The mental health of professional esports athletes is rarely discussed in the media. In fact, a professional esports athlete also possess a great mental burden. Many people do not know that being an esports athlete is not an easy as many people have imagined.
Becoming a professional esports athlete is a gamer’s dream. How come? Esports players get paid to play the games they enjoy every day and compete in front of thousands of people and become famous.
Even though it looks fun at the first glance, there are still sacrifices that esports players have to make so that they deserve to be called a professional. In the following, we will discuss what mental burdens you must face if you want to become a professional esports player.
Mental Burden of Esports Athletes
When a professional esports athlete is pursuing their career, there are definitely problems that must be faced. One of them is mental health problems such as the following:
Stress and burnout
Stress and burnout are the first mental health problems for a professional esports athlete. Playing games is very fun for a gamer. However, if you play the game continuously, of course, it will reach a saturation point. Even though the activity is very enjoyable it may last for several months.
However, if it is repetitively done for years it will cause esports athletes to feel bored. This should be very concerned as it could cause the esports athlete to lose his/her motivation to play or compete.
Furthermore, based on the research conducted by the University of Chicheste, it was found that esports athletes still face the same mental challenges as traditional sports athletes. So, don’t think that being an esports athlete is an easy job just because you sit in front of the screen to compete.
On the other hand, according to Yohannes Paraloan Siagian, former Vice President of EVOS Esports, he said that the mental burden of esports athletes is actually heavier than the traditional sports athletes. This is based on the fact that ordinary traditional sports athletes are only required to give their best performance in one sports tournament.
Meanwhile, an esports athlete must participate in several tournaments or leagues in one year. This proves that they have to give their best performance more than once. In addition, they also have to keep their performance stable for a longer duration than traditional sports athletes. This of course makes the psychological condition of an esports athlete to experience high level of stress.
The readiness to accept praise and insult from public
As we know, the toxicity of netizen is no longer a secret. This is the era of social media (with anonymity) where almost all major information can be accessed easily and instantly through the internet. This advancement of technology also contributes to a mental burden (in a way) for esports players.
A dilemma is created where when an esports athlete wins a match he/she will gloriously receive all the praise on their social media accounts; whereas when the esports athlete loses then they can quickly accept all the insults, harsh words, and so on.
An esports athlete must be able to face and accept any kind of opinions, where some of them certainly can motivate them to play better; and the other end could make them feel guilty for the rest of their career, especially when the mistakes are further exaggerated by the media.
Contract with a professional team
Apart from the demand to play optimally, there are other things that can add to the mental burden for esports players, namely the professional team contract.
Currently in Indonesia, most contracts between professional players and teams are more often in favor of the team. Players can be terminated at any time, especially when these athletes are still figuring out the best way to climb the career ladder.
This is clearly a threat for esports athletes considering that they might have sacrificed some part of their life for nothing, just because of one or two poor performances. The situation is also made worse thanks to the condition of the esports regulations which are still quite immature without government role in regulating them.
Most Effective Tactics Available (META)
The last thing that becomes a mental burden for a professional esports athlete is the adaptation problem of the latest update of the game developers, or also known as the Most Effective Tactics Available (META).
Unlike other traditional sports games, META changes in esports very quickly. An example of a real life case is the Video Assistant Referees (VAR) technology in the soccer games. This innovation would first be discussed during the testing years and after passing the test, then this innovation can be implemented on the football players.
However the same pace does not apply to esports. When a game developer releases an update or patch, usually a certain character will either be buffed or nerfed, not to mention that it is highly possible that the small change could affect the whole mechanism.
For instance, when the Outlanders update was released for DOTA 2. This update was very surprising and required esports players to always be up to date and quickly adapt to all changes that occur. This has created a demand from the game itself to require all the professional players to be up to date with the latest development of the game.
Do not get surprised if a team has to reformulate their whole strategy or formation because of this update. And it could happen frequently. To make matter looks worse, esports athletes do not really have a day off which puts more mental stress on them compared to other traditional sports, since all the leagues and tournaments mostly take place during the weekend.
The purpose of this writing is to raise awareness about the possible mental burdens that professional esports players often face. If you or someone in your family has experienced something similar, you can contact a therapist or counselor, such as the ones on BetterHelp to get started.