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Psychology in eSports – Why It Matters to Professional Gamers

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Sports psychology is an essential element in the proper training of professional esports teams. Working with a coach helps to achieve results physically, while sessions with a psychologist allow one to become a champion.

In this regard, cyber sport is just beginning to take shape, but already at this stage, many professional teams employ psychologists who have gained credibility in traditional sports.

Why is psychology also important in cybersport?

Cybersport is usually associated with intellectual sports because it requires cognitive skills such as reaction speed, selective information gathering, cognitive processing and quick decision-making according to the game situation.

Modern cybersport disciplines are designed in such a way that the intellectual and emotional immersion in them is comparable to the experiences found in traditional sports. For cybersport players, this feature, combined with the motivation of competition and achievement, raises the question of the individual-typological characteristics of gamers.

As a result, the work of psychologists can “brighten up the corners” and make strong players into true champions who can “let the extraneous factors pass them by” and think only about the game, making the right decisions.

Positive examples abound, but the most notable one is the experience of Mia Stellberg, who has built two championship teams in two of the most popular eSports disciplines – CS:GO and Dota 2.

Who is Mia Stellberg?

Mia Stellberg is a former model. However, she has managed to make a dramatic change in her field, turning to cybersports and psychology. She has previously worked with Olympic athletes and the CS:GO teams SK Gaming and ENCE.

Mia is a legend in the field of eSports psychology because of her pioneering work and the many titles she has helped teams win.

Stellberg’s success story at Astralis

Everyone knows the story of the formation of the Danish team Astralis. Having absorbed some talented players of their generation, the team did not show great results in the first months after its emergence.

However, that all changed with Stellberg’s appointment as the team’s psychologist. By researching various interviews and memories of players on that squad, she really helped Astralis become stronger psychologically, which is known as breaking the barrier and building a dynasty.

“I made them run and go to the gym. No energy drinks or burgers. And going to bed on time. I completely changed their lifestyle to make them feel better about themselves. Otherwise, they would have burned out quickly.”

Stellberg’s work helped the Danish team do the impossible – win the 2017 ELEAGUE Major. As a result, from a team that broke down at the most crucial moment, we got a squad that has been sweeping the scene for a few years and created an era of its own.

How Mia helped OG become a two-time TI winner

After several years with Astralis, Stellberg decided to step out of her comfort zone and change her discipline. As a result, she joined the OG Dota 2 line-up to create another championship team.

At the time, OG was the reigning TI champion, but nothing is harder than winning the same trophy twice. That’s what Mia did, helping the team greatly in the summer of 2019 to become champions of The International 2019.

By applying her methods, Stellberg managed to change the attitude of the players to make them feel much better and be able to approach the matches fully prepared.

Thus, psychology is just as important in cybersport as it is in traditional sports. Nowadays, almost every professional team has one or even more psychologists to help players prepare for matches and tournaments. In other words, psychology has become an indispensable tool for winning, without which it is now difficult to imagine professional cybersport.

Zuella Montemayor did her degree in psychology at the University of Toronto. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle. 

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