Bradley Robbins is a tech, trade, and travel writer with a lifetime of experience with North America, Europe, and Japan.
EVO is an annual fighting game tournament. Each year, the world sets its eyes on Las Vegas as the top names in gaming get together to slug it out in a variety of different video games, and the esports world is atwitter. The greatest fighting game tournament in the world welcomes all comers, and if you think you’ve got what it takes to throw down with some of the best and brightest, you might want to consider additional ways to up your game.
How to Improve Your Fitness to Improve Your Game
More and more esports pros are getting fit, and the results often speak for themselves. Here’s what you can do to “git gud” in mind, body, and skill before you tackle the toughest the tournament has to offer.
- Work on Your Fine Motor Skills
- Get Plenty of Sleep
- Eat Healthy
- Don't Neglect Hygiene
- Remember, Practice Makes Permanent
1. Work on Your Fine Motor Skills
Twitchy. That’s what they call it when you’ve got the quick reflexes to headshot a Counterstriker halfway across the map when he’s in mid-leap over a crate. There’s a reason the most popular streaming channel for gamers was named Twitch. Fine motor skills are one of the things you absolutely must bring to the table. The right controller can help, but you’ve got to interface with it. Your gear can’t do the work for you. Take time each day to practice with your fighting stick or controller of choice. Go through every motion at least a few times.
Deal With Repetitive Stress
And then stop. Stretch your fingers. Flex them a few times and find the right rhythm for your own personal calisthenics. Follow the 20-20-20 rule for keeping your eyes from getting strained before, during, and after a match. Even the best matches don’t take 20 minutes a piece and can allow 20 seconds between sets. Just as a seasoned pro likely doesn’t stress during the battle, having little time to fret, relieving stress on your body can increase your focus.
2. Get Plenty of Sleep
You need sleep. The professionals aren’t practicing like mad the night before the tournament. And they aren’t out partying or playing pick-up matches until the wee hours of the morning. They’ve either heard it from their peers and coaches or experienced themselves the dangers of a lack of a good night’s sleep. It slows your reaction time, ruins your focus, and can make a day of gaming drag on right up until your eventual elimination. Get some sleep.
Improve Your Relaxation
What’s more, make your sleeping area the best possible for a good night’s slumber. Whether you are in a cheap motel anxiously awaiting tomorrow’s matches or living it up in the biggest, most baller suite in Las Vegas (there’s one with an actual basketball court, you know), make the space your own. Eliminate distractions. Hop in the shower or jacuzzi for a relaxing warm-to-hot muscle-relaxing half hour or so before you tuck in. Early to bed and early to rise, as the saying goes, won’t make you the uncool guy at the party, no matter how great your fear of missing out. It might just make you an EVO champion.
3. Eat Healthy
It’s clinically proven, video gaming makes you hungry. And no, active games don’t really help in the long run. So, what is an aspiring Street Fighter or Tekken champion to do? Well, put down that can of Red Bull, for now, and consider some healthy snacking alternatives. No, you don’t need to go on the latest diet craze to slim down like it’s swimsuit season (though you may like how much better you feel in the summer desert heat if you do), but eating healthy sharpens the senses and can sharpen reflexes. Whether that means counting calories, learning about macronutrient ratios or just signing up for a meal kit is up to you. Stick to it.
Drink Caffeinated Beverages (Within Reason)
And don’t give up on the caffeine. Red Bull may sponsor pro players for less-than-altruistic reasons, but caffeine can give you a boost. If you’ve got the time, figure out when and how much caffeine to drink before your matches. Learn what your thresholds are, and stick to them as well. This can keep you alert throughout long tournament hours and keep your neurons firing when it’s ready for you to take the hot seat for the next round.
4. Don’t Neglect Hygiene
Perhaps the easiest mistake to make is letting your hygiene slip, but EVO tournaments are notorious for having players who aren’t spending as much time in the shower as they should. The pros smell great and have a sparkling smile for the camera. They dress in moisture-wicking clothes (sometimes sponsor-provided, but hardly always), and they know which bar is the deodorant and which is the soap.
Many international tournaments have specific rules regarding hygiene, and players from other countries may dress, shower and deodorize as standard prep. Sadly, the crowds at EVO don’t always share the same habits.
5. Remember, Practice Makes Permanent
Speaking of habits, you really should practice. Know your fighters inside and out. If you’re playing in tournaments that eliminate characters from the roster or require teams, have backups at the ready. Know which matchups favor you and why. Spend a good time online playing against the best in your brackets, but also go down to the local fight night and get some offline matches underway. You’re likely to find that offline play, especially with an audience, has a whole different feel and rhythm to it.
As a wise old witcher once said, practice makes permanent. Have friends and community leaders review your fights so you don’t make the same mistake again when the time comes. The greatest tournament of the year is your chance to shine. At the very least, it’s your chance to meet with, learn from and maybe even trade virtual blows with the pros. Make the most of it.