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Travel - the anti Bonjwa?

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Effective competition requires that we maintain a fairly consistent environment. This means practicing in a similar way. Practicing similar strategies. Practicing with the same gear and so on. Considering how important consistency is in developing one's skill and building muscle memory and so on it is no wonder that travel has seemingly struck again and again as potential greatness emerges only to strike it down.

Travel is one of the least consistent or predictable things in the life of a progamer. Most of the time we travel to a place we've never been to before via at least one airport we're unfamiliar with. Everything from traffic to the food we eat and our ability to sleep or otherwise plan are disrupted. There are many factors out of our control including delays, seating, and the actual location in which the event may take place. Even if we plan accordingly for everything known many unknown things can happen involving delays, scheduling problems and general administration problems with the tournaments themselves.

It's no secret that almost every single LAN event encounters delays of some sort - but when and to how much they occur is rarely predictable.

All in all travel amounts to a relatively consistent factor that must be taken into account when attending events. More importantly, there are certain costs associated with travel that cannot be avoided. Travel tends to leave people tired, out of their comfort zone, and 'behind' on things that need to be taken care of back home. For a progamer this means lost practice time.

In addition, with the advent of tournaments all over the world progamers are more and more inclined to try winning more events despite the infeasibility of doing so because of travel and the costs associated with it.

Finally, travel has the effect of disrupting the rhythm of practice and life of a progamer. Imagine a time where you were performing at your peak. For progamers one of our main objectives is to maintain that 'peak' period whenever possible both in practice and competition but this is no easy task. Just like a game of Starcraft has momentum so does maintaining a good practice schedule. Once in one it can seem like there's no other possible way to practice - and when out of one it can seem like there's no obvious way to find one.

To summarize: due to disruption caused by travel and the mass of tournaments all over the world potential being a consistently great player is even more difficult than in the era of Korea Broodwar where very few events sent you internationally.

For evidence I point to players like MVP, Nestea, MC, and most recently MKP. Was travel the only reason for their fall? Was travel even the main reason? Maybe not but there seems to be a connection.

The MKP I saw last night in GSL was not the same that I've seen in the past or even over the weekend at MLG.

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  1. Perrin's Avatar
    But how do you feel about PartinG's performance? Hasn't he been traveling just about as much as MKP? And he made it to the top of the group.
  2. 1's Avatar
    I think many people underestimate the affects of travel and how it can influence your game. Good blog!
  3. coL.qxc's Avatar
    parting was out by the morning of sunday while mkp had to play until 9 or 10 pm that night. He had a much longer period of recovery time to help offset the effects of traveling.

    Also - while this is a potential disadvantage it is not unsurpassable by any means. Parting may have dealt with the travel and recovery being back home better than mkp. We don't really know.
  4. EroSennin's Avatar
    JST-Ero_Sennin now in Complexity Academy under the name vGEroSennin. I'm an athletic training student and also a pitching coach and instructor, and I'd like to address the issue of travel that QXC brought up.

    The problems associated with travel may occur several days before a competition, but their debilitating effects can last a long time. Four major sources of problems are associated with travel to competitions.

    1) Travel fatigue. Fatigue becomes increasingly more bothersome the greater the duration of the travel excursion. Reaction time, perception, mood, motivation, and thought processes can be negatively affected by travel stress.

    2) Jet-lag. As QXC mentioned, when an athlete trains consistently and habitually, the body adapts through regulated function. That function becomes a daily cycle and is part of an individual's "circadian rhythm". When several time-zones are crossed through travel, the body does not adjust immediately to such sudden time shifts. The rhythm of the body is sensitive enough that if activity is regularly partaken at a particular time of the day, it will be prepared to exercise/practice at that time of the day. It learns to anticipate the need to exercise, or practice. Thus, when traveling, opportunities must be given to adjust this internal clock.

    3) Activity sequence alterations. Not only does the body get used to performing at particular times, but it also adapts to the sequence of regular daily activities. So, basically, if a player is used to following a distinct pattern of activities each day, the body develops a regulated cycle to accommodate that pattern. If travel prevents that pattern, the individual will be stressed because of the sequence disruption.

    4) New environment. The lack of familiarity with the cues, venue, and resources of a competitive environment increases the stress on an athlete. It's suggested that the player get some time to become familiar with the new surroundings.

    The above four sources of disruptive stress require a player to use some resources to adapt to the new game environment.

    So, what can the player do about this?

    At home, establish daily activities according to the time standard of the competition site. This may be difficult to do, but it would ensure that the player's body would not suffer jet-lag. He might only suffer travel fatigue.

    As soon as the player arrives at the competition, explore the surroundings. This will allow the player to cope better with any problems should they arise because he will have an idea of what and where resources are available.

    Attempt to arrive at the location at night so that the player can rest and overcome travel fatigue after a brief initial exploration of the new surroundings.

    Spend more time at the unfamiliar competition than would be spent at a familiar one.

    A "rule-of-thumb" for estimating the time for adequate adaptation to occur is one day for each one hour time change, and three days for daily event sequence change and new environment familiarization. The calculated period would allow most players to adapt fully to the disruptive stress produced by travel.

    Easier said than done, I know, but I'm just laying it out there for ya.
  5. 1's Avatar
    Damn, that's a helluva comment, gj
  6. EroSennin's Avatar
    Yeah, I can't make blogs for whatever reason, so comment will have to do ^^