Drini Gjoka is a 19 year old who lives in Washington, DC. He is a top flight competitive gamer and was playing in the Madden Tournament in Jacksonville, Florida today when an active shooter put a tragic end to the games. Gjoka escaped wtih just a superficial injury but says today was one of the worst days of his life.
Here’s what you need to know about Drini Gjoka:
1. Gjoka Live-Tweeted the Shooting in Jacksonville
Without intending to, Gjoka ended up providing live news updates to people around the world about the shocking events at the Madden tournament. As the tournament opened on Sunday, Gjoka was off to a good start, and his mood seemed sunny; he was playing well and tweeting updates about his wins.
Then suddenly, something changed. The shooter appeared. At 10:37, Gjoka tweeted, “The tourney just got shot up. Im leavinng and never coming back.”
His tweet is full of typos, probably because he was scared for his life and typing in a hurry. But he still took the time to let the world know what was going on.
2. Gjoka Called Himself ‘Incredibly Lucky’ Because He Just Took a Bullet in the Thumb
After the shooting, Drini tweeted, “I am literally so lucky. The bullet hit my thumb.”
At least three people died as a result of the shooting. So, although getting shot in the thumb isn’t really “lucky” — especially for a professional gamer — it’s easy to understand where Gjoka was coming from, and why he felt lucky. He clearly realized that his fate could have been far, far worse.
But Gjoka also called today “the worst day of my life” and said that it was a reminder that “Life can be cut short in a second.”
3. Gjoka’s Parents Were From Albania and Came to the US After Winning a Lottery
Gjoka is a native of Washington, DC. He says that both of his parents are originally from Albania. Before Gjoka was born, his parents won a lottery that granted them US citizenship. They settled down in Washington, DC, which is where Gjoka was born and raised. Gjoka graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School, in Washington DC.
He says he started playing video games when he was about seven years old, with his brother. He quickly fell in love with games and spent hours of his time practicing. Gjoka says that the reason he’s become the youngest champion in Madden history is that he simply puts in the time needed to keep his skills as sharp as possible.
4. Gjoka Is the Youngest Player to Ever Win a Madden Belt and Has Been Described as One of the Best Players on the Circuit
In 2017, when he was just 18, Gjoka won the Madden championship. He was the youngest player ever to win a belt.
Gjoka says he has a secret weapon that helps him to win: a camouflage bandanna that he wears for every tournament. favorite bandanna helps him win tournaments. But he also says that the number of hours he spends practicing is the key to his victory.
He also says that he loves playing football off-screen, and that love translates into making him a great player on-screen. He lists the Dallas Cowboys as his favorite team.
5. Gjoka Is Serious About Becoming a Professional Gamer
The 19 year old Gjoka graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington DC last year. He says he is absolutely serious about plans to become a professional gamer. But Gjoka says he doesn’t want to stop at that. He told easports, “I want to grow my brand. I want to have a lot of followers on Twitter, Twitch, YouTube. I don’t want to only be a competitive player, I want to be an all-around full package.”