No work-life balance in esports, says Singaporean Valorant pro player Benedict Tan

No work-life balance in esports, says Singaporean Valorant pro player Benedict Tan
Benedict Tan (left) and Wang Jingjie are the Singaporean players on the Valorant esports team of Paper Rex.
PHOTO: Instagram/Paper Rex, Wang Jingjie

Love your work and you'll never work a day in your life — but what if your work leaves you with barely enough time to live your life?

In an interview with Singaporean professional Valorant players Benedict "Benkai" Tan and Wang "Jinggg" Jingjie earlier this month, the former revealed to AsiaOne that being an esports professional isn't a walk in the park — it takes effort and lots of time.

"A lot of people don't understand the time that it takes to get to where we are and the amount of sacrifices that we have to make," Benedict, 26, said.

He added: "You'll get to a point where you just feel like you don't have a work-life balance, which I guess is just one of the cons of having this (esports) as a career."

Jingjie and Benedict are the two Singaporean players on the Valorant esports team Paper Rex.

The team recently took home the grand prize of US$50,000 (S$68,700) at the Valorant India Invitational in Hyderabad, India where they went up against players from Indonesia, the Philippines, Europe and of course India.

But their greatest claim to fame thus far is their runner-up finish at Valorant Masters Copenhagen in July this year against the best talents from across the globe, where they returned home with $120,000.

Success on such a large scale comes with a price, however.

They used to do a seven-hour training session daily, although they've since been trying to switch to six-hour days that are more intensive.


And that's on top of each member playing Valorant for multiple hours a day outside of training, as evidenced by their Twitch streams.

"When you are attending so many events and tournaments …  [you] start missing out on birthdays, your friends' weddings… If the schedules don't align, that's just the reality of having this as a career," Benedict said, adding that his experience as an esports professional might be different because of his age.

And age may truly be a factor in this as Jingjie, 19, shared that he doesn't feel like he's "missed out on anything" by becoming a pro player.

Highlighting that he's only gone pro for about a year, Jingjie explained that he may not be feeling the crunch just yet considering he's barely stepped foot into the esports world despite his achievements.

Another reason could also be that Jingjie isn't the type to frequently go outside.

Despite the lack of free time, Benedict feels that the pros of his job outweigh the cons by far.

Also speaking on behalf of Jingjie, he said: "We still love our job at the end of the day and I don't think we want to do anything else."

"We've made history"

On the topic of their runner-up placement in Copenhagen, which was Singapore's first, Benedict said: "We just went into the grand finals with the main goal of just going out and having fun with each other and treasuring the memory of getting to the world stage.

"If I'm not wrong, we've made history in a way — at least for Singapore. No other Singaporean FPS (first-person shooter) player has ever made it to the grand finals of an international FPS title before."

This milestone in gaming for Singapore didn't even occur to them until after they lost their match against Funplus Pheonix, the winner of Valorant Masters Copenhagen.


Knowing that softened the blow dealt by their defeat, Benedict said. Ultimately, it isn't their accomplishments as Singaporeans or Asia-Pacific (Apac) players that drive them forward, but their competitive nature.

Stated Benedict: "We honestly do not take [the pressure of representing Singapore or Apac] into account when we're playing the game. When we go into the game, everything fades away except wanting to win.

"We don't really think about who's watching at home or the eyes on us. All of us are very competitive at heart, that's why we love doing this job. 

"And when it comes down to it, that's the only thing we focus on."

Jingjie also chimed in: "When we play, we tell each other not to think about [other things]. Putting pressure on yourself is just going to make you perform worse… we play our own game like how we've practiced and we're basically there to have fun."

An esports player's 'shelf life'

However, even the most skilled players can't withstand the test of time as staying competitive is something that may not be plausible as players age.

While Jingjie expressed that he "will try to play for as long as [he] can" and that he hasn't worried too much about his career just yet, Benedict, who's seven years his senior, has set a timeline for himself.

He intends to keep playing for another six years at maximum and switch over to coaching after that.


He also stated that he has more options available to him now, and is willing to try his hand at being a desk analyst who gives live commentary or strategic breakdowns on esports matches.

"I would rather be playing, but it's nice to know that I have separate avenues if I really need them," Benedict said.

Another option that has opened up to them is being livestreamers on Twitch.


And while the option may present a lucrative opportunity, Jingjie and Benedict are both hesitant to fully commit to the livestreaming cyberspace.

Jingjie currently maintains a large audience of about 1,800 viewers each livestream, while Benedict draws a modest 400 viewers when he's online on Twitch.

Said Jingjie: "I just stream for fun on the side but for now my main goal is to just play as long as I can. Maybe after playing, if I feel like I'm not good enough and there's still many people that watch my stream, I'll think of becoming a full-time streamer.

"For now I'm just focusing on playing and being the best, streaming is something I do for fun."

Jingjie also explained that the support he feels from his audience on Twitch is something that makes him feel happy and something that spurs him on.

Benedict concurred: "I share the same sentiment as him. It doesn't really feel like a secondary career choice right now, more so a fun thing to do on the side."

ALSO READ: 'I know I won't make it far in studies': Singaporean, who topped Valorant's global chart, on choosing esports over academics

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