Teaming up with the E-lite: UTS cuts first turf with Esports
Imagine the world’s best soccer players – the ones we value most are the ones who can make intuitive decisions in a split second. The same goes for the world’s best esports players, who are computing even more information and making do or die (quite literally) decisions in their mass online battle arenas. Unlike in traditional sports where it is near impossible to replicate a real game environment, esports games provide an enormous amount of data that researchers like Dr Job Fransen and PhD student Matthew Pluss of the UTS Human Performance Research Centre (HPRC) can examine to understand how expertise is developed.
Luckily, Australia’s first Esports High Performance Centre has opened up right across the road at the Sydney Cricket Ground at Moore Park and will partner with the HPRC to conduct research into the development of expertise like never before.
Home to the League of Legends Oceanian champions the LG Dire Wolves as well as Australia’s leading Counter-Strike team Supa-Stellar, the Centre will be the principal training facility for regional and international visiting teams equipped with the latest eye-tracking technology for performance analysis. Just a stone’s throw away from the HPRC based at the UTS Rugby Australia Building, the Esports Centre will draw on the resources and expertise of some of Australia’s leading researchers in sport science.
“The Dire Wolves are the top team in the region but internationally, we need to rise up. Collaborating with UTS researchers will help us do that,” said David Harris, Director of the Esports High Performance Centre.
“Esports is the only sport in the world where everything is logged, you can review every single second of every single game if you wanted to. All of this information is available online,” said Job.
The impact of this research extends far beyond the online world, with applications not only in traditional sports but in other fields like medicine and military. In a world where surgeons make micro-incisions using computers and air forces use flight simulation to train pilots, there is a much higher need for research on interaction with computers beyond traditional keyboard and mouse input.
Job explains, “if we understand how esports players are becoming this good, usually without any coaching, it’s going to give us a lot of insight into what it actually takes to develop expertise in interacting with an interface that manipulates something that you look at in 2D on a screen, but exists in reality in 3D.
“A lot of these guys have never done any coaching other than watching some YouTube videos. All of a sudden, they’re some of the best in the world, and that just happened by itself.”
“I think it’s the way of the future. Understanding how people operate these interfaces is a great training tool,” added Dave.
The partnership between the HPRC and the Esports High Performance Centre is just the beginning of a new era in transdisciplinary collaborative research. With extensive existing databases and huge potential for future data collection, statisticians will be required to mine through the data.
“This isn’t just kids in a basement playing games, eating chips and drinking coke. This is actually a professional thing. Traditional sports owners are starting to buy in, brands are starting to buy in, and broadcasters are starting to buy in. It’s a sport that’s providing access to millennials that are lost through all their traditional channels,” said Dave.
The collaboration will explore new territory in human performance research and puts esports on the map for sports science and industry. Just like the potential of human performance, the possibilities of this research are endless.