Esports Require More Skills Than Traditional Sports Says Expert

There's often debate on the Internet whether or not esports should be considered sports. Some say yes. Some say no. Others say they don't need to be, and that they are their own thing. One expert has taken the debate to a whole new level though: claiming that esports take more skills than traditional esports.

The claim came during the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco this week, when Yauheni Hladki told a large audience his conclusion during his “Why It's So Much Harder to Predict Winners in Esports,” panel.

“The result that we’ve come with is that all the esports far surpass traditional sports in terms of skill, said Hladki.

“Why? Because the sample size is huge and tremendous. For every single team, for every single player in esports, they play far more games than professional athletes."

Hladki's claim isn't the greatest, but it isn't without its merit. Hladki backs up the claim with an academic background in theoretical physics and political science, as well as ample experience in the esports world. Commissioner at StarLadder, involved in CS: GO, Dota 2, World of Tanks, and even Hearthstone, if there is one person who can talk about esports authoritatively, it's Hladki.

Beyond his credentials, Hladki's claim is backed by a study that was inspired by the work of Michael J. Maboussin, who wrote a book dubbed The Success Equation that talked about how traditional sports are on a continuum between pure luck and pure skill. Hladki piggybacks on this work noting that certain games contain more luck than others. Chess for example, contains far less luck than a sport like football. Further, as the sample size gets bigger, and the number of games increases, the luck factor becomes less and less substantial, and the skill factor becomes more significant as a result.

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(Photo: PC Gamer)

"By the sheer amount of games, the sample size becomes so big that the possibility for randomness almost goes to infinity,” said Hladki. It's unclear what Hladki is talking about here, as the amount of games a competitive team in Rocket League or Overwatch or Dota play isn't very different than a season of European soccer or the very long season found in MLB. What Hladki may be referring to is that in order to get top of the leaderboards, and be the best in the world, you have to compete in match after match after match. Whereas in professional sports, you practice, which isn't formally a game. However, they are essentially the same thing.

Later in the talk the topic of RNG comes up, and how in games like Hearthstone it raises the levels of luck and randomness to sometimes insane levels. To which, Hladki replied:

“The RNG is one of the challenges that I think in an esports game we have to add one more variable than what we’re basing it on right now, which is RNG factor."

Many of Hladski's arguments and points may seem like a stretch, but they are all based on data. However, said data is currently not available, but Hladski promises it will go up on his Linkedin page once he is given the green light from publishers who it is collected from. That said, until the data is presented and further analyzed, it's hard to counter Hladki's specific points, and have a real debate.

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No matter where you come down on the topic, it's interesting to see the world of esports growing -- and the data alongside it growing -- to the point where these type of debates can be more than just rhetoric. At the moment, I'm still not convinced though.

Source: PC Gamer