Burnout at 23!!!
China’s most famous e-sports player, Jian Zihao, has officially retired from gaming aged 23, citing ill-health reported the BBC in June 2020 (See the full article here)
He had been a professional gamer since 2012, playing League of Legends under the name of “Uzi”.
“As a result of staying up late for years, a fatty diet and being under insurmountable stress, last year I found out that I was type-2 diabetic.”
He went on to say that he had changed his work schedule, exercised and “taken medicine”, but that his situation had not changed.
“My mental state is not as good as it was before,” he said.
This is very telling of his lifestyle and the pitfalls of being a pro gamer.
In my 8 months of being involved in Esports as a coach, I’ve come to realise gaming as a profession is relatively new, yet esports is growing at a considerable rate. The (former) CEO of Fnatic, Sam Matthews one of the leading Esports organisations with its headquarters in the UK, has this to say about growth.
“While the esports model has always had the keys to success with a continued rise in prominence with a larger global audience, the pandemic accelerated the awareness of the phenomenon. The pandemic highlighted the importance of digital streaming platforms and traditional broadcasters followed suit, reproducing the successful esports model. With broadcasters on board, we anticipate seeing the line of distinction between traditional sports, entertainment and esports continue to blur.” (Read the full article in Forbes here)
With growth at such a fast pace, the pressures and expectations to succeed suddenly become a lot more real and here’s the dilemma. Young adults who dominate the demographic of gamers need to be resilient and understand there is more to winning than practicing up to 14 hours a day.
They have to consider downtime, diet, physical activity, spending time with family and friends and creating a schedule that allows the person to thrive and find a balance
“When the person thrives, the professional gamer thrives“
Uzi, the example above, didn’t know or understand the value and importance of finding that balance and personally I believe he can make a comeback with a few mental adjustments and changes to his lifestyle.
The question is does he want to get involved again?
THE POTENTIAL CHALLENGES
If you follow traditional sports like football (soccer) basketball and cricket for example, you can google many examples of players struggling under the pressure, suffering from anxiety and falling out of the game they once loved.
Do we want the same to happen to the young esports players? Let me remind you of the words of Sam Matthews “we anticipate seeing the line of distinction between traditional sports, entertainment and esports continue to blur.” Already we know the lines are already blurred from a mental wellbeing perspective.
For 7 years as a mental performance coach, I’ve coached footballers and basketball players and spoken to many former players about their issues and anxieties including how they were treated by their managers, their agents and others who wanted to exploit the players only for their own financial gain and I’d like to think a governing body to support the wellbeing of esports athletes is at least being considered. If not, I’m ready to lead on creating that project.
THE BRILLIANCE OF ESPORTS
If I were to join a team or even start a team, I’d place the wellbeing of the player at the centre of the organisation because I know if the players aren’t thriving the organisation will fail. Yes I’m aware there will be others waiting in the wings, but is that the message I’d want to send? If you can’t handle the pressure we will simply replace you? Definitely not!
Technology, content, apparel, hardware, software, events etc all play a huge part in the promotion and delivery of esports which is brilliant but sometimes, lost beneath all this excitement, social media presence, bright lights and amazing content is the fact that the players and indeed content creators need to understand how to navigate this world without experiencing burnout, anxiety or pressures because when they do, the love and passion for what they do will fade and losing a passion through burnout can be devastating. Just ask Uzi
If you’ve found this blog interesting, misinformed or intriguing, please let me know and comment. I’m open to feedback, questions and celebrations.
Live with purpose