How To Play Above Your Skill Level

eAthlete Summit
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Competitive gaming is an interestingly cruel and ironic activity. Think about it, in almost everything you do in life, the better you get the easier the task becomes. However to improve your skill level in gaming you have to be exposed to increasingly difficult obstacles.

For example, you have been going 2-2 at every tournament and falling just short of making it out of pools. You grind and grind until one day you finally make it out of pools. Your reward? A harder opponent in the next round! But that is where the beauty of competition comes in. That harder opponent is actually the best reward you can ever win.

 

“If you have a chance at winning it will be through fundamentals and the experience will force you to take your core ability as far as it can go. Removing any reliance on chance or gimmicks to secure a win and exposing you to your own skill gaps and those reliance’s.”

 

Outside of winning, the true benefit of going deeper into tournaments or improving your rank isn’t having a lower number next to your name. It’s gaining the experience against opponents that create a challenge for you to overcome. That is the key to accelerating improvement in skill level. Consistent challenges that are within reach but difficult enough to invoke emotion and critical thinking. When those moments arise it’s crucial that you allow your brain to fully absorb the experience. You have to put up a fight and even give yourself a chance to win. Otherwise the experience is over in a flash and any improvement can be lost. The only way to do that is to play above your skill level. Let’s look at how to play above your skill level regardless of your circumstances.

Understanding Skill Level

Above Skill Level

Before we go over the ways to play above your skill level, I think it’s important that we examine and understand skill level. We commonly associate skill level with the way a player performs. Typically grading it as good or bad. However skill level is simply a determination of where a person ranks among other players. Meaning a bronze player isn’t necessarily bad seeing as their is a chance they may not always be bronze. There are more variables that come into play. Time spent, game knowledge, skill and skill potential become a factor. It may not be that a gold player is better it may be that they know more or have more experience.

When you can zoom out and see it from this perspective, you understand why competing at skill levels that sit above yours can provide massive benefits and accelerate your improvement. They may have more knowledge than you, put you into situations you’ve never seen before or they may even just push you to dig deep and do things you’ve never done before. As stated above, to absorb as much experience as you can, you have to give yourself a fighting chance. With this out of the way, let’s look at how we can do that.

Focus on Fundamentals

The process of improvement is typically done through trial and correction. That often requires small amounts of experimentation. As you improve you will often be attempting to find a unique brand of play that best fits you and also works. Usually a combination of the fundamentals and some personal flair.

However when faced with an opponent that sits in a higher level than yours, it’s important to focus purely on the fundamentals. Focusing on safe but effective options that have the highest rate of success will keep you in the fight. This doesn’t mean you are rolling over or laying up. It just means that you are forgoing the experimentation and replacing it with consistency.

There are a few reasons this works as effectively as it does. First, your opponent is also in the process of improvement and will often look at an opponent who sits at a lower rank as an opportunity to experiment more. Allowing them to take more risks and make plays that may be suboptimal. This isn’t always the case but it is very common. Second, by removing experimentation you are capable of focusing on trial and correction as it pertains to current match. You are able to truly assess what is working and what isn’t and why, without all of the extra thought process.

Finally it allows you to assess your core ability against an opponent that may have more knowledge or execution around the fundamentals of the game. That very process allows a connection to be made in your brain between where you are and where you can be. Allowing it to be explored the next time you face an opponent that is on or below your skill level.

If you have a chance at winning it will be through fundamentals and the experience will force you to take your core ability as far as it can go. Removing any reliance on chance or gimmicks to secure a win and exposing you to your own skill gaps and those reliance’s.

Research and Observe

eSports Replay Analysis

To play above your skill level you have to know what it looks like and what it’s requirements are. That means universally used strategies and tactics. By understanding the expectations of being at the high skill levels you can properly set a path to them. Of course it isn’t as simple as just knowing them. It’s about understanding how they fit into the context of the game and of winning. Let’s use Dota 2 as a quick example. You can understand the necessity of warding for vision and that every top player does it. But that doesn’t mean you know where, how, or why.

The best way to truly understand this information is to observe. Watch less as a fan and more as an active participant. Analyzing and questioning the decisions being made and trying to visualize how it would impact your game. Not just replicating it because a top player is doing it. This will help project you into a higher skill level by preparing yourself for when that information becomes necessary. Effectively setting yourself up for your next set of trial and correction.

