ESports are Closer to Traditional Sports than You Think

by Cameron Overton

A Common Misconception

E-Sports vs Classic Sports. At the surface most casual viewers and people outside of the gaming community see these two as worlds apart. Sports are physical. Athletes lift weights, run sprints, and go through all kinds of grueling workouts to prepare for game-day. E-Sports are mental. Players have to understand the game, and use quick reactions to find success. While both of these statements are true, they are not complete. 

Developing IQ/Gamesense

Sports and E-Sports are incredibly similar, you just have to look a bit deeper. Firstly both activities require a strong understanding of how the game/sport works. In sports this is often referred to as IQ (Basketball IQ for example) while in E-Sports it is referred to as gamesense. This mental aspect must be trained religiously, something professional trainers in sports have understood for years. Players must watch hours of film, working to understand opponent formations, plays, and even to review a player’s own weaknesses. All of these concepts apply to E-Sports.

In Fortnite, we train player’s gamesense using footage from professional tournaments. This way, players have a clear example of correct practices when playing. Just like a basketball player needs to know the best way to break a 2-3 zone, a Fortnite player must know how to rotate up a congested mountain. This training is crucial. It is tedious, but necessary. NBA, NFL, and UEFA league teams all have several full time video coordinators to curate film for players to review. This is just one of the roles NOVOS is filling for aspiring professional gamers. By providing them with film to review, and coaches insights, they can actively engage, learn, and improve in the same way as professional athletes. With our help, players gain all the benefits from reviewing footage, without the hassle of finding and organizing the best clips. 

The next step in the process is to implement the acquired knowledge. Athletes in soccer play scrimmages to try out new strategies before taking them to game-day. E-Sports is exactly the same. Players play ‘Scrims’ that simulate a real tournament experience, to practice new strategies before taking them to real competition. 

Hopefully you are beginning to understand that Sports and E-Sports are incredibly similar, but I promise you we are just scratching the surface.

Mechanical Training

Many of you probably don’t know what mechanics are. That’s okay. Mechanics in sports are the way a ball is kicked, hit, thrown, shot, or caught. More specifically the exact physical movements required to create that action. 

When a 6 year old wants to learn to hit a baseball, their dad sits them in front of a tee, lines their fingers up on the bat, moves it over their head, and tells the to turn their back foot. This first swing is weak, the ball is either left completely alone atop the tee, or it dribbles off only a few feet away. It wasn’t great, but it’s a starting point. In 20 years that same kid is in the major leagues, with high-speed cameras displaying his swing 10x slower than real time, allowing professional coaches to help him adjust the angle of his inner elbow in order to hit a ball just a little bit higher.

Classical sports have a clear path, especially when it comes to mechanical development. You start young, learning from your dad, mom, brother or any other relative with a bit of experience. As you progress your skills slowly improve, maybe you hire a coach, or join a team and people with more experience continue to tweak your mechanics. One day you may even reach the professional level, where the best in the world examine every small movement to ensure the action is flawless. For a long time no such path has existed or been understood by the masses in the world of E-Sports. It is our mission to change that.

How do we do it?

Players need to have a path to mechanical improvement. They need to know how many times to practice movements, where to practice them, and how to implement them. Here at NOVOS we give players that exact roadmap.

The first step is recognition. Players choose their weakest skills, so we know how to help them. From there it’s all about progressive overload. Progressive overload is a term used in weightlifting, where each week or so an athlete adds a few more pounds to an exercise to trigger muscle growth. When it comes to building muscle memory in gaming the same concept applies. 

Players must begin slowly. Mastering form at a slow, and steady pace. Their mouse movements should be smooth and precise. Slowly the difficulty increases. In the next week of training the player’s character is forced to move faster, and the user must make the same movements from last week more quickly. The progressive overload continues, and the player develops the hand eye coordination and speed to be successful in this one movement.

But we aren’t done yet. There are 100s of individual movements a player must learn in order to perform successfully. We begin teaching these skills in isolation, but players learn to perform them together in order to be successful. We call these compound movements. Complex drills, situational simulations, and lots of repetitions are the way this gets accomplished. 

Finally after many hours of practice, these skills are ready to be taken to the real game. A baseball player who is finally ready to unveil a new pitch is no different than a Fortnite player ready to perform a new high-ground retake in game. Hours of practice, working on small isolation movements, micro-adjustments, compound-movements, and eventually true simulated practice, all culminate in masterful performance.

What can be learned?

Hopefully after reading this article can recognize this: 

Gaming and traditional sports are more similar than different.

This conclusion helps drive the training at NOVOS and allows us to innovate in the world of competitive gaming training unlike anyone else in the industry. This conclusion allows us to shape and mold our training in a way that has been proven to be effective time and time again. Gamers spend thousands of hours trying to master their craft, and they deserve a platform that won’t let those hours go to waste. 

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