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?
Well, yes and no. In something I call the Grinder’s Paradox, players who spam games over and over and over again do tend to see results quickly, but will plateau just as fast. Some of them make it through, but the vast majority find themselves hitting a wall time and time again, before blaming teammates, giving up or switching mains, roles, or even games. As we’ve also discussed in other articles and episodes, getting good requires a whole lot of practice, hours on hours on hours in fact, but not all practice is created equal.
Using the idea that resistance = adaptation, it makes sense that players want to play as much as possible to experience the most situations (and therefore the most adaptations) that they can. The problem here (as illustrated in the Grinder’s Paradox) is that if you’re constantly running in to different situations, even if you experience the same ones often, there isn’t going to be enough of a focus on any one element of your game play. Matchmaking is a useful tool, and playing lots of matchmaking has its uses, but it is far to often a chaotic mess. The difference between winning and losing in matchmaking, especially in team games, often hangs on many factors outside of your control.
To put it simply, trying to do to much at once will get you nowhere, if you simply play as much as you possibly can without a game plan, everything will progress, but at a snail’s pace, leaving you stuck and on the road to burnout. There are exceptions to this, as much as people don’t want to discuss it, luck often does play a factor in success, but again this is a factor outside of your control. If playing just to play, puts you in too many situations to usefully progress, but not playing enough means not enough adaptation, then what’s the solution?
Enter specificity. Instead of clicking “next game” over and over again, think about something specific you need to progress in order to get better, it could be a character match up, itemization, new tech, different movement. Then when you hit “next game” focus on that specific thing.
Now that doesn’t mean you should try to only do that, and wind up throwing the game, but rather any time you have the opportunity to practice it in your match, do it with as much focus as you can muster. For example in a MOBA, if one of your weak points is not getting enough CS, then focus as much as you can on getting CS, but not to the point that you lose your lane or let your opponents kill you more often than normal.
By choosing to focus on the specifics, more often, when you can, but still playing the game as normal you will progress those specifics without losing out on the other core parts of your game play, and can then switch between them when needed. These specifics go hand in hand with Fundamentals, which we discussed in an earlier article.
Just to recap we can say that resistance + frequency = slow and chaotic adaptation. But resistance + specificity + frequency = fast and controlled adaptation, which is what any serious competitor should be looking for.
In Part ll of this series we’re going to go over the methodology behind this idea, and how you can start putting it into practice right away. Stay tuned.