One of the most curious things about the League of Legends esports scene is that esports players retire so early into their careers despite looking like they still have years left in the tank. There are a lot of reasons why these players decide to end their careers before even reaching the age of 30. While some of them are done voluntarily, some circumstantial reasons for the player out of the esports scene, causing them to quit the team and never return into the limelight again.
The Average Career Span of an Esports Player
Esports players often play professionally on an average of 5 years, with a handful of the more veteran players reaching 10 years. Unlike traditional sports that can last anywhere from 10-20 years, an esports player can’t go beyond 10 years without experiencing some sort of massive decline in their performance. Even the Oldest Players in League of Legends have are on or below 30 years old, with their careers looking pretty shaky at this point.
There are so many reasons why esports players retire at this point in their careers. When an esports player reaches the age of 30, they are most likely a mid-tier player in their region with experience as their only redeeming quality as a player. However, traditional sports player can remain at the peak of their careers well until the age of 35 before they finally succumb to a slow decline in performance. Let’s find out what the difference is between an esports player and a sports athlete.
The Reasons Why Esports Players Retire Early
There are so many reasons why esports players retire early. Whether it’s voluntary or involuntary, the player has some sort of influence over the outcome of how their career starts to end. While a lot of players end their careers gracefully, the vast majority are forced to part ways in a way that’s difficult to accept. Even though League of Legends players has longer careers compared to other video game esports, it’s still relatively short compared to how long other careers last.
People try to say that esports players’ careers are short because they manage to acquire a huge amount of money in a short amount of time thanks to being professional League of Legends players. In fact, a majority of esports players don’t earn a huge enough amount of money to set them comfortably for the rest of their lives. The reasons why esports careers decline rapidly is because of the nature of their training, entry into the scene, and other issues specific to esports itself.
9. Military Service
In Korea, the most common reason why LoL esports players retire early is that the men are required to undergo mandatory military service before they reach the age of 28. Military service lasts for 18 months, which is a very long time if you are an esports player. Since video gamers rely on muscle memory to stay relevant in the game, an 18-month hiatus from the game can mean that you won’t be able to play as well as you were before you were conscripted.
Since military service is mandatory, there is no way players can avoid it but the most accomplished players, such as Faker, have the option to delay it beyond 28 years old. The only way to be exempt from mandatory military service as a Korean League of Legends player is to win a Gold Medal in the Asian Games in the esports division. The former pros that have come back to the LoL esports scene from military training have either become streamers, analysts, or coaches for other teams.
8. Mental Health Break
Mental health breaks are especially common in the esports scene, especially since esports players are constantly being fed to social media. Since most esports players are part of the demographic that follow social media or forums like Reddit, they often encounter threads from the “fans” that try to attack the player for their mistakes. This can have a lasting effect on the player and force them completely out of the scene if they end up taking those posts to heart.
A good number of esports players have been conditioned to not care about people in social media but not everyone has the same mental and emotional fortitude as those players. Being attacked by the fanbase can be pretty traumatic and leave one to a state of self-doubt. If the player feels like they have let down not only their fanbase but also themselves, they might never return to the esports scene once again or it might affect the way they play in esports matches.
7. Switching to Different Esports Sectors
Professional players can also shift to a different sector of the League of Legends esports scene if they felt like the opportunity is better or their time as a pro has come to pass but don’t necessarily want to leave the game. Professional players can become coaches, analysts, or even on-air talent for the League of Legends production team. One of the most recent players to shift a career from playing to casting is Caedrel, who was the former jungler of Excel Esports, that turned his career around after the fans and LEC staff urged him to go casting after an impressive guest cast.
This probably is the best outcome after professional esports players retire from the scene. Most players that get accepted on this field are recognized for having good esports careers, with most of them having Worlds experience and a handful even being World champions. Being able to continue as a League of Legends personality without the stress of training and competing is probably one of the most satisfying endings on one’s journey in League of Legends esports.
