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Monday, 30 May 2022

Pro gamer tips for playing at your very best

Gaming is big business. Mobile gaming is estimated to have been worth approximately $93.2 billion (£73.7 billion) in 2021 alone, console gaming $50.4 billion, while PC gaming is said to have raked in around $36.7 billion in the last year.

That's $180.3 billion in just 2021 alone. And it's rising. It is no longer a niche pursuit enjoyed by teenage boys in their bedrooms - no matter what some would have you believe. It is the most profitable entertainment industry around and its tendrils reach just about everyone. Even those who claim not to be interested in games might dabble in a spot of Candy Crush on their smartphones, or Wordle on a work computer.

We are also now in an age where gamer prowess is no longer confined to a high-score table on an arcade machine in a kebab shop. Not only can they boast online to friends and foes in multiplayer skirmishes, there's the opportunity to use their skills on a professional stage in the world of eSports.

Pro teams for games like CS:GO, Valorant, and Fortnite are starting to become household names after years of growth for the sport, while professional football teams have even formed their own eSports squads to take on the best at FIFA. There's big money to be made at the pro levels too.

However, as the stakes rise, so too does the pressure. And that's where people like Edgar Chekera come in. As head of performance at Guild Esports, he looks after the psychological welfare of professional players, coaching them to cope with the stresses of competitive gaming.

We spoke with him for the Pocket-lint Podcast and he was kind enough to give us a few pointers on what a player can do outside of training on a game itself, in order to improve their chances at success - whether it be professionally or simply at home when playing on a console. Hopefully, these will help you too if you take your gaming seriously.

Tackling burnout

"Burnout is a really big problem with eSports because you can play for hours on-end," Chekera told us. "So it's important to introduce self care strategies.

"Get people to understand what is it that they like doing outside of just playing a game. That's normally done as well within traditional sports, like getting someone to understand that you're not just a performer - there's also things outside of performing that you do well, and that you enjoy.

"I also look into helping players understand [questions like] 'who are you?', 'what do you value?', 'what matters to you?'. It could be family, could be friends, could be doing art, it could be being quite creative."

Sleep and nutrition

Although the stigma of eSports is that it is a non-healthy pursuit, playing at your best requires the opposite, in fact.

"I tell players to ask themselves, 'how much sleep do you feel like you need?', and to look into nutrition," he explained. "Nutrition is going to be important. If you eat badly, you're going to easily feel burnt out, your mental resources are going to be obliterated.

"[It's also important to] introduce strength conditioning practices, even if it's just walking around for a little bit, getting the lungs pumping."


"I think anyone going into any form of high-pressure environment needw to learn to be a bit more self-aware," added Chekera. "[For that] I really push on the use of reflections.

"A structured reflective practice could just be simple questions and a step: "what went well, today?", "what didn't go so well?", and then make an action plan.

"I think that last bit is normally the hardest one for people to do, because it's like a skill. We're kind-of used to being told what to do and going through the motions. But, reflecting gives you the reins a little bit more where you think introspectively, like, 'Okay, this is what I need to potentially work on. And, specifically, these are the strategies I can use.'"

Enjoy yourself

"I think the last tip is be a little bit more mindful, be present in the moment. No one's forcing you to do this, you're doing it because you enjoy it.

"Just really embrace that moment that you're in because, although it's a pressured situation, it's a bit of a privilege. Just try to enjoy it as much as you can."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Edgar Chekera from Guild Esports on episode 156 of the Pocket-lint Podcast available now.

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