His name is Maxime, and he’s French. He apologises for his bad English but his written answers to my questions are fine. Maxime claims to be the first Overwatch player in the world to reach level 1000. You might know him better by his Overwatch name Tazzerk.
He staked his claim 3rd September on Twitter with a picture of his player portrait as proof. “J’y suis enfin, world first level 1000 sur Overwatch,” he wrote, which roughly translates to, “I am finally the world’s first level 1000 in Overwatch.”
— TaZzeRK (@TaZzeRK) September 3, 2016
A level 1000 player portrait is silver edged with three stars underneath, yet is far from being the last attainable level. But consider that achievement for a moment: level 1000. I am level 66 and have played for more than 55 hours, and I think that’s a lot. Heck, I’m impressed when I see someone with a bronze-edged player portrait and one or two stars underneath. But they’re only in the level ranges 200-300; Tazzerk is on a whole other level.
Being level 1000 means Tazzerk has opened 1000 loot boxes, so there’s no cosmetic content he covets any longer, and he has 50,000 amassed credits if something alluring pops up. But beyond loot boxes, portrait frames, and matchmaking, levels don’t really mean anything. Your characters aren’t more powerful because your level is higher. It’s more a gauge of the time you’ve spent playing Overwatch – and Tazzerk has spent a lot.
“I’ve almost 1000 hours on Overwatch,” he tells me. “I play like 16-17 hours per day – except sometimes.”
I’m nosy and ask about his daily routine and how he’s able to fit such mammoth Overwatch sessions in, but he politely declines to answer. “I don’t really want to speak on that,” he says.
“I did it because I love Overwatch and the challenge,” he goes on. “It’s not my first rush. I really like it. I started the rush when I knew I could be the first.”
Tazzerk hasn’t had a congratulatory message from Blizzard, or any official acknowledgement, but then level 1000 – significant though the milestone is – isn’t the end. The final Overwatch player portrait unlocks at level 1890, making it a level cap of sorts, though I’m not sure if you stop gaining levels once you’re there.
That is the summit of the gold tier of player portraits, which begins at level 1300, and it is to this milestone that Tazzerk wants to race to next. And he’s well on the way, having already reached level 1069, according to popular stat-tracking website MasterOverwatch. Note that the detailed information on him there, he says, is weeks out of date.
But there’s a problem – a giant elephant in the room at Tazzerk’s party. What if he isn’t the first person in the world to have reached Overwatch level 1000?
A player has been spotted on the Asian servers with a golden player portrait (level 1300) with a star underneath (level 1400). A picture of the player’s portrait was shared in Tazzerk’s ‘world first level 1000’ tweet. But Tazzerk is dubious.
— Liao (@BobLiu6) September 3, 2016
He isn’t disputing that the player portrait exists, but he is disputing whether it’s the accomplishment of one person or two. “For me, I’m ‘legit’ world first,” he says, “because the Chinese player is a shared account for sure.”
How else, he reasons, could someone be so far ahead of him – he who plays 16-17 hours a day? “It’s impossible to get 300/400 more levels than me,” he says.
Certainly Tazzerk is the highest level according to the MasterOverwatch global PC leaderboard, which includes players from all three geographical regions – and top by more than 100 levels.
In Overwatch you earn XP for fighting in games – more if you do well and win, less if you do badly and lose. So in theory if you always win and perform well then you will amass XP and therefore levels faster. You also receive a boost to XP gained for grouping with friends.
I’ve seen theories about Tazzerk reaching level 1000 based on him predominantly playing Reaper, who is a character that tends to notch up a lot of kills and gold medals (end of match awards) during a match. But Tazzerk also plays a lot of Roadhog and assures me he had no plan. “I have no plan,” he says, “just playing every day with friends for the [XP] bonus.”
But Tazzerk clearly has above average skill in Overwatch, which you’d expect after 1000 hours’ play. In Competitive Season 1 he played for 185 hours and hit a high of Rank 75, which is very hard to do. I can’t see the data for how he’s getting on in Season 2. Nevertheless, and despite his prominence, Tazzerk hasn’t been picked to represent France in the Overwatch World Cup.
So Tazzerk carries on, relentlessly going round and round Overwatch’s ‘Searching for game…’ carousel, all day every day. He has his moment in the spotlight, and perhaps one day he will have another, but after 1000 hours I can’t help wondering whether he’s not bored of it all yet. I am, sometimes, and my playtime is a drop in the ocean next to his. Is he still having fun?
“Yeaah [sic],” he assures me. “I still have a lot of fun on OW. I can’t play like this without fun :p.”