Australia’s former world snooker champion Neil Robertson says an addiction to video games across his career has harmed both his professional and personal life.
The 35-year-old Melburnian says longstanding obsessions with the Fifa football games, World of Warcraft and League of Legends deprived him of sleep and adversely affected his performances.
“If you are a single guy and work in a normal job you can get around it,” Robertson told Eurosport. “But you can’t win professional snooker matches when you are tired.”
“The years I had the 100 centuries, I should probably have had around 120 because I got addicted like hell to Fifa 14,” Robertson said. “That really affected the second half of my season. I wouldn’t say I would have won a lot more tournaments if it wasn’t for video games but I think I would have given myself more opportunities to go further in other events.”
A veteran of close to two decades on the professional circuit and the winner of the world championship in 2010, Robertson says the addiction also had an impact on his family life. “Mille (Robertson’s partner) absolutely hates it. League of Legends is banned in my house and rightly so. It is just awful,” Robertson said.
“In the past, I’ve been staying up and playing it. Then all of a sudden, it is 6am, the birds are tweeting and I’m thinking: ‘Oh my God, I’ve got to get up in a couple of hours to take my son Alexander to school. Then I’ve got to practise’.”
Robertson said on one snooker trip to China he became anxious when he was unable to join his “raid team” in a game of World of Warcraft. “When I got out there, the connection was so bad that I couldn’t get access,” Robertson said. “I was furious for four or five days. All I was thinking about was getting back home for a connection from China. I lost my spot on the team, and all of a sudden that became more important than the snooker, which is absolutely crazy.”
Robertson is not the only sport star to admit to a performance-altering video game obsession, though results have varied. After a self-described “pathetic” loss to Andy Murray at Wimbledon in 2016, Nick Kyrgios admitted he had prepared for his match in less than ideal fashion by playing Playstation.
Italian football star Andrea Pirlo, on the other hand, has said that the Playstation is the second greatest invention behind the wheel, and claimed in his autobiography, I Think Therefoe I Play, that a key part of his preparation for the 2006 World Cup final was playing video games. “I don’t feel pressure,” Pirlo wrote. “I don’t give a toss about it. I spent the afternoon of Sunday, July 9, 2006 in Berlin sleeping and playing the PlayStation. In the evening, I went out and won the World Cup.”