with the champion and his teammates.
That future of the Apex Legends professional scene is now somewhat uncertain, as the game makes the turn from streaming darling toward more structured tournaments such as the upcoming ESPN EXP Invitational at X Games Minneapolis. X Games esports competitions have a storied -- and somewhat contentious -- history among extreme sports traditionalists, beginning with an X Games Call of Duty tournament in 2014.
Streaming still reigns supreme in bringing viewers to Apex itself, though, and Dizzy, who previously wanted to be a streamer, has also made the shift toward balancing streaming with team scrimmages. It's a tough balance for a game that lacks premier events with major prize pools that compare to the Fortnite World Cup or even smaller tournaments in similar battle royales.
"Streaming is very important," Dizzy says. "As a pro player, you need to stream and practice. It's extremely important. But for right now [my focus] is 100% winning X Games."
As with many other potential career milestones, Dizzy -- a casual X Games fan who used to watch skateboarding -- can't exactly wrap his head around what winning an X Games medal would mean to him.
"It'd probably be one of the most legendary moments of my life," he said.
Given his meteoric rise, that's already saying a lot.