Every career that boils down to dedication has one thing in common. It’s universal, it’s unapologetic, it’s always there: The Grind.
The grind is the sacrifice that every professional sports player faces. The grind is working 14 hours a day, 6 days a week.
The grind is surrendering time with friends and family in order to be competitive and establish yourself. The grind is scrutinising every aspect of your performance and your personality.
The grind is to understand what it takes to win.
Whilst the grind requires an unremitting level of persistence and hard-work, without doubt, its worst quality is that it is unrelenting, and can so easily slip from everyone’s memory.
Its best quality is that the people that were part of it, will forever share something that isn’t easy to establish. They will forever have a mutual respect for one another.
While every sports and esports player has moments in their career that both they and their fans remember vividly; from finals glory to crushing defeats, it is the work that two or more people put together that’ll dominate your memory. Or at least it does so in my case:
Mithy and Zven at Origen.
The whole crew of TSM and Regi especially.
An unsung hero who continues to divide the fanbase as if it was the red sea.
I vividly remember months of unsettled travelling from apartment to apartment and hotel to hotel with the Copenhagen Wolves.
Having struggled throughout the season, often without the facilities in which to practice, we somehow still made it to the playoffs where we were preparing to play a series that we weren’t supposed to win.
Yet we so dearly wanted to.
Worked hard for.
In retrospect, we probably tried too much, especially in regards to the subsequent failing, but there was just this one thing keeping us accountable: Respect.
Putting in week after week of practice just to have a shot at glory is one of the most fulfilling things there is, especially if egos clash, and people are heated enough to jump one another’s throat.
It’s not easy being hotheaded, but it’s extremely fun if you’re not the only one.
What I loved about that part of my career was that I had someone to fight. It wasn’t just me trying to fight my inner “Schweinehund”, but rather having someone else to compete with. Someone to share a passion with.
It took months for us to somehow get along, and it had taken about a year after for us to become somewhat friendly with one another.
Forg1ven and I hated each another for a long time and were about as much of a duo as Kobe and Shaq in their later years. We clashed a ton. We fought a ton. I hated his guts, and he hated mine. We surely didn’t want to work together.
Yet that in itself fused us together more than any other bond that I created with my other teammates. It’s odd how it works, but when you have someone that is willing to bypass the whole shebang of trying to be nice, and trying to beat around the bush, you find yourself someone that is the truest of them all.
These kinds of players demand you to be better. They don’t respect you unless you are better. And even then they want more out of you.
I hated complacency. Heck, I still do, and I’m pretty sure he did too. Seeing anyone coasting shows direct disrespect towards everyone around you. It makes fun of the body of work some people have to put in to be at the level of others.
I don’t consider myself to be naturally talented. Any mechanical prowess I have shown in my career is a direct reflection of my obsession with the game and with improving myself.
When I failed, I must not have tried hard enough. When I succeeded, I must have. Seeing things this black and white gives you a better, clear-cut view of what’s in front of you.
You either win, or you lose. There’s no in-between. And there shouldn’t be.
People who’ve seen it this way have become people that I truly respect. It’s the only way to create long-lasting adoration, and whilst unhealthy, it’ll get you where you want to be.
People who’ve been seeing esports and League of Legends as more of a game instead of a competition are the people I can’t and couldn’t get along with in my career. And wouldn’t want to either.
Hate people like Forg1ven and me as much as you want, hate us much as we did one another when we played on Copenhagen Wolves, but there’s a reason we’re as polarizing as we are.
We demand everyone to be better and don’t mind stepping away when we can’t match our own philosophies anymore. And that’s true respect.
Image Credit: Riot Games