When people talk about gamers, the cliché often evoked is that of an unhealthy and overweight person, munching down on doritos while chugging endless cans of energy drink. However, over time that image has drifted into the realm of parody, and at the top level of CS you’re just as likely to see muscle-bound figures like Pasha or Freakazoid as you are a renowned sex-god like Dosia. In recent months, teams have begun to take a more active interest in player health, both mental and physical, with organisations like Faze enforcing exercise regimes, and Astralis employing a team psychologist.
We spoke to a few different pros on how much exercise and diet play a role in their training. For some it’s not much of a concern, but a few of the top teams acknowledge the benefits of healthy living. For Astralis’ gla1ve and dupreeh, it’s all about making small adjustments to help stay in shape.
“Yeah, that’s something we’ve started to put a lot of effort into,” says dupreeh. “Everyone on the team is working out right now. Not super working out but it can be something as simple as walking (to events) instead of taking the shuttle, getting some fresh air. Or it can be running on a treadmill for 30 minutes a day. It doesn’t have to be something super serious like you have to deadlift 100 kilos within a month, it’s not like that, just a normal sorta workout and get some fresh air.”
Keeping active and fit can help players maintain mental focus, and with CS teams required to travel more and more frequently for events, sustaining that alertness is crucial. Astralis apply this mentality with their meals too, developing better eating habits to keep their heads clear. CS can often be a game of endurance, and the right food can help with that
“It’s up to the players but we’re getting a lot of information about diet,” gla1ve says. “All of our players are following loose schedules about when to eat and what to eat while they train. We’re doing our best to stay healthy.”
“Usually we deal a lot with the food we eat,” explains dupreeh. “If we could pick between eating McDonalds or getting a salad then we would always pick a salad before we play because we feel like all that junk food just goes to our head. Back in the day we used to drink energy drinks like redbull, monster etc. all the time. Usually now we only tend to eat bananas and get pure water, sometimes a soft drink just to get some sugar. We think a lot about the things to keep our mind clear.”
As esports grow, teams are receiving increasing levels of guidance on topics like this. However, not everyone is on board yet. Each player has a different approach to both the game and life; G2’s NBK and shox seem indifferent to the idea, while others like Cloud9’s Shroud see the purpose, but struggle to raise the motivation.
“Most of my guys go to the gym, everyone but me,” says Shroud. “I used to a bit but it’s just so hard for me. I honestly wish it was forced upon me, because then I’d have to go (laughs). When Freakazoid was on the team, he loved the gym and he would always push me, and that’s what I need to go the gym. I think going to the gym and having that healthy diet and lifestyle, that’s really, really good. It really benefits you in game and obviously out of the game.
It’s interesting to see just how big of a role team mentality can be for a player, and that changes to Cloud9’s roster may have improved their performance, but been worse for a player’s lifestyle. Be careful what you wish for though shroud, as we may see more organisations include exercise as a core part of their contract. Training requires countless hours sat stationary at a PC, so it’s important to recognise the needs of your body too. Though not universal, it’s great to see players paying some concern for their health. Esports is a relatively new industry, and the long term health effects have yet to be established, as such it’s reasonable to expect work in this field to become more commonplace with time.