Last Tuesday, the “best Heroes of the Storm player in North America” abruptly announced his retirement from the competitive scene after spending the last four years making a name for himself.
Fan “Fan” Yang, a member of the first Heroes of the Storm World Championship team for Cloud9 issued a statement through his current team, Tempo Storm, regarding his decision to step down.
His full statement can be found here.
When Fan was approached by InvenGlobal to talk about his decision to move on from competing in the Heroes Global Championship (HGC) in 2019, he opened up a bit more.
Right after the Mid-Season Brawl international tournament concluded in June of this year, Harrison “psalm” Chang, the instinctive in-game shot-caller and drafter for Tempo Storm, announced his retirement from the scene to pursue a career in Fortnite.
Immediately, all of psalm’s substantial responsibilities fell on the shoulders of his ex-teammates. Fan, a natural leader, began carrying the load. But upon the loss of a crucial member of the team, his dream of repeating as world champion was in serious jeopardy for 2018.
“I play to win BlizzCon and that's the goal I have when playing the game,” said Fan. “I don't play to win top four or to attend Internationals. I play to get the win at BlizzCon as my main goal. In North America, I considered psalm and myself to be two of the best players in the region so I kind of looked at it as one of the best players in the region are leaving and it was kind of an irreplaceable situation. So, I thought that my goal of winning BlizzCon was dramatically affected by that.”
In Fan’s eyes, what separates himself and psalm from the rest of the top players in the region is not only in-game abilities but a mindset they both have.
“One of the reasons why I consider myself and psalm some so highly is because we kind of have this desire to win and to not lose at any cost,” said Fan. “If you look at North America, there's plenty of talented players in my opinion like (Dane ‘daneski’ Coleman”) and (Yusuf ‘Kure’ Sunka), both considered players that many considered to be at the level that me and psalm are at. They’re just really talented and really good players but I think the key difference for psalm and I is that we’re the only ones that I noticed had this hatred towards losing.”
What followed as a result of psalm’s departure and the increased workload was what he expected. While competitive and still among the top teams in North America, their performances at the two major tournaments the rest of the year were not up to the standards of the former roster.
Once the offseason began, Fan started receiving numerous offers from other top teams in North America, but he opted to take the next six months off as he didn’t want to continue the circle that his career has experienced in the past.
“Every season I would give 110% and sacrifice a lot of my personal health just to commit the time I need to try to be the best and I felt that was going to be the loop if I just joined another team,” said Fan.
Fan, a self-admitted perfectionist, works as hard as he can to maintain a level of excellence in-game and out of it. With the increased workload thrust on his plate due to psalm’s departure, one area of his life took a sharp decline.
“Personally, I have always had trouble sleeping and insomnia so waking up at 10 a.m. for scrims every day was kind of a struggle for me. I have to go to sleep kind of a long time before other people do just because I will stay up in bed for one or two hours for no reason. I believe that is not that common for some people so it is a lot of time commitment there,” said Fan. “Additionally, I think playing Hero League is very important, so I would scrim six hours a day, there would be a one hour break for lunch, then I would play four more hours of Hero League. So every day was basically 10 to 12 hours of commitment to playing HotS which means I never really have enough time to go to the gym as much as I would want to.”
While he doesn’t consider himself overweight, Fan does admit that playing video games all day without getting ample exercise did lead to weight gain. It took a toll on him mentally as a perfectionist who isn’t perfect can quickly become dissatisfied with their body of work. In this case, the subject matter was quite literal.
A break or a retirement?
After taking the next six months off, Fan says that he will re-evaluate the current HGC landscape and his love for the game has not faded.
“Heroes of the Storm is a game that I still enjoy a lot. I like competing and playing and I'm planning on reassessing the situation once the next roster period comes around,” said Fan. “I will then take my personal opinions into consideration and look at what type of chance does North America have against the rest of the world and what type of chance the team that I'm practicing with have at winning BlizzCon.”
As far as the reception he’s received upon his announcement and his Twitch streams that have followed from those who support him, he couldn’t be happier.
“There has been very little negativity regarding my break. I was kind of expecting more negativity because of the whole ‘best player in the world thing' that happened at BlizzCon but everyone has been extremely supportive. There is basically been no negativity at all. Everyone is just wishing me well and wishing me the best so I'm just extremely thankful," said Fan.
Tim Rizzo is the editor and a reporter for Inven Global. He joined the company back in 2017.