By Samuel “Midday” He of Complexity Gaming
Many people rush onto the ladder with the hopes for an increase within the ranks which is a symbol of their progress and improvement. What they tend to forget about, or consider less important, is the process of improvement. StarCraft is not a game where you can organically improve simply by grinding. This is evidenced by the people who play countless games yet don’t improve.
While my previous blog was talking about general improvement and ways to go about it, this blog will talk about the actual practice of the game itself, what to do about it, and what to do in and out of practice.
Practice preparation is step one. In order to actually sit down and hit that find match button, you need to be motivated to do it. Different people have different motivators. Some people hit the “Find Match” button because they want to improve and improvement makes them feel good. Some people hit it just to have fun. Regardless, ensure you have a motivator (otherwise you’ll never end up hitting that button), and that this motivator does not impede on your improvement, whatever it may be. If you believe that you are earnestly passionate about the game, you won’t let ladder anxiety get in the way of hitting that button. Don’t be satisfied with where you are, ask yourself, “is this rank the best rank I can possibly achieve? Is this the best I can do?” Well of course not, there is always room for improvement. It’s well known that ladder anxiety and a sense of satisfaction stops a large amount of people from continuing to play the game. Don’t let ego get in the way of playing/improving at the game. Many people end up disappointing themselves and look retrospectively at StarCraft and say, “man, I wish I really went at it. I could’ve been so much more.” Whether more means having a higher rank, or if you felt you could have gone to the pro level and been competitive, don’t be one of these people.
Keeping a stable mentality during practice is step two. If you play with constant frustration, take a break. Playing while tilted is simply not productive. If you feel that you’ve reached your frustration limit, just stop. Taking a walk helps clear the mind and isn’t time consuming, so if you want to get back to practice quickly, perhaps take a relaxing walk with some music and then get back to it. Many people feel that they can play while being frustrated, but this hinders reaction time, decision making, and, most heavily, judgement. I know of some players who get stupidly frustrated extremely quickly, and at that point they just stop trying to micro at all, with the feeling that whatever they do, it won’t help them win, or they complain that they’re not skilled enough to attempt such micro. That is a very negative attitude that cripples improvement. If you don’t get out of your comfort zone, try new things, try to improve yourself by attempting more skilled builds or micro tactics, then there is little hope for progress. Keeping a neutral mentality is the best. You need to have the confidence that you can win, but also stay cautious enough to not underestimate your opponent, and at the same time not overestimate them. Staying calm within games will also help against tunnel vision, misclicks, and judgement errors. It will also help you stay emotionally stable whether you lose or win the game.