Pro gamers fall predominantly into a particular demographic — young men age 18 to 24. In the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS), there are no female players.
Despite the complete lack of gender diversity, the stereotype of the pro gamer as a lonely, socially inept man doesn’t hold up. Most pro players are sociable and friendly, while many have girlfriends, including three of the five players on Team Liquid, a professional American team we followed last month.
Though many have girlfriends, there is a philosophical divide between the players that do and those that don’t. According to League of Legends veteran and Team Liquid player Alex “Xpecial” Chu, many pro players have a “theory” about girlfriends.
“There is this theory that once you get a girlfriend, you start playing worse,” Chu told Business Insider. “It wasn’t true for every player, but we saw it with many players where they just got worse over time [after they began dating].”
Chu cites a former player for Counter-Logic Gaming, one of the top teams in the LCS. According to Chu, the player was the best of the best during the 2011 season, then he started dating a girl he met through the game. As he spent more time with the girlfriend, his play noticeably dropped off. Before long, he was out of the league. Now, he earns a living by streaming on gaming website Twitch.
The scenario may sound ludicrous, but there is a logic to Chu’s story. Pro gamers have notorious training regimens. Players spend up to 14 hours per day practicing and 8 hours is considered the bare minimum to maintain your skill level. It hardly leaves a lot of time for a personal life.
Time restrictions are the main reason why Chu doesn’t date. Though he has had girlfriends in the past, Chu says that he ended up learning a harsh lesson: The demands of pro gaming make it difficult to maintain a relationship.
“This is a harsh thing to say [to a girlfriend], but it would be like ‘I love you, but I can’t love you more than I love League of Legends,'” explained Chu. “I’m married to League of Legends essentially. I can’t do both. Girls will have to wait until later.”
Despite Chu’s theory, it obviously varies from player to player. It is not uncommon for players to have girlfriends or more elaborate social lives. Team Liquid players Christian “IWDominate” Rivera, Diego “Quas” Ruiz, and Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin all have girlfriends.
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