Calling eSports players “athletes” may be a much-contested point around the Web. But in terms of emotional investment, there is a clear link between working hard for success and coming up short, whether behind your keyboard or at the one-yard line.
Choi is no stranger to adversity. Since 2011, he's bounced back and forth between North America and Korea, searching for a home within a League of Legends team. He has been a part of six different professional level teams in just two short years. Despite this, Choi has established a reputation as a funny and hard-working member within the pro scene, often using vlogs and streams to interact with fans.
In September, things were looking up. Maximum Impact Gaming, Choi's former team, tagged him to put together a dream team. That squad would end up being rostered by the North American organization, Quantic Gaming, and were moved out to sunny California to compete for a spot in the League of Legends Championship Series, the massively popular professional league for the biggest eSport in the world.
After two months settling in and regaining their footing, Choi and Quantic looked poised to sweep through the qualifiers for a spot among the region’s best. All they needed was a top three finish in a six-team group in the league's Spring Promotional Tournament.
Choi's squad jumped out to an early 2-0 lead. But then, disaster struck. As Choi describes in his vlog: “All three games go to shit…we, as players, played like shit.” Quantic went on to lose the last three games, ending their attempt to play North American Championship Series.
In his video, he describes his internal debate about whether to continue playing, a decision athletes the world over are faced with at some point in their careers, especially after a season-ending defeat.
“I don’t know what to do anymore. My life revolves around League, my only value to the world is about fucking League. But whenever I play League, I feel so fucking sad, because of what happened… and when I don’t play League, I feel empty.”
Credit to Choi: He ends the video on a note of promise and humor. “If I do play [League again]," he says, "then I’ll work hard to be the best again. But for now, don’t have anything set. [I'll] go to college if I get accepted into colleges I like… Oh, and I wear glasses now."
He adds with a laugh: "And my grandma said I could have a nose job for Christmas if I wanted. I’m considering it, opinions on that if you may.”
Screengrab via Yoon Sub Choi/YouTube