How I (Accidentally) Became a Sports Fan

When I was young, I used to watch the football games with my dad every Sunday night. I didn’t know what was going on, but I had nothing better to do and it was a good chance to spend some time with the people I found interesting at the time. I even played some baseball and soccer in rec leagues until I was about 13. But as I grew older and drifted away from my parents, I also drifted away from sports; I just didn’t derive any particular enjoyment from watching a guy throw a ball to another guy, and I didn’t get the frenetic energy sports fan got when “their” team won. I just preferred to play games and study music.

So you imagine my surprise when I suddenly realized, sitting alone watching the finals of the Mid-Season Brawl on mute using library wifi, that I had become a sports fan…just not the type I had always imagined in my head.

Everyone knows that guy who insists on going to a bar for lunch so he can “watch the game” or that person who plans out epic Superbowl parties or the person who listens to the ball game on the radio during their commute back home at night. We all know those people who thrive on competition and bracketeering and meticulously tracking stats and arguing with co-workers over who the greatest quarterback of all time is. I never saw myself as one of those people and I never understood their obsessive need to be involved with the sport constantly (especially if they didn’t play it themselves), but in the arena of esports, I’m beginning to realize I’m exactly like those people. I am those people.

During the Mid-Season Brawl, I technically had no work to do outside of keeping up with the LiquidHeroes bingo and tweeting out any boxes we had checked off. I had no obligation to watch all the games, but I did anyway. I followed the games religiously, kept notes wherever possible, and paid attention to the drafts of each team and how the metagame was evolving. Unfortunately, I had to miss at least two full days driving my mother back and forth between the house she’s fixing up and home (a two hour round trip, and up to five or six hours in between transit), but it didn’t stop me from trying to get all the information I could.

I checked Twitter and Discord constantly for hints about what was going on. I didn’t have the data (or battery power) to stream everything from my phone, so I had to rely on wifi wherever I could get it, so I drove to libraries, coffee shops, Waffle Houses, etc. And for the first time, I noticed that I was moving outside the realm of pure analysis and self-improvement to actual fandom; I suddenly understood all of those crazy emotions people went through watching a football or soccer game.

Esports is all about the competition and the storylines. It’s about the underdog slaying the giant. It’s about meaningless but thoroughly entertaining games. And it’s about building a community of people that will stick together because of this one random thing they all have in common.

This wasn’t the first time this has happened. I remember watching LoL Worlds in the university library while studying journalism last year. I remember staying up ultra late just to watch Korean SC2 players play the most epic GSL finals of all time. I’ve experienced it all, even in games I didn’t play. But that moment watching the Mid-Season Brawl was a wake-up call. It turns out I have a lot more in common with sports fans than I thought.

Practice Habits, The “Problem With NA”

Continuing my trend of sitting down and writing daily (I did write some between blog posts, they’ve just been scattered around or remain unpublished for the moment), I wanted to talk today about poor practice habits and what I see as the “problem with NA”.

Consistency and quality are the building blocks of greatness; you can’t have only one and still become the best of the best. In everything that I do, from writing articles to blog posts to making videos, etc, I try to make sure I’m following that mantra: consistency and quality above all else. Sometimes this makes work tedious and pedantic, but I know the end result will be something good.

The same goes for competition. The best competitors are ones who practice not only improving the quality of their play but also their consistency. You can be the most talented, most skilled player in the world, but if you can’t play your best game every game, then you will never be a great player. That’s the cold, hard truth, and it’s one that I don’t think many progamers in North America have quite taken to heart. In fact, I think the region is so steeped in bad practice habits that the idea of systematically building quality and consistency has been completely lost in the fray of constantly grinding. It’s common for competitors (or artists or really anyone) to get caught up in mindlessly grinding and failing to improve, but it is especially prevalent in the NA scene, and it’s evident if you look at the results for most esports competitions.

It’s important to note that I’m not making a blanket statement about ALL players. In my opinion, there are quite a few standout players in the Heroes scene like Glaurung, Fury, and Fan who are relentlessly critical of themselves and constantly in search of areas to improve. If you watched the recent scrims with Team 8 and Dyrus, you’re probably aware of how insanely positive Glaurung is for his teammates and how much he takes the blame on himself. Not only is this admirable in the sense of putting the team before himself, but it shows that he is never happy with his play just being “good enough”. The goal of performance should be perfection, even if you never achieve it.

