Is space-age PC tech reserved for the pros?
The computers of the pros – what do esports pros play on?
A successful esports pro needs more than just skills – without the right equipment, even sinatraa, Geguri, Faker or streamers like Summit1G wouldn’t get very far. This equipment consists of various things, of course, including peripherals, but at the heart of it all is the gaming PC itself – without a decent setup, pro matches wouldn’t be possible.
What’s in a machine?
Unlike the difference between Formula 1 competition cars and regular cars, esports pro computers aren’t technically any different from “normal” machines. They use the same parts – in some rare cases, there may be specially branded editions created for a team or competition, but generally, the computers used in pro competitions aren’t any different from what people can build at home.
The keyword here is “can” – most gamers probably don’t spend the thousands upon thousands that are necessary to build a truly top of the line machine. Price is a factor for most gamers – at pro matches, the players don’t pay for the machines; in fact, they are often rentals or part of sponsorship deals with manufacturers, so the price isn’t an issue.
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Players also don’t usually get a choice as to what they play on during competitions. This is to make sure that all the professional gaming setups are the same, thus guaranteeing that everyone has an equal chance and isn’t held back by low resolutions or a 60Hz monitor. The only parts provided (or at least chosen by) the players are the keyboards and mice.
This means that the parts used often depend on the sponsoring hardware manufacturer. Despite this, it’s not often explicitly mentioned just what exact parts are in each machine. One notable exception was the ESL 2018 series. The machines used during the ESL CS:GO World Championship that year were then also used at the ESL UK Hearthstone finals that year.
The setup was based on an unlocked Intel Core i7-8700K processor, with an Nvidia GTX 1070 8GB graphics card. Players had 16GB of Corsair RAM, a 256GB Intel SSD, and 2TB of unspecified HDD storage.
The Overwatch League uses similar machines for their esports pro setups – sponsored by Omen, they used HP Omen machines with i7 processors that year, but with an Nvidia GTX 1080Ti instead. As a special feature, these computers came with removable SSDs – to allow for quick changes in case a player was swapped out.
Since settings and options specific to characters are entirely up to the player for example, each participant is set up ahead of time, so they can jump in with minimal loss of time if necessary.
A little bit before that – in 2016 – the machines used in Riot’s official League of Legends LCS competition machine featured an Intel i5 4670, 8GB of RAM, an Asus GTX770 2GB, a 128GB SSD, and both a Corsair 600W power supply and a Corsair case.
And at home?
Of course, these pro players have their own setups at home – most of the esports players stream, and even those who don’t still need to practice. A fair few streamers openly say what parts they are using – streamer Summit1G, for example, uses an Intel i9-9980XE processor, 64GB of Corsair RAM, and not one, but two MSI GeForce RTX 2080 Tis, and several TB of SSD storage.
For streaming, computers actually have to meet higher hardware specs than “just” pro gaming setups – you’ll often find streamers with incredibly powerful machines. Admiral Bahroo, another popular streamer, uses a similar setup – an i9-9900K with an EVGA GeForce RTX 2080Ti and a total of 5TB SSD and HDD storage.
There isn’t an awful lot of variety at the top – while it’s up to the individual player how many sticks of RAM they’ll use or what brand of GPU they prefer, you’ll end up seeing very similar builds across the board. The same thing goes for monitors – both at events and in private setups you’re likely to see an Asus ROG monitor such as the Asus ROG Swift. As for peripherals, though – there is a lot more variety there! Stick around and we’ll tell you all about that, too.
And if you’re looking for gear for a specific game, check out our suggestions here: