Esports Tip - Why Do Pros Wear Earphones and Headphones at Events?Tuesday 22nd September 2020, 06:10 | written by: Gabriel Sciberras
So, this morning I woke up with a recurring question I seem to ask myself when watching esports - why do professionals need so many pairs of headphones? Wouldn't it just make sense to have one pair only? What exactly do the earbuds do? It's a great question, one with massive implications and strong reasoning behind it. For those new to esports or even experienced members of the community, here's a small break down of how it all works!
First off, let's discuss audio in esports. What is its function? Arguably, audio is as essential as the visuals provided by a monitor. To begin with, there's the in-game sound. Certain in-game queues provide players with a world of information - incoming footsteps, bomb plants and defuses, weapon arming, flashbangs and grenades, ultimate/ability usage, alerts, gunfire, engine noise and many other noises can be game-changing in those clutch moments.
Simultaneously, player communications are just as essential. Live comms allow for teams to share strategies, make in-game decisions, to hype one another up in clutch situations, pinpoint enemies, to work as a unit and most importantly, to scream 'Rush B' at one another. Jokes aside, without communication, no team esports could possibly be played out.
At live events, esports players may wear up to three pairs of audio devices. Within the ears, a pair of eabuds snugly sit, covered by another, bigger pair of headphones sealing the ear entirely. Then, at times, a third pair of headphones may be found hanging around the neck for certain reasons. So, what purpose do these all serve? Here's a quick summary which applies to most esports/events:
- Earbuds - used for all output present, as in, in-game sounds and communications
- Headphones (head) - used mainly for noise cancellation, aviation-style. Otherwise, oftentimes offer the microphone input for communications.
- Headphones (neck) - not always present. If so, it's due to sponsorship by a headphone producing company. In rare cases, these 'neck headphones' have been used for the microphone input.
Do note that apart from players, coaches in certain esports scenes may also be armed with their own audio.
The Importance of Noise Cancelling
In competitive poker, there's no crowd to not give away the cards of competitors and potentially fluff up a bluff due to this interference.
For esports, it's the same concept. Noise cancelling is essential to block out both the castors' audio blasting through the stadium and the crowd's chanting to avoid giving away game-changing information. Due to this, esports 'booths' are sometimes used as contained rooms purpose-built to further cancel out audio.
However, despite this, there have been multiple occasions when the audio makes it to the ears of players, making them aware of a defuse or an enemy player. This is mainly seen in Call of Duty and CS:GO where the crowds become awfully passionate. For CS:GO there was one event where crowds were shouting out where an attacking team was taking the bomb each round.
Of course, this is unacceptable and completely smashes competitive integrity. Despite this, a balance needs to be struck - you cannot completely eliminate the crowd. And why would you? The roaring and rumble of a crowd is what allows players to rise to the occasion despite the pressure and truly make a name for themselves - that's the difference between a LAN and online event.
This argument is especially valid nowadays in our little pandemic. Online variants of esports events may have the same name, but the community is in mutual agreement that these victories carry less weight. Not to take away from the hard work of teams, no, but to consider the fact that playing from home eliminates so much of the pressure found on the live-stage. No lights, no sound, familiarity with a home environment - nonetheless, I'm really grateful to still be able to enjoy esports in this weird time.
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