The most difficult part of this comes when you are attempting to translate the information that you are observing into your sessions. Remember that the environment that these players operate in can be different than yours. For example, have you ever played a game with someone that has never played it before? They are just hitting buttons and doing all sorts of random stuff, but it’s working on you every once in a while. That’s because you’re looking out for things that your opponent knows nothing about, leaving you open to things you aren’t ready for. Try not to discount what you observe from the higher skill level if it isn’t making an immediate impact on your games. Remember that it works and it’s possible that you either don’t truly know why, or it’s not the information you need to advance your skill level.

Have Courage

Lion

Believe in your own ability and the time you put in. Believe in yourself to manage both the game and the outcome. Remember that every opponent is just one more step in your journey and that ultimately you will come out on top.

Never fear or worry about who your opponent is. If you’re trying to improve, win the tournament or be the best in the world, you’re going to have to beat them eventually. Putting your opponent on a pedestal is distracting and doesn’t help you win the match. It only helps you justify it after the fact.

Wrap Up

Hopefully this information helps you understand the importance of playing above your skill level. How it can accelerate your improvement and expose you to the experiences you need. Most importantly always remember, the longer you stay in the fight the more achievable it becomes. Invoking emotions and motivations that you may not have tapped into yet. Don’t shy away from your potential and play above your skill level.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 Best Pre-Game Practices to Win More Games in eSports

6 Best Pre-Game Practices to Win More Games in eSports
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Have you ever sat down to start a competitive gaming session and then quickly stopped playing because it just wasn’t feeling right? Or felt like you started on the wrong foot and just couldn’t bare the losses?

We published a post quite some time ago about a secret technique that improved performance. That technique being a pre-game ritual. We explained the importance of it, but never really gave too many examples. So in this post we are going to tell you the 6 Best Pre-Game Practices to Win More Games in eSports.

These 6 practices are guaranteed to help you see performance results and also make your sessions last a whole lot longer. The trick is to start on the right foot, and then trust yourself to see it through. Let’s jump into them.

1. Reflect On Your Previous Session – Then Let It Go

You have to reflect on your previous session before jumping into a new one. This way you are effectively walking down a path and not just playing at random. Not to say it will always be a progressive path. You won’t always have home run sessions. However, just being aware of your last session, and visualizing it, will help you in your next one. It keeps a pulse on your performance and allows you to stay within your optimal zone. The idea being that you ‘grow through, what you go through’. Most important is to then let it go. You shouldn’t dwell on your past session. Dwelling allows you to label it either good or bad and that information does not serve you in the current session.

2. Set Goals For The New Session – Macro and Micro

We have spoken in ad nauseum about goal setting. But that doesn’t change it’s importance. Setting goals is the fuel in your engine. It keeps you going and striving towards an end point. This will help maintain your passion and intensity throughout your session and draw your concentration back whenever it starts to wander. Focus on both macro and micro goals. Set overall big goals that revolve around a result of your performance. Typically in the form of wins and losses or points. Then set micro goals that focus on aspects of your performance. The micro goals can be more emotional and less trackable. Like wanting to execute what you’ve practiced. For example, landing combos or hitting more shots. They can also be trackable like kills and deaths, or creep score.

3. Visualize Performance and Concentration

Before you jump into a session it can be beneficial to visualize yourself playing. Consider this a moment to prime yourself for the next step. Visualize yourself playing the game without distraction and with a level of concentration that can’t be broken. If you do this correctly, it’s possible to convince your brain to stay away from things like your phone or social media during your session. By visualizing yourself playing and keeping those aspects out of your mind, you are less likely to gravitate towards them. Giving you an add layer of concentration that may not have been there prior.

4. Decide If It’s a Critical Thinking Day or A Performance Day

These differ entirely. Sometimes when we play, we are playing to ‘learn’. Meaning that we are allowing our brains to narrate things to us in a feedback loop as events take place. This is can be great for learning and making progress, but it doesn’t always net specific results. On the other hand, performance days are days where we tune it all out. Then we execute and worry about what happened later during our video review. Make the distinction and decision before stepping into your session. It will help guide you on managing your results and your emotional state.

