I’ve participated in LAN events where other players have lived an entire weekend on nothing but energy drinks. Of course, I’ve also drunk the odd gummy bear-tasting energy drink to shine with more performance at tournaments at 3 a.m., but those were isolated incidents for me.
Many gamers and streamers drink energy drinks when gaming sessions are long and fatigue sets in. In this post, I show whether energy drinks help with gaming and why professional gamers choose other drinks. I interviewed Masakari on this topic. He has played competitive gaming on the highest levels for over 20 years now and has participated in many online and offline tournaments. Here are his insights into how much impact energy drinks have.
On average, sixty minutes after drinking energy drinks, physical and mental skills in gaming decrease to a much lower level than before. Energy drinks have many disadvantages, especially if you have to stay focused, motivated, talkative, and creative for a longer time.
Besides all these disadvantages, you can get into a vicious circle and become addicted to energy drinks.
In the short term, you might think that you are reacting and becoming faster at your visual tracking abilities and other skills – and this is true for the first 60 minutes.
The Problem: Most of the competitive matches last much longer than 60 minutes.
A day of training lasts for over 8 hours, so it is wise to stay away from energy drinks. Like real-life Sports, pure water or isotonic drinks are excellent partners for professional players. As a bonus, they are much cheaper than energy boosters.
If you have to give yourself a slight “kick” at the end, drink coffee or black/green tea instead.
Interesting and quite not what I expected. But what can pro players do to boost their skills before or while gaming? I dug a little deeper into the topic and asked Masakari many more questions, and here are the results.
Note: This article was written in English. Translations into other languages may not provide the same linguistic quality. We apologize for grammatical and semantic errors.
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Why do Gamers Drink Energy Drinks?
We need to distinguish between two types of gamers here. One is the casual gamer, who drinks energy drinks for pleasure. And the other is the competitive gamer, who expects a performance boost.
Casual gamers, for example, streamers, sometimes play until the early hours of the morning and often push the natural limits of their biorhythm. An exhaustion phase is drunk away with one or even several energy drinks. The focus here is not on increasing performance but on extending the playing time.
The competitive gamer tries to increase performance with an energy drink. Fatigue, exhaustion, or even phases with illnesses have a direct effect on one’s performance. The reception and processing of auditory and visual stimuli are negatively influenced. To “fix” this problem quickly, not only classic athletes turn to “legal” drugs.
What Percentage of Gamers Drink Energy Drinks?
Overall, 17% of North American gamers reach for energy drinks while gaming. Europe’s gamers are close behind with 15%. In Asia, stimulation with energy drinks is much more widespread, with 26%.
Newzoo (2020) showed that 80% of gamers eat and drink during their gaming sessions. This result is not surprising, of course. The study also looked at what broad categories of food are consumed. Energy drinks stood out, especially in China (36%) and India (38%).
Fun Fact: European gamers drink more beer (17%) than energy drinks (15%) on average while gaming. Who would have thought that 😉
Are Energy Drinks Allowed in Esports?
According to the current statutes of the ESIC, all energy drinks freely available on the market are approved for consumption by pro gamers. During the broadcast of Esport events, the organizations and players often commit not to deliberately hold any products such as energy drinks into the camera.
All major esports organizers cooperate with the standards of the Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC). Here is the current list of banned substances issued by ESIC:
- Amphetamine sulfate (Evekeo)
- Dextroamphetamine (Adderall and Adderall XR)
- Dexedrine (ProCentra, Zenzedi)
- Dexmethylphenidate (Focalin and Focalin XR)
- Lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse)
- Methylphenidate (Concerta, Daytrana, Metadate CD, and Metadate ER, Methylin and Methylin ER, Ritalin, Ritalin SR, Ritalin LA, Quillivant XR)
- Modafinil and armodafinil.
None of the substances mentioned is an ingredient of a regular energy drink, so drinking an energy drink is not a violation of the rules.
Do Pro Gamers Drink Coffee Instead of Energy Drinks?
Caffeine in coffee has a similar effect as energy drinks but with a lesser impact. After 1 hour, the effect is decreasing. Within this time, some skills are slightly improved, mainly visual traction, reflexes, and reaction. After this period, your body will dive under the baseline, with a negative impact on your skillset. With frequent doses of caffeine (aka more cups of coffee), you can touch the effect for a longer time, but this will result in two side effects:
- your body gets addicted to coffee. The human body shows signs like shaking hands, nervosity, and floppiness without drinking coffee. Inappropriate for a professional player.
