Short intro into who you are and what you are currently doing?
I am Ismael Pedraza, I come from Colombia and I am an expert in sport psychology currently working as performance coach for the professional team Rogue that competes at the European top league of League of Legends LEC. Also I am carrying out my PhD in the field of cognition and esports at the German Sport University Cologne.
How did you get involved in esports?
I got involved in esports back in 2017 when a few colleagues and I created a website aiming to provide content in the form of blog articles to introduce the sport psychology knowledge from traditional sports into esports. It was then when I started working with a professional team, Misfits Gaming, competing at the European league of League of Legends back then EULCS now LEC.
Why did you want to become an expert in sport psychology?
I was always interested in the mental side of performance. I played semi-professional football back in my youth and understood that the mindset takes a great deal on the path of becoming the best at whatever you do. Thus, I decided to explore more in this field by carrying out two masters in sport and exercise psychology and diagnostic and intervention with the aim to help other athletes and performers to achieve their goals.
What characteristics do you think make a good expert in sport psychology in esports?
I believe there are many different characteristics that we need to have when working in esports but two of those is to make use of active listening and be open to any type of constructive criticism.
From your experience, what are the most common issues/problems esports athletes encounter when trying to improve their game?
Some of the issues are related to keeping consistent with their improvement. Players lose those habits that help them to improve and this is due to the lack of understanding towards professionalism in esports and what is beneficial and needed for this developmental process.
What’s your favourite esport and why?
League of Legends is my favourite esports because you can easily notice when you are improving.
Who is your favourite esports player and why?
I have many favourite esports players especially in League of Legends, most of them are those who I have worked with before.
What’s your greatest achievement in esports?
In terms of achievement related to outcomes I would say that my greatest achievement was to be part of the team Misfits Gaming at worlds 2017 in China. We got to play at quarterfinals where we were able to take to five games against the best team in the world, at the time, the Korean team SKT. Unfortunately we fell short and the experienced Korean team managed to come out with the win.
What’s a fun fact about you that no one else knows about?
When I was playing football for the U10 I was not able to cope with being sub-out so I always started crying after the coach told me to leave the field.
If you were a mad scientist and could create the perfect esports athlete, what characteristics would they have?
I would create one that has the capability to adapt to any given situation and to learn the most from any challenging situation.
What are your top tips for players wanting to improve their performance?
1. Get out of your comfort zone
2. Be open to criticism
3. Focus on the how instead of the what
Motivational/favourite quote to live by:
“What you habitually think largely determines what you will ultimately become”Bruce Lee
Find Ismael on Twitter @Isma_pedraza