Universal Strategy To Be A Great Competitive Game Player



         Usually when I see an article on improving a persons competitive merit aka "ways to get better at a multiplayer video game", the common way to analyse is to directly show in a specific game the procedure for winning. So I thought what if I stepped away from a specific game and just demonstrate ways to improve gameplay that can be applied to multiple games spanning multiple genres. Now this may seem like it is basic, but it is all relative and many people seem to overlook the broader scope of self improvement. I got the idea from my own climb for knowledge/improvement during the Halo 3 era of pro gaming, and the time after the final Halo 3 tournament at MLG. During this time I was in between whether I wanted to be competitive or not and if so what game title would I like to compete in. I have always been the more thought and planning oriented style player. Watching VOD, WRITING out strategies, thinking, going over my own gameplay, practising strategies, these are all things players do occasionally but almost NEVER consistently. Even many professional MLG players do not CONSISTENTLY apply the thought side to their gaming, they just get on and play with their team. Never really going over anything in too much detail, not applying strategies during every practice game, trying too hard to rely on only chemistry and the hope that it will build up.

          From this mindset I have I realised that almost all players are missing variables that would allow them to consistently have results when playing. Look at football do you see many major upsets in what happens when it comes to teams winning and loosing, I would say not. The best teams do the best in the length of the season, and end up in play-offs, then the best two teams for a season come and play in the super bowl. Whoever wins does not matter, because everyone knows they were the best teams that season(at least if you are able to set aside personal preference), but generally they are the best teams. Upon realising this you can look at other sports.... Ohh its the same, the best two teams fight at the end of the season. In chess how often will you see a grandmaster loose to a rookie that has been playing for less time in tournament settings? What is it that these people and teams have that make brackets, seasons, and matches consistent on who is winning and who is not? I would like to delve into this idea, if I am wrong, I am wrong, but I would like to present this idea that virtual competition can be just as consistent as any other form of competition.

        I am a list sort of person as it helps me break down ideas and present them on a more structured level. So in the following I will go over this idea of applying overall general concepts to provide a situation where you will be consistently winning.

