This blog will be about my time as an esports writer. If you’re looking for me overcoming misery or depression, you won’t find it here. I was never particularly miserable to begin with. For the first three years, I wrote for free at various websites. Two of the articles I wrote were to join qxc’s private forum so I could learn to play Terran. I got in, but it was eventually moot as I decided to main Zerg. I eventually volunteered to write for Team Liquid about StarCraft 2.
I’ll skip over the rest of that period as this will be about the last two years. That was about the time I started to get paid. This is directly connected to the first time I wrote a CS:GO article. If you’re curious about what it was I wrote, here it is. By that time, I had been following CS:GO for a little over half an year (as a sidebar, I was shocked at how amazing Semmler had become as a caster since I had last seen him years prior in SC2), but the idea of the article didn’t go away. At the time I was writing for free at Liquid. I could have posted it there I think, but I’d have to work with the editor of the CS:GO section who annoyed me for personal reasons (as I wrote for free, this was my threshold). At the same time I had always planned on writing an article at GoldPer10. It’s no longer around, but GoldPer10 was a project started by Ryan Tang to give aspiring writers a platform to publish their work, and if it got enough hits, they’d get $10.
So I wrote it up. At the time, Thorin messaged me about my interest in CS:GO. At the time I only knew him for writing some great articles and having the best interview series in esports. I told him I liked the game and wasn’t opposed to writing more. I didn’t think much of it. As it turned out he had gotten into contact with a bunch of content sites that were looking for a writer, and I ended up writing for a few of them: Splyce, Gamurs, ESPN, and eventually Slingshot. Since then, he has been a kind of mentor figure, giving me pieces of advice or pointing me in the right direction when I wanted to look into bits of CS:GO history. He even defended me when some SC2 personalities started to flame me for a piece I wrote about SC2 on ESPN.
Because of all of that, I find it extraordinarily weird when people try to frame him as this terrible person who is out there trying to ruin lives. Personally, there hasn’t been a single person I’ve met in esports who has gone out of their way to help me as much as Thorin. Even beyond that, when you look at his work, all I’ve seen him do is give opinions and react to other people when they went after him. Or it could be that I have different values or a much higher tolerance for that sort of thing. Either way, I’ve always respected Thorin for his blunt and honest demeanor, his reasonableness (You’re not going to find many people who go out of their way to explain kNg’s side of the DH Montreal fiasco), work ethic, and willingness to help aspiring content creators. It’s something I’ve taken into my own work as I’ve tried to be as clear and detailed when I can about specific arguments I’ve had as well as trying to help aspiring writers find job offers.
Since writing CS:GO, I’ve found a surprising amount of engagement when it comes to my work and friendly people. Lurppis is another person who has gone out of their way to help me when it comes to typos/grammar errors or finding me opportunities, and the CS:GO community in general has been surprisingly friendly, at least the people I’ve met like Moses. Other people I should thank are all the editors I’ve had and the few writers chats I’ve been in as they’ve forced me to think about and argue my positions as to why I think a player is good or not.
As for my overall writing experiences, I don’t have anything bad to say about anyone I ever wrote for: Liquid, ESPN, Splyce, Gamurs (now Dot Esports), or Slingshot. In general, I’ve been given a lot of free reign to write what I’ve wanted and if not, they were always clear about what they wanted and how they wanted it. Slingshot was the most surprising of them all as they wanted me to become a main voice for their site. I still don’t know what that means and I told them that I could only do me, but they seem fine with it (Editor’s note: He’s doing an excellent job).
As for writing itself, I wish I could tell you how I do it. But in reality, it’s just a lot of practice. I couldn’t tell you what it is I do that makes anything I write interesting. I only ever have one criteria and that is if I entertained myself in some way. If I myself find the piece interesting. The best way I’ve personally found to do that is to go out of your way to find things that entertain you, whether it be TV, sports, movies, comics, manga, anime, comedy shows, music, reviews, whatever it is. For instance, when I wrote the GOAT one of the things that influenced me was how a random hip-hop reviewer created criteria for rating who was the greatest rapper of all time. Here is a link to that. Lately, I’ve been getting more into sports (specifically basketball) to bring that knowledge and to see how that changes my view on esports in general.
As for analysis, I can be a bit more clear on that. For SC2, I just watched every game and played a lot of the game (around 12,000 ladder/custom games across the various servers). For CS:GO, it was different as I didn’t know much about the game and had to understand it from the ground up. Beyond the basic categories I’ve written about before, I also use a system that allows me to rank/reference player performance, a Dota 2 model that helps me analyze how resources are distributed in CS:GO, and a bunch of cross referenced notes that help me analyze team tendencies and player tendencies over time.
Finally, I’ll end on this bit. When it comes to writing, I’ve found that there is no point where you can say you’ve reached the pinnacle. There is always more you can learn and adapt into your writing, more things to analyze, more ways to express what it is you are thinking. It is a never-ending process, and I think it should be. When I finish something, I have a brief moment of euphoria, but the inevitable question that will pop into my mind is “Next.”
That is what life is about: the next thing. The next article, the next tournament, the next game. To constantly strive toward something unobtainable knowing you can’t ever reach it, but to continue regardless. Isn’t that the process that makes life worth living?