World Mental Health Day Feature
October 10 is World Mental Health Day, and we’ve prepared an insightful 4-part series to play our part in raising awareness on mental health issues and the need to support esports players in this arena. Every week over the coming month, we’ll be featuring different Team Razer members as they share their experiences on the pressures they face as professional players and how they maintain peak performance amidst the stresses of the job
POSITIVITY: IT’S HALF THE BATTLE WON
We’re extremely pleased to have Norman “Kaiser” Kaiser from MAD Lions kickstart our World Mental Health series this week. Famed for being one of the best supports in Europe in the League of Legends arena, Kaiser first joined MAD Lions in 2019 and recently signed a two-year extension with the team.
1. How do you deal with the incredible pressure that comes with playing for major tournaments with huge prize pools? What kind of support did you wish you had with regards to this when you first started being a pro player?
Honestly, I never really felt too pressured because once you have a few online matches under your belt you’ll be way too focused on the game to even feel anything else.
My family and some of my earlier team members helped me a lot when I started out. They backed me up when I was feeling down and they kept supporting me even when I was in a slump.
Having a good team atmosphere helps immensely with stress reduction, and the pressure you feel won’t be as harsh when your teammates and friends are there to lend you their support.
2. In your career, what kind of toxic behavior or harassment did you have to go through and how did it affect you? Could you share some advice on how to combat that
When we lost in the group stage at Worlds we got flamed a lot for our play – but if you have a job that puts you in the spotlight, you're bound to have haters and people who send a lot of negativity your way.
Once you recognize that this is all part of the job and just focus on the positive messages coming in, it’ll be way easier to keep going. Of course, this won't be easy if you don’t have a lot of self-confidence in the first place, that's why it's really important to develop a thick skin against this kind of stuff.
For people who are really sensitive, it’s best to just ignore social media altogether before and after big matches so you can just focus on yourself and not have to constantly think about what others are saying about you.
To be honest, these hateful messages may sometimes even become fuel for my motivation because I want to prove to them that they're wrong. That compels me to practice harder and get better faster. So instead of letting these hateful messages have control over you and make you feel bad, try using them to your advantage.
3. Outside of competition, what are some things that you worry about with regards to your career in esports (e.g., longevity of career, worry of injury, stress leading to insomnia etc.)
I mostly worry about maintaining my motivation. Because once you lose that, it's hard to keep grinding and performing on your best level. That’s why It’s important to take breaks and time off so as to not get burnt out too quickly.
4. Most people have this image of esports players being people who are effortlessly good at the game and are having fun all the time. What is the reality like, in terms of training, mental and physical stress and what advice would you give to someone who wants to break into the pro scene?
Most esports players have played this game for over seven years. You have to grind A LOT to break into the scene, so be prepared to work hard!
The reason why it seems effortless and fun for a lot of people is because once you get to that point of being on top, you need to have fun to keep grinding and sustaining that level of motivation.
My advice to players breaking into the scene is not to force it when you hit a roadblock. Because if you try to force it and don’t see immediate results, you will get frustrated and stop playing and having fun, which will end up hindering your progress.
The process of becoming a pro can be a very long one, so the best thing is to just let things happen and run its course. That being said, it’s also important to take your practice seriously and make sure it’s productive (e.g., focusing on yourself, reading up guides/wikis, watching VODs).
5. What techniques or types of support do you find helpful when dealing with stress in competition and negative comments/publicity?
I don't really have a special technique – I just like to talk to friends and family about it or take some time off the game and do something else I enjoy to keep my mind off the negativity.
During the competition, you need to have a certain amount of “stress resilience” which sometimes can only come from experience. Some people might have that naturally because they really don’t care about what others say about them. Focus on being supportive and kind to yourself – being confident and having a positive mindset is already half the battle won.