- Your body gets used to the effect of coffee and how much caffeine is consumed. To reach the same effect level as before, you have to drink stronger coffee until you reach your body’s absolute limit. Stronger coffee means a deeper dive under the baseline when the effect is gone.
Do Pro Gamers Drink Tea Instead of Energy Drinks?
Green tea is an excellent alternative to energy drinks or coffee. Other kinds of tea, like black tea, show the same effects as coffee. A negative side effect of black tea is that your teeth’ color is getting darker if you drink black tea regularly. Tea will “boost” some abilities much longer than coffee.
What about Coke, Pepsi, and other Soft Drinks with Caffeine?
The effect is not so strong, but soft drinks come with many sugar or sugar alternatives, negatively influencing your metabolism. If you want to live the life of a pro gamer, stay away from soft drinks.
How Exactly Does a Drink with Caffeine Influences Your Body?
Let’s do a quick comparison – how much energy will you get with drinking an energy drink, a coffee, a tea, or water.
The effects of caffeine have been well researched. The body has acquired proper protection for nerve cells. The longer nerve cells are stressed, the more the substance adenosine is released. Adenosine can dock to specific receptors of the nerve cells and reduces their ability to work. In the end, we get tired, sleep at best for one round, and the nerve cells can regenerate for the next application.
However, caffeine is so similar to the substance adenosine that caffeine can dock to the same receptors of a nerve cell. The functionality of the nerve cell is thus maintained at full power until the caffeine is broken down. We have billions of nerve cells in the brain. So a certain basic level of adenosine is released throughout the day to keep our nerve cells going until the evening. So the “boost” of caffeine is not an energy gain. Still, it is the temporary blocking of the natural protective system of the nerve cells to maintain maximum power.
The big end comes, of course, as soon as the caffeine is gone. The adenosine accumulated in the bloodstream can then occupy many receptors on the nerve cells in one go, thus putting a complete stop to the process. All of a sudden, a wave of tiredness comes over us.
If we now reach for the next cup or the next can, the game is repeated. After the next cycle, the nerve cells are even more exhausted, and the tiredness is even greater. If you keep doing this (please don’t try it!), severe damage can occur in the body. The body will restore normalcy with other processes (e.g., the cardiovascular system) to protect the nerve cells.
How Do Pro Gamers Boost their Skills before or while Gaming?
There are many techniques to focus on your gameplay, calm down, or become more confident. Here are five exercises pro gamers of shooter games do to boost their skills before or while gaming:
- Warm-up with an Aimtrainer. There are a lot of apps for training your aim. Even some games have a shooting range. The warm-up will give you an instant boost for skills like flick shots, spraying, reaction time, and confidence.
- Wear Arm Sleeves and a pair of gloves (but not while playing, of course). Warm muscles will give you an advantage in reaction time and precision. Cold fingers are more inflexible.
- Meditation. Yes, this is correct. Meditation before a match helps you to fade out all negative aspects of your real life. The result is a focused start in the match. Between the rounds where you got killed in the early game, you can go for mini-meditation to renew the energy and positive mentality.
- Implement emotional habits. Maybe you have already seen this habit among pro players. After a round that is won or even lost, all players will touch their clenched fists. If you and your mates are a virtual team, a battlecry or slogan can positively affect your mental strength, confidence, and focus.
- Practice continuously, even in-game. Even if you have a strategic position or task where nothing is to do, stay active. Move your character, aim at different targets (trees, windows…) think about what your enemies try to plan and do. Holding your brain in an active state means lesser reaction time in case of contact with opponents.
Healthy drinks help professional players to keep their skill levels much longer. Energy drinks are fancy, colorful, and have cool names. Still, they won’t help you in the long term – on the contrary, they will lower your abilities.
According to real-life athletes, a study from 2007 revealed that an energy drink has no significant effect on physical results. There are benefits of drinking energy booster or drinks in the short term, but you should go for healthy and more natural drinks like green tea, water, or isotonic drinks in the long term.
We showed you other techniques to sharpen your senses before or during a gaming session. Masakari, for example, is using meditation and aim training to focus his senses right before competitive matches.
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