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Inside Esports Teams — Training Professional Gaming Stars

Training an Esports Professional Team Is No Easy Task

Photo by Florian Olivo

We’re familiar with the early videogame competitions at our local arcade centers. People played on those machines, trying to put their name initials at the top of their favorite game. The challenging part came when you’d arrive the next day only to see your initials in second, third, or not even in the top 10 highest scores. You wouldn’t leave until you saw your name on that damn list.

And then things got serious. Teams were formed. Multiplayer games developed. Technology increased so much in the late 90’s that it paved the way for highly competitive teams to connect and establish regular tournament seasons.

Things got very sophisticated and now Esports pro players are considered high-performance athletes. Now, how do these teams look like today?

Esports Team Composition

With more than 380 million viewers worldwide and the Esports market valued at 865 million U.S. dollars, teams are on a constant pressure to be top-notch.

Each video game tournament has teams ranging from 3 to 6 players. As in other team sports, each player has an assigned position, so teams might pick players based on their proficiency for that role.

Some of the positions you’ll encounter have names like these:

  • League of Legends: Top Laner, Mid Laner, Jungler, AD Carry, Support.
  • Dota 2: Hard Carry, Mid, Offlaner, Position 4 Support, Position 5 Support.
  • Call of Duty: Objective, Slayer, Support, Anchor

And so on.

Each team has also back-up players, like substitutes in a football team. These subs allow for rotations in the team at minor tournaments. These rotations give the main player a break to recover for major events. Moreover, subs increase the competitiveness inside a team, forcing big players to remain on the top of their game. Otherwise, they might lose their position to a sub. They called it a friendly rivalry.

Players are between 18 and 25 years old. The average age depends on the video game played. League of Legends has the lowest average (21.2) while Super Smash Bros Melee has the highest (25.2). Overall, pro gamers are significantly younger than their counterparts in other professional sports such as the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB.

Esports: Inside the relentless training of professional gaming stars on Youtube

You wouldn’t expect it but retirement tends to be close around the corner. The average career lasts between 4 to 5 years. Because of burnout and a decrease in gamer’s reflexes, the average age of retirement is just around 25 years old. And I thought here that professional dancers retired early.

Team Training

It might be a kid’s dream come true to play videogames all day long, but it’s no easy task to achieve it regularly. It can be exhausting, especially if you have to maintain a high performance all the time.

Teams usually practice together for 8 hours a day, including weekends. So roughly they train 50 hours a week. And this is just group practice. Many continue training on their own after that (or wake up earlier).

Their schedule tends to start around 10 am or 11 am. They warm up by playing several games with their teammates. They’ll continue playing for a while with occasional brakes in between.

Big teams have chefs on-site, preparing delicious and nutritional meals for them. A nutritionist would be there to meet the specific needs of each one of the players, thus customizing their meals every day.

After these team game sessions, they might review their past performances with their coach, or come up with new strategies for the next big tournament. They could also look at their opponent’s methods and establish their strengths and weaknesses. These sessions are held in a separate room designed for this purpose:

Screenshot from Team Liquid’s Alienware Training Facility. Video on Youtube

It’s an immersive learning environment. Hopefully these lessons will be retained to be used in the actual tournament setting.

Some training sessions even go beyond, trying to make the players feel as if they’re on the actual Esports stage. For instance, they might put loud music to mimic the crowd’s nonstop cheering. Or they can enhance the lighting in the room to artificially recreate those distracting spotlights at the stage. They change every available variable so that the players get accustomed to different scenarios and learn to cope with those distractions.

These inconveniences are there just for specific practice sessions while the rest of the time gamers are meticulously taken care of. Apart from their personal chef and nutritionist, pro gamers have a big support team.

There’s a fitness coach, massage therapist and a sports psychologist to keep them both physically and mentally healthy. And also to prevent any injuries from long sitting hours.

Pro gamers have also been working with sports academies that rely heavily on scientific methods to push the player’s boundaries. Gamers have to maintain high reflexes for long periods of time so these academies design challenging tasks and measure their performance over time. They train their brain on core functions like attention, memory, reaction time, and look at how these contribute to the gamer’s overall performance.

Lab Facility at Mamba Sports Academy

As you see, pro gamers are treated as any other professional athlete. If you dive a little bit and see all the sponsors behind them, the tournament’s prize money, and the massive crowd of followers, you would think of them as rockstars.

A couple of years ago this wasn’t the case. Players usually lived in humble gaming houses without all the commodities they have these days. They would wake up at 2 pm and play 10 hours a day inside rooms stacked with pizza boxes all over the place. They’d have a mess of the place. No laundry for weeks and poor health habits.

Today that’s not the case and high performance is groomed by focusing on all details surrounding their playing. Esports teams have acquired a methodology and seriousness that’s necessary for any highly competitive sport. More so if so many people and companies are involved.


Esports have become a highly competitive discipline with multiple teams battling each other across the world. Teams have tight schedules and rigorous training regimes that not all gamers can handle. That level of performance is difficult to maintain, and it’s no surprirse that their careers tend to be brief.

Many businesses, sponsors, academics, and now media coverage are getting more implicated in Esports. It’s a young market and we’ll hear a lot more in the upcoming years so we might at least learn something about it for the time being.

If all this environment and industry hooks you up, you could end up even taking part of it not only by attending tournaments, but also by investing in the Esports world. Here’s an article that can set you up for this:

By Pavle Marinkovic on .

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