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Back in 2020, we made some eSports predictions. At that juncture, Overwatch League viewing figures had fallen by 34,000 since 2019, down from 97,168 to 63,505. The recent Finals in Toronto this October also showed a drop in ratings from the year prior – however, this time round, a viewership of 157,600 represented a decline from 216,000 in 2022. While there are still fairly dramatic peaks and troughs, the overall trend in the 2020s is that eSports are on the rise.
We were perhaps right in saying that eSports will continue to focus on the ‘giants’ – the games that have stayed relevant for years, and in some cases over a decade – 47 of the 50 top-earning players play 2013’s Dota 2 to the exclusion of almost everything else. The Top 20 games look almost identical to 2020, with only the new versions of beat-em-up franchises like Street Fighter, Tekken, and Guilty Gear providing much in the way of new arenas for competition.
With the action focused on a narrow range of games, the elite players live at the margins. Any sort of advantage, no matter how miniscule, must be grabbed to have the best chance for success.
A fairly big one is looking after the physical body. There’s a misconception that video gamers don’t need to be fit as they’re sitting down and playing games. Is that true? Let’s take a look.
Losing Weight for eSports
There are many stereotypes about competitive gamers. Most are unflattering. Perhaps the one that’s stuck around the hardest is the South Park image of the overweight player who the boys have to beat in World Of Warcraft. However, as with many stereotypes, there’s often a grain of truth in there. 2020 saw the retirement of Jian Zihao – one of League Of Legends best-ever players. Uzi, as he was known, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and told by medics he had the ‘arms of a 40 or 50-year-old’ aged just 23. When reaction times in competitive gaming can be measured to thousandths of a second, it’s likely Uzi’s performance, as well as his health, would have suffered had he kept competing.
Some players who clock in with a BMI way over 30 – the definition of obesity – may choose to go down the medical weight loss route. As with any course of medication, this should be discussed with a professional before embarking. It’s increasingly common to be prescribed off label weight loss drugs. Ozempic, which has been hailed as a boost for those looking to lose weight, is currently only FDA-approved as a treatment for type 2 diabetes. In the US, medicines sometimes have to be off label because of the complexities of the healthcare insurance system. Contrave is a weight loss drug made from a combination of naltrexone and bupropion. Those two drugs are relatively commonly covered by insurance, but Contrave is not, so a medic may prescribe those two with dosing instructions to gain the same effects as the branded pills.
Weight management for eSports players can be taxing. The activity is mainly sedentary, and while some pro teams have dedicated fitness programs, those may require a level of base fitness before starting. Crash diets don’t work. They’re even less likely to work when having to be built around an activity that takes up a lot of time when reaching for a snack, and getting back to the screen takes priority over preparing something healthy. There is some evidence that gaming does burn calories, although there’s also a correlation that irregular sleep patterns – sometimes necessary when tournaments span time zones – can interfere with hormone production, leading to increased appetite and feeling less full even after eating.
Successful weight management plans are tailored around an individual’s lifestyle. As eSports become more mainstream – which they slowly but surely are – it’s likely that more knowledge and best practices will come to light. It’s true to say that eSports may be a young player’s game just now. However, that isn’t true of all gaming – the average age of the American gamer is 35. As the pros start to age, expect to see them take an interest in avoiding middle-age spread.
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