Have you ever wondered what esports athletes are wearing on their arms? The answer is simple: gaming sleeves! Today, CS.MONEY Blog looks at esports arm sleeves and tries to find out whether pros wear them just to flex or give an advantage in the game. For clarity, we’ll say right away that we are not talking about tattoo sleeves, only about specific rag sleeves.
Born in the NBA
Originally, arm sleeves appeared more than fifty years ago. People used them as a treatment for venous diseases such as thrombosis. But in 2000, NBA basketball player Allen Iverson re-invented this medical accessory by wearing it during games. By doing this, he skyrocketed the sleeves fashion among basketball and American football players. Statistically, 2/3 of NBA pros wear at least one sleeve.
And it’s not just for fun or style. Scientific researches show that sports compression sleeves can improve blood flow and reduce post-injury recovery time. Sounds pretty useful. But why do esports players wear sleeves?
Gaming sleeves keep your arms warm. According to some athletes, this reduces injury risks. However, CS:GO players rarely experience the same stresses as basketball or rugby players. Still, there’s one thing esports players’ bodies experience more often: temperature changes associated with going on stage.
Most of the time, playing on LANs requires huge arenas that are not likely warm, so the stages might be quite freezing to play only in a jersey. A good example: sometimes, during The International, Dota athletes used special hot pads for their hands to stay warm. Gaming sleeves are of the same service, preventing the player’s hands from getting cold.
Another severe reason to wear a sleeve while gaming is the difference in friction between leather and fabric when in contact with different surfaces. A sleeve, acting as a layer between your arm and a table, reduces friction, which may increase comfort during the game. Obviously, we’re talking about purely subjective sensations, but we can’t write such a thing off. If this friction reduction allows you to move your mouse more smoothly, arm sleeves would greatly assist.
Interestingly, friction reduction works both ways, and if you use a sleeve while gaming, your favourite mat will last longer. It’s hard to say how big a plus this is, but we couldn’t help noticing it. By the way, if you don’t have a mat or are considering purchasing one, give this one a read to decide.
“My favourite player uses a sleeve. I will play better if I use one because it affects skill.” This statement is far from reality, but we should consider how the placebo effect might be powerful. If having a special sleeve with your favourite team’s logo can increase your motivation and mentality to click heads, you should consider acquiring such an accessory. After all, there is no fundamental difference in what to copy: a pro player’s config or their IRL accessories. Sometimes this tiniest thing might become a threshold-breaker.
… it is.
Neither in real sports nor esports do sleeves provide an advantage. Basketball players won’t triple-double just because they wear sleeves; at least, there are no studies that would confirm this. CS:GO players won’t react faster wearing them, either. This handy accessory can affect some aspects, like friction, but nothing more.
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Our unequivocal conclusion is that gaming sleeves won’t help you play better. Do you need one? Again, we can’t answer this question. But there is good news: gaming sleeve prices are relatively low, so you try out and experience their effectiveness without spending much money. Still, some things are really working to improve your CS:GO game: monitors with a refresh rate of 144 Hz or higher.