We are all familiar with the sacrifices and commitments made by professional Counter-Strike players in their attempt to become the best in the world. Endless travel, practice, and media commitments leave hardly any time to enjoy anything that isn’t related to CS:GO. Many players fully understand and even welcome the onslaught, letting their passion for the game take the wheel while letting everything else fall into place. It’s not for everyone, though, as evidenced by Alex "ALEX" McMeekin’s recent announcement that he would take a step back from professional play as a result of the brutal lifestyle.
ALEX’s public statement deserves a tremendous amount of respect because that is not an easy decision to make, nor is it easy to admit it to the world. It would have been much easier to lie about the reasoning or make something up, but he was honest to us and himself. That doesn’t sound like much on the surface, but it is. There are multiple occasions each year where the public hears one thing about why a player left a team and I hear something entirely different behind closed doors. ALEX chose happiness over money, which is something I wish more players would do.
There are others still playing the game to this day who are too afraid to admit their heart isn’t in it anymore. Not just your average professional player, but some who play at the same level as ALEX. Whether they are tired of playing CS:GO in general or are tired of the professional lifestyle, they can’t fathom doing what ALEX did. They continue to play because they don’t want to face the public judgement and/or worry that this is the only opportunity they’ll have to make a salary as high as they do now. That approach is harmful in the long run so I encourage them to take a step back and evaluate what they’re actually passionate about. It’s okay to admit that you have had a change of heart, even if it means walking away from a unique opportunity in esports.
If anything, what ALEX has done is a testament to how grueling it is to not only reach the highest level of the game, but remain there. Endless sacrifices are made in an attempt to become the best and build a legacy in an industry that is still very early in it’s process. Players miss out on many of the regular experiences you or I take for granted and that is hardly recognized. There is no home court or lengthy offseason to dampen the blow of being a professional Counter-Strike player. Hats off to ALEX for admitting it wasn’t for him, and if he changes his mind in the future, that’s fine too.