Skip to main content

It's Okay Not To Be Okay: How TenZ Is Learning To Move Forward Through Adversity

2023 has been one of the most impactful years for Tyson "TenZ" Ngo. Here is how he is learning to overcome adversity to move forward.
  • Author:
  • Publish date:
  • TenZ opens up about his break away from VALORANT to handle personal life obligations.
  • What Kyedae means to TenZ and learning to process his feelings through tough times.
  • Why TenZ feels healthier after learning to take time for himself.

This interview was conducted during the VCT Americas League season in May 2023.

Sentinels star duelist Tyson “TenZ” Ngo walks onto the VCT Americas League with his usual mice and keyboard to a crowd of Sentinels supporters.

“I love you Tyson!” One fan shouted in the stands. “SEN City!” another fan followed.

TenZ ushers out a quick wave to the crowd as he takes his seat on the VCT Americas League stage as he puts his headset on, ready to load into the server.

What could not be seen was all of the emotions and thoughts running through Sentinels star Tyson “TenZ” Ngo’s mind during one of the most challenging periods in his life.

From the outside perspective, many would see the bright lights and adoring fans cheering your name as a fantastic euphoric feeling.

For TenZ, he only remembered “feeling like a zombie.”

“I felt like I was a zombie going through the motions,” TenZ shared when describing what it was like to play while dealing with everything. “It was really hard for me to be myself in that moment, and that was frustrating to deal with.”

It wasn’t that TenZ hated the lifestyle of everyday pro play. Being a professional VALORANT player competing at the highest levels of competition had been his dream ever since he was a kid. However, being able to handle all of that pressure can be extremely difficult when multiple different life obligations are constantly barraging you until you are forced to deal with it all.

Yet, something that TenZ has learned throughout this entire process is that sometimes taking a step back unlocks a new level of growth that you may not have been able to discover without it.

TenZ’s Break Away From Competitive VALORANT

Sentinels TenZ VCT Americas League

TenZ on the VCT Americas League stage in week three.

Following week three of the VCT Americas League, Sentinels revealed that TenZ would take some time away from the stage to heal from a finger injury and Covid. While it was a new situation being away from the constant grind of professional VALORANT, it was a period where TenZ could address his mental health and reorganize things outside his professional VALORANT career.

“During my break, I was focusing a lot on my personal life and mental state because there was just so much stuff on my plate,” TenZ said. “It was tough for me to juggle everything.”

It was a healthy break from his usual duties as a professional VALORANT player and personality. For those two weeks, he wasn’t TenZ, the face of VALORANT; he was just Tyson for a change.

“I was trying to do stuff in my personal life that was good for me mentally,” TenZ said. “I was taking care of things like doctor checkups and myself for once. That time away made me feel a lot better.”

From taking care of everyday life obligations like doctor checkups to spending more time with loved ones, the primary goal was to reorganize everything and develop a more consistent routine.

One of the biggest changes to his everyday lifestyle was implementing a structure to counteract his struggles with ADHD.

Learning To Manage ADHD

Tyson "TenZ" Ngo of Sentinels seen backstage between matches during Week 3 of 2023 VCT Americas at the Riot Games Arena on April 16, 2023. (Photo by Tina Jo/Riot Games)

TenZ during VCT Masters Reykjavik 2021.

ADHD was something that TenZ, “always knew he had”, but was never fully able to address and reflect on until the break from competitive VALORANT.

He remembered multiple instances throughout his life where he would try to explain a story before new thoughts would steal his attention as his words shifted to explaining that.

“I would try to explain stories, but then a new story would come around and roll over,” TenZ said. “That’s something that I struggled with my entire life, and I had never noticed it until I went to get checked onto a treatment plan which has helped a lot.”

From balancing his life as a top VALORANT player and content creator, the responsibilities and career duties that TenZ has to manage are endless.

“It felt like a bunch of things were happening at the same time, and it’s tough to explain,” TenZ said. “The easiest way to explain it all is that my brain was working on three times speed.”

With very little free time, remembering that he is not just TenZ, the VALORANT star, was even more challenging. He is also Tyson, a regular person with everyday duties like chores and doctor appointments.

“I remember coming home every day and just feeling exhausted,” TenZ said before continuing. “But then, at home, there would be chores that I needed to do outside of my pro play, and I just wouldn’t do them because I would feel so tired or unmotivated.”

That break away from VALORANT was an opportunity to pause and continuously ask himself an essential but often overlooked question, “What do I need right now to feel better.”

What Kyedae Means To TenZ

One of the things that TenZ highlighted as one of his most significant supports throughout this entire period was his wife Kyedae Alicia Shymko.

He went on to list many reasons why Kyedae brought out his best qualities while also talking about how she helps him work through aspects of his life that he struggles with.

“I’m really bad with calendars, dates, and everything,” TenZ said. “Kyedae is like my manager because she tells me things that I need to get done or do on a certain day.

It was both challenging and easy for TenZ to explain all the things that Kyedae does to make his every day better. From aspects of learning to center his thoughts to being “his foundation” and “support,” TenZ listed a wide variety of things before coming to one main conclusion about what Kyedae means to him.

“She’s honestly home for me,” TenZ shared. “She’s my rock; she makes me feel great and supports me through anything I struggle with. I don’t need that much else because she makes me happy.”

On Mar 3, 2023, Kyedae revealed on Twitter that she had been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a cancer that affects the bone marrow and blood cells.

TenZ remembered the first moments he found out about the cancer diagnosis. The wave of various emotions and thoughts flooded his mind to the point where it was hard to process and explain exactly what was going through his mind.

“It was tough to explain,” TenZ said. “I would internalize a lot of my emotions. I couldn’t talk to her because I felt so much at the same time that nothing would come out even if I opened my mouth.”

Yet, over time he could process his emotions and fully explain what was going through his mind and why it had affected him so profoundly.

Once he could fully express his emotions through words, he felt the most significant amount of mental clarity.

“I was finally able to talk to her and express what I was feeling, and it felt really nice,” TenZ said. “Getting past that point where it’s hard to express your feelings and open up has been nice."

That mental clarity to process what he is feeling and address it to move forward has been one of the most positive changes to affect TenZ’s everyday life.

How are you feeling, Tyson?

Sentinels TenZ Marves Sacy Pancada VCT Americas League

TenZ on stage during the VCT Americas League Last Chance Qualifier.

It’s been quite the journey for TenZ in 2023. From dealing with the constant pressures of being a top VALORANT pro and all the different life obligations, nobody could truly understand what was going through TenZ’s mind but himself. From complications with Kyedae’s health to dealing with Covid and joint infections, it’s hard to expect anybody to feel like their usual self under all that pressure.

However, something that TenZ can officially say is that he is finally addressing it all and moving forward stronger as a player and professional VALORANT player.

“Life gets in the way sometimes, and you can’t help but think about it all, even when you are competing,” TenZ said. “Now, I feel that I can put stuff on the back burner and focus on the task in front of me because I know I will take care of whatever is bothering me after.”

While he stated that it was something he was still “working on,” there was a peaceful understanding that there is still work, but progress is being made in that aspect of his life.

“I am writing stuff down and putting things into calendars more often,” TenZ said, “Though I’m still not the best at it, I feel so much more focused and intentful with things that I do now, which alleviates so much mental stress.”

Towards the end of the interview, one final question was asked to conclude the conversation about life and TenZ’s mental state.

“If you could describe how you are feeling right now in one word, what would that be,” I asked.

TenZ let out a subtle smile while combing his hair. He takes time to think about the word he wants to choose before landing on the one word that resonates with him the most.

“Myself,” TenZ finally shared.