  • For Individuals
  1. Determination: To me this is what drives you to play. The urge to get better and improve, and without it you will find yourself giving up easily. You have to want to win to eventually be able to win. Some players loose this determination and find themselves playing bad or not up to par. Sometimes it will be good for you to think about why you play competitively and reaffirm your determination. Make sure you have this or you will often be frustrated by losses, and loose from this same lack in determination. Remember that for competitive people it is no longer the game that is fun, it is the winning and struggle of top level matches that brings enjoyment.
  2. Commitment: This next term is impossible to have without determination, but is also its own strong part of improvement as a whole. When competing you have to be able to practise, and do so consistently. You cannot expect to win in any competition if you only practise once. This is where commitment comes into play. You must take it upon yourself to be committed, sit down and say,"This is what, when, how, and why I need to practise." Look at someone like Johnathan Fatal1ty Wendel in the PC gaming scene, he would practise eight hours a day everyday before a tournament, but he had the commitment to do so.
  3. Time Management: This is what helps you get the most out of practise. It is the way you set up schedules for practise. Structured practise is the best. Lets say one person practises at least twenty hours a week. It could be five on monday, a few hours spread through the week, friday/sat he gets another five each,and whatever is left on sunday. The key here is that this is not the same each week, and just happens to be his regiment that given week. He then plays a player who has a set schedule every week. His schedule is three hours each day mon-fri, five on sat, and a break on sunday. Assuming each player was at the same skill when starting each of their selected regiments, who do you think will win a match after a few weeks? Exactly, the player who had more structured practise. You can break this down even further by allotting time to practice specifically on problem areas for you, or even splitting up individual practice and your team practise.
  4. Focus, Have Confidence, and Be Humble: Take each game as it comes. Make sure you are playing at your best EVER time you practise/compete. Never say, "ohh this person is just a average player, so I can just wing it." The key to remember is that there almost always is someone out there that IS better than you. If not at the moment than there will be SOON. If you can keep away from your ego and focus on winning, then there will be a consistency. Also note that trash talk is not always an ego oriented thing. It can also be a slight way to get an edge. The key is to never allow yourself to think that the trash talk is whole truth. It is great to have confidence, it will help you win in close games. Always have it in the back of your mind that you can win, but never overlook and get cocky because you just "know you will win".
  5. Look For Your Mistakes: How can you improve without knowing what you do wrong? Be alert to the performance of a particular strategy. If you find yourself loosing, ask why, watch the vod, look at what the other player did better. Always think what can I do to be more efficient, faster, stable, knowledgeable, unpredictable. If something is not working most of the time then you should not be doing it "most of the time", but if a strategy only works sometimes, then you should not throw away the strategy. Rather only apply it when the best strategy is not working. Say that normally flanking does not work on a map in a specific situation, but you are finding that heading strait in is not working against this opponent. The flank may work even though its in an easily defensible spot, but because he is focusing on turtling his front it may be a better course of action. In a regular game this play would be a mistake, but in this specific game you noticed that it was an optimal choice and worked out great.
  6. Try Something New: Be on the lookout for new strategies, even if they seem bad. Test the strategies, if it is bad in one situation it may not be bad in another. Say you are playing an RTS or FPS on a small map, and you apply a quick rushing strategy. If this strategy fails, then there is more than likely to be a strong quick counter attack that you may not be prepared for. Ohhh but wait, you can apply this same strategy on a larger map and find it working more toward your favour because of the length of time it takes for your opponent to move in on your base/spawn to counter in the event your rush fails. You could look at this as obtaining new tools for the workshop. If a shop has many tools it can deal with more problems and fix more things. In the same note an old tool looses its use and clutters the workshop. If you had a tool and it got old so you got a new one, then throw away the old one. If you keep what you don't need it will soon get in the way.
  7. Unpredictability: Being unpredictable is such a great skill. If you can be a player that breaks away from the norm once and a while it will work out. People do not know what do do in situations where you do something against the tried and true tactics for situations. For example in Halo I used to apply a strategy of being aggressive in situations where I found a low possibility of survival. Most players when in enemy lines with no support will generally try to get away as soon as possible. What I would do is make it seem like I was running away and as soon as the opponent gave chase I would be in their face killing them. How do you react to someone seemingly doing the normal and then just jumping on your head killing you? Unpredictability is situational, and cannot be done all the time or it becomes predictable. Its a solution to a problem that is not always utilised, but is an option in your arsenal none the less.
  • For Teams
  1.  Chemistry: This is the bond that allows teamwork to flow. This flow is built upon trust and enjoyment in the interaction you have with your team. If you do not enjoy your team mates then your chemistry will be bad, thus bringing in sub optimal game play as a result. You can have all stars on a team, but if they are unwilling to trust in each other and support each other when the time is needed then the team will fail as a whole.
  2. Communication: When I speak of communication, I do not just mean in game. In game communication is very important, but outside communication is an aspect often overlooked. Most problems are well solved by communication, so always deliberate with team-mates about any issue they have. Communication in game or outside helps build up the trust you will need in game between team mates. In game it can be as simple as telling your team enemy positions, to explaining on the fly strategies such as "I am moving right you move left and john will surprise from behind." It can also be subtle things like complementing on your team mates when they make good plays or help you out. "Thanks for the help", "Nice play", "we have this" are all little things to boost confidence in game and are achieved by communicating. Remember communication is an individual attribute that effects the team, and help your team mates feel comfortable communicating to the team in all ways possible. No one should feel ashamed to express anything that pertains to the team, with the team.
  3. Have A Game Plan: Great teams have thought out everything. Practise schedules, strategies, best ways to practise, how they communicate, what is appropriate in and out of game, anything that effects the team should be gone over with as a team. If you feel someone is under performing on the team and should be dropped, go over that with EVEYONE on the team. All aspects of the team are pertinent to the team. Anything that can improve the team should be talked about. Plan, plan, plan its is the best thing you can do and will make it so that all members know what to expect. You would like to minimise surprises as much as possible.
  4. Open Minds : Having an open mind is an easy way to prevent conflict on a team. If ideas are being thrown around by team members and you don't agree do not simply assume you are right. Listen to the reasons why your other team members feel the way they do, and if you still feel opposed then you should present your reasons why they are wrong. Go over this with banter between not only yourself and the other team mate, but also all team mates as well. Allow all opinions to be heard, as this will help build chemistry and strengthen trust. Remember to obtain all of the items that make up a great team, then sometimes sacrifices must be made by either the individual or the team. Do not allow an over active ego cloud your teams path to greatness.
  5. Members Problems Are The Teams Problems: There is no way to have a team where one member is not able to put in the same effort as the other members because of a conflict in that individuals life. It is up to the other members to bring him back into scope. Talk with him and allow him to understand that it not only affects him but the rest of the team as well. Don't look at it only like one person has life problems we need to get rid of him. You should try to help and support him, player dropping is the last resort. Try to keep the team talking with each other so that other things like internal conflict does not happen. Otherwise, this team will be under performing consistently. 
  6. Play Together: If all members of a team are able to practise together they should. If this is an online game and members are online, then they should be with you talking and playing as a team. This goes for watching game plays also. If a player feels he would like to go over game play but the rest of the team doesn't, then maybe you should refer to number three. He feels there was a problem in a game and would like to discuss, do not just blindly allow the situation to pass. Give discussion about it, if his request seems reasonable after further explanation then yes go over the vod with him as a team.

          It seems to me that these simple items come together to form a check-list of  ways to become the great competitive game player that you want to be. If you feel like this is a joke and would never work, then take what I have written and apply it. If you result in not improving in any way then please tell me so here in the comments. I sincerely believe that with this general information that you can apply it to any competitive situation. Just break your gameplay down and think more, it will help in the long run.

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Wonsonlue I heard your gonna ref soon we should play sometime

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