Understanding eSports Team Formation and Coordination

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Team activities that were traditionally offline are increasingly incorporating mediated elements where there is a mix of physical and computer-assisted activities. In this study, we provide a preliminary insight into this understudied yet emerging genre of mixed-form CSCW. Specifically, we present a qualitative research of team formation and coordination mechanics in Electronic Sports (eSports), a unique combination of action and knowledge/decision teams. Our findings highlight online users’ particular needs to coordinate their team activities under pressure (e.g., a mix of online and offline team formation/coordination strategies; technology-enabled knowing and judging before the team is formed; and reinforcing personal relationships to enhance the professional performance) and higher requirements for sophisticated multimodal communication patterns to sustain such coordination. We contribute to both confirming and augmenting existing theories of team formation and team coordination. We also suggest further avenues of research in HCI and CSCW to design systems that support the formation of teams, to explicate the optimal modalities of communication for different teamwork situations, and to fully understand the delicacies of how personal and professional relationships could intertwine in virtual teams.