At 15-years-old, Henrik “Hen” Mclean is like any other kid playing Fortnite. Only, he’s better than all those other kids, and he’s competing on the biggest stage imaginable, which is why he’s won a few tournaments and signed to Guild Esports. But other than that, Hen’s just your typical kid playing Fortnite.
Currently a member of the number-one ranked team in Europe, Hen sat down with Syft to discuss his experiences competing in Fortnite and the impact success has had on his youth.
Early Gaming Memories
“I first got into gaming by playing Minecraft at age seven,” Hen relayed. Along with many other kids, Hen’s first video game memories involve exploring the pixelated lands of Minecraft and Pokémon.
As fun as it is dressing up your Torterra in a mustache and sunglasses for a Pokémon contest, the world of competitive gaming called out to Hen, and he soon found himself getting started with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. “First, I played CS:GO, which I tried to play competitively,” he explained. “I looked up to many different players, such as ScreaM, NiKo and a guy called k0nfig.
“Watching these other pro players play, I would be like, ‘I want to be like them, I want to be as good as them. I want to do the same things that they do, but even better.’”
Not too long later, Hen started playing Fortnite simply because he wanted something to talk about with his friends. “When I first started playing Fortnite, it was only because I wanted to be able to chat with my friends about something similar. They were talking about Fortnite and I had no idea about the game. So I started playing, and I got hooked instantly. “
While Hen did play CS:GO competitively, his true drive didn’t surface until he found Fortnite. “When I started playing competitive [Fortnite], I realized the love I had of competing and instantly knew I wanted to become a pro player.”
Hen found himself to be incredibly talented at the game and realized that he could one day compete at the same level of the stars he looked up to. This was a year-and-a-half ago, at age 13. Now, at the age of 15, Hen has already taken over the competitive Fortnite scene in Europe and is widely considered one of the region’s most talented players.
Working with Parents
Something we can all remember from our childhoods is our parents interrupting us mid-game to ask us if we’ve done our homework. For Hen, who plays games on the biggest stage imaginable, it’s still the same story. “When I first talked to them [about becoming a professional gamer], they supported me, but they also wanted me to focus on school… They wanted to see me place consistently before we talked about homeschooling.”
Hen’s parents were aware of competitive gaming as a profession, because he’d tell them about ScreaM, NiKo and the other CS:GO players he looked up to. His parents were supportive of his pursuit of Fortnite, offering help at every step. But sometimes, teenagers just need to do their own thing.
“My parents helped me throughout the way just by saying things like, ‘Are you doing good, do you need help? Maybe we can get you a coach.’ But sometimes I just told them, let me do my thing. I’ll fix my problems, and I’ll do good by myself. And other times I asked for their help… There’s definitely both sides of the story.”
Impact on Friendships
For many, huddling around a tv screen or hanging out in a Skype call or a Discord server were the birthplaces of great memories. While Hen definitely still has his fair share of joy, his commitment to Fortnite has somewhat stunted his social life. “I don’t really play with my friends often anymore. I’m usually quite busy and always doing something else related to Fortnite.”
This lack of time, as Hen explained, has caused some issues socially. “I had a hard time telling [my friends] that I’d be busy playing Fortnite. They would think that I didn’t really want to become friends with them anymore, I don’t have time for them, or I’m much more important than them now. But that was just not the case. I was busy, but I still wanted to be friends. But they just didn’t get that.
“I love the path that I’ve chosen. But sometimes I just think like, what would happen if I did this, or that, you know?”
Hen stated that he doesn’t have any regrets about pursuing Fortnite, but he enjoys imagining where his life might have taken him had he never touched the game. “I’m a pretty good singer, I would think of maybe trying to pursue acting/singing, as when I did go to school, I had a drama scholarship.”
Currently homeschooled, Hen’s plan is to finish his GCSE exams and then take a year to focus on gaming and think about his future. From there, Hen could either do his A-levels and go to a university or double down on his future in gaming and esports.
The Big Stage
People remember vividly the funny moments gaming with their friends and the hours and hours sunk into games during their childhood, but not many have memories of the intense pressure of clutching live on stage with the world watching.
“When I first got into the big stages of competitive, oh my, I was a train wreck. It was an emotional rollercoaster, I didn’t know how to act. Sometimes when something bad happened in game, I would get angry, and then it would just all be over, like my full tournament over, I would have no control over it. And it was bad.”
Just like your average teen gamer, Hen would tilt and rage in his Fortnite matches. Losing is frustrating, and it’s not something many kids know how to handle. But Hen isn’t your average kid, and he learned to adapt. “As the time went on, and I got more experience of competitive, then it kind of eased down. I got to the stage where if I died in game, I’d be, ‘okay, it’s fine. I have another game, and I’ll just chill out.’”
Hen noted that he has learned so much by just observing the other pros around him. Seeing their composure made him want to act more composed on stage. Watching them not get tilted made him not want to tilt.
At 15-years-old, Hen is just another kid playing Fortnite, only his experiences are so unique to those of your average kid. In his short career, Hen has shown tremendous potential, growth and adaptability. With so much of his future ahead of him, there’s no saying where his journey will take him. We’re excited to be there every step of the way.