The Psychology of Esports: Part 1

In the first of a two-part series we talk to Gabriela Kloudova, a sports psychologist working closely with PCS6 Europe winners Entropiq. Gabriela discusses her own experiences, why a mental edge is so important at the top – and what elite level sports and esports stars have in common.

Can you tell us a little bit about your professional background?

Of course. I am a psychologist who specializes in working with professional sports and esports players. I work with players from a whole host of different disciplines, from tennis to football to netball, and also work closely as a researcher for the Czech military.

How did you first start working in PUBG Esports?

Around two years ago Entropiq reached out to me as they wanted a psychologist to help the players mentally prepare ahead of important matches. I was excited to get involved, I hadn’t worked in Esports at all and I knew PUBG Esports would be an amazing place to start. The scene is growing and growing which means there are going to be many more opportunities to come.

Are there big differences between the worlds of PUBG Esports and sports?

I don’t think the differences are as big as people think. People will often ask me if I know the intricacies of each sport of esport I am working with but I tell them that I don’t need to. What I have to understand is the people within the sports, the human beings – the discipline itself is not so key.

What are your aims with the players?

We look at things like anxiety, confidence, motivation, concentration and general mental preparation. I identify players’ strengths and weaknesses and then employ strategies to work around them – it’s all about improving their mindsets where they need it most.

Additionally, I also worked with Entropiq on recruitment. They brought me in to help screen the players so we could assess and understand their mentality and how we think they would perform on the biggest stage.

And how do you specifically hit your targets?

 Specifically, we ensure we are always tracking growth and improvements – I work hard to make the players understand that we don’t aim for perfection but instead progress. That helps keep perspective and also gives the players confidence when they are not having a good day in the lobby.

Do you watch the matches?

Absolutely, my role is to prepare the players heading into tournaments and then I will provide support throughout.

Are there other areas of health and wellbeing that you think tie in with your work?

 At the highest level it isn’t just about how good you are at the game. Let’s be honest, everyone is good, and everyone is training so it’s vital for the top players to try to get an edge elsewhere. So things like lifestyle, mentality, nutrition and rest are where players can improve against their opponents.

Do you have any advice for amateur players who want to work on the mental side of their game?

 Identify your goals and then come up with a precise path to reaching them. Train effectively with a specific purpose and then evaluate your performance. It is always helpful to work with a training diary where you can evaluate your progress. Don't pinpoint only the negative parts but also the positive plays that you had, so you can repeat them in the next game.  

There is also a whole host of information materials available to you so ensure you make the most of them. There are lots of YouTube channels you can watch that will help you grow.