5. Commit and Bring Intensity

You are primed from the prior step and almost ready to play. This is your moment to make a commitment to yourself. That you will fully concentrate and put effort into your performance. Too often we tend to merge our energy from one task to another but expect different results. Imagine if you brought the same energy that it takes to move laundry into whatever game you’re playing. Sounds silly, but it happens. Sure that energy is useful for moving laundry, but will it help you win? Same goes for browsing social media and other activities that don’t fuel a competitive mindset. After you make your commitment, bring your intensity. Amp it up! Think about driving in your car and listening to a song that you haven’t heard in a while but you really like. What are you going to do? You’re gonna reach down and turn it up! No effort required! So do the same here. Turn it up! Get ready and act as if you’re going to war.

6. Warm Up

Overlooked. I could end this point right there. It goes without saying how important warming up is. But false confidence can sometimes allow us to jump into a session expecting peak performance without us actually being there. Warm up, get yourself one step closer to peak. This will help you build self trust and confidence in your ability. Ultimately leading to less second guessing.

Wrap Up

Give these 6 Best Pre-Game Practices to Win More Games in eSports a try and see your improvement. Ritualization and routines really help to achieve that peak optimal space as an eAthlete.

 

 

Why Am I Not Improving? (eSports 2020)

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Why am I not improving is a critical question that often isn’t asked by those who need the answer most. There are many reasons why the question never comes up. Pride and ego can play a huge role. Excuses and deniability are contributing factors. Fear and embarrassment. The list goes on. It also could be the fact that no one can really give you the answer. Watching guides and tutorials may only give you one side of the story. Most critically though, the reason ‘Why Am I Not Improving goes unasked is because most players believe that they can just simply will their way to more wins. By just simply queuing for the next match, and grinding at the bone. Eventually your improvement will happen, right? You will hit that next rank, and increase that win percentage. If you don’t, you’ll just haphazardly do it again the next chance you get. You love playing the game, you love competing so it’s only natural that you will jump back in. If this resonates with you, or you’ve found yourself in this position. Then let’s ask the question together. Why Am I Not Improving?

Not So Black and White

The beauty of competition and the mindset that goes into it, makes the answers a little complex. It would be nice if there was a one size fits all solution, but then there would be no true competition. No, the answers are more nuanced, and require exploration and reflection. That’s the beauty of competition. However, we will make the answers easier to digest by listing five reasons why you’re not improving.

Poor Evaluation or Benchmark

Often times as players we tend to over estimate our abilities. This leads to having a “should be” mentality. For example, if you are Silver Tier in your game, but you believe you “should be” gold. This mentality can lead to feeling like you’re “being robbed” every time you lose. Effectively clouding your vision and making improvement very difficult. Although you may actually be a gold player stuck in a silver bracket, you are contributing more to your own losses than you realize. If 100% of your mental focus isn’t devoted to your mechanical skill and decision making. Chances are you aren’t going to succeed at the high enough win percentage to get out.

This is very common. We want to be a higher rank, and play at a higher rank for whatever our motivations may be. However, it’s a hard pill to swallow to realize that our unstructured desires may be the reason we aren’t achieving them. It’s difficult to be honest with ourselves, but important for building the skills to succeed.

Take every loss, even ones you don’t deserve as a moment to learn. Look at your performance critically, always ask yourself if you could have turned it up another gear. Ask yourself if you were truly focused on winning, and your play, or if you were focused on variables around you.

Leaving It Up To Chance

Leading off of the evaluation or benchmark. We often approach things with a casual attitude, but expect grand results. For example, even if we don’t have a truly focused benchmark, we have a feeling. A feeling that we rely on for how well we are playing, or how well we can play. This feeling and comfort often results in us just playing to play. Not fully capitalizing on our talents, efforts or abilities. This is what I consider leaving it up to chance. If you don’t put forth your full effort then you’re relying on your team, or your opponents to win/lose the game for you. That is chance. Think about the last time you sat down to climb the ladder in your game. How truly focused were you on your own performance? How distracted were you? When was the last time you really tried?

