Older generations don’t understand esports sometimes. The median age for esports viewers in the US is 29, with 39% of viewers being 25 to 34 years old. But no matter what parents and politicians say, making it big in the competitive arena of esports takes a lot of practice, training, and perseverance.
To the uninitiated, it may look like someone just playing a video game all day. But pro gaming is a real job, one that sometimes makes six figures. And it’s a demanding and tough one job, too. So let’s look at some incredibly effective and proven ways to improve at competitive gaming.
1. Take a break
The pros put in countless hours practicing each day, including 10-hour scrims with their teams and streaming for hours for fans right after. This leads fans to believe they need to put in more gaming hours in order to get to the top. But while playing more certainly does come into the picture, what’s even more important is taking breaks.
When the human brain engages in any demanding cognitive task it can only handle so much before it needs to recharge.Players may start getting sloppy after six hours of Valorant.
Ask any major team and they will all explain that they don’t play more than two games in a row before breaking for an hour or so. This allows their brains to rest and regroup, allowing them to come back and play at the top of their game.
Less powerful teams fail to take breaks, which is what causes them to lose their focus, and ultimately, their players. Think of the Shanghai Dragons in the inaugural season of the Overwatch League. They shocked fans by admitting to 12-hour practices but they finished that season in dead last. Not a single win.
Sleep plays an important role here as well. Gamers planning to improve should prioritize getting more rest, rather than clocking more hours in front of a screen. Avoid bad sleeping habits, like going to bed at random times each night, sleeping in some mornings, and snacking before passing out. Clocking in a restful eight hours will give hardcore gamers a focus boost.
2. Analyze gameplay immediately
Esports has borrowed one important trend from traditional sports: post-game analysis. Gamers are told they learn from experience, but they also learn by thinking about that experience. The best way to figure out what went right and wrong is to rewatch a game right after it’s played. The player will also recognize traps and patterns they started falling for.
After the match, get up, walk around, grab a bite, but make sure to come back to it while everything is still completely fresh. This ensures that competitive players can recall the decisions they made in-game and why they made those decisions. They can also write down their goals for the next training session based on things they noticed during the match.
This is why many esports coaches prefer coaching face-to-face. Being in person allows them to not only study a player’s performance, but immediately discuss their findings with them.
Players can also ask for assistance on Twitch or any other streaming platform, getting tips and insight from the community. Of course, they may not be as professional as an esports coach, so think hard about each piece of advice before utilizing it next scrimming session.
3. Optimize your space
While it’s certainly true that games can be played anywhere and anytime, investing in a comfortable and effective gaming setup will boost a gamer’s focus and help transport them into the game.
Instead of slouching around, players should invest in a proper gaming chair that will keep their back straight and their eyes dead center on the screen. Correct posture will help gamers feel more confident, something that will eventually show in their gameplay.
After setting up a desk and gaming chair, competitive players should make sure they have a pro mouse and keyboard, mousepad, and headphones. Serious players will need to invest some money towards their computer and its accessories if they want to be on the same level as their competition.
Make sure none of the equipment is uncomfortable. Players need to be able to transport themselves into a different world without constantly being aware that their left ear is not completely covered, or that their thumb is starting to develop a callus from their mouse. Getting the right equipment will ensure that players can remain focused on the game and nothing else.
4. Eat and drink
Advice like “eat a healthy diet” can sound like something a concerned parent would say, but it’s advice that even the top esports teams follow religiously. When a player’s body is dehydrated, all sorts of concerning things happen: They start to lose focus, get more irritable, suffer from weakened cognitive abilities, and experience a delay in motor skills.
The same goes for a gamer’s diet. Some esports teams have their own personal chefs and nutritionists. Having a planned out meal schedule will also help players focus on getting right back into the onscreen action.
While esports can be seen as a low-impact sport, players need the right fuel to keep their brain and hands sharp. Consider eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamins and minerals. This keeps players focused. Fish is also a good option, as are lean meats, nuts, and seeds.
Competitive gamers should also stay away from the high-carb, high-fat, high-calorie stuff some gamers notoriously eat. It’s true that junk will fuel people for the moment, but a consistent diet of unhealthy foods will start to mess with a competitor’s performance and game.
5. Play with random people
When gamers keep playing with or against the same people, their skillset will stop developing. They’ll get used to the same strategies and playstyles, and only focus on perfecting it. Think of the League of Legends Championship Series, where the North American teams only compete against one another. Oftentimes, the teams will recognize that they may be the best in America, but that doesn’t mean they will have what it takes to beat Korean, Chinese, and European teams at the World Championship.
When gamers play with randoms on a regular basis,they will start to improve other skills as well. It will keep their mind sharp as they constantly adapt to other people’s gameplay and style of communication. There’s a reason LCS teams travel to Worlds early and start scrimming against teams from outside their region.
A player’s main focus should be adapting skills and strengths to a new setting and working on their weaknesses without compromising play. During a post-game recap, try to analyze what others have done well and what they have done poorly. Even when players are not playing first-hand, they can still learn a lot from observing a game.
To sum it all up
All of these extra aspects of competitive training will take some getting used to and there will be days when players just want to play. However, if competitive gamers focus on implementing these assets into their routine, they’ll start to notice themselves becoming sharper, more focused, and better at executing their actions. Ultimately, these tips will give gamers that desired boost on the ladder to their esports dreams.