Life After StarCraft

I’ve experienced so many incredible moments over the course of my career that it’s hard to say which was my favorite.

I remember the sense of elation I felt when I got through the first qualifiers of my fledgeling career.

The sense of relief that washed over me when I won my first Proleague match after four failed attempts.

That sense of invincibility that came with my KeSPA Cup victory – it’s something I’ll never forget as long as I live. The energy of the crowd cheering me on in the BlizzCon finals transformed that weekend into a once in a lifetime experience.

I love StarCraft because it allows me to constantly challenge myself.

I love StarCraft because the feeling of accomplishment that comes with a victory is unlike anything else in this world.

I’ve been a pro gamer for a very long time, and accomplished pretty much everything there is to accomplish… but I still haven’t won a top tier championship like GSL or BlizzCon.

It’s the unquenchable thirst for a championship which motivates me. It’s the quest to recapture the joy of the KeSPA Cup which enables me to keep picking myself back up. Only when I become a champion can I retire without regret.

Pro gamers get asked all kinds of questions; I’m asked about my disappointing end to 2018, about what it’s like to get second place so many times… you’d be surprised how often I’m asked where I think I’d be if I hadn’t become a pro gamer.

The truth is I’ve been playing StarCraft for 12 years now. I honestly don’t think I’m exceptional at anything else. I enjoy English, I probably would have studied that. I would have gone to school just like everyone else. Gotten a job like everyone else. Stuff like that.

I wouldn’t have been soO. Just Yun Soo.

12 years is a lot of time, and things aren’t the same as they were when I joined SK Telecom at 15 years old.

Being a part of a team like that brought a lot of stability to my life. I thought as long as I stayed on as a pro gamer, and focused solely on that, I could keep earning money and eventually position myself for life after gaming.

When the team disbanded in 2016, I felt lost. I’d say that’s when the worries really settled in, when I realized that, all of a sudden, the future wasn’t so far away.

These days I think about retirement a lot, and it’s hard not to be sad. Pro gaming has been more than a job, it’s been my passion.

When I think about a dozen years of effort, the satisfaction of victory and competition going away all of a sudden, I realize how very, very difficult that would be.

The thing people sometimes forget, or maybe prefer not to think about, is that, when you’re a pro gamer, just because you retire, it doesn’t mean life stops.

I know I said I love competition and the ceaseless challenges, but pro gaming can be taxing. Things felt so free and easy in 2017, but last year was anything but smooth sailing.

After an inconsistent start to the year, I struggled to maintain my form, all while dealing with problems outside the spotlight.

I felt drained, both emotionally and physically. All I could think about was retiring. The people around me saw me suffering, and did everything they could to support me. It’s thanks to them that I’m working hard again.

That elusive championship I was talking about earlier, I know it isn’t going to win itself. It’s a new year and I’m ready to do whatever it takes to accomplish my ultimate dream.

I know I’ll miss StarCraft. Of course, I’ll miss StarCraft! But there’s a lot more to life beyond this game. There will be a process of finding myself once I retire; figuring out what I want from life.

Once I figure out whatever that is, be it a job, maybe one day supporting a family, or even something else, I know if I work as hard at it as I did with pro gaming, there will be nothing but good things ahead of me.

Even if I never end up winning that championship, I had a long, wonderful career as a pro gamer and I earned a lot of money for whatever comes next.

There will be hardships ahead, but it’s nothing I can’t deal with.

If you asked me whether I’m more excited or scared about what comes after pro gaming, I’d ask you something in return.

Who can say what the future will hold for me or for you? All I know is that I’m looking forward to it.

The future is scary. The future’s uncertain. But I feel more excited than scared to face it.

Image Credit: Blizzard Entertainment

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