1. Know your weaknesses.
No matter how good you are, you’re not perfect — and it helps to know exactly where you fall short.
Yoan “ToD” Merlo has been called the best StarCraft II player from France — and will be casting and commentating at this weekend’s Red Bull Battle Grounds event in Atlanta. But he knows where the holes in his game are.
“Try and prepare something for everybody,” he says. “Try to work on your weaknesses. So me, for example, my Protoss vs. Terran is my weakest matchup. I need to make sure I work extra on that matchup to make sure I don’t lose to the first good Terran I meet.”
Sean “Day” Plott, a former StarCraft II pro player who went on to become a well-known e-sports personality, agrees — adding that self-awareness is what makes a good player great.
“Obsess on your weakness and faults as a player,” he says. “All you are doing as a pro is trying to identify your mistakes and weaknesses — and there is no weakness that is unfair to identify. It could be that your win rate seems to go down after about three hours. What is causing that? What is your attempt at a solution? … It’s the willingness to zoom in, and really identify the problems, and then practice them that makes a pro player so good.”
2. Stay rested.
There will be plenty of opportunities at e-sport events to go out and party. And they can be tempting. But to be a winner, you’ll have to resist the pressures to stay out late and socialize.
“I think one of the things that really throws people off is you don’t realize how stressful the travel can be at times,” says Nathan “Nathanias” Fabrikant, an e-sportscaster and player for ROOT Gaming. “It’s really hard to balance, when you’re going to a lot of events. … [M]ake sure that you sleep enough and that you have time to practice in between tournaments.”
There is such a thing as too much sleep, though.
“It’s very hard to play your A-game all the time,” ToD says. “For me, at least, on average, I feel like I can play my A-game three or four hours per day. That’s it. … Make sure you get some good sleep. At least eight hours, but you shouldn’t sleep 12 hours, or your cycle will be messed up for day two.”
3. Practice under poor conditions.
Winning on your home setup is one thing, but tournament conditions won’t always be ideal. In fact, they’ll often be less than optimal. Prepare for that.
“Practice all the variables,” Day says. “With the thermostat set to 60 degrees. To 80 degrees. With your chair too low or too high. All these sort of things are going to be really useful because even if the thermostat doesn’t change a lot at the tournament, you have those extra reassurances of control.”