One Night In Saigon With a New Breed of Athletes

Tue, 18 Jun 2019

Recently, I found myself at an event that I’d never dream of attending. Everything was so familiar and yet so foreign. The crowd was on their feet, commentators almost screaming into the microphones and you could feel a cloud of intensity grow in the stadium. Watching the athletes, I could almost feel their heartbeat get faster, and their palms getting sweatier. 

I’ve watched many different live sports matches, and this one was just as exciting, with teams playing it out to literally the last second for the critical tie breaking match.

Of course, when I told my friends where I was over that weekend, they burst out laughing, because if you asked me six months ago, what I would be doing on a Saturday, it would never be this. It was the Arena of Glory event in Vietnam and my very first Esports tournament, which completely changed my perspective of the gaming world.

Don’t Call Them Gamers

I never imagined that I would become such a big fan of Esports. Growing up with brothers, I used to roll my eyes, and found gaming very distracting, and an absolute waste of time. It could also be because of my traditional thinking: wake up, go to school, study, repeat. That was basically my life. It wasn’t until recently that I started reading up about Esports and the intensive training routine the players go through just to get to professional standard, that I started to understand how gaming has evolved into a legitimate sport.

Needless to say, after a ton of research, pro gamers don’t sit in a dark dungeon, playing games the entire day, and surviving solely on take away food. Esports isn’t only about playing the game, the athletes - yes they are athletes! - must be mentally, emotionally and physically fit, to be the last ones standing at the end of a match. It’s a team sport, and like any team sport, players need to strategise, cover each other, or even be the sacrificial lamb.

A Whole New World For Sports

Just like any regular sport, Esports is basically a competition of skill, focus, endurance, and strategy. Teams, or individuals compete for ranking, prize money and trophies. Although competitive gaming has been around since the 70s, eAthletes are finally starting to become recognized professional athletes. According to Newzoo analysis, the Esports global audience is a total of 380.2 million and they’ve predicted that it would grow to around 557 million. The biggest breakthrough for the community was the inclusion of Esports in this year’s SEA Games. It’s also possible that we will see Esports in the 2024 Olympic Games.

There are many different genres of games, which are played on mobile, console (eg. Playstation and Xbox) and computers. These include:

  1. Fighting games: mostly your old-school arcade games, like Street Fighter

  2. First-person shooters: shooting games, like Counter-Strike and Overwatch

  3. Real-time strategy games: StarCraft, Warcraft

  4. Sports games: any type of sport in a game like FiFA and NBA 2K

  5. Multiplayer online battle arena games: 5 vs 5 teams facing off, eg. Dota 2 and League of Legends

  6. Others: Racing games, such as Daytona, and more!

Healthy Gaming For The Win

As the Esports arena grows, and competition gets tougher, players are being managed as professional athletes. A common misconception is that eAthletes are mostly unhealthy, unfit and anti-social. This may have been true in the past, but today, pro athletes commonly eat healthier and have a structured workout routine. Sitting in front of a computer for at least 5-8 hours a day not only strains the eyes, it is also physically and mentally draining. eAthletes must be physically, mentally and emotionally fit to deal with the stress of long matches.

Depending on the type of game, an event can last over several hours, with tournaments running over a few days. The athletes go through an average of 5 matches, each match lasting from 10-45minutes. For example, in the Arena of Valor tournament, the grand finals lasted 2-3hours, where the teams were playing for the best out of 7 matches. Each match lasts an average of 20 minutes, with athletes having mini breaks in between matches. Each player needs to maintain their focus, endurance and alertness, to ensure that they are the final team standing.

To help eAthlete’s be at the top of their game, team managers are integrating healthy eating and daily habits into their training schedule. This includes looking at:

  1. Nutrition
    Getting the right nutrients during training to help with performance, maintain energy levels and concentration.

  2. Ergonomics
    Using well designed chairs and wrist support are essential. They help to minimise strain and injury from long hours of training. Stretching and breathing exercises to reduce muscle tension and stress.

  1. Fitness
    Conditioning exercises and strength training are essential to physical and mental health. Physical training improves performance, endurance, and mental stamina.

  2. Mental Health
    Esports is a highly mental game, and players tend to be young. As such, there is a strong focus on mental health.


Stay tuned to our next article: An interview with Terence Ting, the owner of Team Flash, on his take on the evolution and future for Esports.

   Written by 
 Chloe Yeo 
 BioMed-Chemist, Formulator, Fitness Freak & Full-time free spirit 
 Dedicated to helping people find their best self through nutrition and positive vibes.   
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