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Why Burnout is Higher in Franchised Esports

"Chiu on This is a short and regular opinion blast

" There are several reasons for this, so let's start with the very top and go down. The two biggest franchises out there are now League of Legends and Overwatch. Both games have a heavy emphasis on patching to make the game new and fresh for the casual player base.

For the professional though, this generally means more than is typical of games without dramatic patching, the most notable example being CS: GO. While there are changes to the game, none are as dramatic or meta shifting as a League of Overwatch. If that is the case, there is less mental strain on the top pros in CS: GO to adapt to and compared to their counterparts in the League or Overwatch. This part of the game will never change as the game is unavoidable to cater to the more casual player base and thus burnout is unavoidable here.

However, there is a counter-example to this, namely Dota2. That game also has a huge number of patches, but there are two major differences between Dota2 and League / Overwatch. The franchise league model and the Korean esports involvement.

The franchise model demands two things. For players to constantly play and prepping for games week in and week out. Secondly, it also demands that players leave their homes and to play in specific areas. In an open circuit, Dota2 players have choice as to how hard they want to go at any particular time. Where the franchise model is a continuous line of games, the open circuit games come in waves. There is a tournament over the weekend and then nothing for a few weeks. That allows a lot more freedom to decompress from mental strain and to get back to when the next tournament comes up. This also allows for Dota2 teams to take breaks while their counterparts cannot. For instance, AND won TI8 and have taken the first Major off. It is impossible for a top team in League to take off the first split of LCS as the game devs, league, and teams need them there for advertisement and exposure. This, much like game patching cannot be fixed unless the league itself wants to start reducing the amount of games (which Overwatch has done, though that was also due to the increase of the amount of teams).

The third point to look at is the involvement of Korean esports in League and Overwatch. Their player base is gigantic and they make up a large percentage of top players across the world, regardless of region. If that's the case, burnout has already been systematically implemented into them through multiple means. In terms of natural culture, Koreans favor the hard work ethic which makes for long hours of study (or in this case practice). In Brood War, KeSPA took this system and refined it to its maximum output where it forced spectacular peaks of individual form for players at the cost of their longevity in terms of career. However, unlike other players the amount of Korean players vying to come up through the scene is enormous, so they have never been punished for training players through this system. If we look at it cynically, a team org can do something like push their players to practice 1

0-12 hours a day knowing that even though their careers will be shortened, they can always be replaced by the next batch of Korean players. While it's hard to say how much of this has translated into Overwatch, we know that in the earlier years of League of Legends, copying the Korean structure of practice led to a lot of burnout as well. It's hard to say how much of this effects international teams with Korean players, but we've seen multiple breakdowns in the Overwatch League teams where the Korean player was sidelined because he wanted the team to practice more because they were doing well. Though as an org that wants to be competitive, it's hard to know when to push the players or when to pull them back in this regard. Even more so when the Korean player also happens to be the star of the team.

When you look at these three different layers of the franchised models, it's hard to point to an area that will help reduce the amount of burnout. In the first case, game devs will never stop patching the game. In the second case, the franchise models have been set in stone (though Overwatch did create an offseason and lower the amount of games). In the third case, it's certainly possible, though it depends entirely on the makeup and staff of the team.

The only solution I can think of is on a personal level. Players have to emulate the career of sOAZ from League of Legends. This is a player who has consistently figured out how to deal with the long grinding seasons of franchising and still peak at the right moments in the split (playoffs, MSI, and worlds) and deliver top performances. Overall, I just don't see how burnout can be slowed down from a structural level since most of the things that cause burnout are incentivized on that level.

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