Depression and burnout are common topics these days in the North American League Championship Series. As teams in the region have started inching closer to toppling the top international talent, the work schedules of the players have increased as well. Cloud9's top laner Jeon "Ray" Ji-won recently took to Twitter about dealing with depression.
As one of two top laners for Cloud9, Ray constantly gets compared to Jung "Impact" Eon-yeong and often in a negative light. The two top laners bring two distinct play styles that the team is able to play around with. Impact's tank-heavy champion pool allows the team to focus on late game team fighting, while Ray's more carry-style laners allow for the team to experiment with split pushers. Having such a direct comparison, however, leads analysts and fans alike to pick at plays where Ray gets picked off, or plays where he mispositions in team fights. It's a hard comparison when Impact is a former world champion. In an interview following the Twitter post, Ray elaborates a bit about his depression.
"To explain, I've been away from Korea for a very long time. I've never played in the LCK either. A lot of pretty bad personal things happened to me recently. I think that, on top of being away from home and homesickness, it just kind of collapsed on me a little bit, and I was suffering a bit from depression, although I am currently recovering. Because of that, I just had a pretty bad attitude going into the games. It kind of felt like, instead of me carrying on the team, I was kind of being dragged along with the team, and that was really stressful to me." - Ray
Other players have opened up about depression in the past as well. A notable example was Peng "Doublelift" Yiliang when he decided to sit out the 2017 NA LCS spring split. In his words, "it's such a bad life to scrim 10-12 hours a day for 10 months, 11 months in a row, and then at the of it... 99 percent of pro players don't win. So at the end of it, to feel empty and disappointed."
Luckily as teams have started to embrace tougher work schedules, they've also put in more resources for infrastructure around players' physical and mental health. Teams like TSM, CLG, and C9 have invested in mental health professionals to monitor players like Ray. As other teams continue to mature, I hope they consider investing more in the health of their budding young stars.
source header image: Riot Games