Maurice Amazing Stueckenschneider talks mental health: “I don’t think I would have ever gotten good at League if it wasn’t for my bout of depression & burnout that forced me out of school.”

Maurice Amazing Stueckenschneider has had a rough year. The former TSM and Origen jungler got benched at Fnatic during the Spring Split and was unable to avoid relegation with his new found team Mysterious Monkeys in the Summer Split. In this interview, he speaks about his mental health issues, the future of his career and more. Enjoy. 

Hi Maurice, thank you very much for your time to answer these questions. First of all, the past season had lots of ups and downs for you, with you signing with Fnatic, getting benched and signing with Mysterious Monkeys only to be a free agent again. If you were to reflect on the past season, what would be your most important take-aways?

Oh man, a ton of things to take away. I’ve always been more on the extreme side – so when I have the feel that my team is able to win, I’ll try to push everyone around me to the next level and keep them accountable. But this only works if the system you’re in is allowing you to work that way. I know now that I’m reliant on having one more driving force in my teams to co-operate with, similar to how Mithy and I worked in OG, and Forgiven and I worked in CW. But I also learned that pushing too far can be counterproductive and halt the progress of others around me. Knowing the limits to work, work ethic and giving others leeway before imposing those standards is important. Letting others flourish and then see what you can do with what they present you is the way to go if you’re not “safe” on the roster.

But yeah, there are tons of more things, now I definitely do know my limits and know when to take a break from things as well.

In the past, you have considered retiring from professional play. What changed your mind? Was it the hype surrounding Worlds?

I wouldn’t put it on Worlds, but it certainly played into it – especially seeing Maxlore succeed with his jungle approach, which is pretty similar to mine in the OG days, gives me hope that I can make it back. People can say whatever they want about me, but when I give it my all and have been presented the opportunity of a good coaching staff and/or good players around me, I can challenge to be the best in the west.

Do players like sOAZ, Bjergsen and you just have an unfathomable drive to compete and win?

Not sure about sOAZ, part of me really believes that he just keeps playing and winning just to spite the haters that have been calling him out and wanting him to retire. But yeah, the people from the old guard basically must have something that keeps them there, and for my case it’s the will to win and succeed.

Are there any specific teams you’re hoping to sign with in the future? Do you think that a return to the NA LCS, with franchising coming in and you being a NA-resident, could be on the table?

I don’t really have preferences, I just don’t want to be on a team where I know I’m going to lose when going on stage. It’s one of the most humbling as well as frightening experiences to have. So anyone that can provide me with talented individuals and a happy and helping coaching staff that tries its hardest to do well with the pieces it has, is someone that I can see myself with. And yeah, I do think that NA would be better for me, but I’m not entirely sure if it should happen this year due to the recent negative experiences I had on stage. I want to do things right this time around, and not have a half-burned out me be part of a serious championship contender.

You’ve mentioned mental health issues and problems in the past but also said that “you were the best when you felt the worst”. Do you think that player health, especially in terms of mental health, often gets overlooked and should be a bigger topic to focus on?

I may be mistaken, but I truly believe that esports is a magnet for people with mental health issues. Not only that, but the very nature of video games drags especially socially anxious/depressed teens into its ranks. Anyone can be popular or a hero within a gaming community just by being awesome at the game. So in a sense, it can create a false reality for kids/teens/people to feel a sense of achievement, and I honestly think that a lot of League players are driven by that more so than they want to admit. We do have a lot of high school dropouts, myself included, and I don’t think I would have ever gotten good at League if it wasn’t for my bout of depression/burnout that forced me out of school.

In order to help with that, more stable environments must be created: contracts, living conditions, in-house managers/coaches need to be intact in order for anyone with these issues to live and succeed within esports. The stress factor can definitely be too much to handle unless you’re really on top of things and know when to say no in order to give yourself the space that you need. But that kind of maturity isn’t something you can expect from 17 year old kids. That’s partially why I waited to get into the LCS to begin with.