Still, the few standout players can’t redeem the region as a whole. I’ve talked with quite a few people about what the “problem” is, and far too often we come to the conclusion that it’s some sort of cultural problem. Maybe the US (and/or Canada) is far too forgiving of mistakes, maybe we’re not taught to pursue perfection the same way as other countries, maybe we’re just not dedicated to practice, etc. I can’t speak for what the exact reason is, but one thing I know for sure is that players and teams often have very bad practice habits which prevent them from improving at the same rate as other regions.

Last year, I sat in on a scrim session with Astral Authority (the Gust or Bust team, not the Murloc Geniuses team) and realized that they were getting almost nothing out of it. For almost six hours, one player experimented with drafts while the rest of the team just played through the game. There was little talk about why strategies or drafts worked or didn’t work, and for the most part, they seemed completely unconcerned with the outcome of their scrims (final result was 1-5, I believe).

In the final game, they drafted a complete troll comp and just played around and fed. I was trying out for coach, so I asked them a bit about their practice regiment and whether they were concerned about the results, and they told me that “other people don’t get their practice habits” and that they didn’t want to take scrims too seriously and get burnt out.

This is purely anecdotal evidence of one scrim for one team, but I get the creeping suspicion that the lassaiz-faire attitude is common among a lot of the teams in North America. To be clear, I’m not advocating that practice should be super serious at all times; in fact, it’s really important to make games out of all practice of any kind to keep yourself engaged. However, goal-setting has to underline all practice habits or else you are learning nothing and stagnating.

Consistency is a big problem in North America too. During this season of HGC, only Tempo Storm has fared well in terms of consistency, and even then, they did have a few days where their drafting and in-game performance wasn’t quite on par with their usual.

Everyone else was a trainwreck. Team 8 was very consistent for the first half of the season, but once April rolled around, their play fell apart and they suffered three crushing defeats in a row against teams that they should have been able to beat (some of this has been blamed on scheduling and scrim time, but I don’t believe those factors alone contributed to the overall drop in play). Naventic and No Tomorrow got dumpstered on all season, but on good days, they were able to beat or go even with some of the teams in the region. And don’t even get me started on GFE….

Compare that to Europe. Fnatic and Dignitas were absolutely solid throughout the entire season, and although Liquid had a bit of an issue in the second half, they were very consistent overall. Team expert, Playing Ducks, and Tricked had widely varying levels of play, but for the most part they beat the teams they were supposed to beat (Synergy/beGenius). There are no examples of the last place team beating the first place team (Gale Force eSports vs No Tomorrow).

Again, the lack of consistency comes with bad practice habits, in my opinion. A strict practice schedule and clearly defined goals eliminate the possibility of “being out of practice” or unclipping your mind and muscles from the actions they’re supposed to do automatically. Quality of play will always vary, especially in a team environment, but the standard deviation should be minimal. You cannot become the best team in the world or even the region without a high level of consistency.

Mary Oliver, a famous poet, once wrote that in order to find inspiration, you had to cultivate it with daily practice; in other words, sitting down and thinking seriously about your work every day. Even if the result doesn’t feel inspired, you will eventually train yourself to call on that inspiration at will.

What I DON’T think the problem is is ego. No one goes 0-3 and thinks “I’m still the best player in the world, no one can touch me”, at least no sane person. North American players are well known to make excuses and play the blame game, and I honestly don’t believe that’s a product of arrogance as much as it’s not being able to locate problems in their practice habits. The game is incredibly complex, and there are a lot of reasons why people win or lose. If you don’t have a habit of being relentlessly critical of yourself, it’s very easy to overlook your own play and blame another player or team. Sometimes the reasons are even murkier, and a frustrated player will lash out to the nearest reason like a bad draft or a bad bracket.

It’s hard to pinpoint mistakes…that’s honestly a skill all its own, but it’s one that separates decent players from great players, and it’s built through having lots of targeted practice. Think about a choral master who, after years of practice finding his own voice and listening to others, can find a single wrong note in a chorus of 100 people. That’s the level to aim for.

Monthly Update – May 2017

Hey there, I’m back with another monthly update! Heads up, this one is a little heavier than the last one.

My last update happened to coincide with a change of tides and an optimistic outlook, so it naturally took on a good-natured and work-oriented tone. However, I want to delve a little bit deeper into my mind this month and explain exactly what’s going on in my brain because…it’s not that easy. You can say you want to do this and that or have aspirations or some grand plans, but it’s simply not that easy to make it a reality.

