Esports & Sports Science - Antoine “YntensitY” Dupuy
Can you introduce yourself? Who are you, what do you do, and what would you like to do in the future?
My name is Antoine “YntensitY” Dupuy. I have a Master's degree in Sports Sciences and more particularly in Ergonomics and Engineering of Physical Activity with a specialization in human motricity. What is it? Just some pretentious words to say that I’m studying and interesting in ergonomics and what I call “ergomotricity” which is a mix of concepts between biomechanics, physiology, neurosciences, traumatology, nutrition and others, aiming for better understanding of how we can use our motricity for our wellness, to become healthier and be more performant in our tasks. I am also a gamer, pretty mediocre but, you know… I like it!
I am currently looking for financial investments to prepare for a PhD in esports/videogames performance enhancements and health prevention. I also volunteer in a French esports amateur association named Nantes Esport, where I help athletes to become better as gamers and (I hope) as persons by focusing on health, wellness, and performance.
Tell us a bit about your work in esports. What is your area of expertise, and what is your approach?
As I said earlier, my area of expertise is “ergomotricity” and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) prevention. Even though I am not technically a practitioner, I have some knowledge about how to prevent such injuries (primary and secondary) but I cannot help concerning treatments and will never try to do it. Actually, the first advice I give to people if they are experiencing chronic pain is to consult a specialist.
I do not like the word expertise because I think it is something we tend to reach in our entire life without succeeding because we cannot learn everything even in our field. “Passionate” is the word I would use because what I am looking for is learning, sharing information, and discussing about it.
To go further into ergomotricity and MSDs prevention, and how I share it with esports athletes, I use notions I have learned at the university and dig into scientific evidence to prove my point and “fill the blank”. To ensure it is understandable for the players, I illustrate the findings in an accessible way including details about why it is important for them and how it works. It is usually with slides, which I present every 2 weeks, and sometimes with videos. However, the most important part is answering their questions after the presentation and listening to their interrogations/problems they want to resolve with me. For example, I recently asked them to take a picture of how they are holding their peripherals (mouse + keyboard, controller, arcade stick, etc.) and a picture of their posture during playing in order to give them advices to handle their playing session.
What impact do you aim to have on the team and athletes you work with?
There are two main objectives in my approach. The primary objective is to make players understand that long gaming session without any breaks and without proper physical conditioning will undoubtedly bring them into a vicious circle of fatigue, pain, and unfortunately to chronic injuries and/or burnout symptoms. Moreover, fatigue, pain, and injuries take a part in performance aspects. When you are playing a League of Legends or Valorant match, which last approximately thirty to forty-five minutes, you need to be physically ready to answer to every situation you can encounter during the game. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms during your plays, you cannot assure that you are performing at your maximum level.
For example, I love how Dr. Matthew Hwu and 1HP team illustrate what happens when your gaming sessions last too much without breaks, stretching, conditioning, hydrating, etc. It is what they call “overheating theory”. Imagine you have a health point (HP) bar for every area you are using when you are playing (Muscles, for example). When you are playing long sessions, you are losing HP over time. But, most importantly when you are repeating it for weeks and months you are decreasing your max HP bar (so the maximum endurance you have for any session). This is why during the next session you will feel fatigue, numbness, and pain earlier than before.
The secondary objective is to give them easy-to-do exercises and strategies to prevent pain from occurring. I am trying to be exhaustive even if I am not an expert of every field I present to athletes (like nutrition for example, go check Coach Taylor Johnson on twitter for more info about nutrition). Topics range from basic things in ergonomics as posture and workplace set up, to the importance of small breaks, stretching, hydration, fatigue mechanisms, reaction time optimization, sleep, and hygiene.
Why do you think physical training is important for esports athletes/teams and how do you think they can benefit from it?
I will begin by saying that physical training is important for esports athletes and teams, but it represents a part (definitely a huge part) of the global hygiene we try to incorporate in athletes’ habits. Nevertheless, yes, physical training must be one of the main goals for staff as it is related to performance and global health of athletes not only on the physical side but also on the mental one.
When players are practicing physical exercises, their body is secreting pleasure hormones (like dopamine), happiness hormones (serotonin) but also, and it is really important, stress hormones (cortisol, epinephrine, norepinephrine). This stress is beneficial for their body because they are controlling it (thanks to exercise intensity) and their organism is learning and getting better at clearing out stress hormones. Therefore, by practicing regular exercises, players are improving their stress management and avoiding cardiovascular issues, obesity, diabetes, etc.
We talked about global exercises, now we can focus on specific exercises (i.e. exercises adapted to players needs). Every e-athlete is different whether by the game they play, their health, the way they use their peripherals, their height, their posture, their gears, etc. There is a lot of variance between players so you can personalize their training. Endurance training to improve the time you can play, the oxygen supplies, and for cognitive endurance (when you are training your endurance physically, you are activating cortical area that are involved in cognitive tasks and how long you can focus on it), strength training for others (strength training can be really good to improve motor control and avoid injuries), eccentric exercises (to make tendons stronger and healthier), and high intensity exercise for short period before playing to increase neurotrophic factors (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, IGF-1, etc.) in order to enhance neuroplasticity to learn more efficiently during training. There are many ways (some not yet explored) to become a better and healthier esport player. Finally, I finish by saying to everyone to respect your body and take care of yourself! You will feel better than ever.