News article

A day in the life of an esports athlete with GRIDSERVE Resolve

The world of esports is one of the fastest growing and most exciting new industries, with its estimated market value nearly doubling in the last five years to over $1.5 billion.

Prize money for teams and players totals thousands and often runs into the millions for the biggest and glitziest events.

That’s big business. But what does it have to do with GRIDSERVE?

Well, we’re the proud sponsor of GRIDSERVE Resolve… an esports team currently competing in the Rocket League Championship Series and one of the best in Europe.

For the uninitiated, Rocket League is like football with rocket-powered cars and is one of many competitive money-spinning esports games out there, alongside other sports-based titles like FIFA as well as shooter-based games like Fortnite or Counter-Strike.

But what is life like for this new breed of sports talent?

We joined GRIDSERVE Resolve during its six week training boot camp at the National Esports Performance Campus in Sunderland as it attempted to qualify for the Rocket League Championship Series 2024 major at the Copper Box in the Olympic Park later in June.

The campus, which opened last year, offers top-end gaming rooms, accommodation in converted Grade II-listed houses (think upmarket university halls) and classrooms for special esports courses at local colleges.

And there’s more to come, with a dedicated 200-seater esports arena near the Stadium of Light in planning. It’s part of wider tech investment in the area by Sunderland council – a region that’s already world renowned for its trailblazing role in electric cars thanks to the Nissan factory.

9am: Alarm call and breakfast

When the age limit for playing in Rocket League is just 13 years old and most players are in their teens, getting up early isn’t easy. An 9am alarm call, followed by breakfast in the open plan kitchen, is more than civilised enough for the international team made up of Rezears (David Wünsch), 20, Kash (Kurtis Cannon), 22, Ivn (Ivan Sabri), 20, and coach Tadpole (Euan Ingram), 26.

10am: Gym

Professional esports doesn’t naturally lend itself to athleticism. To be good at it, you need to be sat down at a screen honing your skills… a lot. But the team behind GRIDSERVE Resolve, led by COO Jeff Simpkins, know how important it is for the team to stay fit away from the console (a healthy body can increase concentration when playing) plus a responsibility to look after the young players. The daily gym session (or weekly five-a-side football kickabout) is led by the team’s performance coach, Alex Davies.

11am-1pm: Media commitments

The world of esports is not something you’ll necessarily find on traditional media outlets, with players and teams posting on a variety of digital channels from Twich to Discord and beyond. This means creating a lot of content and the team need a few hours each day to take part in filming or podcasts to generate interest for not just the team but also their own profiles.

1pm: Lunch

Food is just as important as the gym when it comes to player wellbeing. Fuelling yourself with easy and convenient junk food will leave players feeling lethargic when it comes to game time. At boot camp, the performance coach will make sure lunch (and dinner) ticks enough healthy food groups to keep the gamers in tip top condition. 

2pm-4pm: Free time

After lunch, the players are free to do what they want but most will head to the gaming rooms to play Rocket League as they prepare for the formal matches. While players will dip into other games (and are pretty handy at them), it’s their choice of professional game that they’ll still play in their free time.

4-7pm: Team training/qualifiers

As the clock ticks over into late afternoon the real work starts. Team training against other pro teams (known as ‘scrims’) is where the trio hone their teamwork with the coach reviewing each match and trying out new strategies and game styles to practice ahead of the real deal. Qualifying matches are also played at this time (to account for the global nature of the league). This year, GRIDSERVE Resolve enjoyed its best season on record but narrowly missed out on major qualification. Better news is that the team scored 142 goals during the most recent tournament and has committed planting a tree for every one.

7pm-9pm: Dinner

With training and official match play over for the day, it’s time for food. Again the performance coach will pick the menu to make sure the team aren’t choosing the easy option of a quick burger and fries delivered to their room. They’re also encouraged to eat together as a team on the large dining table in the main house.

9pm onwards: Free time

Rezears, Kash, Ivn and Tadpole are now free to spend their evening as they want before heading to bed. Many head back to the gaming rooms in their quest for constant improvement and a place on next year’s roster to challenge for honours again. We’ll keep you posted.