If you’d rather skip over my personal problems and get right into my work, just scroll down to the first heading.

So, if you follow my work, you will probably remember my unbelievably depressing New Year’s post. Admittedly, these are ghosts I walk around with all the time—will I ever be good enough? Am I inherently flawed? Why can’t I just work a job like a normal person? These nagging thoughts bite away and me and weaken my will to do work and create things, even during the best of times.

I also struggle a lot with self-image. I’ve never been particularly skinny, and I’ve always battled with obesity and healthy eating habits. A few years ago, I managed to whip myself into shape, lose 80 lbs, and get on a full vegetarian diet, but I have regressed almost completely since then. This is the particular reason why I struggle to do videos like the HotS Thoughts series, even though they are by far the easiest medium to work with. I just can’t look back at these videos with any sense of satisfaction because I hate my voice, I hate my face, and I honestly wouldn’t listen to me either. The ruthlessness with which I attack myself is something that I think drives a lot of my improvement in writing (and long ago, in music), but it certainly has some drawbacks in places where I have to show my face.

A few days ago, I grew restless at 3am and decided to go out for a drive. It’s the sort of restlessness you get from being idle, from feeling like you’re not moving or going anywhere worthwhile. This uneasy feeling visits me often at night. I ended up driving out to one of the parking decks on campus and going to the top level.

Before we go any further, I want to assure everyone that this isn’t a near-suicide story; I have had some terrible and strange thoughts, but I’ve never had a crystallized view of killing myself. You do not need to be frightened or worried for me.

As I stood at the top of the deck looking out across the athletic fields, I decided, at the very least, to do some walking across the deck from one side to the other. Inevitably, that turned into a bit of jogging and running. But by the third lap back, I could already feel my muscles start to fail, my breathing becoming heavy, and my heart pounding in my chest. Nauseous, I collapsed on the ground and tried to control my breathing and avoid throwing up.

It was in this moment that I sort of floated outside my body, and the words of Shane Koyczan came to me: “Know that now is only a moment, and that if today is as bad as it gets, understand that by tomorrow, today will have ended.” And for a moment, I had a sort of out-of-body experience—this, of course, may have just been a minor hallucination due to lack of oxygen to my brain—where I could see myself lying on the ground pitifully trying not to throw up and thinking, “Remember this. Remember this moment and know that tomorrow you will be, by whatever small margin, better than this.”

So I’ve been working on my fitness levels again. And though it’s only been a few days, I’m hoping that again I can continue to rally and press forward each and every day. It’s important to remember my weak moments and use them as motivation to move me ahead, however marginally, toward my goals and the things that I want in life. I will struggle, and some days will be bad, but I’m hoping that I can continue to move forward through that stress and strain into better pastures.

For a long time, I’ve been feeling like I’m standing on the precipice of a valley and intertwined are the mixed feelings of fear that I’m going to fall and wondering if I have the strength to make it to the top. It is a precarious balance that keeps me awake at night far longer than I should be awake, feverishly working on some project trying to bring it to fruition; and at the same time, the slow deprivation of energy that robs me of all will to do anything at all. I recently heard that the original StarCraft team worked crunch time for 8 months; I understand that completely because I’ve been working crunch time for two years straight trying to find a “finished product”. I have no idea if I’m close or not, but I try to tell myself that I’m in the home stretch every day.

Anyway.

Plans for May

After losing my only steady job at Inven Global last month, I’ve been desperately trying to search for a new job that’s right for me. Unfortunately, I’ve either heard absolutely nothing from the people I’ve tried contacting or I’ve been turned down for whatever reason. Rejection obviously sucks.

On the bright side, various opportunities have arisen out of seemingly nowhere. For instance, I was asked to start casting the Afreeca Starleague (ASL) with a friend, and it turns out that’s actually a paying gig! It’s still pocket change compared to what I need to pay the bills, but it’s a start. I’ve also been contacted by a few organizations for an opportunity as managing editor, which is the dream job (if it pays).

My new logo has given me a bit of a credibility boost, but I still need to stay diligent with my work. Aside from my day to day work at LiquidHeroes (yes, I read and edit ALL of the recaps and articles that get published), I’ve just been trying to find the right angle for my next project. I have a lot of ideas, but I’m not sure which medium I want to use. There are so many cool ideas that fit better into video, but as mentioned earlier, I have a very difficult time motivating myself to sit in front of a camera and speak, so I may end up just writing some stuff down.

