What Age Do Esports Players Retire?

Almost never do you see an esports athlete older than 35. It really is a young man’s game. Esports are a very new professional sport where kids are growing up playing these games where they have an opportunity to go professional. Adults on the other hand grew up playing Super Mario or Donkey Kong.

Most esports players retire in their mid-20s. For example, Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel retired from professional esports in 2006 at the age of 26.

Mid-20s is a much younger age than many other professional sports where athletes can continue competing into their early 30s. So why is this different in professional esports?

Why Do Esports Players Retire Early?

Why Do Esports Players Retire Early

There are many reasons why esports players retire early. Firstly, the age esports players start competing in their sport is very young. This is similar to physical sports where sporting athletes often retire in their late 20s or early 30s. Some lucky ones will play sport into their 40s.

Secondly, professional gaming is very intense. Countless hours are put into practice every day. Not just with their team, but also studying video, discussing strategy, and performing solo practice.

Practicing these many hours, a day is only possible for those with no family or other responsibilities such as college.

Hence, those who are able to make a living at a young age or be supported financially are able to put the hours in to make it. This presents the third potential reason why esports players retire early.


The physical and mental toll is immense. In fact, research has shown that while gaming, the average heart rate increases over baseline measures when not playing [1]. Further, increases in sympathetic response and a decrease of a parasympathetic response were also observed.

In layman’s terms, there was an increase in the fight or flight response and a decrease in the relaxation response.

Those who are practicing their esport for hours a day are constantly in a long-term stress response.

These long hours can lead to health and injury problems forcing an early retirement. For example, at the USA college level, eye fatigue, neck and back pain, followed by hand and wrist pain were the most common injury complaints [3].

Further, there is no age restriction to who can be good enough to be a professional esports athlete. In the sporting world, there is a physical barrier that prevents younger children from competing against adults.

This barrier is removed in the esports world. Take this four year old for instance who signed a professional gaming contract at the age of seven.

Esports is geared towards the younger generation. Other than having to have the long hours to train, according to the Center for eSports Medicine, the average esports player averages over 400 movements per minute on the mouse and keyboard.

It becomes difficult for older players to keep up as decreases in hand-eye coordination tend to occur by the age of 25 according to Dr. Todd Sontag.

Financially, only the top esports players make any substantial income from gaming. Similar to professional sport, the best of the best makes millions while the average players don’t make enough to live off.

At some point, a decision has to be made if they can pursue esports further as a career or if they need to find another way to make a living.

Lastly, all of these potential reasons are driven by the fast professionalization of the esports world. That means bigger contracts and more prize money.

Which then allows players to train full-time. And now, becoming a professional esports player is even more competitive than it was just a few years ago.

How To Prolong Your Esports Career

How To Prolong Your Esports Career

It is not all doom and gloom as an esports player. There are some measures you can take to potentially prolong your esports career.

Physical Activity

Of the 31 professional esports players surveyed, 80% of them performed some form of physical activity each day [2]. On average, it was around 1 hour each day.

50% of these players stated they believed it would have a positive impact on their esports performance while 45% stated their main reason for performing physical activity was for health benefits.

Train Hand-Eye Coordination and Reflexes

Performing different skills away from your mouse and keyboard keeps you sharp and provides some variation away from repetitive tasks. Playing regular sport is one way to constantly challenge your hand-eye coordination such as basketball or tennis.

If you’re on your own, learning to juggle is an easy and effective way to train hand-eye coordination. Even tossing a ball against a wall will develop this quality along with your reflexes.

Getting Away From The Grind

Esports players often pride themselves on the hours they put into training. It reminds me of professional sport when it was relatively new. More was always seen to be better. This train of thought is still around today in some professional sporting circles.

As esports training evolves, a greater emphasis on sports science and strength and conditioning practices will filter its way into athletes’ routines. It is already starting to go down that road with professional esports teams and colleges hiring their own trainers.

Load management is vitally important and how much you practice may not be as important as the quality of your practices. Playing for the sake of playing may just leave you feeling tired. Playing with a specific goal or purpose in mind makes your training intentional by prioritizing a certain skill.

Can You Become A Professional Esports Player At 40?

Can You Become A Professional Esports Player At 40

You can potentially become a professional esports player at 40. There would be a few factors that would have to line up in your favor to be able to do so such as:

1. Having no other responsibilities – to have the time to train like a professional, it will need to be one of your only jobs.

2. Having a strong gaming background – if you’ve never played games beforehand or never played a decent level, there’s just too much room to make up.

3. You’re in good health – keeping your healthy habits is vitally important. If your health is already suffering, spending the majority of your day game is likely to exacerbate any problems you may have.

Summary Box

  • Esports players retire younger than other sports likely because of the mental and physical toll from hours of training from a very young age.
  • Prolonging your career is about placing an emphasis on your physical health.
  • The cards are stacked against you if you are trying to become a pro gamer at the age of 40.


1. Subahni, A. R., Xia, L., & Malik, A. S. (2012, June). Association of mental stress with video games. In 2012 4th International Conference on Intelligent and Advanced Systems (ICIAS2012) (Vol. 1, pp. 82-85). IEEE.

2. Kari, T., Siutila, M., & Karhulahti, V. M. (2019). An extended study on training and physical exercise in esports. In Exploring the Cognitive, Social, Cultural, and Psychological Aspects of Gaming and Simulations (pp. 270-292). IGI Global.

3. DiFrancisco-Donoghue, J., Balentine, J., Schmidt, G., & Zwibel, H. (2019). Managing the health of the eSport athlete: an integrated health management model. BMJ open sport & exercise medicine5(1).

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