Study tracks differences between pro and casual FPS players

By Olivia Richman


Dec 23, 2019

Reading time: 2 min

A recent study of sorts shows how differently a professional FPS player takes in a map when compared to a casual player. 

Nikkei recently posted an article that showed how Japan’s best Call of Duty: Modern Warfare player looked at a map versus an amateur player. Equipped with glasses with infrared sensors and cameras, both players’ eye movements were tracked with a red dot. When one of the gamers focused on an area, the red dot would grow bigger. 

In the clip, CoD pro Leisia’s line of sight remained stable throughout the map. The dot would smoothly transition from one spot on the map to another, often remaining the same size. That suggested Leisia was able to stay largely focused on his target while also being aware of necessary information around the map. 

This was quite different from the casual player’s eye movements. While wearing the glasses, the less-skilled player’s pattern was much more erratic than Leisia’s, never seeming to focus too long in any one area. While moving around the map, the amateur’s focus got even more jumpy. This was much different than Leisia, who had his eyes focused on the center of the map as he moved. 

When the amateur ran around a corner and came face to face with an opponent, he appeared to quickly glance in three different spots in front of him. When Leisia found an enemy, the red dot steadily grew, showing how focused Leisia was on his aim.

He revealed that he often predicts where an enemy will show up, a skill that comes with a lot of practice and map knowledge.  

What makes pro esports players better than casular than casuals?

The reason that Leisia’s movements weren’t as frantic as the casual player’s is most likely due to practice. Pro players often practice up to eight hours a day or more, not counting their own streams and solo queues. All of this leads to an advanced map knowledge, meaning Leisia knows his surroundings well enough that he doesn’t have to glance around to take it all in.

Instead, Leisia stays quite focused on the areas of the screen where he expects an enemy to pop up. This also comes from practice, since Leisia knows the best ways to approach any given area. He knows where opponents are more likely to show up and he’s ready for them, something that may take a casual player a bit longer to register. 

Leisia also checks his HUD far more often than the amateur. He glances at the minimap in the top left corner far more frequently than the casual player, giving him a better idea of where enemies are on the map. This is something a casual player might forget to do, especially when they’re feeling tense or nervous.