Esports gamers have the same level of mental toughness as elite athletes a study has found, just as COVID-19 lockdowns are providing yet another boost to the industry.

A study from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) found that high performing esports professionals cope with stress in the same way as pro-sports athletes and players with higher ranks have higher levels of mental toughness.

Esports are played in front of stadium audiences and millions of online viewers and the pressure after COVID-19 lockdowns is set to rise, after stay-at-home rules brought people back to their consoles and into esports.

Companies such as Esports Mogul (ASX:ESH) and Emerge Gaming (ASX:EM1), the ASX’s resident esports companies which run platforms for tournaments, said in their March quarter reports they were seeing early positive signs in March of demand for their services.


The pros are tough

Esports franchises and platforms offer a range of benefits to the top players to keep them happy, and QUT researchers say sports psychologists should be part of the package.

QUT esports researcher Dylan Poulus said 316 esports players aged 18 and over were studied, and these people were from among the top 40 per cent of players.

“Everything we see in sports psychology interventions that work with traditional sports is likely going to work with esports athletes,” he said.

“To be a millionaire esports gamer you deal with stress similar as if you are getting ready to go to the Olympics.

“It is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, and with the coronavirus pandemic there has been huge interest.”


The lockdown gamer

The big names attract the everyday players who are the drivers for industry revenue.

Large competitions with live audiences have been cancelled around the world, which has severely dented the cash take of companies holding these events.

For example, NASDAQ-listed Allied Esports Entertainment said shutdowns in March meant revenues were already 3 per cent lower than in the same period last year, at $US6m ($8.8m). It was partially offset by growth in online services.

However, business models evolving from numbers of games sold to in-game buying and subscriptions to engagement-per-user, the kind of engagement that COVID19 lockdowns have encouraged, are buoying the industry.

The industry is forecast to grow revenues from $US950m last year to $1bn this year and players will spend $159bn on games this year, up 9.3 per cent on last year, says gaming analytics service Newzoo.


Playing the ASX game

Esports Mogul is arguably the most successful esports company on the ASX, based on the deals it’s been winning.

However, for the last six quarters the most the company has been able to take in cash receipts was $26,000, which was booked in the March quarter this year.

The final report for calendar 2019 showed revenue of $87,000 and a $6m loss.

Emerge Gaming, which also runs an online platform for esports competitions, has not made any money in the last six quarters.

Its half-year accounts showed an $803,000 loss.