Meet John Lee. 3x Iron Man. 9x Tough Mudder. Also – Streams 30 hours a week.
Q: John you are an accomplished athlete in the most physical and literal sense of the word. Can you please mention a few of the highlights?
I had several mottos in life, but the most prominent being from my dad. “If you put your passion, energy, and focus into something everyday, you can achieve anything.” I always grew up as a competitive person and the first thing that appealed to me was competitive gaming. Since you had the ability to play anyone across the world at any given moment, competitive gaming stuck with me as I constantly grinded to be the best.
For gaming, I placed in the top 8 of both Cal-O DoTA2 seasons, a six-time top10 DXD DoTA1 player, top 5% for World of Warcraft PvP from Seasons 1-7, top 50 player for CoD MW2 FFA, a 1900 PSR (top 4%) player in HoN, and a 4200 MMR (top 8%) player in DoTA2.
In high school, I wrestled, threw shotput and discus, and was a sponsored paintball player. In 2014, I raced for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s Club Triathlon Team at Nationals and the following year completed Three Ironman races. Ironman races are grueling triathlons where you swim, bike, and run courses that are 70.3 or 140.6 miles long. I finished 9 Tough-Mudders and 5 half-marathons the past three years. This year, I decided to switch it up by preparing for the World’s Toughest Mudder, a 24-hour obstacle course race.
Q: What does your training regime look like when preparing for a big event?
Preparing for a big event, I usually taper off on my training a week prior. For an example, if I am going to run a 50-mile race, I will cap off my training at whatever the distance is times 1.25 the week prior and then take a week off. That week, I will definitely become well rested and do active recovery in the form of yoga and foam rolling. For nutrition, I will start my carbo-load a few days prior to the race and get 12-hours of sleep the night before. Then for the big day, I will be primed and ready to rock!
Q: You are also an avid gamer, streamer and Esports enthusiast. How long have you been into gaming and which games do you focus is on?
Ever since I had the ability to walk and talk, I always had a joystick, controller, or a keyboard and mouse in my hands. Gaming provided me an outlet of expression and competition 24/7; traditional sports cannot do that. I played various games at the competitive level, including DoTA1, HoN, DoTA2, and World of Warcraft PvP. Currently, I play on amateur leagues for DoTA2 and captain an amateur team.
Before streaming, the only way eSports junkies could follow the scene would be montages or highlight videos in Youtube. I started streaming in June of 2016. Streaming platforms, such as Twitch, revolutionized the game as I could broadcast my play and watch other professionals on how he/she approaches the game. It also allowed me to connect to others around the world. Sometimes I would eat dinner and just randomly talk to people about my background for hours!
Since I do not have the same schedule as I did back in high school (man I miss those days), I follow various competitive eSports scenes as an enthusiast. I love following teams and their story lines, the dramas, and the revolving meta surrounding games.
Q: What is your streaming schedule like?
Currently I stream on my channel from 6 PM to 11 PM M-F, and on Sundays from 4 PM to 10 PM. My schedule is a bit crazy right now as I am working full-time, training 10-12 hours a week for my races with all of them coming in the next two months, and captaining an amateur DoTA2 team in a tournament. I should be streaming more as World of Warcraft Legion just launched!
Q: John can you also let us know about how you’ve battled depression and what your diagnosis is?
After I received a concussion in 2011, I lapsed into having Dysthymia (Chronic Depression) and it took over my life the next two years. I lost interest in education, interests, and often questioned what purpose I had on Earth everyday. Waking up each day was extremely difficult and I sheltered myself from my friends and family when I shouldn’t have. Through their support, I overcame this stage of my life and lifted a measureless weight off my shoulders. It was a difficult time in my life, but I made marginal gains everyday to live a healthier lifestyle and mitigate the factors in my life that were causing stress. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Depression affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.” This, unfortunately, is a huge number and I personally do believe that in modern times, people need to be aware of cognitive disorders. I act now as an advocate, and with my education in cognitive psychology, raise awareness.
Q:How does gaming and Esports play a role in your ability to combat your depression?
Gaming and eSports have always been competitive outlets, but also therapeutic as well. As I moved away from my home in Torrance, California, to the central coast of San Luis Obispo, to now San Jose, I left many friends and teammates behind. Even though I do not see them on a daily basis, I am still able to interact and share the same laughs and spend time with each other through gaming. One of the main things people exhibit when going through depression is pushing others away. I exhibited this behavior, but soon found much peace and ease being around with others.
Q: For you, how would you compare traditional athleticism and Esports athletes?
The main stereotype that often comes up when comparing traditional athleticism to eSports athletes is that eSports athletes do not move. To an extent that is true, we do not have to physically exert our body in ways athletes. eSports athletes can benefit from physique as it will benefit the long gaming sessions. Some tournaments run over a week with 10-hours of play daily. If you do not have the endurance to put your body through that much pressure, you will fatigue.
What I like to explain to people is that with traditional professional sports and eSports, the amount of dedication and training is just the same. For instance, in football you will run drills and plays over and over. In competitive Counter-Strike, you have plays and you have to memorize every single smoke and flash angle on a map, while running the certain plays over and over. In basketball, you can practice your free-throw a hundred times. In DoTA, you can practice proper creep pulling and stacking. In volleyball, you have constant communication between the players to keep the ball up. If you watch competitive gaming, you will hear teams constantly be calling out plays, alerting for certain timings or abilities, and have the same level of intensity during the heat of the game.
Q. What does it mean to be a gamer and how has Esports changed that?
My friends know me as the craziest nerd/ fitness-junkie. Once a gamer, always a gamer. Shoryuken! But seriously, I love being a gamer and following eSports because I solely believe in the next few decades, it will mirror traditional sports. There still are a lot of social stigmas surrounding competitive gaming, but now there are more opportunities than ever to be a professional gamer. Back in 2006, there were only a few tournaments that would give 4-digit prizes. Now you have 20+ million dollar tournaments for DoTA2! Growing up as a Korean-American in the states, I would see how far Asia has progressed it’s own eSports scene compared to the States. In Asia, you can graduate with a degree in Gaming and eSports pros are treated like movie stars there. Fast forward to 2016, the US definitely closed the gap and I cannot wait to see how regions across the world progress their eSports scene.
How can I manage my own depression / How do I help someone who has depression?
It is extremely difficult for friends and family to help one who is depressed. Individuals close to one may feel anxious, frustrated, or fearful to attempt to give help, but providing any support is a huge benefactor to help treat depression.
1) Learn about depression.
The more one understands about this condition, the better one can cope and retrieve the sources necessary to overcome depression.
2) Share your feelings with close friends and family.
Depression not only affects you, but those around you. It is important for everyone surrounding the affected individual to lean in and share emotions.
3) Be understanding.
Let your friends, family, or the affected individual know that you care. Depressed individuals can feel more invigorated to overcome the problem by being continually reminded that they are loved. You cannot “fix” someone else’s depression. Complete recovery is in the hands of the depressed person.
4) Monitor symptoms.
Keep a running diary of how you/one feels daily. Track progress and emotions and see if the depressed individual is gradually recovering from depression.
If at any time the depressed individual talks about death or suicide, seek immediate help. Contact your doctor, go to your local emergency room, or contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK).