Fundamental Skills vs Playmaking Ability

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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.

Without getting too technical, professional players as a whole do one thing that sets them apart from the average joes and high end matchmaking players of the world: They execute fundamentals (that is: the basic skill sets any game requires) every time, nearly 100% of the time. While not exactly groundbreaking,this is why many professionals always appear to be in the right place at the right time, or effortlessly make the right decision no matter the pickle they’re in. It is this ability that carries them in almost any situation they may find themselves in, whereas those nutty headshots, pentakills, or combos make up such a small part of that world.

Again without diving into the technical details, another way to look at this is simply that pros play percentages. Meaning they know that the play (option, move, rotation, gank, etc.) with the highest chance of success is almost always being the best play in any given situation.

Fundamentals are by default, high percentage plays, while clutch, or flashy gameplay are low percentage. It helps to think of high percentage plays (fundamentals) as having a high chance of success but lower impact (and very low risk),  while low percentage plays (playmaking) as having a low or very low chance of success, but very high impact (and very high risk).

More often than not pro players will opt for the high percentage plays, as often as possible throughout the match, almost like death by a thousand cuts. However, when the moment is right, they will look for the most impactful or heads-up play to ensure a lead, finish an opponent, or start a comeback, like going for the throat.

Putting it all together: the best players know that consistently making high percentage plays, and taking safe chances at low percentage ones, are largely what win games. It is worth noting that fundamentals are always running in the background (reactive), while playmaking is deliberate and calculated (proactive), and that you can begin to notice these concepts regardless of your skill level, or point of origin.

For many amateur players these concepts are foreign or non-existent, with most of them playing just to play, mistakenly thinking that not hitting those no-scopes is what’s holding them back, when the lack of attention to fundamentals is the real culprit.

Thats all for today. In the next few articles we’ll continue introducing a few more concepts and their basic definitions, before expanding into more detailed breakdowns and how you can begin applying them to your gameplay or team situation.

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