Nothing should be left to chance. You should put forth the most effort every time you play, review your own footage, study others. Take full control over what is within your control. Play and improve with intentionality. If you only put half in, you’ll only get half out. The equation for a 50% win rate.

Stuck On A  Peak or In The Past

Remember that time you played incredibly well. Won like 10 games in a row? Placed high at your tournament? Although these are great moments and you should bask in them, they can lead to that feeling we spoke about earlier. It’s important to separate your peak from your average. Otherwise you can find yourself clinging to an expectation. It’s best to look at a peak performance as your potential, not what you should be doing. Sometimes stars have to align, and sometimes it happens when you least expect it. Peak and your every day performance are very different. The goal being to always increase your average level of play to get closer to your peak.

But if you are constantly comparing your best performance to your current performance, you can lose the motivation for learning. Opting to believe you don’t need it, and have proof of it. Further you can become overtly frustrated by losses, or poor performance because of your standard you have set for yourself, based on a previous peak.

This journey and struggle really is an internal one, more than it is an external one. Focus on what you’re doing to try to recreate that peak performance, instead of using it as a belief system. 

Following Cookie Cutter Information

Learning is an organic process. We all come to our conclusions at different times and in different ways. Often times developing a natural ‘game sense’ requires you to experiment, learn things, and then unlearn them. However, we currently live in a time where there is readily available “optimized” information. Although this information is valuable for improvement. It often can hinder our potential and enjoyment. The way it does this is by skipping the discovery process in learning. To put it pragmatically, learning and improving requires critical thinking. Allowing others to critical think for us, from the very beginning, weakens our ability to critically think for ourselves. Causing us to hit ceilings quicker, and then seek new information from external sources. Further, if you follow a very popular concept, it’s likely your opponent is aware of it inside and out. Not only does the common day content teach you how to perform it, but also how to counter it.

Develop your own individual style. Optimize it based on results and efficiency. The critical thinking exercises, and visualization that you have to do will improve your mental clarity. Following other people’s ways will never teach you how to adapt. Most content is developed to be easy to understand, but never give the full information.

Having A Poor Perspective

This is a very broad topic, and it can relate to many different aspects of your eSports performance. You may not have the correct perspective about learning. You may struggle with the concept of learning from losses. It can be as simple as you aren’t playing for the right reasons. Correcting your perspective on your own performance requires you to take yourself and what you do seriously. It takes the understanding that improvement doesn’t happen over night, and the steps you take now may not flourish until three months from now. You have to find a way to want it, and strive for it.

Take some time to reflect on this concept. Not necessarily my words, but the concept that I am explaining in regards to your perspective. Open your mind to your own perspective, and see if it aligns with your desires. 

Wrap Up

As always there may be reasons you aren’t improving that are missed. The world of self improvement, and eSports is incredibly complex. However these five reasons may serve you as a breakthrough to your next accomplishments. With every step you take on this journey, make sure to reflect on every footprint.

 

 

 

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Online Practice (eSports)

Reading Time: 4 minutes

We all know that online and offline play can be radically different. So much so, that some players refuse to play online at all. Rather opting to practice in person, even if it is at a lower frequency. However, we don’t always have the opportunity to play people offline or play the right people offline. In instances that we are forced to get our practice online, there are adjustments that we must make to feel confident in our next tournament or LAN performance. Let’s go over a few things that can help you get the most out of your online practice.

Let Go

Let’s go over all the things that we hate about practicing online.

Lag

Varied Skill Level

Queue Times

Home Distractions Continue Reading–>

The Secret Technique That Can Increase Consistency and Performance in eSports

eSports Puzzle
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Out of all the amazing things top eSports competitors are capable of, consistency has to be at the top of my list. Regardless of winning first place or not. You can almost always guarantee your favorite top competitor is going to make it into top 8. Even with increased pressure that comes from that expectation. We see it all the time through twitter apologies for poor performance, sometimes anger, and sometimes just confusion. These players carry their organizations on their back, along with their fans. It’s a lot to carry, yet they still seem to always succeed.

The ability to go out to each and every tournament and be a cut above the rest is truly something remarkable. Especially when you consider all the variables that are thrown at you in any given game. RNG, your opponents, match ups, schedules, sleep etc. So how do they do it? What is their secret technique for consistency? How can you become more consistent?

