The elite gaming athletes need to squeeze out every tiny bit of their hardware and an even playing field among competitors is a must. Have you ever wondered what goes into providing the tech for the biggest esports events?
Here are the most important settings for a spectacular LAN tournament.
A good network connection and a powerful processor is key as there can be no fair competition if some of the players are randomly teleporting around the map while wrestling with lag spikes. The measurement of true skill is only possible when such externalities are minimized, and it’s a big part of why the “online era” of esports during the pandemic just wasn’t quite like the real deal.
To ensure low ping, tournament organizers need to secure a very high-speed local internet connection, which is so important that they regularly fork out for a complete backup as well for redundancy purposes. There are still the rare occasions when everything falls apart and there’s still downtime, especially in the case of online matches where so much more is out of the organizers’ hands.
A high-profile example of this in 2015 saw massive delays at the North American qualifiers of The International 5 because Time Warner’s internet service went offline in a large area of New York, affecting 8.5 million people in the process, including a pro Dota 2 player. In 2019, League of Legends pro team Splyce’s coach complained about the “terrible, awful” state of Berlin’s internet infrastructure as the team was stuck without internet access for days despite having two internet lines and a mobile connection as well for redundancy.
High FPS trumps good graphics
Graphical fidelity is often secondary to good performance in esports, and in the case of games like Counter-Strike, players often find a direct benefit in stretched resolutions and less spectacular smoke or fire effects as they try to shoot each other.
When twitch reflexes are called upon and everything is on the line for just a couple of milliseconds, speed trumps everything, and it’s no surprise that the competitors often choose to scale back the graphical settings from their best-possible options to ensure even better performance. VSync, for instance, is often the first to go in order to lower input lag.
Monitors with high refresh rates are also a must-have, as it should go without saying. Thankfully for those of us in the audience, none of these considerations apply to the broadcasters, though it’s always hilarious when a player with a stretched 4:3 view cannot see someone on the screen who we all see live on the native 16:9 stream.
As a corollary to the above, the ability to spot out a hiding opponent quicker than they can react is also a great way to get an edge in the competitive gaming environment.
A related controversy in CS:GO revolved around developers Valve’s decision to introduce skins to the game without really thinking through their impact on the gameplay, especially on the higher levels. The vibrant color schemes on some of the characters worked as the perfect camouflage on certain portions of various maps, and the player could completely blend into the background and take a couple of freebie pot shots at the beginning of an engagement.
This was nearly game-breaking in a franchise where one or two bullets can finish you off, and Valve took steps to adjust the maps and the skins as well, though their presence is still seen as controversial by many. Rivalry, who specialize in esports betting, suggested that the financial impact of these cosmetics is too great to ignore for the developers, and that the interest in CS:GO bets has only increased since their introduction, partially due to the pandemic.
No matter the game of your choice, proper performance of your PC (or console) will be paramount for top tier gaming. Just as much as you can see it in your individual experience, this also holds true for the best esports players and the events they participate in. There’s a lot of under-appreciated work going into securing the beastly gaming rigs required to keep elite gaming events going and the players put a lot of thought into finding the best settings that can help them perform to the best of their abilities.