I started playing online 10 years ago. My first competitive game was Warcraft 3, I started playing it during a really tough moment of my life and this made me embrace the game and the competition with a strong passion. I played for three months and within that short period I became one of the best players of my own country. Even though Warcraft 3 was a new game I found out that this older game, Starcraft, thrilled me way too much, and I couldn't help but leaving that promising WC3 gaming scene to join an older one, just for the sake of my own personal entertainment, without considering the practical pros and cons of it (this sums pretty much almost every choice I make). Starcraft was so appealing because it required to be fast, smart, confident at the best of your own human ability and it felt I was constantly pushing myself to keep winning against better, faster and smarter players.
I played Starcraft for years after that. It was tough as it's the hardest online game ever made and I LOVED it more than anything else. I couldn't wait to come home from school to play Starcraft, and the fact I showed so much talent right from the start made me feel special, which is the best feeling in the world for a teenager. I could also connect and interact with people sharing my same passion around the world, and since at the time gamers weren't considered any cool that made me discover a whole new world of precious friends.
Over the years I've been very happy with Starcraft. School was going ok but I didn't care. The people I knew in real life didn't really understand what I was doing. Now that I am able to think back I realize that what was making me feel so good about Starcraft was the fact I could set very high and difficult goals for myself without having to deal with any shit that comes along any real life goal (social status, owned money and luck), and reaching them with my own abilities just felt amazing. The first time I qualified for World Cyber Games and went to Singapore I was 18 and it was one of the best experiences of my life. During the qualifier the experienced italian players that saw me playing said that I was so fast that they couldn't understand what was going on on my screen and that made me really proud. The trip to Singapore itself was so special I can't even describe it here, because it would take another full blog. Some years later I was able to reach the top of a ladder dominated by pro korean players (who, at the time, were way better than how good they are right now at SC2) and that felt way too good. I realized I could compete with some of the best players in the whole world in the game I loved so much and afterwards I got invited to join Templars of Twilight, the best international Starcraft team ever existed. Both these experiences gave me chills and heart bumps and a sense of realization I never felt before, it was a game yet it made me happy. It was the main course, while school, work and everything else was just like a less tasty side dish.
There are many more things to say and describe but these were pretty much the feeling I had playing Starcraft. I wasn't getting any money from it, only sponsored travels to play tournaments like WCG and Blizzcon in Europe, Asia and America, but it made me feel really good. Improving constantly, finding out that you have a great talent for something and having people recognize you for that, realizing that you are special and you can apply the same passion to other things in life are all things I got from Starcraft at the time and it felt like all my life that wasn't revolved around it was just in black and white. The game is so appealing because it's not between the person and a computer or another human being, you just try to beat yourself over and over, and when you do it feels great and you want more of it.
Eventually I stopped playing Starcraft for a short period of time and I waited for Starcraft 2 to come out. I was studying and then working and I felt I had to start sustaining myself and I couldn't play a game the same way. Yet when I was offered to move to Germany and be a progamer with a salary, traveling every week or two to some place I've never seen before to compete made me quit everything else I was doing at the time just to focus on gaming once more. I knew this wouldn't last too long for me but I wanted to live this experience to the fullest and grow as much as I could from it. That's exactly what happened and I'm really proud of myself for having done such a choice.
There was a problem in this though. For someone like me who likes the competition and the challenge Starcraft2 was not really the right game. It's a way easier game than Starcraft, attaining progamer skills didn't take a third of the effort as it used to take before and the luck factor was a huge thing to consider. Honestly to me, used to such a competitive game as Starcraft, it felt more like playing poker rather than a real time strategy game. I still played it, won a good amount of money and did reasonably well within the international progaming community, but I never really liked the game and I forced myself to do it only because of the invaluable life experience it was providing me. I tried really hard to like it so I could reach the very top once again but I couldn't really force my feelings and I knew I wouldn't go on for many years and take it as a real job. It takes an incredible amount of dedication to be a progamer and it's not something you can do without passion.
Recently, about a month ago, I was playing HotS beta. I switched to Protoss and it was going really well, but then a random question popped into my head. I would have to play 30 to 40 games for the next 2 years every day to be as good as I want to be, is it really worth it? I am soon 26, I had a lot of fun and great life experiences from eSports, what else can I get from it? The answer is not much. I know very well within myself I could stand above any non korean progamer if I put enough dedication into it, but what kept me from doing so in Starcraft2 was the fact I don't enjoy playing this game at all. I also have really high expectations from myself in my life and absolute confidence in my abilities to succeed in anything I decide to do and the best thing for me right now is start something else and make it blossom with what I learned from my invaluable gaming experience. I am going to move on and leave electronic sports behind. It was absolutely amazing and I want to remember it that way.
I would like to say something important to the people who belong to this great community, with the hope some of you can take this as an advice and example for yourself. During these 10 years I experienced and said many things, I've started from being a complete newbie and became a world class player, I've been a fanboy and then someone who doesn't understand fans, I've said in public what I thought as bluntly as I could and I also learned the importance of being delicate in many situations. Being able to see things in all these different perspectives made me understand that people are all very similar and they all want the same things. And in fact even if there's someone we disrespect, if we were born from his parents and experiences the same things he did we would do exactly the same things as he/she does. This is why I don't think we shouldn't praise or condemn anyone, but rather try to promote a positive attitude towards what's good for everyone, and enjoy what we have while trying to make it better.
It's easy to get caught in the flow of what people think and their judgement and I ask the people here to think a bit more carefully before judging someone you don't know, because he/she is a person acting on own impulses and expectations like everybody else.
That's all I have to say. I want to send a big hug to the TeamLiquid community for all the friends, emotions and support it gave me. I will keep sticking around because it always felt like a big family. TL has been my favorite place to visit on the internet and it will still be for a long time.
Goodbye everyone, it was a fantastic ride, I wish you good luck and to have fun in life as much as I did so far.