How to Become a Better Gamer
AKA Operation: Get Gud Scrub
So, you’re finally ready to climb out of the casuals and into the sweaty-palmed mega-dome. Congratulations! The first step is complete, now get ready for a whole new world of pain.
Getting good at esports gaming in 2021 requires a lot of effort and practise just like any skill, and while mum and dad may argue that you're wasting your time, they clearly don’t understand the social levy that is performing a thumb blending flip reset.
Before the dawn of competitive esports, the only thing that the self affirmed ‘Sweat lords’ battled for was the chance to laugh at Xx-N0Sc0pe_Ev4N-xX over a headset for being bad at the game and hurl abuse in a variety of questionable angst-ridden obscenities. Now they’ve turned passion into successful businesses and S+ tier content that fuels the entire industry.
But how did they get there? What’s the secret? Seek no further, we have all your questions answered.
Step 1: Fundamentals are the key
To kick things off, let’s identify the key criteria for what makes a great esports gamer. Usually it’s a combination of different things depending on the game in question and the style/approach to the given task. But a through-line you often hear is the idea of practising and understanding the fundamentals.
A perfect example for, say, an FPS title would be: movement, cover, reaction times, and aim. So while you may have played Call of Duty for several hours and understand these basic principals, it’s time to focus in on them.
Break each fundamental into a principal or set of rules to follow and improve. Use this to create drills and tasks to improve in each category slowly over time.
So for example, find a map with tight corners and a lot of buildings and just practising manoeuvring through and around the map without bumping into objects. Once you’re satisfied, refresh the formula and add something new.
Perhaps add in taking cover at choke points or a new mechanic to improve your overall agility in game - EI drop shots or sliding into cover.
Covering the bases is key to all games, but if you need game specific advice, I’d recommend having a poke around YouTube and searching for breakdowns, they can really help get you up to speed when you need to get the early leg up.
Fundamentals should be seen as your meat and potatoes and there is no limit on how you can improve this so always keep it in mind when you’re looking to improve.
Step 2: Mechanics + Muscle Memory
So you’ve mastered the fundamentals. EZ EZ EZ, you may spam, but we’re not through bucko - not yet.
This next step to your game is what separates the wheat from chaff: understanding mechanical prowess and developing muscle memory will consistently win you games.
The principle behind mechanical skill is essentially the same as learning a musical instrument: repeat the same physical action until you can flawlessly replicate the desired effect without even thinking about it.
Mechanics (obviously) vary from game to game, but the underlying principle is the same: rinse and repeat until it becomes muscle memory. A good way to train this skill is to pick a specific action, for example the Korean Back dash in Tekken. On paper it looks complicated and difficult to master, but it’s a simple action once broken down into small steps and inputs on a d-pad/arcade stick, and it’s just a matter of time and practise that separates the masters from the novice.
For a good example of this process check out this link.
Step 3: Knowledge is power.
Perhaps you’re not the most mechanically gifted and retch at the idea of spending 100+ hours practising pixel perfect headshots. Whilst it’s essential in top end play, those new to the Get Good Formula can perhaps use the most powerful and deadly muscle: That big ol’ brain your ma gave you.
Being able to out-think your opponent is the perfect way to leverage yourself against certain play styles, and this kind of thinking is reliant on you putting the work in to gather up relevant knowledge.
So what knowledge is important? What do I need to learn? In short: Everything. Learn the environment and adapt your own unique approach to keep people on their toes. Notice a lot of people rushing a certain objective? Flank it and move into a better position that breaks their line of sight. Bunch of campers on a hill? Bull rush the head shot hunters with dual Uzis while screaming full force into your yeti snowball (a personal favourite).
Essentially develop a repertoire with a popular play style and attempt to break it with your creativity. This is learnt through countless hours of play but your objective in this endeavour is to learn from every loss and adapt to the style gradually over time until you get a feel for it.
Combine this with an understanding of the equipment and load-outs, using your mad maths skills to stack those crit chances with flat multiplier and OP your way to victory.
These are just a few ways to use you'd out-brain your enemies, but remember that experimentation is key and a little grey matter goes a long way. Now go forth and prosper you with your new found love for brain power!
Step 4: Strategy + Team Play
The best way to really pan people in any game is strategy and teamwork. Form a squad with friends and communicate, it’s really that simple. Strategy and plans of attack against a team who have no grasp on what they’re doing and are just looking for kill streaks will make for easy pickings.
If you’re at entry level play in a game, still developing a style and knowledge, I’d advise supportive rolls over attacking and look to compliment the strengths of your party until you’re confident enough to move into a more aggressive role.
Make a conscious effort to learn your teammates' habits and roles within the team, and try to use them in your game-plan to identify weaknesses and strengths and do what you can to fill any gaps in the team. If you do this, sweet victory awaits.
Step 5: Watch the professionals at play.
This one is great for picking up unique little quirks in-game you may have not thought of. Pros spend hours refining their strengths, and most professional esports competitors will have private twitch streams where they sweat all day and night.
Pick a successful esports team and go and have a look at what they're doing and if you notice something magical, clip it, analyse it, and maybe ask in the chat for a bit of advice on how they made that magic happen!
Step 6: Replay analysis
One of the most notoriously irritating things to do but something all high level esports gamers will tell you is WATCH YOUR REPLAYS OF LOSSES!
This may seem boring and pointless, but if you can’t see where you’re making mistakes you’ll end up forming bad habits and will most likely reach a level cap you can’t get pass because your opponents recognize a weakness that you may not even be aware of. Watching back your footage means you can pick up on these and attempt to alter them for the better.
Step 7: The Upgrade….
Okay so if you’ve followed every step to the letter, then by now you’re Tekken omega god prime or supersonic legend. You go girl! I’m so proud.
Now the last thing, and this is placed intentionally, is your equipment. There are plenty of reasons to buy a product to help improve your game, but in my mind it should always be the last thing you blame for a poor performance. If your gear is faulty and you fancy splurging though, go nuts! There are plenty of peripherals you can experiment with.
I’d recommend finding something that you feel comfortable with or that appeals to you aesthetically and build from there. While there are some very expensive pieces of equipment you might see flying around webpages/YouTube videos it’s not really going to help you improve if you’re still at entry level learning. Stick to your budget and develop your skills first.
That said, a personal collection of peripherals is always a fun way to keep a game feeling fresh. It would also be a lie to say we don’t drool over things like the Astro C40 TR and dream of a day when that purchase would be valid. But for now just keep practising, noob.
So now your bible to gaming glory is set, go forth and get the k/d ratio up so you too can join the esports elites.
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About the Author
Kyle is a gaming enthusiast with a passion for gaming's history, particularly in the FGC as the top player among his cousins in the late 90's. With a mashing technique like no other, he soon fell prey to the online community that now wipes the floor with him along with his dream of ever getting good. He is an avid variety streamer with a keen interest in the gaming community as an aspiring commentator and content creator with a focus on comedy, fun and having lovely old time.