You’ve just lost a ranked game in Counter Strike and your opponents are now shouting at you to buy a better gaming chair, could they be right all along? What we’ve taken for trolling behaviour for years may be serious advice? Because all professional players have gaming chairs, right? Let’s take a look at how professionals use their physical equipment and whether their sitting position and how they use their equipment really makes a difference. (TL:DR, it doesn’t but sometimes it does)
Mouse preference and gripping styles
First and foremost, the lighter the mouse the better. Remember those old gaming mouses (I think they are still being produced and should be discarded at sight IMHO) with weight adjustment options where you attach little weights into the base, well they are a thing of history now. It’s an established meta for real life that lighter mouses work better when you are in an intense match whether it be MOBA, FPS or Strategy games hence preferred by pro players all around the globe. They tire you less and work better with grip styles such as palm or fingertip grip for extra precision whilst not tiring your arm and digits.
Speaking of which; there are essentially 3 gripping styles that differ from each other. Namely; palm grip, claw grip, fingertip grip. -For you memesters out there, no there’s no Gorilla grip-. The palm grip is where your whole hand grips the mouse and is in contact with its surface. It offers great control and precision and is a natural position where most PC users tend to go for when they first take a mouse in their hands. It’s really accurate especially with a low sensitivity and a huge mouse pad providing a large area for big movements because with palm grip the movement of the mouse tends to come from the forearm, and not the hand and fingertips thus it requires more skill, practice and energy to achieve flick shots in an FPS or jump around the screen in a split second when playing MOBA game.
Whereas with claw grip you guessed right, you grip it like a claw so it’s especially popular with FPS pros for flick shots because the movement comes from the wrist and hand itself yet also provides a little support with the base of your palm in contact with the back of the mouse. With fingertip style of gripping the palm has zero contact with the mouse and all movement is done with the wrist and digits. It may be especially tiring for the fingers in the long run but offers the player great agility and speed when zipping around on the screen. Palm and claw grips are more popular among FPS players for the extra precision they offer and one cannot bypass the advantages of quick snapping of fingertip grip in a MOBA or Strategy game. A hybrid between a palm and a claw grip offers both the precision and control of the forearm and the snappiness of wrist and hand movement when it comes to flickshots. In the end, there are all kinds of pros that use whichever grip for whichever game so it’s all about personal preference. It’s not set in stone how you should hold your mouse as a chef holds his knife or a surgeon holds his scalpel. There is no right way professionals hold their mouses and they all go with whatever feels more natural to them and tires them the least. I always found it better to play with a hybrid style between claw and palm when playing FPS games competitively. For a deep dive on this subject check out mouse expert Rocket Jump Ninja.
Conclusion for lazy readers: Professional players use the lightest mouses possible, and their style of mouse gripping is wholly personal. There are also a lot of unique styles of gripping when it comes to pros. Check out Shroud’s and former CS:GO, currently Valorant pro Swag’s (now known as brax) ultra weird three-finger grip, and don’t let anyone tell you that you are gripping your mouse wrong for a specific kind of game because some pro uses a different style of grip for the same game.
Sitting styles, monitors and keyboard/mouse positioning
We all see professional players have a tendency to lean into their screens which is especially bad for your neck and your back, but it’s a very common scene we see in tournaments. The reason for that is to get immersed in the match and shut down every kind of peripheral stimulation. Yet these are also not set in stone and completely up to personal preference. Here is jdm64 with his lean back style, forearm coming from below in a completely non-ergonomic way. With a relaxed palm grip. He’s a pro CS:GO sniper on top of that…
And then there’s the Quake pro Rapha
Looks like any other random person in an internet cafe, playing good old Quake with his friends in a very weird position because he feels like it. Somewhat close to the screen, with a very weird claw/palm grip and forearm coming in from a completely bizarre angle to the mouse pad. It’s simply because he plays the way he feels like it, and he has won over 180 THOUSAND DOLLARS over his career.
And here’s CS:GO pro bondik
I don’t even want to comment about this BUT: When someone tells you to buy a better gaming chair just show them this picture. Pros in their careers train on picnic tables sitting on wooden stools to professional adjustable tables and chairs with ergonomic monitor positioning. An ergonomic chair is good for prolonged sessions of playing for your body, but it has zero effect on how pros play their games. Zero percent chance of improving skill, hundred percent chance of improving the players' physical wellbeing and endurance.
