Stepping down from Team Liquid
After 4.5 years with Team Liquid and a long (almost 8) years in esports, I’ve decided to depart with today being my final day...Although I consider it more an extended break - I have a tiny feeling that this won’t be the last time I work in esports and gaming (or even, possibly, Team Liquid). But we shall see!
For the past 8-ish months I’ve been struggling with what I’d classify generally as “burnout”. I've felt that my quality of work, my motivation, my pro-activeness, and, most significantly, my happiness were all declining due to severe stress and fatigue. So, although I love Team Liquid, my colleagues, my players, our community, and esports overall, I decided that the best choice for me to feel better was to take a break.
The esports world is thrilling and I’m happy to be a part of it. It’s filled with some of the most passionate, devoted, and hard working people I’ve ever met. It requires an equal amount of passion, devotion, and hard work for success. It can also require 60-70 hour work weeks, all-nighters to meet deadlines, very late (or early) meetings, back to back (to back) travel across multiple timezones, and nights waking up at 3am worrying about a player/project or a call/message from someone who needs something THIS instant. Looking back I do feel I did my job well enough, but I also understand why I am currently feeling burnt out.
For the next while, my plan is to take a break and think about what really makes me happy: I’ve wanted to be an educator for as long as I can remember; I want a dog (which has been, unfortunately, impossible so far with my travel and work hours :( ) and I am considering a family; I want to become a Dutch citizen which requires a lot of studying (Ik heb niveau C2 in Nederlands nodig om mijn staatsexamen te doen en dat is echt heel hard werk!). Basically: will the 9-5 life make me happy, or do I thrive in the chaos that is esports? I hope that this break will allow me to do some thinking on this while I consider what’s next for me. In the meantime, I have every faith in my colleagues who will be taking over for me. I know they will do an outstanding job!
There is a huge long list of people that I need to thank for everything they have done for me over my career: for advocating for me, for mentoring me, for giving me solid feedback, and for working alongside me. I feel truly blessed that I’ve had the opportunities I’ve had and I cannot thank all of you enough for believing in me.
It all started with the Collegiate Starleague in 2011, where the “small break after finishing my MA to volunteer in esports while applying for PhD programs” turned into a 7.5-year long adventure that flew me all over the world, that introduced me to so many amazing colleagues and friends, that brought me to the best esports competitions and events, and that lead me to TL and the Netherlands. For starting my journey, thank you my CSL Family: Duran, Mona, Theresa, Timothy, Alan, Daniil, Ian, Joshua, Chantha, Cody, Nathan, Atrioc, Reid, Paul, Kelvin, Samantha, Brandon, Mikey, Aston.
To my players, present and past: I’m incredibly proud of each and every one of you. Way back in the day, the first esport I seriously followed was Starcraft 2 and, naturally, my favourite team was Team Liquid. Team Liquid was comprised of not only top tier talents but also top tier human beings. The same holds true today: I’ve had the opportunity to manage and support some of the nicest, hardest working, and professional players and teams. Your commitment, your positive attitude, and your sportsmanship means you absolutely belong with TL. Be proud of your accomplishments, stay humble, and kick butt – I’ll always be cheering you on!
To the TL staff, present and past: you all embody what it means to be on this team: Kindness. Compassion. Friendship. Dedication. I could not have asked for better colleagues and I’m proud to have been a part of your team. I will always look back on my memories with you with fondness and wish you the best of luck with everything coming your way!
And finally: all of this could not have been possible without the unflagging support and stellar mentorship from Victor and Steve. I seriously could not have asked for better bosses and I am in no way surprised that Team Liquid is the industry leader it is today with you two at the helm. I wish you both all the happiness and success in the world and thank you wholeheartedly for all that you have done for me personally and for Team Liquid as a whole.
To everyone reading this: you can spend loads of time at work and earn as much money as you want; but the one thing you cannot buy back is your mental health. Please, please, please take care of yourself: take breaks, get fresh air, take time off (and I mean like REAL time off with no email or work messages), say “no” to adding more work if you are already overloaded with tasks, decide honestly if something can wait until Monday. Enjoy your hobbies, hug your dog, hug your family and friends. When we are all old and looking back on our lives, the hours we put into work won’t mean as much to us as the happiness we feel, the kindness we've shown, and the friendships we’ve nurtured. And, most importantly, if you feel overwhelmed, it’s okay to ask someone for help – this includes me if you ever need someone to talk to.
So long, my friends, and thanks for all the fish! Until next time :)
TL;DR: I decided to depart Team Liquid due to burnout causing me unhappiness and making me feel really demotivated. I may return to esports in the future, but first I need time off for some soul searching. Thank you to all my colleagues, friends, and mentors for everything you have done for me during my journey!