Life after LCS: eSports Careers and Retirement

Dec 16, 2015

Chaox was once one of the best AD carries in the world, playing with TSM on its original roster. He eventually retired faced with the arrival of newer, hungrier players. After years of inaction, he posted this month that he is now currently a coach for a Chinese team. Esports is a new and rising industry that is evolving faster than most can keep up with. Players are adapting and finding new and profitable ways to supplement themselves after retirement.

When an LCS pro retires, they do one of a few things.  They stream full time, start a normal life or, work behind the scenes. Some may end up washed up, and then pop up years later. Players in high demand often end up moving from one team to the next until they feel they cant play to their standard anymore. Lustboy was a player in Korea for three years, reaching his overseas peak on CJ Entus. For his last year he moved to TSM, bringing them to worlds. A player can have a long (for eSports) career, as long as he finds his niche.

Back in the day, if someone wanted to see how a video game played, they would have to buy it. Now you can see the best professionals and personalities stream any game you could ever want straight to your computer or device. On Twitch, the most popular streaming site, hundreds of thousands of viewers watch these players on their own channels. Some started off as eSports professionals, while others have garnered mass viewership just through streaming. Almost every day League of Legends is the most viewed on the list, showcasing both pro and casual alike.

Pros have admitted that streaming is more lucrative then working as an LCS player. After retiring, players like Voyboy, Imaqtpie, and saintvicous sit in front of their computers everyday, webcams on. Normal people watch them, subscribe to their channel, and give them donations. If you are a member of the “Dong Squad” or the “Voy Scouts” you are helping to support these players both financially and emotionally. The players who get to do this for a living are extremely grateful, thanking each and every donation or subscriber.

Some players stay with their organization and stream for them. Meteos and Theoddone, junglers for Cloud 9 and TSM, both live in their organization’s houses, even though they don’t play for the team anymore. They bring revenue and exposure, entertaining the fans that still remember them playing on the big stage. This has become an ever rising trend among retired ex pros, a profitable venture where you still get to live with friends. Dyrus has just retired and is living in the TSM house, streaming daily.

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Some people get tired of playing video games on a rigorous regiment and aim for the normal life. After being chewed up, spit out, and booed off stage, they decide that the teenage pro gamer lifestyle isn’t for them. Various players go to college to finish their degrees, while others try to figure out how they are going to spend the rest of their lives. Link, the former mid laner of CLG is currently attending UC Berkley. Before he retired he wrote what some have described as the “Donezo Manifesto” a 20 page Google Doc which describes his time in eSports. It’s poorly written with consistent grammar problems and lists the problems that Link had on CLG. If you haven’t read it already, you really should. It is a great look at the ups and downs in a professional gaming career.

For the last few years, eSports has slowly been establishing a network of coaches and analysts. Since this is a new industry, there really aren’t any League of Legends coaches with years of experience. Teams have grabbed coaches from sports teams who have experience with a team environment, while others use retired players who know the game inside and out.

Cop played on Team Curse for three years, and was coaching for the LCS team Gravity. After retiring from Team Dignitas, Scarra went on to Coach CLG for a year, until he left for other opportunities. In a few years’ time this will become more commonplace, giving retired players a safety net after playing. Jatt, Kobe, and Krepo are both now analysts on Riot games’ stream after retiring. There really is no limit to the opportunities these players have.

There are many horror stories of competitive players being washed up after 25, with nowhere to go. League of Legends has one of the best communities of any video game, and a player that tries will almost find his voice somewhere. Players like LemonNation and Hai have just started their retirement, announcing no future plans yet. No matter what they do, retired players will always be heroes of the rift earning a place in the proverbial LOL hall of fame.

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Steven Asarch
Free lance writer with a Journalism degree, obsessed gamer, and Pez collector. I'll beat anyone at League of Legends trivia. Follow me @KapMizzy.
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