Self reflection and competitive psychological burn-out:
So the Greek League just ended with us finishing in third place, and people have been asking for my thoughts all around, so I decided to make it simple for myself and to just type out all my thoughts in one twitlonger, as well as explain what I plan on doing in the future and what I'm doing now, with a little psychological talk as well.
It's no necessity to read through all of this, of course. Mostly I wrote this because I just felt like it, but if you are interested in reading about my thoughts, well here you go :) Also, none of these thoughts are necessarily super-thought through or calculated, I just wrote what I thought, that's all. If a professor at a university read through this they would probably puke because of the lack of structure, but well, screw them :D
Yes. It was a big disappointment. All I wanted to do this year was play in a LAN event in a foreign country. That's literally all I wanted. In the Italian League we had 2 opportunities, but both were canceled due to the Coronavirus outbreak, which already was a little heartbreaking, but I knew I would have another shot at it later.
Now in the Greek League, the Semi Final LAN was canceled, but we then heard the Finals would be organised LAN, which was a huge hype moment for me. Finally I could have a shot at playing in a foreign country..
But it didn't happen. Pure heartbreak as we were defeated in the semi-finals by respected team WLG. This was a very sad loss for me and honestly something I never want to go through again. When I finally had the shot of completing my dream and playing LAN in a foreign land, it was snatched away from me, in just 4 games time.
So yeah, that was the experience. People around me are trying to point fingers around as to what went wrong, but to be honest, I don't think anyone was to blame for our loss. Everyone made mistakes, and everyone had their good moments. That's just how it is, in the end, we were bested. End of story.
So what went wrong? I'm quite hesitant on writing about this, since it's hard to make a reader truly understand that I'm not pointing fingers. No one was at fault at all, that's not how this works, so I guess I'll write a bit about why it didn't work for me.
Alright so, I'm a very preserved player. I play according to the bible of the Church of LS, so to say. I play for small advantages and I genuinely dislike making plays with the intention of trying to punish a mistake that COULD POSSIBLY be made by the opponent.
I prefer going for 90-10 plays all game and to never touch any play that reaches below 70-30. I'm not a risk taker, and with risk I mean the risk that the opponent might not make the mistake we were hoping for.
The issue is, this heavily conflicted with the team's overall playstyle and mentality. We were not freezing side waves, as we wanted to set up for something that MIGHT happen. We were not playing for priority or vision control. All we were playing for was the enemy's mistake, and of course, in my opinion, this is a big part of how we failed as a team.
However, this does of course not divert all the blame from me onto my team, that's not how it works. It does explain, however, my tactical discomfort playing inside of the team. I was not able to play according to my playstyle and I was not able to express my advantages because they did not fit the team. I think one of my biggest strengths is applying macro play, especially in sidelanes, to pick up those small advantages and overwhelm the enemy team. I'm not good at making chaotic plays, and this simply caused me to be mentally overwhelmed.
If I can't play like I want to play, that will simply deteriorate every single aspect of me. My mechanics, my mental, everything. When my macro and mindset is misaligned with the team, then my mechanics deteriorate as well. That's just how it works, at least, that's how I felt it worked.
To me, this is the reason I failed to be a truly meaningful addition to my team. I played in an environment I was uncomfortable in, played with a macro style that I had no prior experience with, and I failed. That's it. That's the split. Again, I blame absolutely no one but myself for this, just to clarify before I make enemies I don't want.
Since the Greek League ended I was officially without a team for quite a while to come. Now, in my previous experience I went to EUmasters playins, and after that was done, had to instantly start looking for a new team. This gave me no room at all to relax from the pressure on my head.
There's a lot of people who call me lazy for not putting in the work to become a professional player, and to be honest? I've always agreed. I don't think I'm putting in enough work either. However, people seem to underestimate the pressure it puts on me as a player.
Suddenly, when I'm part of a team, I'm forced to play SoloQ as my job, no longer as something I can have fun in doing. Suddenly getting a rank and winning in SoloQ is what's required to get into good teams or get scouted. Suddenly every move you make can be judged, which made me often feel demotivated to even play League anymore.
