The League of Legends European Championship is currently on a break, from Week 04 to Week 05. Players get to take a whole week off to rest, recharge and return for scrims in the upcoming week. Barney "Alphari" Morris chatted with Inven Global's Lara Lunardi about his legacy of five years of League of Legends, and how the scene has changed to accommodate player lifestyle, addressing burnout.
You have quite a legacy in League of Legends Esports. What has it been like to see the growth of the LOL esports ecosystem?
It's been pretty exciting for me to see it, just because I've been a part of it and I've been able to, I supposed, directly benefit from the whole ecosystem blowing up as much as it has. It's been fun, exciting. It's just nice that things worked out, that stadiums are getting sold out.
Remind me then of how the scene was back when it started.
I started a little bit late. It was already a thing, it wasn't like Season 2-3... I've heard stories about random LANs and you didn't have a salary. When it started, there were fine salaries for most players. I started in the UK scene which only had LANs and even that had some level of salary in it as early as 2015-2016, which was kind of crazy thinking about it.
And then I joined the Challenger Series in 2016, which was already an established thing. There were a lot of big organizations coming from it, I think Origen had been promoted from it the year before.
I noticed that you said salary a few times. Is that something that matters to you?
I mean it's nice to get a good salary, doing what you want to do. I enjoy the game, I want to win and obviously having a salary and being able to travel and compete and all this nice stuff is great as well. There are many positives to this job. I don't do it purely because there's money involved. I am doing it purely because I enjoy competing.
Why do you enjoy it?
I don't know. I supposed I'm "ruined" by video games, I just enjoy playing LoL for some reason. I ask myself this a lot sometimes when I play solo queue. [laughs] I don't know why I still enjoy it but I just do.
Why would video games "ruin you"?
Because it's harder to enjoy other stuff, I suppose.
That ties into my next question. I've noticed OG has been doing a lot of outdoor activities? How's that going for you guys.
I've been enjoying it mostly. We don't do too much, all we do is going to the gym like once a week, but I enjoy having a more active lifestyle than I'm used to, at least. Although, I suppose this was influenced by Fabian who used to work at Origen.
How was it back when you started? Did the orgs care much about the players beyond just playing the game?
Definitely not. Origen definitely has a different approach and a mindset about sustainability and burnout. I've only been on one pro team before that — Misfits. They were a good org, at least I got lucky being a 16-year-old kid signing with them and they were good to me, but it was all about the game. Eventually, this changed a little bit. In Misfits, they didn't get a sports psychologist while I was there. He got kicked for some reason, I don't know why, because I thought he was pretty good.
So they made some changes but then changed back. But definitely Origen cares much more about what I was used to at Misfits: try not to get burned out and looking after your general self.
Have you been burned out?
I wouldn't say I've been totally burned out to the point of not playing the game at all. I guess I don't play the game at all sometimes during breaks, but I'm not sure because of burn-out, I just go home to see my family and so on. I definitely don't play the game as much or enjoy solo queue as much as I used to, but I still do. I wouldn't call this burnout, it's mostly because the game's changing — solo queue has decreased in quality and possibly I've matured a bit. But it's not because I've burned out, I just enjoy the game less than when I was 13-14, that's all.
A lot of players really value putting in time in solo queue. Since you're not putting in as much time, how are you making up, making sure you keep up your performance.
I don't think solo queue is that important to spam, honestly, at least during the regular season. I think there are other ways you can practice and prepare for games. Ultimately, you only have two games a week that matter, and an immense amount of these games is decided in a draft. So rather than spamming solo queue, you can think about drafts, you can watch VODs, you can play and test match-ups.
You need to play a little bit of solo queue.
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