E-sports is now steadily growing in recognition and with large-scale competitions coupled with large prize pools going into the millions, it’s not just a hobby anymore for the e-sports athletes involved.
But what exactly goes on behind the scenes for an e-sports player?
Most of us have some idea of what conventional athletes do to get ready, but not many people know much about e-sports athletes and the lives they lead.
We managed to speak to quite a few e-sports athletes from the recent CS:GO Minor Championship Asia 2016 organised by PGL and eGG network. We wanted to find out a little about what their lives are like and here 5 things we now know about them.
1) They put in dedicated (and very long) practice hours.
As with any other regular sports, e-sports requires time and dedication when it comes to practice sessions. According to team Athletico from Australia, it’s not just mental fortitude and in-game training that’re important. They believe being physically fit is also key to helping them play better.
In terms of actual training time in front of the computer, the teams we interviewed had a range from 6 to 12 hours of gaming, in order to master as many skills and build up their teamwork as well.
The coach from the South Korean team called MVP shared how the team members were all scouted from amateur competitions throughout the country and were brought to a specific facility they had where they would spend long hours just practicing.
“All our members live and sleep together in this facility we provide where they spend 12 hours a day just practicing. Since they are full-time players, this is considered their job so they work really hard to make sure they come out on top,” said the coach.
2) Most of them work on e-sports full-time, or would like to.
Though being a full-time e-sports player is known to be an actual career, not all e-sports players are able to do it full-time. There may be some constricting factors that may restrict them from pursuing it fully. An example would be the members from Team BOT of UAE, all of whom have other jobs and cannot pursue it full time due to a lack of an opportunity in their countries and financial constraints.
Some are also still focusing on their studies at the same time. “Since we’re students, we don’t really have the opportunity just yet to pursue e-sports full-time but in a way, I see it as a good thing. We get to have our lives in university for our studies while also doing gaming on the side. It’s a win-win in my opinion,” said Stuart Rayner, captain of Athletico.
This contrasts with their other fellow Australian team, Renegades, who even moved all the way to the USA in order to pursue e-sports seriously and make it their career.
3) It’s more technical than you think.
For a game like CS:GO, various skills and styles are employed by the different teams. They have to come up with different strategies when it comes to how they play a match, and most professional teams even have coaches to help them strategise and plan gameplay.
Team Renegades shared how they noticed the Asian region has a distinctive style of properly analysing the map and taking their time scouting the area before charging in and attacking.
“It’s interesting to see how different we play despite it being the same game. In Australia, seems like we prefer to go for a more aggressive playing style where we just head on in and attack, similar to the Europeans. But here in Asia, the defense strategies are stronger and they depend more on a group attack rather than individual skills,” said the captain of Renegades.
4) What country you’re playing in does matter.
The attitude towards e-sports can vary greatly from country to country, even within the same region. For example, Indonesia has formally accepted e-sports as an actual sport, and there’s government support for the activity. In Malaysia, the team manager of Fire Dragoon E-sports shared that they are still looking for more support to allow the players to pursue their passion full-time.
Korea has actually chosen from about 10 years ago to put focus on e-sports, and this in not just the world-class players they produce, but that the profession of an e-sports athlete is already widely accepted by the general population.
However, most of the athletes agreed that they receive great support from their family and friends for their passion in e-sports and that though it may take some time to get used to, the positive reception is enough to spur them to continue pursuing it as a career.
“Of course, you’ll have the usual questions of people asking you what is it exactly that you do but that’s normal. Once you start properly explaining to them, they’ll accept it easily and don’t even think of it as a bad thing. My family still supports me in my career and they understand how passionate I am about this so they cheer me on always rather than telling me I’m wasting my time,” said the captain of the team nxl from Indonesia.
5. Age does matter.
Like other athletes, age is also a factor for those in professional e-sports. With a retirement age of around 30 years-old with the athletes, it’s no surprise that most of the players in the tournament were well below the age of 25.
According to the teams we interviewed, it’s actually a matter of reflexes. The team captain of team nxl shared that as he ages, he’s found himself reacting slower and that is definitely an issue in a game where even the slightest shadow flicker is all the notice you get of an approaching enemy.
Since the game requires hair-trigger reflexes and the ability to think very fast on your feet, it isn’t that surprising anymore that many athletes have to stop playing professionally once they hit a certain age. Also, playing the game for so many hours at a time can take a toll on your body.
Feature Image Credit: eGG Network
eGG Network is a 24/7 eSports and gaming entertainment channel available via Astro in Malaysia. The channel was launched in June 2016 and plans to expand its distribution to more countries in Southeast Asia by end of the year.
Since 2002, PGL has been running offline events and producing esports related content for national and international audiences.