Paul Butler

From desks to arenas: esports ready monitors

AOC and MMD’s Paul Butler discusses the rise in esports and how tech hardware is an all important factor for trigger ready, fast action game play

People don’t question the popularity of esports anymore, and it is surely here to stay. It’s a mental and physical challenge to compete in esports tournaments at the highest level. It requires a refined strategy, perfect teamwork, individual talent and traits such as super-fast reflexes and years of training, which is no different than competing at other sports.

And just like the usual sports, watching the pro-players excel in their profession and compete against each other attracts enormous audiences. With its large and growing community, esports is big business, too. Sponsorships, advertising, huge events at the largest venues, enormous prize figures, it is a billion pound economy, really. The gaming monitor brand AOC’s sponsorship of the G2 Esports team for three years or the sponsorship of the ESL in the UK just show how important this has become.

It is obvious that esports will continue to grow, both in terms of audience and the market and soon, it could even be part of the Olympics. In fact, it was almost included in the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics, but was turned down in the end.

Naturally, competition is a crucial driver for innovation, new ideas and technologies and in this regard esports is no different from other competitive sports.

For players to beat their competition, they need to make sure that their performance is not hindered but elevated by their equipment. This means, they will always build their gaming stations to have an edge – similar to F1 racing teams continuously working on the ideal car for the next race. In esports, input devices (keyboard and mice) and audiovisual output devices (monitors and headsets) need to have as little latency as possible and should translate the users’ reactions as quickly and transparently as possible.

When looking at the gaming monitor sector, you’ll see this demand has influenced product development, especially in the last 2-3 years. Certain key aspects can make all the difference for a player: high refresh rates, low response times and a low input lag. Therefore, this is the direction pro displays for gamers are taking.

Today we see a 144Hz refresh rate as the minimum at the competitive level, while 240Hz and above are becoming the go-to for esports professionals. While regular monitors show 60 frames per second, the high refresh rate models show 2-4 times more frames and fill in the blanks in the player’s brain. When the player is fully concentrated on an angle where the opponent might peek their head, when they do peek, the player will see its exact position more accurately – more instantly and can react faster. Seeing your game character or its point of view as quickly as possible is simply a game-changer, whether in MOBA, FPS or other competitive titles where speed is a key to success.

Another point is the input lag. The monitor, which receives the image signal from the GPU, should process and portray the image without introducing additional latency. While it is physically impossible to reduce it to zero, gaming monitors are designed to keep the input lag to a very minimum, where the player can receive accurate visual feedback on what they do in the game. The more tightly connected to the game, the more the player can react appropriately.

It is not about just getting more temporally accurate visual output from the game world, but also about how it translates into visible pixels for the player to process. Here, the response time comes into play. Simply put, even if the monitor receives 240 frames from the GPU, if the response time is not low, the visible output will be a blurry mess. Especially in areas with large differences in brightness, when the pixel changes from very dark to very bright, the monitors’ circuitry should apply the correct voltage, and fast. If the pixels don’t change their values in time appropriately, what we see is “ghosting” or sometimes “inverse ghosting”. Understandably, professional esports players require gaming displays that represent the game as sharply as possible.

Thanks to esports’ demanding competition, the “playing” field has completely changed, for gamers and even for those who do not appreciate esports yet!

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