When someone recently asked me to do an interview about my life in Esports it made me come to the realisation that I have been involved in the competitive scene for a fairly long time, having first started playing competitive DotA as early as 2005.
Although I am now getting a bit old, and the reaction time may be nowhere near what it used to be, I feel like I have definitely gained some knowledge over the years that can help you, as an aspiring Esports competitor, help become a better player and hopefully guide you on the path to glory.
Please keep in mind that I played mostly Dota 2, although I feel like this points at large can be applied to almost all Esports that exist today so, without further ado, here are some tips and tricks to help you along your path.
Leave your Salt at the Door
I think, before you can begin to improve, this is probably the most important and sometimes the hardest thing to do. It’s not nice being wrong but, in order to improve, you have to be able to take in other opinions and accept the fact that people may know more about the game than you do, or may have a slightly different and interesting perspective you had not thought of before.
Flaming up and saying “you’re wrong!” before you’ve even had time to think about something is going to get you on the fast track to nowhere. The top people in their industries around the world, be it from a musician to Esports player, are constantly trying to improve, and that is the mentality you should have as a competitor.
Ego’s and attitude towards improvement can really hamper a player and, to be honest, this improves a lot with age and life experience, but is an important and perhaps troublesome thing to come to terms with.
Look and Listen:
With your ego and salt now put aside for the moment you can actually listen to what people say. There are tons of analytical content, be it from casters, professional players or gamers at large that can really help you improve as a player, provided you listen, and absorb, what they say.
It is tiny changes and often subtle things in a game on the top level of Esports that end up making the being the difference between a win and a loss, and these can be so easily overlooked if you are not being observant.
This is why it is important to open up yourself to different perspectives because, not only do they potentially teach you more about the game, but they can also change the way you think about the game as a whole.
Personally, one of the most interesting tournaments to watch is BeyondTheSummit’s “The Summit” Dota 2 tournament, which is hosted in their casting house, and has the players themselves often casting a match.
Although there is a lot of tomfoolery, getting perspectives from professional players can give you a lot of insight as to how their particular team works as a unit, and how you could potentially improve your own game or to think about a hero/challenge in a different way.
It is these kinds of perspectives and viewpoints that you should go out seeking, and take in what they say.
Critical Thinking is King
Hearing someone’s perspective and forming your own opinion on the matter should be a process, and I feel one that doesn’t happen too often in the local competitive scene at large. Thinking about the game is important sure, but it also how you go about thinking that can seriously help you improve.
Trying to mimic a professional and their item builds and plays for example can certainly help you but, it is much better to go about understanding why he did what he did in the first place rather than just copying the end product.
Some common questions I ask myself when watching a professional game:
- What is the player thinking?
- What is the motivation behind a hero pick/ certain play?
- If I was in this situation, what would I do and why?
- Does this match what the player did? If he did something different, why?
- Map Movements – what is the team trying to accomplish as a whole?
- Timings – when do people make their move and why then?
Its these kinds of questions and thought patterns that can really help up your game, and is even better if you have a friend of team mate around to discuss these kinds of things with. Team replay analysis of games can provide a lot of insight, and is a great tool for self and team improvement.
Putting What You Learn into Practice
You’ve gained the knowledge, you’ve put in the time and thinking, and the final step is to obviously put that gained knowledge into practice. Rome wasn’t built in a day and your improvement will not be immediate. The only way to actually improve is put in the hours, and this doesn’t mean just messing around with friends.
Whether it be ranked matches or in-house leagues, try and get yourself into some form of semi-competitive environment with other people trying to get better because this ultimately promotes both learning and improvement.
There is a theory that to become a professional in something you have to do it for at least 10,000 hours, and that same theory can be applied to Esports as well. This means a lot of practice and a lot of time but, if you want to be on top, that is what you’re going to have to do.
There was a famous classical cellist (whose name I’ve forgotten and have slapped myself on the wrist for doing so), that at age 85 was asked why he still practiced every day. His response? “Because I think my sound is really coming along nicely!”
This is the attitude towards improving you should have, because it is a never ending journey. Live to get better.
I think, in summary, I shall leave you with just a few short words.
No Ego. Look. Listen. Think. Think again. Play. Improve.