A lot has happened in the life of Chicago Huntsmen player Preston "Prestinni" Sanderson in the past two months, both personally and professionally.
"I'm just doing much better than than I was a couple months ago," the Call of Duty pro told ESPN, "so I'm honestly happy to be here."
Prestinni, who formerly played for the Florida Mutineers and joined the Chicago Huntsmen on Monday, addressed his mental health after some discord during his time with the Mutineers that began in mid-February. His struggles led to his eventual benching with the Mutineers, and, now, a fresh start with the No. 3 team in the Call of Duty League standings and his brother, Alec "Arcitys" Sanderson.
The conflict with the Mutineers hit the public eye before the Los Angeles home series on March 7-8, when Prestinni announced he wouldn't be attending the event due to mental health concerns. Prestinni revealed Wednesday that his issues actually started around the time Florida had its most impressive result of the season, at the Atlanta home series on Feb. 22-23. The Mutineers made the finals of that event with a 3-2 win over Chicago before losing to the host Atlanta FaZe 3-0.
"It started off slow," Prestinni said. "That's where it started to fall apart, like, a couple weeks before Atlanta or week before Atlanta, and I was like, I went into Atlanta, and like I just did my thing, I forgot everything. After that weekend is like where I started to freak out, and you know, that's when it became day-to-day, consistently, and it got worse and worse and worse."
Prestinni would hit the gym as a method of stress relief, but it wasn't enough. He missed his family and friends and dreaded being so far away from them while he lived in Florida.
As concerns about the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. began to intensify in March, Prestinni's mental health deteriorated. Social distancing played a part as well.
"We started having to quarantine and stuff like that, and it started to freak me out," Prestinni said. "I just never got to see my family enough, and I just like, it kind of made me panic a little bit. And, you know, every day I had anxiety and depression, and I was just sitting there freaking out, and I didn't know what to do. That was my first time going through depression or having anxiety consistently day to day for like months on end, so I didn't know how to handle it."
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While this was all going on, the Mutineers were preparing for a home series. There were events being canceled worldwide around that time, but the CDL Los Angeles home series weekend was still a go. The team thought that Prestinni was sitting out because of coronavirus concerns, which was only partly the case. He hadn't talked to the Mutineers about his concerns for his mental health.
"I never actually told them," Prestinni said. "I never told them the actual reason. I didn't want to. I didn't want them to think, 'This guy's weak.'
"That was part of it, but it wasn't the main reason I was going through (this). It was literally depression and anxiety, and I was freaking out. I never told them that until after like later on in the week."
The Mutineers ended up bringing in Maurice "Fero" Henriquez to fill in, and he had an impressive debut for the Mutineers. Soon after, the league would move to an online format. The first tournament back was on April 10-12 -- and the Florida Mutineers won the title. Fero cemented his starting position with the team, and Prestinni was left as a substitute as a result.
"A lot of people were tweeting me like saying I was like gonna be mad and salty," Prestinni said. "I I was actually happy for them. I'm not one of those guys that sit there and like praying on downfalls of other people. ... I never said anything bad about the individuals on the team or the decision they made.
"Later on, I discovered that some people don't like me on the team anymore. ... I guess, I mean, I'm sorry my mental health wasn't at its best, so I took myself out of the game, but it is what it is."
Prestinni on teammates agreeing they shouldn't go to LA Home Series
Prestinni tells Arda Ocal that he and most of his teammates agreed that they shouldn't go to the LA Home Series after a majority of events were being shut down.
Soon, Prestinni started to feel better. He was in a better place. He moved to be closer to family and he was making choices to get his mind right. The Mutineers had left the door open for his return, but Prestinni said he wasn't ready at the time.
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Prestinni started to weigh his professional options, particularly after the Mutineers' tournament win at the Dallas home series. He had a couple of conversations with teams around the league. But there was always the elephant in the room among CDL fans: a reunion with his brother, Arcitys.
"I knew things were kind of falling apart with the vibes and the chemistry," of the Huntsmen, Prestinni said, "so I was like, you know, I would kind of hint (to Arcitys), 'You guys need someone.' I'd joke with him about it like that, but that was that was about it. It wasn't nothing like I wasn't having serious conversations or anything like that."
That began the path to the brothers' reunion, though, which was officially announced Monday. Prestinni's move to the Huntsmen, personally and professionally, is a fresh start.
"I think I'm back to myself again; just being around family is enough for me," he said. "I'm just happy to be on a team that has a good standing and is like, the most talent I've ever had on a team. And I'm actually prepared. I'm so motivated. I'm gonna put to good use the talent I have on this team. I'm not gonna let it just slip. I'm motivated to win."