EXCLUSIVE: Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, Nick Faldo, and Aaron Judge are among the elite professional athletes who have benefitted from working with a sports psychologist. Now some esports stars are catching onto the idea.
Canadian sales agent Syndicado has acquired worldwide rights to The Gamer, a documentary that revolves around Verneri “Bona” Junkala, a talented 17-year-old CS:GO e-athlete whose goal is to be the best in Finland. Bona always comes in second place in Counterstrike, however, until he begins working with world’s best esports psychologist, Mia. The film directed by Finnish directors Petri Luukkainen and Jesse Jokinen makes its world premiere on Sunday at the prestigious CPH:DOX festival in Copenhagen, screening in Nordic:DOX competition.
The sessions with Mia set Junkala “on a path to self-discovery to not only become a better player, but a better person,” according to a description of the film. “Unexpectedly, another player and old nemesis from the past, comes to take his position in the team. The mentorship between the psychologist and Bona is in the key role, while he must figure out how to balance the conflicts, burden of pressure and his own dreams before his professional contract runs out.”
“We were interested in the tricky combination of self-reflection and performance orientation,” the directors say of their film. “In competitive gaming, everything is penetrated by the expectations of success and what a player is able to produce to his team and sponsors. What kind of self-value can these young gamers achieve or upkeep in this competitive and money-driven environment? Through Bona, we wanted to capture the youth’s zeitgeist here, an age of performance-driven self-help.”
The Gamer is produced by Liisa Karpo and Marianne Mäkelä for Finnish production company napafilms in co-production with Erik Winker, Martin Roelly and Ümit Uludag for CORSO Film (Germany).
At CPH:DOX, Syndicado is also handling sales for Jesse McLean’s Dox:Award competition entry Light Needs, about the inner life of houseplants, and Greta Stocklassa’s Blix not Bombs, in the running for the F:act Award, about diplomat and UN weapons inspector Hans Blix, for which Syndicado also is executive producer.