Continue Reading–>

Owning Your Performance (Accountability in eSports)

eSports Growth
Reading Time: 4 minutes

I would like to take this moment to be grateful for gaming as a whole. Among it’s many benefits, it is one of the few complex, time consuming activities that can provide you immediate feedback. In the form of tournament losses, game over screens, death timers etc.

Throughout our lives we participate in many activities that we don’t commonly see the result of. We can make what appears to be an inconsequential decision today, and see an explosive result from it a year from now. Alternatively, we can set forth on a triumphant journey and have it fizzle out without us knowing whether or not it impacted us. Either way, it’s hardly a 1:1 ratio, and the results we do obtain are usually ambiguous at best.Continue Reading–>

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–>

Foundation #1 – Technical (Hands/Eyes/Mind)

eSports Techincal Caligraphy
Reading Time: 7 minutes

In our last post Enhancing Your eSports Mindset, we briefly touched on the topic of practical improvement. In that section we spoke about what we believe to be the major foundation to your performance and improvement. We broke it down into three categories.
One – Technical (Fine Motor Skills, Hands)
Two – Meta (Strategy, Game Knowledge)
Three – Mindset (Emotions, Confidence)
You must have equilibrium with these three things if you want to be successful in eSports. You won’t be able to perform if you don’t know the buttons. There is no way you’ll be optimal if you don’t know the ideal strategy and, the first two will suffer greatly if you aren’t in the proper mindset.
For this post, we are going to hone in on the most important of the three. Technical (Hands, Eyes, Mind)

Right Place, Right Time, Every Time

Have you ever watched a grand finals set in Super Smash Bros. Melee? Watched the stock counts go back and forth so rapidly, with so much precision from both players with both characters. Executing their flow charts and situational kill options without a blink. Thousands of dollars on the line, sponsors that need results, people screaming behind them. Have you ever wondered how they can be so consistent each time?Continue Reading–>

Enhancing Your eSports Mindset

White Xbox Controller eSports
Reading Time: 5 minutes

In almost every blog post we have written, you will see that we always address the reader’s experiences in eSports, as a journey. Although, ‘trek’ might be the more accurate term. Finding a career in eSports is not something that will happen over night. Becoming the best at a specific game also, won’t happen over night. The truth is, becoming a professional in anything takes time, and effort. Unfortunately for competing in eSports, there is no traditional path. Every great player’s success story is different. For most of the G.O.A.T’s, eSports was still in pre-infancy. It wasn’t like it is today, with thousands of teams, broadcasts, and content to consume.

Luckily for us, eSports is getting to it’s prime position. Growing, evolving, and becoming more and more studied along side traditional sports. For us, we have the advantage of coming in with a different mindset. Unlike the previous greats, we are able to see the obstacles in front of us, light at the end of the tunnel and a small window into our dreams. Idols to look up to and emulate, and trophies to win. We have the assurance to know that our ‘hobby’ can become a career. All we have to do is go beyond a competitive mindset, and enter into an eSports Mindset.Continue Reading–>

How Do I Get Better in eSports? (2019)

eSports Keyboard
Reading Time: 4 minutes

How do I get Better in eSports?

What a question.

I went to Google, and typed in “How do I get better in eSports?” to find some quality information regarding improvement in eSports. I figured with the recent Fortnite World Cup, there would be a number of websites trying to cash in on the buzz of eSports. To my surprise and dismay, I found very little of relevancy.

eSports Google Search

Your very first result, the featured snippet, doesn’t even address the question properly. The rest of the results well… If they aren’t dead links, they are dated as far back as 2014. Although I could go on for hours about this. You clicked this post looking for solid advice, and I’m here to give it to you.

The Best Advice You Can Find

STOP! Before you continue, you need to understand a critical key here. There is no microwave, instant oatmeal recipe to getting better in eSports. Anyone who presents their information otherwise is only trying to cash in. eSports like all things, takes time.

Okay, let’s go.

1. Commit To eSports

If you want to get better. If you want to become a better eSports player, or have a chance at making a career out of this. YOU HAVE TO COMMIT.Continue Reading–>