Basically, there’s zero correlation between sitting styles, monitor and keyboard mouse positioning and success when it comes to the professional scene. From my experience, old school players tend to bring up their mouses and keyboards together in a very close manner and use a straight angle approaching from the side to grip their mouse. Whilst younger pros… well it’s very chaotic as you see in these pictures. It’s completely personal, and again don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Sensitivity issues and FoV
DPS is a myth. Just forget about it. Anything beginning or higher than 400 DPS with a quality optic sensor will give you enough accuracy to flick shot people into observer mode. Such was the case of Shroud when he thought he was using 400 DPI the whole time that in fact he was using 450 DPI whilst pulling off impossible headshots for our liking. Pros make do with around 400 to 1600 DPI and there’s no need to be hyped by mouses that have crazy amounts of DPI. It's just dots per inch and related to the physical capabilities of your mouse, sensitivity on the other hand is related to software and also is about personal preference. But there’s a general rule of thumb among pro player styles that in FPS games low sense provides you with better accuracy, thus why they have huge mousepads and make big mouse movements because of their low sensitivity settings. In genres such as Strategy higher sensitivity is common because of the need of zapping around the screen, and you don’t need to make precise headshots in an old school Red Alert 2 tournament but you do need to jump around the map and give your Kirov airships orders in a very fast manner to annihilate your enemies base, or to conduct a good old Zerg Rush in Starcraft. What’s important when it comes to mouse or controller sensitivity is that pros stick to a sensitivity level of their liking and stay on that level for their entire career and develop superhuman muscle memory. That’s why S1mple is S1mple and Shroud is Shroud. Here are some pros’ DPI and sensitivity settings.
- NiKo - 400 DPI / 1.55 Sensitivity (CS:GO) / 620 eDPI
- Tfue - 400 DPI / 30% Sensitivity (Fortnite) / 1,236 eDPI
- Shroud - 450 DPI / 2.4 Sensitivity (CS:GO) / 1,080 eDPI
- Coldzera - 800 DPI / 1.00 Sensitivity (CS:GO) / 800 eDPI
- Ninja - 800 DPI / 0.077 X Sensitivity (Fortnite) / 0.079 Y Sensitivity (Fortnite) / 62.4 eDPI
- Cloak - 400 DPI / 0.11 X Sensitivity (Fortnite) / 0.11 Y Sensitivity (Fortnite) / 44 eDPI
- Taimou - 800 DPI / 5 Sensitivity (Overwatch) / 4,000 eDPI
- MrSavage - 1450 DPI / 8.1% Sensitivity X (Fortnite) / 8.1% Sensitivity Y (Fortnite) / 117.45 eDPI
- Bugha - 400 DPI / 0.13 X Sensitivity (Fortnite) / 0.13 Y Sensitivity (Fortnite) / 52 eDPI
- Stewie2k - 720 DPI / 1.80 Sensitivity (CS:GO) / 720 eDPI
- dev1ce - 400 DPI / 1.90 Sensitivity (Astralis) / 760 eDPI
- S1mple - 400 DPI / 3.09 Sensitivity (CS:GO) / 1,236 eDPI
- ZywOo - 400 DPI / 2.0 Sensitivity (CS:GO) / 800 eDPI
- Mongraal - 800 DPI / 5.8% X Sensitivity / 5.8% Y Sensitivity / 43.2 eDPI
- benjfishy - 800 DPI / 10% X Sensitivity / 10? Y Sensitivity / 112 eDPI
FoV (Field of View) on the other hand is another beast on its own. The higher the better when it comes to professionals preferences but it also comes with a disadvantage. Higher FoV gives the pros more control of the game with a higher peripheral vision but leads to a fisheye effect where it becomes harder to make precision clicks.Thus we are seeing bigger and bigger gaming monitors every year with higher refresh rates for a more fluid and less eye-tiring image.
What’s set in stone then?
What all pros have in common when it comes to behaviours and styles aren’t that many actually. They all warm up as a shared behaviour. Either using aim training programs (sometimes they are even sponsored by them!) or warm up with bots before their training sessions with their teams. This could take from minutes to hours. They develop muscle memory with constant use of the same DPI and sensitivity settings over the years so that they act proactively instead of reactively and train enough to live through the same scenarios that could happen in a real match thousands of times beforehand. They constantly communicate with their team and report everything that’s going on. Communication is key when it comes to esports. And they never compromise on tactics which they’ve trained for thousands of hours beforehand. Individual skill and showmanship is comparatively a little part of what is going on in reality when it comes to team level plays. Regarding equipment, there’s the preference of lightest mouses for preserving energy and ease of use with the best optics around, and top-notch large monitors for extreme refresh rates of 240hz or even 360hz and larger peripheral vision for very fluid gameplay with a wider vision (If their opponents have a monitor with a higher refresh rate or bigger screen size then they are physically at a disadvantage).
In the end, what makes pros, pros are not their gaming chairs or the way they grip their mouses or the shiny equipment they are using but their training, communication, muscle memory and the effectiveness of their equipment, oh and also a little bit of skill as well.
This tactic used to be something niche, worthy of being stored in Jedi archives. In the good old days of competitive FPS gaming (especially CS) some pros used to scale their screens to a 4:3 ratio using 800x600 resolutions to make enemy models stretch wider so that it was extremely easy to aim and score headshots. GeT_RiGhT of Ninjas in Pyjamas won so many tournaments using this that it became public knowledge and nowadays a lot of CS pros also use this setting to widen the pixels of their opponents and yes, it’s completely legit. There are also pros using custom scales such as 16:10 or 5:4.
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