It might be the fault of the season, however, two players participating in League of Legends World Championship have gotten sick since it started. First, Team SoloMid’s Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg had problems with his voice, hardly being able to speak in the team’s first game against Splyce, then, Reddit’s favorite, Albus NoX Luna’s Kirill “Likkrit” Malofeev got chickenpox towards the end of the second week.
Sickness, together with gaming-related injuries, like carpal tunnel issues, and other hand-related ailments, can put a real stinker in player’s individual performance or their showing as part of the team. While injuries can be avoided by keeping in shape and not shirking hand-specific exercises, sickness is harder to prevent, especially in crowded space with hundreds, if not thousands, of people running around, like in big, high-profile tournaments.
While taking care of your nutrition and trying to get enough sleep to keep your body’s ability to fight disease up to par can help, no amount of vitamins and minerals can save you if 50 sick and contagious people cough in your face. If a fan gets sick, it sucks for him, however, he can still lie in bed and watch matches from the comfort of his own home. It’s entirely different for competitors.
Technically, a sick player has three choices. He can sit out the matches, with his team using a sub, he can try and play through it, or the team can forfeit matches until the player gets better or they are eliminated. While all three options are bad, the first two are probably the least damaging.
While sickness or injuries are some of the main reasons why substitutes exist in eSports in the first place, the fact of the matter is that with some rare exceptions, the subs are noticeably worse than the main roster player, if they can even play the role or lane the main roster guy was responsible for. It’s great to have guys like Kang “Blank” Sun-gu and Bae “bengi” Seong-ung in case one of the Junglers gets sick, but what happens if it’s Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok who’s ill? You’re basically fucked, unless he can play through it.
Playing even when sick is the most popular choice. Sometimes, people cough like crazy at the worst times, sometimes, they can’t speak, sometimes, their fever is so high that they see pink elephants instead of enemies, and sometimes, they have a bucket to throw up in closeby. Whatever form the sickness takes, all of it sucks, because players are under enough stress when competing as it is. Your body betraying you when the stakes are that high only multiplies it, not even saying anything about performance loss.
When they hear that a player got sick in the middle of a tournament, some people say, “Boohoo, it’s just a game.” Pardon my French, but that is bullshit. Some of these players spend a whole year, with barely any breaks, not making anywhere close to the money earned by NBA players, for example, all to get to that one tournament at the end of the season, only to get sick. How would you feel if you spent a year working on a project, only to have it blow up in your face just as you’re about to make it happen?