Why do they use two pairs of headphones?

If I didn't know how professional they are, I would say it's cheating (someone could tell what the opponent is doing by watching the big screen). But obviously during such prestigious tournaments the reason must be different. Are they listening to coach or referee perhaps?

Person playing games

  • 10
    um... er... why is it cheating?
    – badp
    Commented Mar 4, 2012 at 14:42
  • 1
    Maybe it's his phone or something. It's cheating because, um, maybe his mom gives him tips or something. Yeah.
    – JohnoBoy
    Commented Mar 4, 2012 at 14:44
  • @badp Depends on what it's hooked up to. If it's a cellphone, then as mentioned in the question, someone in the audience could be cluing him in to what his opponent is doing.
    – Izkata
    Commented Mar 5, 2012 at 3:22
  • I didn't realise pros did this, im hear doing it just to listen to music when i dont want wmp running in the background
    – DCA-
    Commented Aug 28, 2013 at 9:49

1 Answer 1


It's in order to block out noise from the surrounding environment, to prevent the players from hearing the commentary or tell-tale cues from the crowd. The GSL and other big tournaments can get very loud at peak attendance so measures need to be taken accordingly.

The actual game sound is broadcast through the white pair of earbuds. Then, to block out external noises, white noise is fed into the large pair of headphones on their head. This way the player can only hear the game sounds.

So in that sense, this isn't actually about the player cheating, but rather about preventing them from doing so using the crowd/commentary.

MLG has some additional sound-blocking measures; not only do the sound-dampening headphones the players wear generate white noise, the sound-proof booths themselves are equipped with A/C and white-noise generators, for additional security.

  • 29
    I think you've mixed it up a little. The big pair is for white noise, the in-ears are for game sounds. Otherwise, the player wouldn't be able to hear the game sounds, because of the white noise that would be directly in his ears.
    – kba
    Commented Mar 4, 2012 at 17:05
  • 6
    Is it actually white noise or an anti-noise to cancel out the crowd? Wouldn't a white noise be just as distracting as the crowd? Commented Mar 4, 2012 at 18:24
  • 5
    @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft It's been a long-standing tradition in Starcraft competitively in Korea for the players to play in front of the audience, as opposed to in a separate audience. I presume this is because this way the audience can see their stars in person playing the games in front of them, to boost emotions/tension amongst the crowd.
    – Mana
    Commented Mar 4, 2012 at 21:50
  • 4
    @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft: Also, StarCraft is real-time. If you're looking at the crowd, you're not looking at the screen, which is far more important.
    – hammar
    Commented Mar 4, 2012 at 22:29
  • 10
    @blueraja the chess comparison also ignores the importance of information asymettry in RTS games, a dimension which doesn't apply to chess at all. Commented Mar 5, 2012 at 0:38

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