“It’s a shame that one day you’re going to get married and give this up” read a comment on Instagram over two years ago. I remember seeing this at the time and finding the humour in something so outdated, given that my long term relationship existed before my esports career did.
In fact, a key factor in setting the date for getting married this Summer actually revolved around the CSGO player break and the original scheduled start of ESL Pro League in September. I was having my wedding cake and eating it, as well as being able to pay for it.
But when the competitive calendar shifted, my wedding plans couldn’t. I’m hoping to still be part of ESL Pro League, as the group stages mean there’s an opportunity to share the interviewing role with another person, also meaning a fantastic chance for someone else to potentially break through. Or perhaps my limited time will mean I sit this one out – but you can’t regret putting family first. It’s something I haven’t done enough in the past few years, something the global pandemic has taught us.
I’m very fortunate to have worked solidly for the past year. In the wake of the world shutting down, my schedule cleared itself out, but began to self correct by the Autumn as tournament organisers refused to give up on their events and recalibrated for online. My role as interviewer, however, often was limited to media days rather than full events until 2021, with me getting to fill in on various desks, moving between games.
It also got me thinking about the future. I’m 32 and established in my field. There’s never going to be a convenient time to think about a family of my own, but if there’s an opportunity to take advantage of less travel then during a global shutdown is probably it. Four months after my partner and I decided to see what would happen, I was crying over a positive pregnancy test; something I had told myself was impossible (a common fear among women trying to conceive), had come true. Now, I’d have to work through the notoriously tricky first trimester.
When people talk about the first trimester, it seems that morning sickness is the focal point of discussion, and it’s not surprising, given how crippling the condition it can me. Aside from nausea, it was actually towards the end of the first 12 weeks when I experienced the lesser-known “evening chuck up”. And no cravings for me – just needing to eat little and often or feel horribly sick, something that has continued onwards into the second trimester.
The toughest first trimester hurdle for me, it turned out, was the sheer exhaustion I experienced – which I discovered is totally normal, but not talked about much outside of pregnancy forums and advice websites; my fitness disappeared overnight. As you can imagine, covering three best-of-threes in CS:GO is tiring at the best of times, let alone doing it while growing a tiny human.
I made the decision to tell as few people as possible during the first 12 weeks, not wanting to share the news and then have to follow it up if the pregnancy didn’t work out, or due to the fear of losing work. I was determined to prove I could do it, and I did – in a variety of unconditional broadcast setups, including working with “virtual analysts” (nodding receptively at a green screen), being a “virtual host” (being nodded at) and undergoing a two week quarantine before taking part in the firstbig event CS:GO LAN in approximately 500 days, where my average work day during the six day group stage lasted 14 hours. I started to tell some of my colleagues at IEM Cologne, who made sure to drop me messages to check in, which I really appreciated.
Fortunately, I can confirm my pregnancy is continuing without any issues so far and I’ll be having my week 21 scan next week.
Outside of work-related posts, streaming and house renovations on my Instagram Stories, I don’t share too much from my non-esports world, so I don’t expect that to change too much. (I’ve shared that I’m getting married, for example, but will be unlikely to publish many of the details after the fact.) I did think about not sharing this news at all, because I don’t want my changing body to distract from my work.
Something I do want to share is my plan for the future. I’ll be able to work events outside of the UK until the mid/end of October and will then only work on UK based or online productions until the end of 2021. This includes streaming. Then during the first half of 2022, I’ll be able to work in the UK and will continue streaming. From June 2022, I’ll be taking on productions that require travel again.
In an ideal world, I’d be able to start planning my calendar from the end of 2021, but typically I get asked to be part of events less than a month before. It’s something that impacts the work/life balance of so many in this industry and is definitely one of my biggest concerns once my baby arrives. I love my work – but I also need to work, and I’m fortunate that I have family that are keen to help so that I can keep streaming a couple of times a week and can ocasionally work hosting jobs in the first six months of parenting. I hope that once COVID concerns are under control, tournament organisers will be able to share their plans with talent further in advance.
In other words there will be pauses here and there, but I hope I’m able to continue in this industry, because there’s always a way to make it work.