The basics of eSports 5: Starting Your Game

Now that we’ve narrowed down what to focus on, it’s time to put it to use! There are three main points you should focus on if you’re interested in starting an eSport:

1.) Find a character/weapon/play-style you enjoy!

When you start your game, you’re going to need something to keep you there. Some people pick a specific character they like to main, others pick a specific roles or character archetype. Figure out the style you enjoy most, and just play the game. Don’t fret too much about the competitive aspects when you first start. Many games even prevent you from playing the ranked modes until a certain point (level 30 in League, 25 in OW, etc.). Play for fun and get a feel for the game itself. It’s no good to play a game competitively if you don’t enjoy it, or you’ll be hard-pressed to maintain your practice regimens. In this way, be casual about your game to get a feel for it. Throughout my eSports time, I’ve never had a game click instantly that I told myself: I want to play this competitively. By playing it for fun early on, you’ll have a strong foundational knowledge of the game’s core mechanics, roles, positions, etc. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t pick it up quick. Learning takes time, but if a game is fun, you’ll hardly notice it!

2.) Find new friends!

Now that you’ve started your game, you’re going to need something to keep you there. Oftentimes you’ll pick up a game, but realize that none of your friends play it! Even if you start a game with friends, you might not keep playing that game together(this happens more often than you think!). When you play a game, find some online friends to play with. They could be someone making jokes all game long in voice chat(VC) or text chat, or someone who gave everyone reassuring words and kept morale up. If you find these people, friend request them! Start off after the game with something along the lines of, “Hey, we should play some more games together, that was fun!” More often than not, they’ll accept and are also looking for people to play with. Just like with college friends, a majority of them will leave eventually, but a certain few will stick around with you for a very, VERY long time! They’ll keep you interested, help relieve some stress from a bad game, or maybe just help you get over a super toxic(bad mouthing, flaming, etc.) player. If you’re truly interested in a competitive game, you can’t go it alone for long. Humans, even introverts, are inherently social creatures, and befriending people who already share a common interest with you(i.e. the game you’re playing) is incredibly rewarding. This will keep you interested, and (hopefully) start a rivalry where you try to outdo one another and improve much faster.

3.) Know when to take a break!

No matter how interested in a game you are, you really need to take a break sometimes. Even professional South Korean players in LoL know to take a break outside of their 12 hour daily practice schedules, especially during the off season. Taking a break allows you to synthesize information you’ve learned, in a less stressful environment than the game itself. Go download a replay and watch it while eating some snacks during a break, you will be SHOCKED to see what you do wrong after watching your own gameplay. It’s a lot easier to find mistakes after the fact than in the heat of the moment. Self reflection is an important part of improving at anything, and eSports are no exception. Recordings of your own gameplay are some of the best tools you could have when it comes to getting better. Of course, you’ll need to know what to focus on to get better, but that’s more tied to outside research/comparison to professional players. Breaks allow you to do this. Looking up base damage on abilities in league, and the scaling of them with attack damage(AD) or ability power(AP) might just win you your lane. Knowing when certain champions get their ‘power spike’ (usually at 6, but there are some exceptions) helps you play around them. As I’ve said, quantity does not equal quality when it comes to complex eSports. You can’t force your way to getting better in games with a heavy game knowledge component. Mechanics will improve with just playing the game, and can be overlayed with pretty much any other concepts.

Keep these three concepts in mind when you think you’ve found your eSport, and you’ll have a strong foundation to improve moving forward.

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