Depression, burnout, insomnia: LEC pros reveal the mental toll of a LoL esports career

On Feb. 28, 2023, Evil Geniuses’ 19-year-old ADC Kyle “Danny” Sakamaki, who had been widely considered the next star of North America’s League of Legends esports scene, stepped away from the LCS due to the overwhelming pressure of being a pro player. Less than three years after his debut, Danny said he had reached his breaking point, but he’s not the only player who’s had to shoulder this burden since his teenage years. The pressure felt by Danny is all too common for pros across all esports, including those in the LEC. 

The earliest a player can compete at the highest level in EMEA League is 17 years of age, as per the official rules of the 2023 competition. But pursuing the passion of playing video games as a career often comes at the expense of the mental well-being of players who aren’t even adults yet.