Playing your Game – The Importance of Planning and Practice

Reading Time: 10 minutes

Humble Beginnings

“What the f*#k are you two doing?”

The year was 2008, the game was Halo 3, and one of my best friends and I were at our local LAN center playing in the iGames 2v2 circuit. The circuit consisted of 500 something teams from 200ish different LAN centers all over North America, over 6 weeks or so. It was $10 per man each week, and top 24 went on to playoffs. The settings were jank, and our luck had run thin. Our first match of the day was against one of the better teams from our own LAN center. If we lost, we were out for the season, and we had just gone down 0-1 in the series. Our cash, our pride, and our fledgling reputations were on the line. Stepping out in front of the store, the two of us had all but given up on ourselves.

We didn’t go to school with these guys, we were unknowns, nobodies two 15 year old Randoms. All the other teams knew each other, and everyone was watching to see what would happen here.

Were we good enough? I bet they think we’re trash, and we just got smoked on our best map, how can we come back on our worst two?

The thoughts kept pouring on during our break between games, quickly going from bad to worse. Our salvation came from the least likely source I could ever imagine.Continue Reading–>

Standing Tall – Resilience revisited

Reading Time: 7 minutes

In our previous look at the concept of mental resilience, we discussed the basics, aimed at helping you set reasonable expectations, and get reasonable results. In this article I’m going to continue that trend, by repeating a cold fact from the last one.

Success isn’t earned, it’s leased. And rent is due, every single day. Take a moment to re-read the first post, keeping in mind that we aren’t born with resiliency, rather it’s created.

Brave New World:

We live in a new era, not just in the realm of Esports, but all walks of modern life.Continue Reading–>

The Enemy Within – Introduction to Resilience

Thinking Man Statue
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Over the course of your career in esports, you’ll face a great many opponents, some good, some bad, some great. You’ll make friends, develop rivalries, and if you’re lucky, you’ll find a mentor or two along the way. Players come, and players go, scenes dissolve, but there is one opponent who will never stop coming, never let up. That opponent is you.

We’ve all heard the saying “I’m my own worst enemy”, an expression that holds true in the lab, the court, the locker room, or even the main stage. We all know it, the doubt, the fear, the complacency. That little voice in your head that says “I’ll never be as good as X”, “I’ve practiced enough, I can take a few days off”, or “I’m not good enough”. These kinds of doubts, hesitations, might-be’s, and other negative images will haunt you, seek to drag you down, force you to quit. They will plague you throughout your whole career, but only if you let them.

So how do you avoid these pitfalls, how do you recover from an emotional defeat, or embarrassing upset? How do you bounce back from the worst blows that life can throw at you?

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How to Get Good 202: The Method

Reading Time: 7 minutes

In Part l we discussed the basic concepts that in order to get good, a player needs to resist stressful situations (successfully or not) in order to adapt to them, and that is best accomplished by focusing on specific elements (or fundamentals) of their game play. We concluded that resistance must be combined with specifics, and be done frequently (resistance + specificity + frequency = adaptation), in order for the player to progress. Now in part ll of this series, we’re going to illustrate the method in which a player can use these basics to begin improving right away.

As a brief reminder, in part l we also talked about the fact that matchmaking is chaos, with a lot outside of your control, and that both getting good, and the method revolve almost exclusively around manipulating the things you CAN control.

So without further ado, let’s dive right in.

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How to Get Good 101: Introduction

Reading Time: 3 minutes

In a previous episode of The Canal we flirted with the idea that in order to get good, you need to get structured. In today’s post we’re going to start you on that path by introducing the basic concepts behind progression and structured environments in e-sports.

It’s no secret that resistance to stress makes you stronger, the act of overcoming or trying to overcome a difficult challenge begins to force your brain and body to adapt, to get better, stronger, faster, smarter. Following this line of thinking, it makes sense that putting yourself in these scenarios yields results, and that putting yourself through these scenarios more often will lead to faster results right? Continue Reading–>

What’s a skill gap?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The following is entirely my opinion, and as a fair warning will probably ramble a bit, no fancy technical explanations or concise breakdowns, just one man remembering his time in the trenches.

For what its worth,  I tried to keep this brief.

While working on a separate article about Dota 2’s “Trickle down” balance approach I couldn’t help but think about the changes in design and balance philosophy that seems to have been part of a slow creep since around the release of League of Legends. That change I’m referring to being both developers, and publishers catering to the casual player, as opposed to say Dota 2, a game which balances solely for the health of its high level play, with the understanding that stability at the top will naturally lead to stability across all ranks, and in my opinion is the most reasonably balanced esport of our time.

Modern games, particularly games marketed as being competitive tend to follow the same trends, typically based around some “unique”, fresh, or yet unseen mechanic or aethstetic. Though in reality, this type of development relies on what are essentially just gimmicks, coupled with an ever shrinking skill gap. The focus too often seems to be on things like stories, or player experiences, as opposed to solid, foundational gameplay and design.

Continue Reading–>

Fundamental Skills vs Playmaking Ability

Reading Time: 3 minutes

In keeping with the theme of improvement for the modern esports competitors and enthusiasts, today we’d like to illustrate a few key concepts that will be better broken down in the coming weeks, but you should be at least a little familiar with going forward. Namely the ideas of fundamental skills, and playmaking (heads up or proactive decision making).

When looking to take your game to the next level, or simply discussing the differences between average players, and top or professional players, amateurs  tend to put a lot of emphasis on the flash and finesse that pro players bring to the table. It isn’t that uncommon to see statements like – “If only I could hit that peakshot, or make that flash all in, I should have clutched that out.” on platforms like Discord, or Reddit, or even just among friends or teammates.

While this is one of the many factors that define professional play, it is far from the only reason for a professional’s success. Before delving into the flashy and clutch elements of gameplay, (which are a necessary component at the top) let’s discuss just what is it that makes the pros, well pro.Continue Reading–>