Earlier today, GameSpot reported that long standing Counter Logic Gaming member Steve "Chauster" Chau is retiring from competitive League of Legends. Chauster has been a scene mainstay since his founding membership in CLG in 2010.
Last night, GameSpot had the chance to speak with Chauster about his decision to retire, his career, and his future.
GameSpot eSports: Why did you decide that now was the time to retire?
Chauster: There are a number of reasons for why I am retiring. Being a pro player is great, but there are also many downsides that most people don’t see. You have to literally dedicate your entire life to just have the chance at being the best. No one is in this business to be second best. After some self-reflection in current months I have come to realize that my heart isn't where it used to be, and it is apparent in my performance. I don’t see myself playing league competitively in my thirties, it is better to step out now.
GS: Having been a professional player since the start of competitive League of Legends esports, what has surprised you the most about the direction the scene took?
C: As for the competitive scene, the biggest surprise to me is the fact that the scene in NA is arguably the weakest of all the regions. Despite having the game first, we somehow end up being behind in gameplay. The attitude with which we take this game is very casual, and as of yet there seems to be no quick fix. As for the E-sports side, I am surprised that League of Legends expanded so quickly. Establishing a league like LCS was something I would have never imagined possible while playing this game.
GS: You are the only top-tier professional League of Legends player to have competed in every role. Do you think this is a unique personal versatility you possess or could any player perform in any role?
C: I don’t think that any player could play every role, but I don’t think it is a trait unique to myself. Being able to play every role requires knowledge surrounding every role as well as the mechanics to back it up. Very few players are smart enough to understand the intricacies of each position while maintaining godlike mechanics. You would have to play a ridiculous amount of games in all positions, something that only non LCS players can accomplish as they don’t have any commitments. I was lucky that I played a ridiculous amount of games before the competitive scene existed, which is why I find it a lot easier to play every role.
GS: How did the pressures, responsibilities, and expectations change for you as a pro player from 2010 to your retirement now in 2013?
C: The responsibilities as a professional player were probably the biggest change from 2010-2013. Back in 2010, I didn’t even stream. I sat on my ass, played solo queue, and went to an event once every few months. Eventually there were quotas for streaming, sponsorship obligations, practice hours, and curfews to name a few. Life is not easy these days. As for pressure, the pressure has always been the same. I just played every game to win. Expectations on the other hand, turned a complete 180. CLG used to be the dominant team in NA, I expected to win every single game. Nowadays I expect us to play our game and whatever happens happens.
GS: What will you miss about being a professional player?
C: I will miss traveling around the world and meeting fans. I will miss all the exposure that I have received in recent years that I would never would have had otherwise. I will miss my my team and all the friends I have made in these past few years. College was a great experience, but professional gaming was definitely the highlight of my life thus far.
GS: Looking back on your career, do you have any regrets?
C: My biggest single regret was not taking the initial plunge to stream. I had a giant window of opportunity as I was relevant before Hotshot was a big thing (I was around when he was switching platforms with 50 viewers). However, being a poor guy just out of college with no income, I couldn’t justify paying for a hundreds for a computer. Little did I know :(
GS: You spent your entire career on Counter Logic Gaming, what are some of your most memorable moments with the team professionally?
C: My most memorable and professional moments in League of Legends would have to be winning the first LCS regionals over Curse. We secured the last spot in LCS, and all the stress we had was released. There was no more uncertainty for our future.
GS: How about memorable moments outside of a professional setting? Any fun stories or moments from your travel, or living with the team?
C: The most memorable moments I have had with the team are all either awkward as hell or hilarious arguments, and there are too many to recount in an interview like this. The most awkward memory I’ve had on the team was when we decided to replace Voyboy. We had to tell him the bad news. Hotshot, Doublelift, and I all went into a room together to brace ourselves to give poor Voy the decision we made. Jiji was still in Seattle, so he wasn’t present. Upon waiting for Kelby to fetch Voyboy, we were making small talk and then randomly started bursted out laughing. We were then caught with the laughing fit. We would laugh whenever one of us made eye contact with each other. Kelby obviously had no idea what was going on, but he did the talking for us as he was the manager at this point. All during the discussion, I would catch Doublelift or Hotshot’s eye and just begin to laugh and turn away. I couldn’t help it, and neither could they. Everyone was just holding back laughter while Kelby told Voy that he was going to sit bench. We didn’t think the situation was funny, it was a nervous laughter. Doing shit like this hits the soul.
GS: What, if anything, do you consider the high point or crowning achievement of your career?
C: I consider the fact that I am the only person to play all roles at the top level as well as being the only 2 time WCG champion in League of Legends my crowning achievement.
GS: What do you think CLG’s chances are going forward, without you competing on the team?
C: I think that CLG’s chances are not based on the roster at all. I think that whoever they pick up will be insignificant outside of international superstars, and that the improvement will come with the infrastructure and the direction to which they will be heading towards. CLG has always had great individual talent, but can never bring it together. If CLG can bring it together early in the season, I feel that with a little bit of time they can become an international threat.
GS: Doublelift attributes much of his success to the lessons you taught him early in his career and considers you his closest friend on the team. What do you think of his current position in the league and what do you see in his future?
C: Doublelift is currently in a very unique place. Skillwise he is arguably the best ADC. Fanbase wise, he is hands down the best. I see him as the most valuable NA player in terms of marketability. I don’t see Doublelift putting much individual effort to further his brand in the near future. Someone’s gotta talk some sense into him, maybe you should do it Travis.
GS: If you plan on staying in the scene, what do you plan on doing? If not, what will you do after your career in esports?
C: I will continue to stay in the League of Legends scene. I plan on becoming a streamer and analyst, although I don’t know if many teams have the resources or necessity to acquire an analyst. While streaming, I will also be going back to school, unless a full time gig in something League of Legends related is actually worth chasing.
GS: If Riot offered you the opportunity to be a shoutcaster or analyst for their broadcast, would you take that?
C: Depends on the offer. I don’t think I have what it takes to become a shoutcaster like the ones Riot is currently showcasing. I also don’t think Riot needs someone with my level of expertise to do analyst work.
GS: Any words of wisdom you would pass on to the next generation of LoL pro gamers?
C: Try to become marketable, be a fan favorite! Also, acquire a coach ASAP since teams without a sixth man tend to have dysfunctional dynamics.
GS: Any final words to your fans and the League of Legends community as you retire?
C: Thanks to the fans and the community for your interest in both me and the League of Legends scene. I would not have been in such a privileged position without your support, and I would not have had the same enjoyable experience without you as well. Take care, don’t rage, and try to work with your teammates in solo queue. pls