Among countless issues plaguing eSports players, the constant travelling they have to do is seen as one of the most attractive features of the career. Is it really a positive, however? I propose that it’s not as amazing as people think. My idea is illustrated by what happened to Immortals’ tank, David “nomy” Ramirez prior to the Overwatch Open.
What did happen to him? Well, the talented Overwatch player from Mexico didn’t get a US visa. Thank God that Donald Trump isn’t the President yet, or he might have gotten stopped at The Wall and had his head placed on a spike, Joeffrey-style. Somehow, I doubt that traditional sports athletes have problems with visas. While it is known that eSports athletes can get sports visas to the US, I suspect it’s not a simple process, especially when the player is not a high profile superstar and the game isn’t as well-known as League of Legends.
Trying to deal with it, Immortals borrowed Wolfgang “Wgb” Braun from, it turns out, Gale Force eSports, preparing for the $300,000 tournament with Wgb being on loan for two weeks, to have enough time to train and play in the tournament with Immortals. In eSports, this is not an unheard-of occurrence, unfortunately. The issues with visas bring us to the somewhat broader issue of excessive travelling.
Unless you are a League of Legends player or used to be a member of Gambit Gaming in the beginning of the LCS (Gambit players travelled from Russia to Germany every week to play LCS matches), it’s just a part of your life that you will have tournaments all over the world to attend. For most people, this would be considered a dream come true, however, let’s look at the matter further.
Let’s say that ESL is hosting a Valve-sponsored event in Honolulu, Hawaii. The prize pool is $1,000,000. The best teams in the world need to go to Honolulu to compete. When do you go? A couple of days before the event to recover from yet lag, while bootcamping in your usual environment, or, let’s say, two weeks before the tournament starts, in order to bootcamp there, allowing you to adjust to the environment better? Most people would prefer the second option of course, after all, that would allow you to spend two weeks in Hawaii. Imagine the beaches and pretty girls in bikinis you could gawk at. No.
In reality, serious competitors hardly go out of their hotel room, training for the tournament the entire time, maybe having an afternoon to go and do touristy things. That is similar to what traditional athletes report when asked about travelling. They say that they hardly see anything besides the arena, the gym, and the hotel. The difference? Traditional athletes make millions of dollars no matter how they do in the tournament. Both kinds of athlete put in the same amount of effort, for very different payouts. It’s what it is, however, the players know what they signed up for. Just don’t think that a pro player’s life is easy. Yes, they may be travelling all over the world, however, it’s not a vacation. It’s hard work.