Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng retires with an important message for us all

Not everyone is the prom king, and that's alright

Liliang Peng/Instagram

As pro-athlete retirement speeches go, it’s not going to have the same impact as farewells from Lou Gehrig, Wayne Gretzky, or Sachin Tendulkar. But, because far more of us are like Yiliang Peng than the world will ever know, it really should. At the relatively age of 27, the man known to esports fans as Doublelift announced his retirement today. The League of Legends, um, legend leaves an impressive legacy behind.

During his 10 years in the professional trenches, Peng ended up hoisting the LCS championship trophy a total of eight times. For the past half-decade he’s been a fixture at the Worlds, and is estimated to have pocketed over US$300,000 in career earnings.

But more valuable than what he might have put in the bank is what professional esports have done for him as a person. Growing up in Mission Viejo, California, Peng’s formative years were somewhat less than idyllic.

At the age of 15 his mother was killed and his father left severely injured after an altercation outside of the family home.

Things didn’t get any better in the years that followed. By his late teens Peng was homeless, reflecting later that he had almost no social skills and little understanding of how one is supposed to function in the world.

In an emotional TwitLonger post today, Peng talked about how League of Legends and professional esports gave him a purpose in life.

He directed fans to the statement with a Tweet that simple read “Reflections”.

Peng begins with a confession

Peng begins the letter with a confession: “To nobody’s surprise, before I was a pro I was quite nerdy and unpopular. The best way to get through a day of school without being bullied was to keep my head down and stay inconspicuous. I was extremely shy, forgettable, unconfident and unpopular.”

Doublelift announced his retirement by going on to note that things changed after making the pro ranks with League of Legends.

“It was my rebirth, a chance to be the person I always wanted to be. I wanted to be proud of myself and my hard work, not ashamed of my passion for gaming. I wanted to be bold, confident, and popular. I wanted to be a pro player who stands out incongruously, someone who speaks his mind and is ‘real’.”

We might have seen the last of Doublelift on the League of Legends battlefield, but that doesn’t mean he’s drifting off into the sunset never to be heard from again.

“Thank you for watching me grow from a hopeless kid into a successful adult,” he writes at the end of his post. “I’ll be starting a new chapter of life now, and I’d like your support in that too.”

Read his entire post here. And then take solace in the fact that, no matter how bad things might be right now, you aren’t alone.

Mike Usinger once took the better part of two years to finish Grand Theft Auto. Over the course of his career he has written about everything from eSports to music to movies to travel.

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