According to a new study performed by the University of Chichester, esports players competing at highest levels face stress levels comparable to those of traditional athletes, in spite of not taking part in the intense physical exertion.
Which, of course, doesn't mean there's no exertion involved, but so far we've amassed quite a bit of data on just about everything that affects athletes, coping mechanisms included. Esports research, on the other hand, is scientifically still in its infancy.
"In an effort to gain a performance edge over their competitors, esports teams have started to recruit a host of support staff (e.g., coaches, managers, strategists). The desire to win lucrative competitions has naturally led to an increased demand in performance-enhancing strategies", the study reads.
The study included seven male esports players, all of whom are regular ESL Premiership CSGO Spring finalists, and found a number of common stressors, individual and team-based, with the latter one being a bit more pronounced.
From regular communication issues and the manner of giving and taking criticism, to lack of confidence in teammates - the list of stressors reads much like an athlete's would. And yes, it does include physical exertion at times, especially when busy schedules meet personal life.
To highlight the importance of coping with the psychological demands of top-tier competitions, the study gives the example of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team Astralis, whose inability to handle high-pressure environments prevented them from winning trophies until their work on composure paid off in 2017.
Most sports have by now adopted and some got pretty good in managing the psychological aspects of their game, especially since maintaining excellent form can be way more difficult than attaining it. It reminded me of the story how Arsenal FC in their attempts to retain first place hired their psychologist - his first advice was to play as if they're second placed.