Perhaps I felt it wasn't worth it. It didn't feel worth it putting in the time and effort to learn because I felt like my practice would not become the reason for our win or loss, but that's obviously wrong. However, a big portion of that feeling also came from the semi-stress it was creating.
There's is a pretty infamous topic about making your hobby a job, and this split I was reminded of this. The fact that my job was to play League of Legends and to perform on a regular basis seemed like an extremely fun idea, and it still is. However, considering the extended period of time without rest, I was pretty much in this work environment for months without a moment to self reflect.
I went from split to split without giving myself time to completely let go. My entire life revolved around esports, every day I went to sleep thinking: Will I perform well tomorrow during the scrim? Was my practice worth it? Am I going to bed at the right time? Am I getting enough sleep?
The fact that every day I had to think about esports was not necessarily a problem, having to think about it for too long though? That was an ouchie. Since the Greek League ended I've had time to truly reflect on my actions and since then I've felt so super relaxed. People always joke about summer holidays with me, they say: "haha but don't you always have holiday gaming all day?" and it started out as a funny joke, but nowadays? I realise that was some harsh misconception of reality.
Since the split ended and holidays started, I've been a super relaxed and happy person. I've been playing soloQ with a smile on my face and playing the champions I played when I fell in love with League. I'm staying cool and joking around with the enemy, and I'm fine with getting run down or people afking in my games. I reached Grandmaster once again, 500k mastery points on Yasuo, 800k mastery points on Riven, I did all the spirit bonding in the event and all that made me feel so much more satisfied playing League of Legends.
I was allowed to let go for once, and that feeling I haven't felt in a long time. I have my own mental blocks that stop me from putting work in, and that's a serious mental issue that I know exists, but that mental block has completely disappeared since we got knocked out. I would almost say I was relieved being knocked out. I remember this being a thing with FNATIC players too in their world's finals against IG, but I'm not sure if I'm remembering this correctly.
Anyway, let this be a reminder to all esports players who might feel the same as I do. I personally have no clue how I could have better handled it, though, so don't come looking for advice haha. Perhaps I'm too bad of a player to be able to playing competitively at a high level, perhaps I'm just not good enough. That doesn't mean I didn't have fun however. I still love the players and staff over at Racoon and Gamechangers, and nothing will change this (unless Rharesh takes my LP again, son of a bitch).
So what's next? Well, first things first, I'm going to enjoy my relaxed holidays without worries about esports and pressure. I'll be moving to another city and living on my own most likely, so that will take some time to prepare. In terms of esports, I'm not sure yet.
My plans for esports currently are as follows: I want to throw out a simple LFT post, talk to some organisations and then immediately see what fits me best. I'm not looking to super-tryhard to get a spot in fnatic rising or some dumb shit, I know I'm not good enough for it (yet?).
Instead I'm going to see if there's a team somewhere that will fit me most in a social way, a team that will not make me feel super pressured to perform, and a team that will give me the room I need to adjust to my new life.
This of course doesnt mean I'll be slacking off like crazy or anything, but you might well see me join a team as a substitute or perhaps even an assistant coach, which is a role I'm very happy to say I will want to give a try at some point.
I'm also going to hopefully be joining some Open Tour casts with Xsodus, just to chill out and explore some new areas.
In the end though, if I don't find a team that truly suits me, I might just sit out a split, which is also a totally fine option for me. Considering I'm entering a new stage of life and all that cliche yadaladah I don't want to overwork myself to restart the entire cycle, screw that.
For people who made it this far, I thank you truly, as I won't expect anyone to actually read through all of this. This was made mostly for my own expression of feelings, however, if you are still here, I seriously appreciate your attention ^_^
Hopefully you'll see more of me in the future, as I'm not too keen on giving up going to a foreign country to play LAN just yet! Thanks for all the support and kind words, and really, thanks for everything.