I want to continue doing a variety of Heroes content, from basic guides and articles to feature pieces and interviews. Right now, many of the pros are unbelievably busy with playoffs coming up, but afterwards I would really like to get in touch with people and do a lot of interviews during the off season. (I’ve got my eye on Dyrus if he decides to actually switch to HotS as a progamer).

I’ve been spending most of my time playing StarCraft: Brood War recently. Even though I’m still a D- scrub, I think I’m improving fairly quickly, and I hope to start working on some educational content and/or game analysis. My knowledge from StarCraft 2 carries over only insomuch as being able to watch other people play and figure things out, but I feel like that’s enough to properly create content that is both intelligent and engaging. Fun fact: before I switched to HotS, I wanted to be a SC2 version of Day9.

Although I rarely play or watch Warcraft III and Battlerite, I am still an avid supporter of their esports, and I’ll continue to at least give everyone updates on that scene.

Other than the nebulous goal of “make more stuff”, I will be working hard to post a little bit more regularly on my Discord and create positive discussion. I’m a big fan of building communities, and even though I get literally nothing out of it, I want to create a place where people can talk about games, daily life, and progress in a healthy environment.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you in June!

P.S. This is the month I have to evaluate my financial situation and make a decision on whether or not I can move to California in the fall. I will post an update on whatever I decide.

Warcraft 3 is actually amazing.

A few days ago, I was turned onto the Grand Finals of this tournament by RallyJaffa via Twitter, and I have been obsessive about it ever since. I was aware that WC3 was still alive in China, and I knew names like 120, TH000, and Lyn, but I didn’t really give it much attention until recently. I didn’t realize how godlike 120 was or the extreme skill it took to play this game until I looked at it from a fresh perspective.

Warcraft 3 was my first real Blizzard game, and I played it all the way through middle and high school. I never got much into competitive or paid attention to the pro scene (though I had arbitrarily decided that I admired SK.insomnia and hated SK.Madfrog); at the time, I was pretty vaguely aware of what “good” and “bad” play was. Plateauing at around level 20, I was pretty much a scrub with very poor mechanics. It wasn’t until I started to play StarCraft II that I got much much better at gaming and started to appreciate esports more.

Over the last few years, I’ve watched the occasional WC3 stream, especially Grubby. It’s so fascinating to watch how he seemingly knows everything that’s happening without seeing a single unit; that sort of mastery comes from years and years of experience. Even so, watching this Chinese tournament has lit a fire underneath me. I really want to play and watch some WC3 now.

I reinstalled WC3 and began to play a few games against the AI for practice. My mechanics from SC2/BW have carried over pretty nicely, but I’m still having trouble aligning my builds perfectly and I know basically nothing about the maps. I’m going to be playing a bit over the next few weeks and maybe even stream some of my cringe-worthy play. Really excited to load up this game again. It’s a breath of fresh air after all the frustration I’ve faced while playing Heroes of the Storm recently.

P.S. Watch Game 5 of the Grand Finals between 120 and Lyn on Ancient Isles. You will not be disappointed.

The burden of journalism.

This year I’ve probably learned more about writing and journalism than during the whole of my college career. For a few months, I went to the nearby college library and read books upon books about the subject, and I became much more literate in a relatively short span of time. Nonetheless, there’s a big difference between knowing about journalism and doing it.

Journalism ethics are pretty straightforward (for the most part) and work well for most areas of your life. Seek the truth, respect others, be accountable…all very relevant and useful concepts, not only for writers, but for the general population as well. Details like libel are murkier. This is where I started, and I think it’s been an excellent vantage point for everything else I’ve done since—it’s much easier to build something if you can survey the area properly first.

But the rest of it is actually quite hands on. Writing mechanics have never come easily to me even though I’m quite aware of good sentence structure, spelling, grammar, etc. And as for article ideas and implementation, sometimes I struggle there too. But perhaps the biggest hurdle has been getting used to being plugged in at all times. The burden of journalism is the constant state of awareness that a reporter requires in order to catch all the details, connect all of the dots, and write the story sooner than the competitors. Deadlines don’t care about your sleep schedule, and there’s not enough time to go back and find all the details you need. There are no days off.

