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“My 14-year-old son is determined to be a professional LoL (League of Legends) player. How can I help him achieve his dream without his schoolwork and social life suffering?”
Your son has a goal, a dream. That’s a powerful thing. That you’re willing to support this dream speaks volumes about you as a parent.
Emphasize the old cliche — in order to reach for the stars, he needs to keep his feet firmly planted on the ground. Pobelter was playing for Team Curse while in 10th grade—he got his high school diploma last May. LiNk was recruited to CLG out of UC Berkeley, where he had been doing fine in his classes to the best of my knowledge (certainly better than I was doing in my Berkeley classes at the time, but that’s another story). ZionSpartan also went pro before he got out of high school:
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=1&v=Hb0iA4DM9Hk expand=1]
With dedication and discipline, it’s possible to aspire to professional gaming without dropping the rest of your life to do it.
- Health — sleep, good food, exercise. Professional gamers work out. Can’t perform to peak potential on a weak chassis, and I’m not just talking about the computer.
- Socialization — a professional LoL player is family, friend, and colleague to his teammates. This is a deep and complex social relationship, and there’s no way to learn to manage relationships without practice. Some of this can be obtained through online gaming. Some can’t.
- Schoolwork (and chores) — pro gaming is a highly intellectual endeavor, but there’s more to it than that. No matter how much your son wants to go pro, there will be times when he gets frustrated or apathetic, wants to give up or slack off. Keeping up with these things, seemingly ancillary to his dream, will develop his willpower. Besides, chores don’t go away at a gaming house—and no matter how great a player he is, the retirement horizon for a pro gamer is fairly young, so he will need to keep building his skill-set.
These are prerequisites for pursuing a LoL career—or any dream, really. Set benchmarks and, given that your son fulfills them, support him in his pursuit.
Let’s talk about some of the issues associated with this dream in particular.
- It won’t be too difficult for your son to tell if he’s making progress. There are objective rankings for individuals and teams—the higher he gets, the better he’s doing. There are plenty of opportunities to enter online tournaments, and many universities have clubs that offer local tournaments as well.
- On the other hand, your son will probably have to round out his training. All solo queue matches is an inefficient way to improve. He’ll have to study LoL, practice it — not just play it.
- He’ll also need teammates who share his skill and dedication. He doesn’t have to choose his pro teammates tomorrow, but he should be looking for other serious players and teaming up with them whenever possible. LoL is a team game, and team tactics are an under-appreciated aspect of play among amateurs. Plus, it’s a good way to find out what sort of teammates your son is compatible with.
- LoL isn’t baseball or soccer — it’s a video game, and it has a lifespan. Your son is three years away from being eligible for LCS play. It’s not certain that LoL will be around as an eSport in three years, though I’d give it good odds. Make sure your son understands this risk.
- Another risk is just not being good enough. There are 50 LCS starters in the country. Maybe another 80 that are subs, or playing for second-tier teams, or otherwise making money as pros. Maybe another 100 that make significant money streaming as amateurs. This is a pretty select group of players we’re talking about. Question is—if he doesn’t quite reach that top tier, how does he plan to build on the skills he’ll acquire in the course of pursuing professional gaming?
- Even if he is good enough, again, the retirement horizon for a pro gamer is young. There needs to be a plan for “after gaming.” Off the top of my head, there’s coding, game design, casting/announcing, business, coaching, project management, accounting…so it’s not like options don’t exist.
- Speaking of options, this does seem like the sort of dream a kid has when he hasn’t had enough life experience to know what options are out there. That doesn’t make his dream wrong or bad, but it’s something to be aware of. You should know your kid well enough to tell the difference between commitment and a phase. Whatever you and he decide to do, I wish both of you all the best.
Terry describes himself as having a “love/hate relationship with gaming.” Along with video games, he often writes about movies, academics, relationships, and other interesting topics. See more of his Quora posts here: