One of the most difficult aspects of tournament play is holding your nerve, finding the strength to recover from a humiliating loss and making the best decisions under pressure. Most players often spend years learning the tricks of the trade, finding their own ways to cope and their own methods of squeezing out that extra 1% or 2% that could be the difference between winning and losing.
But it doesn’t have to be a hard slog in solitary confinement. One of the greatest advantages of the internet is being able to learn from others – and there’s no better person to ask than a gamer when it comes to dealing with tournaments. So I rounded up three hardened pros and asked them how they coped in the heat of battle.
Daniel “Fenner” Fenner
Member of Frenetic Array’s Starcraft 2 roster
Good preparation for a tournament starts in the long term. Having good health by eating healthy and exercising often is vital to performing well on the day. They aren’t things you can just do the week before but habits that need to be maintained. Having this healthy lifestyle allows you to have a clear head and lots of energy with the stamina to back it up and solid focus. Consistent practice over the long term is also vital otherwise it’s very hard to keep up with the competition.
Over the short term I find that sleep is the most important, getting enough sleep leading up to a tournament has massive benefits towards decision making and focus on the day. If it’s a tournament where you have an idea about your opponents beforehand its definitely smart to see what you can find out and analyse about their play to gain an edge in the strategy department. If I know my opponent in advance I’ll work with team-mates on thinking about and planning the best strategies. This kind of preparation can allow lesser players to defeat much more experienced and well known players by simply developing with strong counter-measures.
On the day of the tournament I find it’s good to cut out all distraction and just focus on the game, my train of thought can easily get interrupted by any distraction which could potentially cost me the game. If its an online tournament I’ll make sure that there is no social software that could distract me by either closing it or putting myself on a busy or silent status. If its and offline tournament I’ll just make sure I get as much time as the organisers will allow to get my head into the game, put good though into the strategies I’m going to use and achieve. High level of focus.
Stefan “Shadowloo Stef” Materazzo
Winner of the Marvel vs Capcom 3 tournament at this year’s EB Games Expo and the ButtonSmash tournament in Queensland
This might sound a little odd, but I prefer to stop playing a game a week out before a big event and only pick it up again on the day of the tournament.
Next, I like to scout the bracket I am in to see who I might potentially face and think up strategies that I think will work against certain players that I have seen play or have played before.
Before any big games on stage I like to hype myself by doing things like jumping up and down, screaming, getting the crowd on my side. Because once I have the crowd on my side, the cheering drives me to play at my best so I don’t let them down and hopefully puts my opponent under pressure.
In between games, I like to take mini breaks. If I lose, I like to take time to think about what I did wrong and correct it. If I won, I like to think about what I did right and keep at it until my opponent adapts and forces me to change it up.
As for comebacks, it’s all about the reward! Once you make a miraculous comeback, people will remember it for a very long time, the crowd will go off and you make the highlight reels! That’s what drives me in a comeback situation.
Mack “Petraeus” Smith
3rd place finisher at the Asia e-Sports Cup 2012 [Starcraft 2] and the New Zealand leg of Blizzard’s World Championship Series
In terms of preparation for a tournament, I’ll only play a couple of games before just to warm up my fingers and get myself focused. When I’m just practicing, it will take me around 2 hours to start playing properly.
In tournaments I find the pressure alone is enough to make me play my best most games. I’ll always get really nervous when playing in tournaments and I don’t think this is likely to change. Although this used to affect my play, recently I feel it has helped it; the nerves help hone my focus on the game and not on anything else.