In esports, this awareness extends to tournament results, roster swaps, game features, esports league formats, potential new esports, game design…and the list goes on. If you’re covering more than one esport, there’s not enough hours in the day to actually feed all that information into your brain and process it; you’re tuned in 24/7 and constantly reading articles, watching VoDs, and reading live tweets just to keep up to date. Any time that you lose to sleep or inattention can’t be easily made up for.

It can get very exhausting.

For that reason, it’s good to take a personal day every now and then. If you don’t take breaks or unplug yourself from the mainframe every now and then, it’s really easy for stress to affect your sleep or your health. I don’t know if my brain tires out more easily than others—Pulitzer, for example, was hyper-vigilant and made it a life mission to examine every fine detail closely and add it to his memory bank—but it does sometimes become cumbersome. I’m not great at letting things go and relaxing either, but I’m trying to go outside and do some walking for at least one hour a day and just rest my brain.

The idea of doing journalism doesn’t seem too difficult. Writing news or feature articles doesn’t take a lot of effort, really. But the constant state of awareness and ravenous hunger for information might just eat you up if you’re not prepared for it.

Professionalism. What is it?

So.

The Long and Short of It

The short version is that I got blacklisted from a (presumably) large company and my reputation was ruined among a few big names in esports.

The long version is that I applied for a position at World Wide Gaming. Ever heard of it? Me either. I found the job offering on Esports Career and saw that it was a really ambitious startups. Personally, I always try to look for startups to join because I know it’s much easier to get into a management position in an organization that isn’t already established. So I thought, “Why not apply for this Editor-in-Chief position? It might end up being a good gig.”

About a week later, I was contacted by someone on Twitter (not the person I emailed) regarding the job. I wasn’t even considered for the EiC position, it was automatically assumed that I would be writer. No words at all about the application or how they thought I would be useful somewhere else.

So that was a bit disappointing. Afterwards, I was told grand stories about a huge investor who was looking to get into gaming/esports news. There was a production studio being built in Tennessee that was supposed to produce 24/7 video news! I was told that I’d have the opportunity to go all over the US to different events and record video (interviews, venue tours, etc.), and that all of my work would be well paid. For an esports writer/journalist, that is like the dream come true.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen way too many similar situations happen in esports—promises of big money/opportunity made to kids who literally have no money at all that are never fulfilled. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

So I started doing some digging. I searched the people involved with World Wide Gaming, including the investor, my point of contact, and one other person I was told about. I extensively researched the history of their Twitter and Facebook accounts. I even looked up IP history and Tennessee corporations. Other than the 117K follower Twitter that had only had the handle @WWG for three weeks, I was unable to find any evidence of foul play or real shadiness.

But I also literally could not find any information about the group itself. In an attempt to get a better understanding of the organization, I sent out some feelers. I asked my point of contact about the Twitter, asked the investor about WWG via Twitter, etc.

The result? I was ignored, blocked, and never got any responses. I tried several times over the weekend to contact the organization, but was unable to find anyone available to contact other than the original guy who contacted me. After several days of silence, I finally received an email from the guy I emailed about the EiC job. He told me that, while my writing and editing skills were impressive, they were looking for someone more experienced with “working with people, developing talent, and working with a young company that needs to grow”.

From this comment, I can only surmise that public questions and concerns I raised on Twitter made them think that I was unprofessional.

The Criticism

Part of me is never repentant of my criticism. My intuition is always right, and I’ve learned to trust it. The lack of transparency and communication within World Wide Gaming is straight up terrible. Listing big names doesn’t mean anything, and it appears that their structure of organization is inconsistent at best. I’m still unable to find who is actually in charge of hiring.

The followup response to my questioning by ignoring and blocking me is the lowest, slimiest, thing a “reputable” member of the community can do. My questions were fair and straightforward, and my attempts to contact them were far from harassment. Absolutely ridiculous.

I don’t think World Wide Gaming is a scam. But I’m pretty sure it’s a group of individuals who literally have no idea what they’re doing. Esports history is full of investors who get into stuff they don’t understand and fail miserably. While several high-profile members of the esports community may be (allegedly) involved, I still worry about the likelihood that many of them have never played these roles before.

The Papercut

Nonetheless, every time I face rejection or criticism, it hits deep. I wonder what exactly it was that I did wrong and what I could have done better.

In this case, I have been up for hours wondering if my comments on Twitter were too visceral or too plain. Was it just the simple act of revealing their investor? Is revealing investors a cardinal sin in the business world?

There’s a lot I still need to learn about business, writing, and life. I’ve got a lot of experience and expertise that I’ve built up over the last few years, but I’m still learning. There is always the very real possibility that I’m an idiot.