In a recent tweet you said that “many organisations are going for the biggest talent available, instead of looking at their pieces and building upon those” referring to Misfits’ recent success. Do you think that roster swaps are too common in the LCS?

I don’t think they’re too common, but I think the reasons behind most of them are really really ridiculous. Most of the EU teams do not have the coaching structure nor the overall infrastructure to even dare to make any of the ballsy calls they make in terms of roster swaps; most coaches and managers are first timers and haven’t had the competitive nor life experience that they need to have in order to cut players from rosters and forcing them into an underpaid sub position, where there is no room for movement unless the management decides to assist you in finding a different team. The whole notion of this is utterly insane, and drives me mad just thinking about it.

I want teams in EU to commit to their players, and I want them to understand the notions of what it means to cut anyone from any team, instead of offering them help which is something NA teams have been doing for a long time now: get substitutes, offer positional coaching, and give the players the goddamn resources they need to succeed. Misfits is a great example, they took a long time searching their pieces, and only mid season, despite issues being apparent for the whole spring split, did they lose kAKAO in order to get Maxlore on the roster.

There are however teams like Roccat or Splyce which haven’t had any roster chances last season, yet failed to make it big time. What would you recommend these teams in order to improve?

Splyce didn’t really have any issues, I think their roster was stable but upset by the fact that their late season surge with Boris came too late. They just failed to identify their issues early on, and that caused their downfall. As for Roccat, I honestly believe that losing Maxlore and replacing him with Pridestalker, another rookie player (after Phaxi) didn’t help the cause. In this case they were almost too gullible in believing in a now known non existing talent within the roster, and hoped that their coaches abilities were somehow sufficient in teaching players how to play the game.

What is the most important thing in your opinion that needs to change in League of Legends esports in the future?

That young newer players will yield results that older players will not. Just because you’ve played a couple of years does not mean that your ceiling is suddenly lower, and we’ve seen recoveries time and time again, or long lasting careers taking off because they have finally found the recipe for success within a team or roster. Ambition is my favourite example of this. Always a good player, rerolls to jungle and becomes a monster because Samsung allows him to thrive. I love these things to happen, and I will not stand by non existing evidence that older players are unable to return to former glory.

Some players like yourself receive an extraordinary amount of hate and harassment online in comparison to others. How do you handle this kind of behaviour and do you think that the esports community tends to be more toxic than traditional sports communities? Or is it just different because esport athletes tend to spend more time online compared to traditional athletes?

You simply don’t handle it. Honestly have gotten better at not interacting with the hate as much, but it still bugs me. It’s more about that even though I know I can’t make everyone like me, part of me thinks that maybe I can somehow make that happen by being nice and forthcoming on social media, in my games, but damn you can not stop a wave once it’s rolling. It’s discouraging, but the mute and ignore buttons have helped me to weed out the black sheep and focus on the happy and supportive people in the community. Everyone can pretend it’s not important to them, but damn there is a difference to things when you’re at the top and you’re loved and cheered for. It’s the best feeling there is.

Though no, the esports community is not more toxic than the traditional sports communities, but it is more vocal on social media, due to the nature of esports being watched on a PC/Mac/laptop/phone. Everyone who watches esports also has immediate access to those resources, and most esports players are still running their social media sites themselves so fan interaction is direct and unfiltered. The only times a football star is going to be mad about statements being made about him is if a reporter asks him about it, whereas we have the live feed infront of our eyes.

Is there anything you’d like to say to your fans and supporters?

As always, I appreciate the support so far and hope to make things work for 2018. Even if I may not be the player that I once was, I’m still that person, so if you were a fan of me years ago, you’ll still be a fan of my personality come next year. And even if I may not be around as a player anymore due to any circumstance, I’m sure I’ll be able to bring some of myself to the table in some other form. Thanks.

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Darius Matuschak

Darius is an esports journalist trying to nurture esports culture whenever possible. He got into esports while finishing his Bachelor in Journalism, and has been a regular EU LCS attendee since January 2017.

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