How a High-Protein Diet Fuels This Elite eSports Team

In 2016, Andrew Tye, a fine-dining chef with an extensive culinary background, landed a job with Counter Logic Gaming (CLG), an eSports team based in Los Angeles.

If that sounds strange, Tye would agree that it is, especially if you consider his training.

Tye began his professional cooking career in Canada when he was 14. He eventually went to Fleming College, during which he competed in a nationwide cooking competition where he came in fifth. From there, he could have had a job at any restaurant he wanted.

But instead, after watching an AMA on Twitch with the founder of CLG, George “HotshottGG” Georgallidis, Tye decided to go a different direction. He’d long been a fan of eSports, or high-level video game competitions. “CLG had been my favorite team for a couple years by that point,” he says. So he reached out to CLG and offered his talents.

Two weeks later Tye became a CLG employee as head of food operations, which feeds players, operations, and staff. And just like athletes in other sports, Tye occasionally works with a dietitian to develop nutrient-dense meals that are caters to individual player needs.

If you can’t wrap your head around a keyboard and mouse as pieces of sports equipment, it’s time to catch up.

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Michael Jordan has invested in eSports. CLG is one of Madison Square Garden’s franchises. Newzoo, a games analytics company, reports that the eSports industry made $1.1 billion dollars in revenue in 2019, which was a 26.7 percent growth from 2018. (By comparison, the NHL has a yearly revenue of $5 billion.)

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eSports teams are structured like other sports teams. There are general managers that oversee roster construction and contract negotiation. There are coaches that work with teams to design game strategies. There are scouts the recruit players. And those players train.

CLG athletes train at a performance center, where they practice for up to 12 hours a day during the season, says Matt Nausha, head of eSports for CLG. (Seasons are also known as “splits.”)

For CLG athletes, most practice days start around 10:30 a.m. with exercise or group yoga. Around 11:30 the athletes eat breakfast, followed by a team meeting to discuss strategy. Then they enter into a five-and-a-half-hour-long block of playing and reviewing their performance. Dinner is held family-style with players and staff, and then it’s either back to more practice, language lessons, or team meetings.

michael frickeclg photos

Michael Fricke/CLG Photos

“This is why it’s important the players are well nourished to sustain optimal energy throughout the day,” Nashua says. “By providing meals they can maximize their time to focusing on training.”

“Sustained energy is key,” Tye says. “Our guys are training differently from traditional sports where they’re trying to gain muscle mass or get leaner. Our guys are sitting in front of a computer screen and we need to minimize issues of fatigue from sitting for long periods of time and the strain of looking at a screen all day.”

“Sustained energy” is why Tye mostly sticks to a high-protein, low-carb diet for the players. “We don’t avoid carbs completely since it’s one of the preferred sources of energy for our bodies, but having very carb-heavy meals can induce sleepiness, which we want to avoid.”

michael frickeclg photos

Michael Fricke/CLG Photos

Breakfast offers bacon and eggs, high-protein Kodiak pancakes, and ‘muscle muffins.’ (Soy chorizo omelettes are a favorite of Kevin “PewPewU” Toy, 25, a Smash Bros. Melee player.) There are also mounds of fresh fruit, a rotating array of oatmeals, like banana toffee with molasses and shredded coconut. “Oatmeal is a low glycemic index source of carbohydrates which is better for sustained energy,” he says.

At lunch, there’s a large salad bar and prepared panini and wraps, like chicken breast with arugula and fresh mozzarella or a curry chicken salad, a favorite of Fortnite player Kevin “Tocata” Larreinaga.

And dinner is where Tye flexes. He’ll usually try to make meals the players haven’t had before or “something colorful.” Meals like street-style tacos with carnitas, cotija cheese and a slaw of roasted corn, red onion, and jalapeno, or bacon-wrapped pork roulade stuffed with herbs a garlic served with a blueberry gastrique.

pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon

Michael Fricke/CLG Photos

Sometimes, meals help the teams ‘foreign-born players cope with their new home in the United States. “To cater to our Korean players with homesickness, we do some homestyle Korean meals, such as egg -ried tilapia and green onion pancake,” he says.

Tye also doesn’t shy away from making plant-based meals. He’ll do panko-fried tofu with ginger, garlic, and scallion oil, or vegan lasagna, a favorite of Mathew “xSojin” Perez, League of Legends assistant coach.

And while Tye can’t take all the credit, his meals seem to be fueling CLG’s success. The group’s League of Legends team went 2-0 last weekend, which makes their current record 3-1 and has landed them tied for second place in the league.

Gina Loveless writes for nine year olds and forty-nine year olds.

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