cArn: So you want to be a progamer?
Posted 2012-09-28 Acker
cArn: So you want to be a progamer?
The following piece is written by Patrik "cArn" Sättermon:
In the latter part of my career as a professional Counter-Strike player, I received many letters from gamers asking me for advice on how to make it big in eSports. Many that contacted me have aired frustration that even though they put endless hours into their gaming, success still seems too far off to be considered as a reachable goal.
In this brief guide "So you want to be a progamer?", I will list five elements that I find extremely important if you want to succeed in eSports, based on my own experiences as a professional Counter-Strike player.
1. Have fun!
As easy as this may sound, I'm truly convinced that success at something comes from having fun, because without joy the boredom will consume your talent faster than you can imagine.
Think about it - how many times have you heard that professional gamers are struggling with motivation? I can name a handful of my ex-team mates who certainly had the potential to stay at the highest level for several years, but soon realized that gaming maybe was not meant for them - the motivation was not just there.
So what I urge you to do here, is to ask yourself if you actually enjoy the gaming so much that you can justify the hours you will need to spend to reach the top. The hours needed will of course vary depending on your current skill, but I will tell you one thing: you will be required to sacrifice A LOT if you want to become the best. Are you still game? Then let’s move on to my second piece of advice.
2. Practise, practise and practise
Let’s start by exposing the professional gamers that claim they are not practising: THEY ARE!
They may not practise as much as they used to at this very moment when success has reached them (you come a long way by being confident and feared by your opponents), but they surely have put a vast amount of hours into practice earlier in their careers. Maybe they have inadvertently forgotten about this - practise should be fun right?
Practise is fundamentally important and the reason why you will reach consistency in your game. Of course there will be people requiring less practise than others, but generally the ones that can struggle through the most practice will be a stronger contender for the medals, simple as that.
The next tricky question to pin down here is: How to practise? The only advice I can give here is to practise in a way that fits you. We are all different and only you know which kind of game mode, format or time of the day suits you best. Try to innovate the game by taking risks. The day you stop trying new things will also be the day your progress halts. Fail once, twice and even more, it's not about how many times you are not succeeding in doing something, it's about what you learn from it.
As I'm coming from a team-based game I'd say the easiest way to have fun while practising is to end up in a team where you appreciate the company, even if they are not as good in-game as a different team that just offered you a spot.
"Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth." - Mary Schmich
As this quote suggests, be careful to whom you listen to, but give these people respect when you deal with them. Team mates, practice partners and rivals might become the people with the greatest impact and influence on your career tomorrow, so treat them well.
In my early career as an aspiring professional, I sometimes felt like the ball in a pinball game might feel like (as if an iron ball has feelings). The destination I had set out for myself was decided, I wanted to reach the top (in the pinball's case, the bottom), but which route I had to take to reach my goal was far from certain. There are just too many external things that have influenced my journey to the top.
The speed and likelihood I would end up at my desired destination, however, was only up to me. As I had tons of motivation and practised like there was no tomorrow, as well as being able to deal with the social game that team-based sports come with, I eventually reached my goal in 2006 where my team became world champions for the first time.
Ever wondered why Usain Bolt is playing around and posing before a 100m run? Surely the marketing folks at Puma see ROI (Return On Investment) here and there, but in the Jamaican cheetah's eyes, he is simply doing his routine, preparing the most important competition in his scene, but still simplifying it by trying to have fun and forgetting that in 9.58 seconds he could be worth a few million dollars more, and sporting another gold medal.
What we are seeing above is a schoolbook example on how athletes try to trigger themselves to execute on demand, and channel all the endless hours of practise, mental exercises and diets to turn their A-game into reality - the moment of glory.
To be completely honest, the best frags of Counter-Strike will probably never happen in an official game. The shit I've seen in my years from practise is just incredible and mind-blowing, and I wish CS had auto-record so the fans could actually see these highlights.
But that's an essential part of the beauty of competition - who cares really who wins during practice? The legends are the ones who can channel all that wisdom and experience when it really matters.
I can still remember that very first game I played in front of a crowd, and it was not a nice experience at all. My 16 year old body gave me all kind of weird symptoms from the stress, and despite the fact that we (on paper) were a better team - and back then I was a feared sniper -, we simply could not perform and I missed all my shots because I couldn't cope with the tension from performing when it really matters.
To be fair, an official game can also be seen as practice, since you learn so much about yourself and the way you play when you are measuring your strengths for real.
In later years I have optimized a routine for how to calm down before an important game by a various of methods that might not help you, but it surely assisted me to bring my A-game. We are all different when it comes to this. In my case I'm trying my best to get the communication and fun going by chatting and playing around with my team mates, I drink an excessive amount of water and listen to some of my favourite songs (mostly epic stuff) to get my stuff together.
As a conclusion, try find your own exercises to prepare for an important game. You do not need to flex like Bolt, or listen to ridiculous songs like me. It can be literally anything from thinking about your favourite color or slapping yourself in the face screaming: "LET'S DO THIS!"
5. Gear up
In this final chapter I will bring up the importance of finding gaming gear that can assist you to perform on the highest level. I will avoid of speaking about tech stuff as that calls for another guide. Instead I would like to suggest a more open-minded approach to testing new products.
Patrik "cArn" Sättermon's gear
Let's begin by pinning down one thing: there are no perfect mouse, keyboard, headset and mousepad. For me it is, but maybe not for you, him or her - we are all different.
Listening to your favourite gamers can give you an idea about which kind of gear you need to perform on his/her level. Obviously you will not reach a professional's level upon installing his gear, but you have proof that you can perform on that level by using these products.
The next thing I think is important is to appreciate new technology, and use it in your favour. Many say that "stuff was better back in the days". Seriously, take a look around and you will soon realize that the technology of the 21st century and beyond is pretty damn awesome.
Worth mentioning regarding this is that gaming peripheral companies, such as our partner SteelSeries, always work very close with our gamers and take their feedback into account when developing new products, in other words: if the professional does not like a feature or design, you won't see it in the stores or in the hands of the players.
Investing in new technology does not always come cheap, and I'm not hinting that you should try every single mouse, keyboard and headset on the market. But if you are currently not satisfied with a certain product, you should consider a change. You will never become a confident player if you are using products you are not comfortable with.
To wrap things up I would once more like to stress how important having fun is, without it you are doomed to fail. Respect your peers and before you go into next practice game, or even official game, try to find a routine that helps you trigger your A-game. If you are uncomfortable with any of your gear you should consider change it.
Finally, thanks for reading this and I wish you the best of luck in your future career, now let’s go have some fun!
First picture is courtesy of Fragbite.se. Usain Bolt picture courtesy of Hindustantimes.com