In any case, decisions like these will continue to haunt me and make me wonder if I threw away a chance at an esports career. Is this the sort of dirt that people uncover 10 years later and call you a hypocrite for? Have I made some very real enemies in the esports world?

I’m scared, but I will try to channel my effort into the what has always been the most important thing to me: my work.

Refocusing. Planning a new goal.

So, to be straightforward: I was fired from Esports Edition this week.

A large part of the reasoning for this decision was my chronic failure to produce articles on time and communicate properly with the management. This isn’t the first time. In many ways, it reminds me of my schoolwork in high school and college; I’ve never been much of a prolific writer, and I often miss deadlines.

I have the worst form of writer’s block. The inability to put two sentences together if I’m not sincerely interested in the topic. Then, when I’m late, I tend to quiet myself because I know that I have no real excuse (and I hate making excuses for my failures). The only thing I can say is, “I just didn’t do it.”

The more overdue my material becomes and the more impatient those waiting on me for it become, the more difficult it becomes for me to write at all. I let the weight of all that pressure push down on me, unable to lift it away piece by piece. The only real release is dropping all of it, quitting, and starting over.

This is something I’ve lived with and tried to understand for many years. It’s possible I just have a fundamental “laziness” that I’ve yet to overcome. Maybe I don’t understand the value of “hard work”. I’m not really sure. I haven’t discovered why I do the things that I do yet.

Whatever the case, I’m moving forward and trying to figure out what works best for me.

What Was Wrong With Esports Edition

The first and most important goal that I have is writing about the things I want to write about. When I am excited about a topic, I put everything I have into it, and thoughts and ideas flow out without effort. Part of the reason why it was so difficult for me to write pieces at Esports Edition was because I was continually being forced into a smaller box.

First of all, you should understand what Esports Edition is, and what it’s goals are. Esports Edition is a subsidiary of a larger corporation called Perk.com. Perk.com makes its money through advertising on apps that reward viewers for watching videos, reading articles, and using the app. Like all companies that make most of their money from ad revenue, their goal is to create lots of short, engaging content that will keep the viewer interested and looking at the screen.

I was told early on when I joined them as a startup that they were looking to foster a gaming community and create a sort of “grassroots” news movement. I’m not one to put all of my eggs into the “community” startup basket, but I’m also not a huge fan of large corporate identities (as can be seen from my constant criticism of ESL). It seemed like a good goal, and very much in line with the sort of community I was trying to foster at TeamLiquid.net before I was expelled quite unfairly. In hindsight, it’s ironic that I placed so much faith in the Esports Edition group.

The first few articles I wrote for them were supposed to be “general, evergreen” content. They wanted me to write pieces that anyone could read, whether they were new to the game or seasoned veterans, could read and learn from. They also wanted it to be “evergreen”, or “timeless”, meaning that it had to be general enough to not attach itself to a single patch, event, team, or player’s success. I wrote about using the Dragon Knight and the perks of Talents vs Items.

It was boring, tedious work trying to fit myself into this box, but I was promised more freedom in the future once they had built up a base of articles for the site.

Needless to say, this never really happened. They kept pushing for very general content and disliked my pieces that went over 1200 words. When the 500 word cap rule came into effect this month, I was already done. Not only would that cut my pay in half (1000 words/article on average previously), but it was fitting me once again into a very small box which I didn’t care for.

The best analogy I can give is a BuzzFeed article. And I swore I would never write BuzzFeed articles when I first started my freelance writing career. Never ever.

When that rule was implemented, I was already considering new jobs, including the writing position at ESL. Being fired is no loss in terms of where I was headed anyway, though it still stings to know that I failed. It has put me in a situation where I need to figure out my priorities and the direction I want to head very quickly. I don’t have time to sit around and think about what I would like to do in the future; the future is NOW.

What I’m Refocusing On

About eight months ago, I decided that I was going to make a living in esports. My ultimate aim was always to be an Editor-in-Chief. I loved the work that I did at Team Liquid managing writers, scheduling content, and filling in whenever a writer was sick or unable to write. It was everything that I could ever want to do in life. But you don’t get to a position like that without lots and lots of writing first.

Luckily, there are still things I definitely want to write about. I’ve never been interested in straight up news or interest pieces. I’m not a flowery writer. I parse through a situation or incident, find what’s right and what’s wrong, and I try to convey that. It’s very similar to editing in a way.

