I bet if I was to ask you right now, you would be able to name me at least 2 or 3 pro’s that either dropped out or got cut from the pro-scene due to burnout. It’s one of the most common and devastating problems the competitive scene has right now. But, when we look at other industries like sports, music, and business, the best of the best often have long and productive careers. What is esports doing that is brutalizing the players?
All high-performance fields (i.e. traditional sports) put their people through the absolute ringer, yet we don’t see nearly as much burnout as in esports. So, I think the question isn’t “what is esports doing wrong”, but “what is esports not doing?” Let’s answer that by taking a look at two ways you can avoid burnout in your own esport pursuit!
1. !!BREAKS!! (I know you’ve heard this one before)
Your brain doesn’t fatigue as your muscles do. You aren’t going to be playing and then all of a sudden you can’t queue up for another match. What’s going to happen is your brain is slowly and subtly going to kill your focus, motivation, and enjoyment of the game. It does this to force you off of it. You’re going to start learning slower, get angry more often, and feel like you “just lost the passion for the game”. Hate to break it to you, that’s burnout. However, breaks give your brain the time to refresh from that. When you let go of the MnK or controller, you just gifted your brain with a moment to NOT focus on that game anymore, which means it doesn’t have to try to force you off of it down the road.
WARNING: don’t just try taking breaks when the fatigue and burnout already hit. Use it as a way to prevent that from happening in the first place. Sometimes you’re not going to want to take breaks and sometimes you’re going to absolutely be itching to play. But if you value making a career out of it, you need to find the discipline to follow a break schedule.
2. Additional Hobbies
When practices, leagues, and tournaments are going poorly, it hits the mental hard. That’s because when we have only one major hobby, everything we are pursuing and value is going down the drain. That’s a lot of stress to try to manage. However, if you have an extra hobby or two, you have a lot to fall back on as a buffer when the game isn’t going the way you want it to.
A lot of pro’s (or pro’s-to-be) have only their game as the hobby. Like I just mentioned, when you’re having a bad split or tournament, it’s going to feel like your entire world is crumbling and that’s going to drive you right into a burnout state.
If you can find one other hobby, you'll be able to weather out those rough times because you have something else to bring value to your day-to-day.