What to do with your practice is step three. So I’ve mentioned that you can’t just learn StarCraft organically by grinding more. Great. So now what? It means that practice can’t be mindless – we have to look at our errors and fix them.
It can be very difficult to pinpoint the game ending mistakes you made in games you won because, well, simply there were no game ending mistakes – otherwise you would have lost. One of the only instances where it’s productive to look at games you’ve won, is when you repeatedly lose to that person. And even then, the improvement that took place may be falsified by your opponent making a massive human error. That being said, the most valuable place to look is at your losses. I know many people dislike watching their own defeats, but for every single replay you watch of you losing – you could learn something, regardless of how big or small this thing is. Swallow your pride, because that will always make watching your defeats worth it.
The last step is using your practice for tournament preparation. What people don’t tend to realize is that studying is a huge part of practicing! If you don’t study, your practice won’t be as effective. Whether it’s studying for your opponents in tournaments, builds, strategies, playstyles, etc., at the end of the day, if you want to make your skills that you’ve practiced so hard on useful, you will be competing in tournaments. In tournaments, it’s easy to get nervous and scared. Many people practice and play ladder just for the purpose of playing in tournaments, where the money and results (the important stuff) are. If you’re afraid of losing to a lesser skilled opponent, or intimidated by a greater skilled opponent, the key point to think upon is consistency. Losing to a lesser skilled opponent (otherwise known as an “upset”) is not nearly as common as how people feel matches should be played out. How often does an instance like Sjow beating Life happen? Or Idra topping rorO and Stephano in his group? Really, Stardust has beaten Jaedong, Golden has beaten Stardust, I’ve beaten Golden, I’ve known some diamond players that have beaten me, and i’m sure some plat players have beaten him, and the chain goes on. Just because instances like this happen, doesn’t mean that the bronze player at the bottom of the chain is better than Jaedong. Consistency is key, and will shine through in tournaments like it almost always does. Practice with the concept of consistency, and practice in a way that will make you a consistent player.
Yes, there are many gambles made in tournaments, and those have the tendency to be shaky when it comes to consistency, but control is king. Strong control will overcome heaps and loads of build order counters. Practice with this in mind, and you will become a dangerous and intimidating player out of it. That being said, look to abuse potential inconsistencies to take out a stronger opponent. Study your opponent’s play. If they are well known, take a look at their VODs and find out what they tends to lose to, or are thrown off balance by. Practice your builds and your control, and find the chink in the armor.
As mentioned in my previous blog, having a teacher can be a massive catalyst to this whole process, and if you are serious in your practice, it would be wise to invest in one. All in all though, these are the key points to be taken from this blog. Begin your practice humbly, this will get you to hit the grind quickly. Having a stable mentality will keep you practicing longer and more efficiently, and taking walks is a good quick method to clearing your mind and getting back to the grind. Practice with consistency in mind – it will benefit you in competitions. Studying is an imperative part of practicing and they go hand in hand, don’t undermine its importance.