Swedish professional Melee player for Team Solo Mid, Leffen, faced a wave of burnout and apathy live during his stream on Twitch. His opponent during the sessions matches was UK-based Frenzy.
After the session with Frenzy, 3rd best player in the UK Power Rankings, Leffen admitted that he has a limited number of available top players to practice within the EU region. He went on to specifically mention how Golden Guardians' Zain, widely regarded as the current best player in the world, dodges attempts to practice or play.
Said Leffen: "I just feel really apathetic. Like, I don’t want to play. Straight up I do not want to play Melee. It’s like, I’m losing, I’m winning – it’s just so boring. I just want to play something else. But I think it might be because I’m rusty. It also might not be. I think for me it’s like, even though I go to Summit, I still have to come back and live in Europe."
Going back to Europe, explained Leffen, meant that he'd have "shit practice." And by "shit," Leffen meant "boring as fuck." He said he usually loses two to five percent of games against the top players, meaning almost any other practice is too easy.
"And it is so hard to fucking sync up with the top players," Leffen ranted. "At least historically, they all play so fucking little that you can play them like two times a week. And then I fucking destroy them nine to 10 at least. It’s just so boring. And then I try to play with Zain, and Zain dodges me… "
Leffen explains the pressure to play Melee
The reality of streaming live to thousands of fans online each week can be hard to fully grasp unless you have lived it for yourself. This year's Twitch drama revealed the most toxic aspects of parasocial relationships, but the expectations of a fan base affect every public-facing content creator or competitor.
In the case of Leffen, his Sunday broadcast explains the situation he faces plainly: "If I play bad at Summit people, are going to hang it over my head for months. So you know, I kinda have to play even though I hate it. Sadge."
Sounds like a toxic relationship, but isn't this the default obstacle of every Twitch streamer? The tricky thing about the parasocial dynamic of streaming is that Leffen bears the weight of the pressure in its entirety. His audience has no such responsibility or expectation and even the most well-intentioned fans contribute to the burnout.
Look no farther than Leffens Twitch chat after Frenzy GG'ed out of the aforementioned lobby for an example of this toxic dynamic. One chatter attempted to give Frenzy credit and perhaps lessen the sting of defeat by typing out "Frenzy honestly cracked."
Leffen's reaction is unmistakably agitated: "Why do you guys always pick the worst times to say that? It's uncanny how you could not pick the worst time. I'm not saying Frenzy is bad, man, I just... It's so crazy. It was Frenzy playing amazing. Definitely not me SD'ing four times a stock. Haha? Perfect time to say that."
Was chat intending to inflame Leffens pro player sensibilities or was it harmless? Whether masterful troll or casual player faux pas, the pressure Leffen faces is all the same.
Later in the stream, Leffen explained how he feels the EU community has an expectation for him to win every event and how disheartening it can be. Leffen is a competitive veteran and he still has time to prepare for his Summit appearance, however, Guilty Gear Strive seems to be the game on his mind.
Watching Leffen talk about Chipp while getting combo'ed by Falco on stream is a surreal experience. You can watch the full stream for yourself on Leffen's Twitch channel.
Warcraft 3 is my one true love and I will challenge anyone to a game of Super Smash Brothers Melee.