It's time for me to say something that has been a long time coming. I am no longer going to consider myself a professional or semi-professional (or whatever the hell you want to call it) Starcraft player.
I put "retiring" in quotes for two reasons;
1) I don't plan to move completely away from the Starcraft scene. I still plan to be involved in any way I can, and I love Starcraft to death - I could never consider myself anything but a Starcraft gamer at heart. I still plan to write for TL, post on the forums, maybe cast the occasional online event if I get the chance, and be involved in any way I can. Also, I'll still play at a fairly high level, and I wouldn't rule out a return should the right motivation arise.
2) I don't really consider what I've done to have been a "career", so I guess I can't technically retire from it.
Anyway, this is something that I have long considered for months, and I'd just like to put my thoughts out there after a bout of midnight thoughtfulness and inspiration to write a bit. This blog is pretty much entirely gonna be about me, so if you're not interested in hearing what I have to say, well, probably not for you.
I understand to most of you in the Starcraft community this will not be a big deal to you, a surprise, or even anything of note. But to me, who has spent my whole life playing this game and who finally saw a dream pretty much come true, it's pretty meaningful. So I ask that whatever you feelings may be about me, my level of notoriety, my level of play, be set aside a bit.
Starcraft has been something that has defined my life for the past two and a half years, give or take. Being a Starcraft player was by far the most noteworthy thing I had going in my life. I didn't have a vibrant social life (I wasn't a loner but I didn't exactly spend a ton of time with my friends), I didn't do a whole lot of extracurricular activities throughout my high school years, and I didn't have a whole lot else that I was proud of about myself. You might think it kind of funny, but to a 15-17 year old kid, being able to make money playing a computer game was definitely the most exciting part of my life. I had loved Starcraft since I was a child (more on that), and I was able to meet tons of amazing people throughout my time in Starcraft. I don't have many regrets from my Starcraft experience, and although my high school life was not exactly what I might have wanted it to be, I still consider it very much to be time well spent. I learned a lot, made some money, grew in a lot of ways I didn't expect, and had something that I could be proud of.
There are a few reasons, though, that I've decided to call an end to my dedication to Starcraft. While this really isn't actually going to be a massive difference in how I spend my time, mentally it is an important turning point for me to put this out there. In recent months, I've wrestled with the idea in my head quite a bit, and a few things have been important considerations to me.
As I previously mentioned, Starcraft has been something that has defined me. Over the course of my life, I've had a bad habit of getting half decent at something, but then stopping when I actually had to begin to put the work in to reach a higher level. Chess and baseball were two of such activities and my adolescence. I didn't want this to happen again with Starcraft, the game I loved, so I made sure I gave it a fair shot and all my effort. I can't say I'm entirely satisfied with what I've accomplished, but I've reached a point where I can definitely say I'm satisfied with what I've done. I've been really hesitant to actually move on from Starcraft partially because I felt like there was really nothing else interesting about me as a person. I didn't have a lot else going on in my life, and I felt like if I threw away Starcraft, I would be letting myself wallow away into unproductivity and wasted time. Some people tell me that it's okay and that most people really don't do anything of worth in their high school years, but to me, I do like to have a little bit of feeling of self-accomplishment in some sense. At this point, I'm ready to take that chance and move on, and embrace new challenges with open arms. In recent months I've discovered how much I really enjoy singing and perhaps even acting, and I'm looking to get more involved in those activities now and in college next year. I'm not entirely sure what I want to do with my life yet (not singing or acting, but they're fun!) and I'm looking forward to trying new things and having great new experiences. I'm still going to consider gaming and Starcraft a big part of myself, and I definitely plan to continue to contribute to the community in various ways in the future. I definitely also plan to be more socially active in the future and make sure I surround myself with lots of great people and always have things to do and places to be. I'm not planning to be too overambitious and stress myself out, it's mostly just a product of a bit of a new mindset towards my life that I'm hoping to take.
Another thing I've kind of fought with in the same vein is whether or not I really consider myself a player of note... to elaborate, I've always felt a little insulted when people say things like "oh, you still play?" even when I'm actively playing. Kind of like people just assumed I faded away and retired, which to be fair, isn't entirely surprising - I indeed have not been relevant in nearly a year. My last major offline tournament was MLG Anaheim/WCS America in June 2012 (which was actually one of the best experiences of my life). For my own self-worth, I'd like to just cast off this label of someone trying to be a professional player and just allow myself to enjoy the game properly once again. I'm just going to be another good player, another person who loves that adrenaline rush jumping into a 1v1 game of Starcraft. I'd like to just throw myself into the deep end and feel no regret and hesitation for what I've done instead of halfassing it for months and months.
Another thing I'm going to start doing is streaming more, but not Starcraft. I'm just going to enjoy streaming whatever I feel like and hanging out with anyone who finds me entertaining, instead of worrying that people will always ask me why I'm not practicing or whatever. I've been really into Hardcore Diablo 3 again lately and I would have loved to stream it, but I was always a little embarrassed that I was spending time on that instead of Starcraft. I just want to do what I love and embrace whatever community I can be a part of. So I'll be streaming D3 soon! I know everybody got tired of it a year ago, but who cares, I have fun. I'll also probably do some LoL or DotA 2 fun times in the near future. It'll be great! (Dear TL admins: move my featured stream to Other, please! I'd hope I can still keep my feature as a contributing member of the community along with my past.)
I'd like to reiterate that I'm definitely not leaving the Starcraft community, and honestly, I wouldn't rule out another stint of competition in the future if the time was right. I made this post out to be a way bigger deal than it is, but I needed to do that for the state of my mindset. It's something that has been on my mind constantly and stressed me out a significant amount.
I'd like to end this post with a few thank yous to everyone who has supported me in any way throughout my time as a semi-professional player.
Thanks of course to Teamliquid, the forums, community, staff, and everyone who makes Starcraft worth playing. Teamliquid to me is what defines the Starcraft universe.
Thanks to everyone who has watched my stream, sent me a message on battle.net, bought some coaching, posted a nice comment about me, etc... the support of people like you is what allows people like me to do great things.
Thanks to all my friends and family in real life who have supported me. I've never once had someone tell me I'm a nerd or wasting my time when I told them I play a computer game professionally, and that is a luxury that only someone living in today's world can have.
Thanks to all my teammates, managers, and friends in the competitive gaming world. Being part of that community as well as the greater Starcraft community has been an absolutely wonderful experience, and I hope I can still participate in many ways.
Thanks to my friend Sharon for being my biggest supporter throughout my pursuit of success.