Getting into eSports is a daunting task. So we rounded up some of Australia’s most talented players to help out.
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Making your way in a competitive game — be it Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, Dota 2, League of Legends, Mortal Kombat, Warcraft 3, Quake 3, Street Fighter, Unreal Tournament or anything else — can be one of the most difficult and frustrating experiences in video games.
It’s not easy. The games held up for their eSports potential are often mechanically challenging, nebulous and often complex. Your rivals often have years, sometimes over a decade of experience. Games change constantly — both in how they are played and the way the developer wants its fans to play them.
So to make your gaming lives a little easier, and a little more enjoyable, we’ve rounded up some of Australia’s most experienced gamers from every title imaginable. If there’s something you want to know, be it about a game, dealing with tournaments or just looking after yourself better — then read on.
Bradley “tgun” Seymour: League of Legends and former StarCraft 2 player for Team Immunity
“No-one cares about your success; the only one it should matter to is yourself. If you’re doing it for any other reason, for fame, for money, for whatever, you’re going into [eSports] for the wrong reasons. You should basically be [playing] for the love of the game, or the love of competing.
When asked about coping with tournaments, Seymour said: “Nerves will never go away — the best way to deal with them (for me) is to practice so much that you’ve seen every situation, and it’s almost all muscle memory.” He added that you can deal with defeat by making sure you review games after the event, when you have a clear mind, and by making sure you practice to follow up on your mistakes.
Christopher “Touko” Nash: Dead or Alive player and Australian representative at the Dead or Alive Festival in Japan earlier this month
“Immediately I noticed the welcoming and positive atmosphere as local players greeted me and challenged me to games. The energy they had for DOA was amazing, so many of the players just loved it. From the first game I played to the last what stood out the most were the players attitudes. Everyone there was just happy to compete. Competition was fierce but it always respectful and friendly.
“I saw this most strongly from JC Akira during our 5v5 team match. Just before the match between he and I began I looked up at his face and it was stone. I hadn’t seen such focus before. It was not the face of mercy. After he OCV’d our team, made up of strong international players, he was super friendly and very humble. I found similar attitudes from many other competitors.”
Albert “Naked” Nassif: former Call of Duty Australian champion, Australian representative at the 2013 Call of Duty Championships, player and business manager for Mindfreak
“Become a student of the game. Soak up any knowledge anyone has to give to you, just like any education/work must learn and adapt. Everyone is your teacher, no matter how you progress through the ranks people above you and below you may have something to offer that you can adapt your yourself and become better with.
“Network. It’s almost never as easy as what you know or how good you are at the game, who you know is almost as much of a factor as to making your way to the top as is your skill. Try to avoid burning bridges and represent yourself in a way that everyone would want to be associated with you.”
Samuel “Spookz” Broadley: League of Legends player for The Chiefs, winners of the Oceanic Pro League Split 2
“League of Legends is as much if not more a mental game as it is mechanical. A good mindset is probably the most vital thing heading in to a game if your goal is to improve yourself.
“My best advice for any player that wants to climb the ranks is to first look at how you are approaching each game, set yourself goals win or lose and work towards achieving those goals, for me that was thinking about what I could have done differently in that game that would’ve given my team a greater chance at winning.
“Secondly don’t over-stretch yourself, you’re not going to become the best you can be over-night. Keep your goals simple, focus on 1 role only and a small champion pool at first.”
Kyle “Vilesyder” Colyer: Call of Duty player for Team Nv, Australian representative at the 2015 Call of Duty Championships
“For something more practical, that will IMMEDIATELY change your game, the next time you’re playing your favourite FPS, I want you to be very conscious of where your reticule is aimed at, at all times. It shouldn’t be at the ground, it shouldn’t be on a slight angle, it shouldn’t be anywhere but chest/head height and in anticipation of where the next potential threat is going to come from at ALL times.
“I don’t care if you get tunnel vision and only look at your reticule for an entire night, burn this into your brain and you’ll win a lot more gunfights purely because you shave off half a second or so in the aiming process, which means 1-2 extra bullets on target per gunfight.
“Get used to how much flinch (how much your aim recoils up when you get shot by an enemy player) your game has and keep your reticule aimed at chest/whatever height is necessary so that when you take damage in a 1v1 fight, your aim will get flinched up to land a bullet or two as headshots.
“It’s the combination of little things that makes pros, pros. Stay composed and you’ll play at your best.”
Aaron Nicastri, former professional Magic: The Gathering and poker player, 2008 Rookie of the Year and former Team Australia captain
“Gamers generally like the games they play because they are not jobs; they are an escape from the pressures of everyday life and represent challenge in a defined space with a known finishing line.
“The need for constant success is a huge burden and maybe an unrealistic one if you want to remain happy. The reason is this; when we put in more effort, energy and time then our opponents we expect to win; in games of chance our expectations often fall short due to variance.
“The expectation of winning denies the pleasure of the victory and losing represents a failure at your job, this balance is a significant issue and provides a lot of long-term tension.
“Positivity is the biggest thing you have on your side, at all levels of play you need to remember you game for enjoyment not just solely to win, and if you can’t enjoy playing without winning then you are probably doing it wrong. Variance will take and give sporadically and you need to ride the wave, confidence goes hand in hand with positivity and success.”
Derek “Raydere” Trang: League of Legends player for The Chiefs, winners of the Oceanic Pro League Split 2
“Drink plenty of water. A lot of gamers will drink soda or energy drinks but these generally just provide a short boost of energy but for long gaming sessions you want to keep hydrated like any other sport.
“You will find that when you when you diet healthily, your mental clarity increases significantly and so will your energy levels. This will translate into game and help you stay focused and during long-gaming sessions. Exercising – Another part of being healthy, this will also increase energy levels and mental clarity.