To that end, I love writing editorials providing criticism. I’m honestly not that opinionated, but when I see something that is particularly worrisome like AA’s behavior during ESL’s recent rulings, I am compelled to speak out. We don’t have a lot of criticism in the community anymore aside from Reddit mobs, and I don’t think that does the scene any favors. Criticism is a guideline for discussion, understanding, and improvement.

I also really love doing interviews. To be honest, I haven’t really done many, but the ones that I have done felt truly amazing, and I think I have a knack for it. My goal is to expose people as they truly are so that people don’t have to sort through the multitudes of opinions of them based on hearsay and speculation.

There are actually so many incredible people in the Heroes scene like Equinox, Khaldor, and some of the guys from Big Gods. At the same time, there’s a lot of connotation with their names and “arrogance” or “attitude”. You really don’t know until you talk to them and treat them like human beings instead of celebrities.

The last and final piece of the puzzle is guide writing. I have always loved writing guides, dating all the way back to my time on TL Strategy. I love it. They are time consuming and can be a nightmare to update, but I love them so much. More guides to come.

The Great SQL Project

It’s no secret that I’ve been working on statistics for Heroes of the Storm. Up until MasterLeague.net launched only a few months ago, there was literally no definitive source for finding the drafts of every game in the order that they happened.

This was a problem when I first started trying to think about collecting drafts and studying them, so I began to build spreadsheets to collect the data. Despite rather lukewarm responses, I think the spreadsheets were a resounding success in terms of what they were intended to do.

But they had some limitations. I managed to find some SQL-like query functions in Google Sheets that slimmed them down substantially, but it still wasn’t what I ultimately wanted. I wanted tools that viewers, casters, and analysts could use to quickly gain information, study, and use to predict the game.

So I started creating a fully fledged database. I literally know nothing about this field of programming and I’m learning on the fly, but I feel confident that I can create an in-depth collection of games, drafts, and even player picks that can be used as a powerful tool for searches.

I’ve planned out the entire database and gone over it with a friend of mine who is a DBM (database manager). The MySQL server is being set up this week, and Dthehunter and I are going to be working tirelessly over the next month or two to populate the database with the appropriate data.

The ultimate goal is an app that will have several tools that help users dynamically view and predict games. I can’t reveal too much about the tools at this time, but I am eagerly anticipating the finished product that I envisioned almost four months ago finally come to fruition. Stay tuned for updates.

The Season of Plenty.

Right now is a good time for me. I’ve had more than ample success as a writer since leaving Team Liquid with Esports Edition and now with Splyce, and I’ve entered into a really exciting time period in my life: I can officially make a living off of my freelance writing. It’s not much of a living, but I can pay the bills, and that’s really all that matters to me right now. It’s the freedom that’s important.

I’ve got so many projects and ideas, and there’s so much going on in the Heroes of the Storm scene that I will never run out of topics to talk about. It is an era of plenty. Plenty of topics, plenty of work, plenty of ideas, plenty of motivation.

For most people, this would be something exciting, something to embrace and enjoy, but I have difficulty seeing it this way myself. I have a habit of thinking ahead and predicting the future; sometimes this is a good thing, sometimes it really sucks.

To some degree, this sort of thinking has kept me out of trouble and prevented me from doing a lot of stupid stuff in my life that a lot of other people had to experience through trial and error. In gaming, it gives me an edge because I’m not twitching to avoid skillshots, I’m actively thinking about what’s my opponent is going to do next.

When I make predictions about meta changes, I’m fairly insightful. For instance, tanky bruiser meta always follows high burst mage meta. This is the case in every MOBA in almost every circumstance. Usually that’s followed by a high sustained damage meta and the cycle repeats itself. It’s a pattern that’s easy to follow, easy to predict.

Sometimes that insight can be a pain though. Coupled with a fancy for excitement and a belief in miracles, I can sometimes think too far ahead. It’s a bit embarrassing, but I’ve lived out an entire lifetime with every girl I’ve ever fallen in love with—in my head. Vividly, I’ve dreamed up an entire lifetime, an entire set of conversations that never happened, etc.

The same sort of thing happens to me sometimes when I think of business and success. I’ll publish a good article or develop a project and follow that train of thought all the way to its conclusion as a fully developed business. Again, this can be a good thing, but it often means I get impatient with what I’m doing and easily discouraged.