6. Scandals and Legal Issues
The worst way to end your career as a League of Legends professional is by getting involved in a scandal or legal issue due to something you said, did, or participated in. One of the most common scandals or issues in League of Legends is match-fixing, which happens around the world. Players that are often caught conspiring to fix the results of a game are suspended or banned from ever competing in the League of Legends esports scene. If that happens, you’ll probably never play LoL again.
A good example of a player that ended their careers due to a scandal is Dopa, who is widely considered the best player to never play professionally. He got permanently banned from playing League of Legends esports due to Account Boosting, which is a huge breach of Riot Games’ terms and conditions. Despite debuting almost the same time as Faker, he didn’t manage to show the world his prowess and contest the title from his rival before he could even play one professional esports game.
5. Washed-Up Players
Now that we’re done with the worst way to end your career, we’re moving on to the saddest way LoL esports players retire and that is by being washed-up. Probably the most common reason why players retire is that they don’t have the same skills and flare as they had when they were at their peak. Being washed-up isn’t only disappointing for the player but also for the fans who have to watch their favorite player slowly decline and end up being more of a liability than an asset for the team.
There are many reasons why a player becomes washed up. The first and most common one is that they fail to adapt to the meta. Players can master one playstyle but if the game introduces a new patch that completely removes the relevance of that playstyle, the player may never be able to be relevant again. Another reason is not being able to keep up physically, probably due to age or the degradation of nerves and muscles that are important for gaming.
4. Career Failure
Career failure is reserved for rookies and relatively new pros. When you start out as a rookie in League of Legends esports, you only have very few chances to show that you are a player worth investing in. Once you break out into the main league, every organization will be watching your performance and see if they want to take a chance on you, especially the team that you’re currently playing for so giving your best and being as flashy as possible is the goal if you want to last more than one split.
One of the main reasons the younger esports players retire is because they are unable to join any more teams. Because of a failed split that might or might not be their fault, no organization will be willing to take a chance on them anymore so the player runs out of options. In this case, the player can either go back to a minor league and get another chance or retire since they know that they might just be wasting their time knowing that they can’t compete with the veterans of the league.
3. Return to Real Life
Returning to real life can be voluntary or involuntary. Since esports players begin their careers relatively early (somewhere from ages 15 and above), they have to quit school or sacrifice a portion of their youth to start training and competing with other teams. Those who Train How to Be a Pro Player begin really early and sometimes start practicing to be the best even before the age of 15 so that they’ll get noticed by the organizations who are willing to take a chance on them.
Once they realize that becoming an esports player isn’t what they wanted at all, they’ll start having second thoughts and choose to continue their studies or live out the rest of their lives normally. Although, most pro esports players retire without regretting that they at least tried to make their initial dreams come true even though it isn’t what they wanted in the end. There are others who are dragged back from esports by family, friends, or other people in their lives.
2. Physical Injury
Getting physical injuries or complications during your career can be really devastating. This happens when players ignore their physical health or start training too much that their bodies can’t keep up. Even though esports injuries aren’t as gory as physical sports injuries, the effects of these complications can mean the end of the career of the player. The most common physical issues that esports players experience are wrist, shoulder, and dietary complications.
A lot of esports player that sustain physical injuries can get back after some physical therapy. However, others sustain such devastating damage that they can no longer continue to participate in the arduous training sessions, causing them to retire early. In today’s time, it’s rare that esports players retire from physical injuries because organizations hire physical coaches, doctors, and experts to help the team get a proper amount of exercise, eat healthy, and remove any bad habits while playing.
The final reason why esports players retire is that they get burnt out. Fans often underestimate how arduous the training sessions of esports players can be. In the LPL, players train for almost 14 hours straight with only 1 personal day per month that’s often spent to sleep or rest for the entire day. This can be very taxing for the player and leave them hating the career that they joined especially if they are not getting the results that they want to have.
Remember that 99% of professional players started playing League of Legends because they thought it would be fun but aimed beyond that once they realized that they had the skills to be at the top. When they realized that the game they once loved become a job, they might find themselves resenting what they do especially with all the pressure that’s involved in competing not only for yourself but also for your entire team and the fans that support you.