"I had really skinny hands": professional gamers go to the gyms

Original author: Timothy W. Martin
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Professional gamers from South Korea are engaged in real sports - the eSports universe promotes a healthier lifestyle.

To stay in the game, Dario Wünsch developed a special procedure to avoid injury. Every morning he starts with poses from yoga, turning the torso, stretching fingers and slats. He drinks ginger smoothies to prevent joint inflammation. And after each match he puts ice on his wrists. “I hope this is enough,” he says.

He plays StarCraft 2, the classic anti-alien alien strategic competition, on a personal computer with a keyboard and mouse. And Wünsch is a professional. Elite players are able to make five or more moves per second.

Wünsch, 28, struggled with chronic wrist injuries and hand numbness caused by StarCraft 2 contests. "If you didn’t do all these things," Wünsch says about his gymnastics and diet, "I would be finished many years ago."

Cybersport, the world of professional video game players, is increasingly beginning to resemble other sports, with major sponsors, prize money, fans - and game injuries. As a result, teams enlighten players on the topic of ergonomics, hire personal chefs and send players to gyms.

Dario Wünsch, a professional StarCraft 2 player

The Swedish Ninja in Pajamas, one of the most renowned teams in eSports, gives players an illustrated fitness guide that lists two dozen recommended “central” exercises: burpy, lifting arms and legs from a prone position, jumping out of a half-squat. The team also imposed a ban on pizza before the morning matches and obliged players to take walks before the game.

Before the game, two dozen players are given warming hands packages. “Warm hands reduce the risk of damage compared to cold ones,” says Hicham Chakhin, director of Ninjay.

The potential for injuries - most often they occur in the wrists, palms and fingers - is growing due to the popularity of eSports, the volume of which is estimated at $ 900 million. With the proliferation of new leagues and the advent of competitions, tournaments are held almost every two weeks.

Gamers use warm-up hand packs to reduce the risk of injuries.

“Everyone is at risk of injury where everything is at full capacity,” says Veli-Matti Karhulahti, from the Finnish University of Turku, who, along with co-author Tuomas Kari, published a study of physical activity in the world of eSports.

Two years ago, the South Korean team KT Rolster hired a nutritionist who prescribes what to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. White rice is replaced by brown. Players with fast food and doshik are now forced to send special requests for such things, says Jeon Je-seung, a team coach and former professional player.

As a player, Jeon talked about low wages: "then it was enough if the cyber athlete had enough money for three meals a day."

Today, top players earn millions of dollars annually on prizes and sponsorship. The prize fund of the 2018 Dota 2 World Cup, a game where teams attack each other’s bases, amounted to almost $ 25 million.

Team Liquid team members are planning a strategy during a match in Dota 2 competitions in 2018

Despite all the precautions taken in various leagues, “over the past year we have faced a lot of injuries,” says Ulrich Schulze, senior vice president of product at ESL, a German company that organizes 10,000 competitions a year . Some diseases prevent players from competition for months, others end their careers.

Professional gamers say that, unlike traditional sports, the risk of injury during a competition is small. However, excessive loads accumulate over the years, as players train 10 hours a day, sitting at their computers.

Team Liquid, the largest team in the industry with more than 65 players competing in 14 different games, has its own chef at their training camp in Santa Monica, California. He prepares healthy meals for them, for example, Vietnamese sandwiches with fried chicken baths. The team also pays the players subscriptions to the gym.

Jonathan Jablonowski, one of the players on the team, goes to the gym four days a week, and this year alone he gained almost 9 kg of muscle mass. “I swung from 53 kg to 62,” says Jablonovsky, 170 cm tall, playing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. "I had really skinny arms."

21-year-old Yablonovski changed his position during the game, having received tips from a physical education coach hired by the team two years ago. Now he sits up straight, and places his eyes just above the bottom two-thirds of the screen. He says that he was the first in the Team Liquid training camp, replacing the table with a standing workplace during workouts.

“I saw god-like players win competitions, and then they had to quit because of injuries,” says Yablonovski about the players he idolized at a younger age. "My ideal is a long career."

For some players, appeals to fitness are late. “At that time, no one showed us how to stretch properly,” says 34-year-old Nicolas Plott, a veteran of StarCraft from South Korea, who was recently suspended four months after injuries to both wrists. "I did not know that this could be a problem."

Supporting sportswear for video games

Example of exercises from the team “Ninja in pajamas”:

3 minutes of jumping with a rope

30 bridges with lifting legs

30 lifting arms and legs from a

prone position 30 shoulders (squatting with an emphasis, going over the bar, going back to a squat, jumping up)

Health problems in The world of eSports attract the attention of physicians. One Los Angeles-based orthopedic surgeon has already registered the trademark doctor of gamers and cybersportsmen. The therapist from the United States published an e-book: "A guide for gamers to combat carpal tunnel syndrome."

A long career is becoming more and more important for players, as interest in professional eSports is growing, and the demand for recognizable names and stars in this area is increasing. The global audience of games has grown to 380 million, according to Newzoo BV, which tracks the video game industry, and it is estimated that in three years it will reach 557 million people.

Wünsch, a StarCraft 2 player, said he shared his training program with dozens of professional pain players. His morning training takes about 20 minutes, and during the day he is engaged in stretching several times. In addition to ginger, he loves garlic, pineapples and berries - he believes that they will help him cope with inflammation of the joints. The idea to apply ice to the wrists for 10 minutes came to him after his conversation with friends, professional dancers - they told how they take care of their feet and ankles.

Because of his playing career, Wünsch had to give up some hobbies. “I avoid a lot of activities. I like volleyball, but I will never play this sport again, ”he says.

Dario Wünsch practices various stretching


In the morning: yoga, turning the torso, stretching fingers, strap pose.

Playing video games in blocks of 3-4 hours, alternating with repeat stretch marks.

He refused volleyball, supports the cardiovascular system by swimming.


Ginger smoothies, garlic, pineapple, berries.

After the game

Ice on the wrists.

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