Pro gamer Polt creates a 'flow state' like pro athletes, says Sport Science

How gamers create a 'flow state' during esports (2:23)

Sport Science welcomes 2016 WCS Winter Circuit winner "Polt" into the lab to examine his multitasking index while playing Starcraft II. (2:23)

Choi "Polt" Seong Hun is a master of StarCraft II. He has placed in the top four of over 20 premier tournaments between 2011 and his retirement earlier this year, and he ranks in the top 10 in prize money ever won in StarCraft II. For all that, watching him when he plays might feel underwhelming, as he's not making 75-yard touchdown runs or miracle 3-pointers, or really much discernible movement at all.

To better understand Polt's abilities, the ESPN Sport Science lab looked into his brain -- and the results are fascinating.

StarCraft II is a real-time strategy game that relies heavily on multitasking (or rapid task-switching), so it makes sense that he averages 316 actions per minute, which is 64 percent faster than an adult can type. At the top level of play, however, it's how your mind guides each of those actions that really counts.

Polt's brain activity showed that he not only moved to new tasks quickly, but also efficiently shifted his focus to kick in milliseconds after a switch. Additionally, in high-pressure situations, like controlling an army to fight on multiple fronts, Polt's measurable mental state highly resembled that of top athletes in a flow state, i.e., "in the zone." This means he was focused and relaxed, not distracted and frantic.