International Journal of Exercise Science 13(6): 1418-1429, 2020. Competitive esports has grown rapidly across the globe justifying a need to quantify the physiological stress response to this environment. The purpose of this study was to describe the physiological and perceptual responses in a live collegiate esports tournament. Male members of the University of Mississippi Esports team (n = 14; age = 19.8 ± 1.0 years; BMI = 24.1 ± 5.5) completed the study during the esports Egg Bowl. Heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HrV) were collected pre-, during, and post-competition. Rating of perceived exertion for the session (S-RPE) and mental fatigue were collected post competition. Mean HR during competition were significantly elevated compared to mean pre- and post- (131.4 ± 19.0 bpm vs. 97.1 ± 19.9 bpm and 101.9 ± 17.4 bpm; p = 0.000) and peak HR during competition were significantly elevated compared to peak pre- and post-(188.1 ± 32.9 bpm vs. 119.6 ± 20.1 bpm and 119.9 ± 16.3 bpm; p = 0.000). R-R intervals were significantly lower in-competition (465.71 ± 68.99) compared to pre- (643.64 ± 138.54) or post- competition (616.07 ± 109.98; p = .000). No significant differences were found in rMSSD, (ln) rMSSD, SDNN, or NN50 across the three measurements. LF was lower post- competition than pre-competition (d = 0.278). Participants indicated moderate mental fatigue (3.7 ± 1.2; on a scale of 1-7). These findings demonstrate competing in esports causes a physiological stress response. Given the elevated HR, further understanding of the chronic physiological stress to competitive esports is warranted.

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