The Play of Champions: Toward a Theory of Skill in eSport

Lasse Juel Larsen*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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    This article advances a tentative theory of skill in relation to eSports. This conjectural theory of skill rests on hypothesizes informed by assumptions from watching 100+ hours of eSport events on Twitch, YouTube, and AfreecaTV and is supported by discussions, reflections and evaluations with eSport players. The case material of this article includes the games Clash Royale (CR), StarCraft 2 (SC2), Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), and online battle arenas (mobas) such as League of Legends (LOL) and Defense of the Ancient 2 (DOTA2). This inferred theory of skill is conjoined and composed of seven strands, which provide a framework for explaining how to understand skill in eSport. These seven strands are presented under the headings: (1) knowledge about game objects, (2) insights into game systems, (3) understanding metagaming, (4), yomi: ‘reading’ the opponent, (5) ability to execute, (6) emotional discipline, and finally (7) team coherency (depending upon whether the skill is associated with a one-versus-one or team-versus-team game). In conclusion, the proposed theory of skill will expose its explanatory power and reach by providing an example of how it can both be implemented to create profiles of players’ skill, and how these profiles in turn can serve as guides to help players improve their skill levels in eSport.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalSport, Ethics and Philosophy
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)130-152
    Publication statusPublished - 2022


    • clash Royale
    • computer game
    • concept
    • counter-Strike
    • defense of the Ancients 2
    • epistemology
    • eSports
    • league of Legends
    • ontology
    • Skill
    • sociality
    • starcraft 2
    • theory


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