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Looking for an edge, esports team Fnatic hires sports scientists to try to boost gamers’ performance

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Key Points
  • Esports team Fnatic has started hiring sports scientists to a new "High Performance Unit."
  • The unit will study and observe how sleep and stress levels impact the performance of the 60 gamers across Fnatic's teams.
  • Fnatic's 60 esports players get paid to play games like Apex Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, and League of Legends in front of hundreds of millions of viewers.
Team Fnatic lift the winners' cup after the "Counter-Strike: Global Offensive" final game between FaZe Clan and Fnatic on March 4, 2018 in Katowice, Poland.
Norbert Barczyk | PressFocus | MB Media | Getty Images

LONDON – Esports team Fnatic has started hiring sports scientists as part of an effort to improve the performance of its gamers.

Fnatic, which has players around the world, set up a "High Performance Unit" after closing a $10 million funding round from investors in November.

"One of the things that we're looking into right now is how do we bring in all the knowledge that comes from sports," Sam Matthews, founder and chief executive of Fnatic, told CNBC on a call.

The unit will study and observe how sleep and stress levels impact the performance of the 60 gamers across Fnatic's teams, which get paid to play games like Apex Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, and League of Legends in front of hundreds of millions of viewers.

The unit will also look at alcohol and cortisol levels, as well as the impact of a caffeine dip on a gaming session.

"It's the first time we've had a sports science lab to figure out what actually makes the difference in a gamer's performance," said Matthews, who co-founded Fnatic in London in 2004.

There are currently three people in Fnatic's High Performance Unit but the company plans to hire five more staff to it in 2021.

"In esports, the competition is getting more and more fierce," said Matthews. "Like in F1, you're always looking at edges that you can get, whether it's hardware, training, or psychology."

Fnatic also uses a network of nutritionists and freelance fitness coaches, who encourage the gamers to go to the gym, Matthews said.

Many professional gamers train or compete for over ten hours a day, and some of them rake in over a $1 million a year in the process. However, the physical and mental strain on the body can sometimes result in health problems.

Matthews said: "These people are fit and healthy largely, but there's always an anomaly to the rule."