During a season of success, I only see the aftermath, like a roller coaster climbing a hill that you know it will inevitably drop from. No matter how successful you might be, you’ll always end up in a trough at some point. It might not be today or tomorrow, but at some point, it’s not going to be this easy.

My Bipolar means that I cycle through seasons of plenty and famine more often. I don’t get years of prosperity and happiness. It’s difficult to pinpoint the turning points, but I generally know when it’s happening, and it happens pretty regularly every few months. I can’t enjoy this because I know at some point I won’t be as lucky. It’s the anticipation that’s killing me.

Whatever the case may be, I’m going to continue to work despite that fear. There’s plenty to do, got to get working. I’m done ranting hahaha.

Starting Over.

“Work harder, faster. Make better, stronger. Evolution never complete.”

Two and a half years ago, I weighed 230 lbs at 5’8″—very obese and unhealthy. To put it in perspective, I could barely run 30 feet without running short on breath and needing to take a moment to rest. I had a terrible self-image, and I felt very much alone.

At some point, I decided to live my life better. I can’t tell exactly what it was; I remember eating a peanut butter & jelly sandwich in my living room (my third meal that night) at 3 am watching StarCraft II and feeling terrible. I was actually sick with the flu at the time, but it was probably the first time in my life I realized that my lifestyle was going to kill me eventually. I was heading into the 23rd year of my life in the worst condition I had ever been in.

So I made some changes. I became a vegetarian, I started exercising more regularly. As I got healthier, I also got into parkour; (for the record, anyone can do parkour, I promise). The exhausting exercise that parkour provided was fun and gave me something to improve at constantly, and at some point I was going to work out every day for two to three hours. During this time, I lost a lot of weight—at my skinniest, I got down to 150 lbs, an 80 lb difference.

Since then, I’ve been battling with depression and trying to figure out what to do with my life. Things were easy then because all I was doing was constantly working or working out. I was just improving. But then I lost my job and…stopped. My mom moved into the apartment with me after her divorce, and I didn’t have to clean or make food or even go out for groceries. I started to do literally nothing.

This continued for several months, from last summer until now. Since then, I’ve gained quite a lot of weight back (up to around 190, I believe). I feel fat, I feel ashamed. That feeling never really went away, even when I was skinny, but it’s amplified when you look in the mirror and see yourself and realize that your pants fall off of your ass because it’s too big. It’s a horrible feeling, and I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to shake it completely.

Nonetheless, I’m working on improving again. Today marks the next step in my journey. I’ve been still reeling since my resignation from Team Liquid a few weeks back, but I’m ready to get things together and get going. This year will be my most profitable year to date—I’m sure of that.

I have plans to exercise, stream, write, and read, and through this I plan to start over again, reset, and reorient myself forward. Time to do better.

Getting back to it.

It’s been a little rough recently, I’ll admit. Last night I stayed up all night for no reason playing League of Legends, completely neglecting my work and letting down a lot of the people who relied on me.

This can’t be the sort of thing I do.

Good work comes with good habits, so I’m going to start working on good habits again. It’s very important to me that I establish myself as a reliable person who will get stuff done, someone who follows through on their word. Ironically, I’ve always been terrible at this, but that’s probably why it’s so important—I’m trying to fix myself. Here’s a list of habits I want to start working on:

  • Dress for success. I work at home, so I tend to let myself go a bit from time to time. Nevertheless, I want to work on dressing my best and keeping clean shaven even though I’m not in an office environment.
  • Write a blog every day. I’ve always kept a written journal, but I think this blog is important, and it helps me continue to practice writing.
  • Produce my content one day in advance. This is a quality of life thing. If I’m scheduled to submit an article on Monday, I need to finish the article on Sunday; it’s pretty simple.
  • Start streaming daily. Streaming isn’t really…integral to my success, but it’s another place where I can put time in and show my face and my personality.
  • Exercise! I’ve been getting back into parkour, but there’s only so much my body can handle at once. I want to make consistent and quality exercise a habit so I can be healthy while I continue to improve at writing.

Also, totally random, but I’d like to do some word studies from time to time :D.

Today’s WotD from Dictionary.com is ninnyhammer, meaning a fool or simpleton. The base of the word, “ninny”, refers to a fool on its own originally. No idea where “hammer” came from, but I suppose it adds characters.

If you don’t like SKT, then you are a ninnyhammer.

Will do more in-depth ones later, but I thought that one was pretty interesting.