When discussing competitive gaming there is always talk on how you can improve as a player. How can I improve my aim? How can I learn this champion? How do I counter X strategy?
As the saying goes: Practice makes perfect. You can read all the guides you want, watch all the best streamers, tournaments and YouTube guides you want, but at the end of the day practice is the best thing you can do.
Obvious, right? Wrong.
Too many people are caught up in the mentality that there is a trick to getting better. Whether it’s practising how to last hit in LoL/DOTA by playing against bots or playing Octagon BR’s only in Halo. These are gimmicks that aren’t magically going to make you a better player and they’re an inefficient use of your time.
Sure, Octagon game types may help you get better aim in Halo, but at the same time you’re losing out on time that you could be spending learning how to position yourself, map control, weapon timing, spawn traps, etc, while you work on your aim at the same time.
Sure, last hitting minions in a custom bot game in LoL or DoTA can help you learn when to attack, but you’re not doing this with the same pressure that a human opponent will give you when you’re playing in a competitive environment.
Want to get better? Here’s the best advice you can possibly receive…
When I say practice I don’t mean go into ARAM in LoL so you can learn how to dodge skill shots. When I say practice I don’t mean play Octagon for 4 hours straight in Halo.
If you want to get the most out of practice you need to play seriously and you need to play players at an equal or slightly better skill level. Don’t practice one part of your game, practice the entire game. Your last hits mean nothing if you can’t do this while effectively trading in lane. Your sniping means nothing if you’re unable to control the map or position yourself properly.
Some people will say you should learn the game before you jump into ranked games. Unless the game you’re playing has a poor match making system you should just jump in the deep end.
Why play ranked to practice? Because players in ranked are playing to win. You will not get better at a game when you’re playing against players who don’t care enough to play ranked. If you only play unranked match making you will eventually hit a skill wall that no amount of unranked games will help you overcome.
Most games have a decent match making system these days that will match you up against players on your skill level. This is the best possible way to get better (Besides proper team scrims against teams your skill level – Although this generally only happens at higher levels of play). Pub stomping noobs will not teach you anything. Getting annihilated by pro players won’t teach you anything either.
Your time is precious – Use it wisely
I’ve given up on playing normal games to learn a champion in LoL and from now on I’ll just enter ranked with a champion I’ve never played before. Why? Because playing against casual players whilst testing out a champion will not teach you the limits of your champion.
The faster you learn these things the faster you’ll become a better player. Sure, you could play 10 normal games with a new champion before you take it into ranked, but why? That’s 10 ranked games you could have played that would have taught you so much more. You may feel comfortable with a new champion after pub stomping 10 normal games then realise that players in ranked have better counters against you and your over confidence will cause you to lose.
Use your time efficiently. You may lose a few games trying to get the hang of a new champion but so what? What you learn from those losses will help you become a better player so you can make up for those losses faster. If you really want to become the best you won’t care about your rank. You will care about whether you’re improving or not. I would rather lose ranks while learning a game and becoming a better player than to climb the ladder slowly while learning nothing.
When I first started playing Halo I was awful. I thought I was awesome until I played players who were actually good. By playing against these players consistently I was able to improve rapidly. There was no tricks like playing BR/Snipers only on Wizard, just proper practice using tournament settings against good players.