Dota 2 veteran Clinton “Fear” Loomis put up a blog on Monday, discussing a topic intrinsic to the careers of esports pro players. The 30-year-old TI champion spoke at length about what it takes to be a professional in esports and being pressured by, as he calls it “a fictional age range”, beyond which retirement looms.
“As of right now, a lot of players, fans, and organizations treat players in their late 20’s to be an older player reaching retirement,” Fear begins. “With that being said, being a professional player in esports, compared to any other sport, is a terrible investment of your future — even if you are successful. I see a lot of players lose confidence and retire because of this predetermined misconception set by the community.”
There’s a reason why Fear says he’s the best person to talk about the subject. In professional Dota 2, he’s among the very few players competing past their 30’s. There’s Joakim “Akke” Akterhall, for example, currently competing for Crescendo or Team Spirit’s Artur “Goblak” Kostenko. But most colleagues Fear’s age already moved away from playing in tournaments in their mid 20’s. They’ve taken on casting, analyst or coaching positions. For some, that was the result of those being more lucrative professions. For others, it was the gruel of the game taking a toll on them. Because, as Fear puts it, Dota 2 asks for a lot.
“To be a professional Dota 2 player in the current era, you have to give up college and other career opportunities. You are committed to your career choice. Playing Dota professionally takes up all of your time if you calculate in the amount of time you have to travel and train to be worthy of being considered one of the best teams in the world.”
But why are there so few “old” players in esports, compared to traditional sports then? While practicing and travelling for esports is without a doubt straining, it doesn’t get close to the physical wear and tear of playing football or hockey. According to Fear, it’s less about the games in particular, but how the entire industry operates and how people get in it in the first place.
“There could be a lot of reasons for this, and a big one is that traditional sports don’t change much. A lot of esports come and go as the years go by. It’s only natural that most players are only good at a certain game, and as that game dies, so does the future of those that played it.”
As long as an esport is on a good track, however, some arbitrary “old age” shouldn’t be the reason for retirement, Fear believes. Reflexes, his at least, don’t really die out, he says. And as long as you’re good at what you do, why quit because you’ve reached a certain age?
“It is important to not feel limited or pressured by a fictional age range that people made up and have no idea what they are talking about. I would know. I have been playing this game professionally longer than just about anyone.”