The gear you need for esports

The gear you need for esports

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Rising the ranks in the best esports games can feel like an insurmountable challenge. Every player’s vying for the top spot. No one want to be hard-stuck at a lowly league. Practice makes perfect, but gear has its own impact too. Here’s the peripherals you need to stay at the top of your game.

Gaming Keyboard

A piece of equipment designed for work now retroactively serves the needs of esports gamers. In today’s market, there is a broad range of gaming keyboards to suit any play-style, and each has its own unique quirks and features.

From mushy rubber domes and clicky-clacky mechanical switches to searingly bright RGB lighting or keycaps with no legible print at all. A keyboard’s basic function remains the same as it ever has, though a surprising amount of variance distinguishes between models.

In regard to esports, one non-technical aspect arguably matters more than anything else – the size of the gaming keyboard. Broadly speaking, gaming keyboards can be broken down into two groups.

Full-size keyboards, those with a traditional layout comprised of a number pad, arrow keys, function keys and more. And smaller form-factor keyboard – ‘60%’, ‘tenkeyless’ and so on – which omits certain keys entirely, or squishes them into a more compact housing.

Many end up favouring one group of gaming keyboards over another depending on what their main genre of esports gaming and their playstyle are.

Gaming keyboards for FPS esports

Smaller form-factor keyboards are more ubiquitous amongst pros at first-person shooter esports tournaments, in which skill is mostly derived from pin-point precision with a gaming mouse first and the character’s positioning with the gaming keyboard second.

In these games, the old reliable ‘WASD’ cluster constitutes most of they keys you’ll be subconsciously hovering over. Anything right of it might as well be no man’s land for FPS gamers, save for a few keys you’ll likely re-bind to the gaming mouse’s extra buttons – grenade toss, melee hit, weapon switch.

With a full-size keyboard, that’s a whole lot of unused keys occupying valuable desk space for larger mouse mats. Shrink down to a small form-factor keyboard, and now your mouse arm’s got more room for low-sens sweeps and mouse flicks.

Gaming keyboards for RTS esports

Conversely, real-time strategy games (such as Starcraft 2) necessitate a ridiculously high ‘action-per-minute’ (APM) to keep pace with the leaderboard-topping players. Calculated ‘point and click’ aim is exchanged for lightning-quick reflexes.

To dart the cursor from the screen’s edge and back again as fast as humanly possible, the mouse’s DPI is ramped up to the thousands and an increased emphasis is placed on pre-programmed macros and hotkeys.  

As such, you don’t need a desk-spanning mouse mat, but a full-size gaming keyboard with plenty of keys at your disposal. RTS games revolve around overwhelming your opponent with a bombardment of actions. The best gaming keyboards ship with software which allows you to record a sequence of keystroke and mouse clicks to a key of your choice.

For instance, one of the many actions you’ll perform on a recurring basis is spawning units. Positioning the camera over your base, drag-selecting all your factories, navigating its menus and queueing up a set number of units – doing this each time by hand is tedious and time-wasting, requiring many clicks.

On a gaming keyboard, you could distil this down to a single key press. Full-size, and you’ll have an abundance of keys to construct the most intricate sequences, with rows of keys to bind them to.

Gaming Mouse

Now, since we’ve elaborated on the advantages of a gaming mouse in our in-depth guide, we’ll keep this section brief. So, make sure to check it out. The bottom line is that a gaming mouse strips out all the unnecessary aspects of a bog-standard mouse – quite literally – for pixel-perfect accuracy.

Gaming Mouse Guide

Flawless Sensor

Normal mice are highly prone to angle-snapping, mouse smoothing and acceleration. These so-called features try to predict the user’s input. They may be preferable in a non-gaming environment, but they’re detrimental in esports. The sensor of a gaming mouse should be ‘flawless’, showing no signs of inaccuracy. The best gaming mice translate your hand movements to the cursor exactly one-to-one.

Adjustable DPI

The main extra feature of gaming mice compared to their non-gaming counterparts is an adjustable DPI level. It tends to be fixed on normal mice, often too low or too high for most. A gaming mouse allows you to fine-tune your DPI pixel-by-pixel exactly to your liking. Many of them come with buttons for switching between DPI levels on-the-fly.

Mouse Buttons

Speaking of, gaming mice feature tons of buttons for all your gaming needs. Keep your fingers firmly planted on the ‘WASD’ cluster. Don’t lift off and stretch over to other keys. Re-bind frequently used actions to a mouse button only a thumb twitch away. In spite of all the extra buttons glued to the side of a gaming mouse, they can be ultra-lightweight and stopped on a dime.

SteelSeries Rival 3 Gaming Mouse

Gaming Headset  

Competing at an esports level, you need every slight advantage you can take. If you don’t, the sweatiest of try-hards will, which can make it nigh impossible to climb the ladder to the highest ranks.

A player’s mechanical dexterity is often the focus of esports, clicking the right places and pressing the right keys. However, it’s audio first and foremost which informs all aspects of decision making.

Hearing is our fastest sense; sight is comparatively slow. Esports games demand split-second reaction from the player. In these games, you don’t wait for your opponent to slowly waddle into frame, make their presence known and then react – you’d already be dead. You need to be pre-emptively on edge, acutely aware of your surroundings through audio alone.

Razer Kraken Ultimate Gaming Headset

Hearing is as important as seeing

With a gaming headset, you can get the drop on your opponents before you’ve even caught a glimpse of them. Most gaming headsets are over-ear and closed-back, completely enclosing you in the game environment. No auditory distractions of clanging pots from an adjacent kitchen or the deafening drone of a vacuum cleaner.

Slide a gaming headset over your ears and you’ll be able to pick up on the subtlest clues to track your opponent’s position in a 3-D space. Hear faint gunfire in the distance, flashbangs ricocheting off walls, the movement of footsteps around a corner and more.

Why do esports pros wear two pairs of headphones?

If you’ve ever watched an esports tournament, you’ll know how crucial in-game audio is to the pros. They play in soundproof booths not only to isolate themselves from the crowd’s loud and sometimes unfair cheer, but to tune into these audio cues they’ve become so dependant on.

Pros take audio so seriously, they often wear two pairs of headphones – one in-ear for the most intimate sounds, and another for team comms and further noise isolation or even active noise cancellation on some gaming headsets. You can practise your actions-per-minute and hone in your aim for days on end, but that will only take you so far. Audio from a gaming headset is what’s needed to develop a true sense for the game.

Need a gaming PC to hook up all these peripherals to? Check out our blog on the specs you should be looking for, or our build for 2022 and beyond.