February 5, 2019 8:00 pm

Wednesday, Get Inside the Head of the Esports Athlete with League of Legends Coach NicoThePico

It’s a sport that’s taking over the world. Even if you haven’t heard of it, hundreds of millions of people watch, play, and live it. What is it? Well, it’s Esports, and it’s time to dive into the science behind the screen.

On this episode of Playing with Science, hosts Chuck Nice and Gary O’Reilly venture into the world of Esports. As Gary says on the episode, he has some skepticism, and I’m sure he’s not the only one. But, as we found out, there’s a lot more going on than people “playing” video games.

StarTalk®'s photo of NicoThePico skyping in to Playing with Science.

NicoThePico via Skype. Credit: StarTalk®.

Chuck and Gary welcome Nicholas “NicoThePico” Korsgård, former Esports athlete-turned-coach, and neuroscientist Heather Berlin to help us get a better grasp on the rising world of Esports. Nico currently serves as the head coach for PostFinance Helix, “Switzerland’s first professional full time League of Legends team.” Unfamiliar with League of Legends? The simple description is that it’s a “multiplayer online battle arena” video game. However, as you’ll hear, there’s a lot more to it than that.

Nico explains how Esports is similar to the worlds of chess and soccer in regard to how players rise up and teams are built. Find out what it takes to become one of the best players in the world. You’ll hear what Nico looks for in an Esports athlete and how he deals with the various ages and maturity levels of the players on his team.

You’ll learn about the daily routine of an Esports athlete. You’ll also hear how one member of his team trained against people playing with cheat codes – these codes make the user’s gameplay unbeatable – and beat them. Nico puts into perspective how much one can make being a professional Esports athlete and the figures might shock you.

Then, Heather stops by to help us understand what’s going on in an Esports athlete’s brain while playing. We discuss the high level of focus needed to play at a professional level. You’ll find out what parts of the brain are being used when playing Esports and how games can increase addictive human behavior. All that, plus, you’ll hear how Nico is taking his team through “neuroprotective” exercises. Game on!

Please join us tomorrow night for Esports, with NicoThePico right here on our website, as well as on our Playing with Science channels on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, Spotify, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and TuneIn. If you’re an All-Access subscriber, you can watch or listen to this episode ad-free.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!
–Ian Mullen