Esports And the Danger of Burn-out

Esports and the Danger of Burnout

The romantic ideal of “pushing yourself to the limit” is not very healthy when it comes to a player’s career.

On August 10, Blacklist International confirmed that the “VeeWise” duo would be sitting out season 12 of the MPL PH. The star duo of Jonmar “OhMyV33NUS” Villaluna and Danerie “Wise” Del Rosario have been pillars for Blacklist since MPL PH season 7, and they’ve been playing Mobile Legends competitively for longer than that. But, they expressed that they needed to take a break from the esports side of Mobile Legends, to recharge and avoid burnout.

Left to right: Danerie “Wise” Del Rosario and Jonmar “OhMyV33NUS” Villaluna of Blacklist International. They’re more famously known as the VeeWise duo. (Photos by Moonton Games)
What Is Burnout?

Burnout, as described by the World Health Organization, is “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” Its effects include feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job, feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy, among others.

Of course, esports isn’t the only occupation that experiences burnout but the nature of the industry almost invites it. Many esports leagues and tournaments happen closely to one another and are packed with important matches. 

Taking the upcoming MPL PH season 12 as an example, teams will be playing at least two best-of-three matches every week for six weeks. Once playoffs are done around late October, participating teams will have about a month before the M5 World Championships start. 

There’s also the IESF World Esports Championships happening in Romania right before the start of the MPL PH. AP.Bren is representing the Philippines and their first match in the MPL PH is on Sep. 8. Assuming that AP.Bren goes all the way in the WEC, the soonest they can leave for Manila is Sep. 4 as the WEC grand finals is scheduled for Sep. 3.

AP.Bren during the 32nd SEA Games. A couple of months later they would play in IESF WEC 2023 Asia & Oceania Qualifier. Then it’s the WEC 2023 itself, before playing in the MPL PH season 12. (Photo by Moonton Games)

It’s also not like the teams are just resting in the days between games. Around-the-clock practice sessions, scrims, match reviews, and many more are expected from professional players. There’s also the need to stay updated with your game as new patches and meta shifts happen constantly in esports. 

Add the pressure to perform on the top-tier teams like Blacklist and it’s easy to see how quickly stress can build up on these players. 

Mounting Pressure

This isn’t the first time that these two have sat out an entire season of the MPL. Back in season nine, the VeeWise duo took a break before returning in the following season. Fresh and rejuvenated, the duo would lead Blacklist to their third MPL PH championship. Season nine was only a year ago so why are they already going on another break?

It goes back to the tight schedule that these players go through. Season nine had just finished but Blacklist and the VeeWise duo were already making preparations for the 31st SEA Games. Blacklist then won the National Team Selection tournament for the 2022 WEC, then participated in the 2022 WEC in Bali, and went straight into the MPL PH season 10 and the M4 World Championships right after.

Season 11 was also a time of adjustments for Blacklist as they had just promoted rookies Kenneth “Yue” Tadeo and Lee “Owl” Gonzales from their academy team. Blacklist leaned hard on the veteran experience of the VeeWise duo and they were able to achieve a respectable second-place finish, but the pressure had definitely taken its toll on the two.

Blacklist International during the Mobile Legends Southeast Asia Cup 2023. Despite everything, they were still able to reach the grand finals, eventually losing to ONIC Esports. (Photo by Moonton Games)

They admitted this was the case in a recent podcast. “Hindi naman kami nakapahinga, yun yung misconception ng mga tao,” said OhMyV33NUS when addressing people’s comments about their sudden hiatus. They were originally planning on sitting out this year’s Mobile Legends Southeast Asia Cup but Blacklist was not allowed to change their roster due to the official rules. They played through MSC, however in their minds, they’ve already decided to skip the next season of the MPL PH.

Managing Motivation

Player burnout is a tricky thing to manage as it depends on the player and the sport they participate in. There’s also the stigma that could be placed on a player for wanting to take a break, while everyone else stays on the grind. While it looks like the VeeWise duo has the full support of their team, that might not be the case for other exhausted players. 

On one hand, you could say that teams need more time between tournaments and leagues to get rest, while on the other you could say that teams need to use their time more efficiently and better balance both play, practice, and rest. It’s a challenge that many esports teams are working on as no one wants talented players leaving the scene at their prime due to burnout.

Mobile Legends is already a high-intensity game where simple mistakes can cost a team an entire game. It’s understandable for both OhMyV33NUS and Wise to take a breather, especially since the duo has been playing nonstop since 2019. They both still have the drive to play, they just need to get back that energy that won them championships.

Banner photo by krakenimages.com on Freepik.

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