Image: MMO Coach – eSports via Facebook
It all started online but has since spread to our television sets and beyond: Audiences of different types seem to have a great deal of interest in the world of eSports and are also beginning to respect what it takes to be a participant in this type of sports event.
For those who are not familiar with this type of sporting activity, it would seem that outside of developing strategies for gameplay there is no real need for any training or conditioning. There are a lot of amateur and professional participants that would disagree with this though, and we’re here to explain why.
Coaches and Injuries
For a start, let’s make it clear that just like in traditional sports, there is such a thing as an eSports coach. Exactly what these people do depends on the specific video game. As an ESPN article explains, League of Legends has a more structured approach to coaching, while in StarCraft II, coaching is rare outside of South Korea, for example
But there’s also the physical element: Pro gamers are not unlike athletes who participate in a variety of sports. Some examples of this are tennis players who have to build the strength in their arms, wrists, and hands. Gamers who play in their chosen video game find that they have similar needs. Being able to control their game with precision makes their efforts not dissimilar to a tennis player. A baseball pitcher has to develop exceptional hand-eye coordination. Just watch the eyes of any gamer as they are progressing through their game that involves their instant reaction. And, just like in traditional sports, eSports competitors can suffer injuries: the repetitive motions they put their hands and fingers through can result in strain and injuries, as the story of Aziz “Hax” Al-Yami proves. The Super Smash Bros pro player suffered a serious injury associated with osteoarthritis while doing a standard move and has had to undergo three surgeries since 2014 – and may in fact never play or even use his hand properly again.
The American Psychological Association has talked about how playing video games can be beneficial to the health and learning capabilities of its participants. These are things that eSports enthusiasts can enhance in a training regime, creating a virtuous circle and improving their game in return. Right now gamers can rely on online resources to help them hone their skills. Such online sources are more interactive than ever though, with many Twitch streamers and eSports champions providing coaching sessions online to players looking to improve their rankings in games such as Hearthstone, DOTA2, FIFA 16 and even popular mobile game Clash of Clans.
But it looks like the future could bring additional opportunities for specialized training at dedicated facilities, at least for those at the very top. On May 23th, it was announced that a 2,000 square foot eSports training center is soon opening in Thousand Oaks, California. The $100,000 investment will take up the role of a gym for eSports players and teams, who will be able to rent it out for $500 per week.
Sports and eSports Bound to Merge?
The results of a relatively new study published in 2015 in the Games for Health Journal found that video games can be a source of mental and physical exercise for the future. The authors deny any health hazards, explaining that techniques like cryotherapy and proper warmup can help avid gamers avoid hand and wrist strain and injuries.
Many amateurs are keen on turning pro in the competitive video gaming world with one of the reasons being the rapid growth of the eSports world, which is now massive. For instance, 43 million unique viewers watched the League of Legends World Championship last year, while eSports betting has also taken front stage for gaming and betting fans alike, as we read in the Master Mazuma Guides. In fact, the rise of the industry is evident when you consider that dedicated eSports betting providers such as Master Mazuma have appeared, offering opportunities to bet not only on the winners of tournaments in different video games but also other bets such as scores achieved, total number of kills and so on.
Newzoo, one of the most widely recognized researchers for the eSports industry is indicating that this fast growing industry will generate $465 million during the year 2017. eSports also can add to the job market with the requirements this industry needs now not only for training facilities but by taking computer hardware and accessories one step further in terms of ergonomics, responsiveness and customizability.