“Find a comfortable and ergonomic gaming chair / set-up. Long sessions spent sitting in your chair will not be beneficial for your posture. [And] if you have outside stress sources, such as assignments or homework. Try doing a significant amount of work before you play and you’ll find yourself much more relaxed in game.”
Venus “Villyness” Liao: Super Smash Bros 4 player, reigning Battle Arena Melbourne Smash 4 champion
“When I first started going to tournaments, I didn’t place noticeably at all, save for the few times I went to conventions. I didn’t let placings get to me and I just toiled on, learning more about my character. My aim was never to win the tournament. It was always to improve on my placing. Which was probably why my reaction to my first national tournament win was priceless.
“I never saw it coming, simply because I wasn’t aiming to get 1st. Heck I even said a few days before, “If I get 1st place, I’ll buy a pig and name it ‘Get Good’. And now there is a piggy bank on my desk with the words ‘Get Good’ on it. I remember the tournament very well not only because of how happy I was, but also how much support my mates had given me that tournament. Friends make these events a complete blast to attend.
“I had a lot of doubts when I had reached [the] grand finals, and if it weren’t for their support I’m almost certain I wouldn’t have been able to get first place. So I guess, my advice for other players: don’t get discouraged when you lose or place badly (we all have bad days!), and bring a mate into your journey to get good! There will be many times where you will be frustrated because your efforts seem fruitless, but there will be a day where it all pays off.”
Ethan “iaguz” Zugai: StarCraft 2 player for ROOT Gaming, former Company of Heroes champion and Australian representative in the World Championship Series
“Don’t go into e-sports deliberately. If you’re going to pursue a career in eSports it has to happen accidentally, naturally. Deciding on purpose that you’re going to forgo a different career path you’re interested in to try and be good at Video Games is a bad idea. It’s far less lucrative or stable than almost anything else you could be doing.
“The only people who should be pursuing a career in eSports are those who know how to separate a hobby and a job and have the infuriating natural talent to be extremely good at things they do and those who have an inescapable passion for games that make them completely immune to common sense. I believe I identify as the latter, by the way.
“Secondly, in Australia it’s incredibly hard to maintain an eSports habit. Blame a mixture of our terrible internet infrastructure and the fact we’re ten thousand miles away from anywhere particularly relevant in eSports (Korea, China, Western/Central Europe, USA). This makes sponsorship harder to come by, as paying for regular flights from Australia to any of those places is hideously expensive, and it means that the local player base tends to be weaker overall so practice is trickier. If you’re going to have a good career in eSports, be willing to accept that you might not be spending most of it within Australia.
I guess what I’m trying to get at is that eSports is at a stage where it’s fuelled mostly through passion, and isn’t really properly set up in a lot of ways. You’ll do a lot of work and see very little for it, for the most part. Personally, I don’t regret my decision to pursue a career in eSports, but I wouldn’t say it was the smartest thing I could have done.”
Jason “RYmeister” Ryan: League of Legends player for Sin Gaming
“The best advice I could give to any player in League of Legends, regardless of their aim, is to always to have a self-reflective mentality. What I mean is, to always look towards your mistakes and question yourself, “how could I have played better to win this game, or win this game more convincingly?”. Despite the result, you should continuously ask these kinds of questions – whether you’re seeking to improve as a player or climb the solo queue ladder.
“Do I need to grind more solo queue to improve? Do I need to ward at three minutes in a brush to avoid ganks? Do I need to pay attention to the mini map more? Do I need to work on my positioning in teamfights? Isolate one of the issues with your gameplay and focus on it over an extensive range of games.”
Xavier “Somniac” Nardella: two time Australian Street Fighter champion, incumbent Battle Arena Melbourne winner
“In order to play well you need to be in your best shape on the day physically, your reactions and thought processes will be much better after you’ve had enough sleep and have been eating properly. If you eat well you won’t be sitting there lamenting your choice of junk food as your stomach rumbles uncomfortably just before you have to sit down and play for the long haul. I’ve always felt my worst at a tournament where I eat something too heavy or bad for me before I had to play.
“Lots of people tend to stay up all night practising or playing the day before the tournament and sacrifice sleep because they believe that they can do a “cram” session before the tournament and they will be better off for it. From my experience you definitely aren’t, when it comes to the moment where you want to apply that knowledge your mind won’t have had enough time to process it and you won’t be in good enough shape to execute the plan mentally.
“You are much better off knowing what to do before hand, so by the time the tournament comes around you don’t have to be cramming knowledge and you will be prepared for the situation when it comes. You can sleep blissfully and wake up in much better shape than everyone else who wasn’t nearly as prepared as you.”
Scott “Boomser” Bednarski: Australian national champion in Counter-Strike, Counter-Strike: Source, Left 4 Dead, Natural Selection and more; representative for Sydney Underground in the Championship Gaming Series
“My biggest tip I have for any gamers trying to start out, no matter how much better become or how many opportunities you have to strive forward “DON’T BURN BRIDGES”. Many times in my career I felt that I no longer needed to be around my peers that I use to game/play with or never felt they would someday strive for the same success which came to bite me in the arse.
“If you don’t respect your past team mates or community members there will most always be a point down the track where your paths meet and it can easily hinder your progress to join teams or be apart of something they have their hands in. Don’t burn bridges and as cliché as it sounds If you have nothing nice to say don’t say anything at all, this goes hand to hand with always making sure you leave on good terms with previous team mates and how you are perceived by the public.
“After all gaming can easily be a Dog Eat Dog world, everybody is after the same thing you want but you need to make sure you take your chances not only when the time is right but also when you can do so with out the possibility of creating enemies along the way.”
So those are some tips about how to be a better game from some of Australia’s best. What advice would you give to someone looking to improve?