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Passing the Twitch test: How do professional gamers train?

3 minute read

People don't usually associate computer games with extreme physical sport, but that's all changing thanks to the popularity of eSports. Players compete in video game tournaments all around the world to win thousands of dollars in prize money – and the LG Dire Wolves, an Australian professional gaming team, are at the cutting edge of this new craze.

Founded in 2014, the Dire Wolves team up to play League of Legends (LoL), an online multiplayer battle arena. Players control a 'champion' with special abilities that is pitted against other players, with the goal of destroying the opponent's base. The Dire Wolves' competitive prowess in the Australian eSports scene recently saw them purchased by sports investment firm Guinevere Capital – run by ex-NRL General Manager, David Harris– making the Dire Wolves the first LoL team in Australia to receive major financial backing. It has given them the clout to attract and develop top-tier gaming talent to compete for big cash prizes in championships which are streamed to millions of fans in real-time.

Like other sports, pro gamers must hone their craft for hours every week just to stay competitive. And that comes with its own health risks, albeit in the form of posture problems and eyestrain more than bruises and torn ligaments.

We asked Nathan Mott, owner and founder of the Dire Wolves what goes into the team's daily training routine and what keeps them on a winning streak. Here's what Nathan had to say.

What does a standard training day look like?

A typical day for the team looks like this:

  • 8:00am – Wake up
  • 8:30am-10:30am – Gym, shower, breakfast
  • 10:30am-11:30am – Video review
  • 12pm-3pm – First team practice block (aka scrims)
  • 3pm-4pm – Break
  • 4pm-7pm – Second team practice block (scrims)
  • 7pm-8pm – Dinner
  • 8pm - 12am – Solo practice

What keeps the team motivated?

Working hard every day and seeing improvement. Knowing that all players are on the right path to winning.

What does a physical training routine look like?

One hour of gym in the morning. This is split up with going to the lap pool across the road. Dire Wolves strongly believe a healthy body equals a healthy mind, where the difference between winning and losing is mostly about mental fortitude – not just for the competition day itself, but also attitude towards practice.

Do the Dire Wolves play other games?

If the guys are not playing League of Legends, then they are usually doing house chores, team bonding or thinking about League of Legends and how the team can be better.

How much time off do the players get every week?

They have one 'break day' a week, on either Sunday or Monday depending on which day of the weekend they play the OPL (Oceanic Pro League) match.

Do you have any tips for readers who want to go pro?

Commit the time and discipline, and watch and learn from the best players in the world.

What are the best ways to stay competitive with other pro gamers?

Put in the time and work to keep on top of your game. Watch, learn and apply from the best teams around the world. Live a structured life. Stay healthy.

How much team practice do you do, compared with solo gaming?

Team practice is around seven hours a day, and solo practice is four hours.

How do the players relax when not gaming?

Team bonding, such as going out to eat and movies. Spending time with family and friends.

How do the players deal with the publicity – good and bad?

There is a team understanding that this is part of being in the spotlight. Keeping an open mind is important and the guys don't dwell on what people think. They stay focused on how they are going to achieve their goals.

Where do you see professional gaming heading in the future?

eSports is the next step in sports. Millennials and the younger generation are becoming more and more disinterested in traditional TV and sport, and they consume all their content digitally online, where eSports lives and breathes. I see eSports surpassing traditional sports in all aspects in the next 20 to 30 years.

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