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Esports: The cognitive powerhouse

When you think of an athlete you might conjure up an image of a sweat covered, muscle laden, long-legged bolt-esque beast; but what if the new breed of athlete is in fact a cognitive powerhouse, the likes of which eSport franchises are beginning to produce at an astounding rate. These athletes possess the complex cognitive and mental skills needed to succeed at the top of their game, with top tier teams such as Astralis and Misfits recognising the importance of having the cognitive edge through work with mental and performance coaches.

So, what is it that separates an eSport athlete and gamer from the average person? It’s in the cognitive control and mental toughness where eSPorts athletes are a step ahead the rest, with the mental resilience and challenge mind-set allowing those at the top to thrive under pressure, with the constant cognitive and coordination training developed through years of gaming providing the foundation for these talents.

Research has shown time and time again that just by virtue of being a gamer you are more likely to not only have faster reaction and visual detection times than the general populace1 , but also outperform them in task-switching and attentional processes2, where several things need to be computed at once. This is not surprising considering the sheer volume of rapid micro-decisions gamers and eSport athletes make whilst playing, from controlling recoil in Siege and managing lanes in DOTA 2, to subconsciously learning spray patterns in CS:GO.

So, whilst the leagues continue to churn out these cognitive juggernauts, you might ask how can you tweak your mental game to get the edge in your discipline? This is where LevelUp comes into play. We’re here to demystify some of the techniques those at the top of their game use, whilst breaking down some of the skills which benefit the player looking to boost their play.

Feel free to get in touch through the contact page for further information regarding articles, or if you or your team are interested in working with LevelUp.

Author: Callum Abbott Bsc, MSc,



1 Castel, A. D., Pratt, J., & Drummond, E. (2005). The effects of action video game experience on the time course of inhibition of return and the efficiency of visual search. Acta psychologica, 119(2), 217-230.

2 Boot, W. R., Kramer, A. F., Simons, D. J., Fabiani, M., & Gratton, G. (2008). The effects of video game playing on attention, memory, and executive control. Acta psychologica, 129(3), 387-398.


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