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Breakthrough Competitive Part 1

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*Note: I do a relatively quick edit and excuse any typos or grammar issues. I like to just go through my blogs in one go and release them. If I spend too much time editing and piecing it together, I may end up deleting too much out of dissatisfaction. Everything here is an expression of my beliefs and opinion. I do not speak for my teammates or the competitive sector as a whole. If you like to have TLDR or main points, I'll try to highlight different areas that I think are worth noting.

I was going to continue right where I left off on my last blog, but I've decided to do something like a reflection. I'll continue where I left off somewhere in the following weeks. My goal is to help players looking to breakthrough into the competitive scene.

*Tips, guides, reflections and knowledge that I wish I knew when I was younger competitor:

Social Networking and Patience.
One of the most important things that I've learned over the years is that social networking is pivotal. Social networking is like a waiting game. It requires a lot of patience. Sometimes people who you encounter will drop out of your DotA world and suddenly reappear months, even years, later. I promise you, with patience, that the friends you make will open doors for you in the future.

Add players who seem proactive and friendly. Remove players if they make your experience unpleasurable. Simple.

Make as many allies as possible and don't piss too many people off. The reason I use the word "allies" is because they don't necessarily have to be your friend. Just by having mutual respect for each other, you will increase your chances for opportunities in the future. At the very least, avoid flaming and take the higher road in sticky situations.

This is not to say that there will not be bad people who you should embrace. Stay far, far away from the ones that just "put you off". If your first instinct is to avoid this person, then do whatever it takes to stay away. There are a lot of players who are just looking for opportunities at everyone else's expense. They'll use you up, talk smack behind your back, and destroy your teams. Just shrug them off and respectfully ignore any advancements at friendship with these people.

Simple enough, some would say, yet it can be very difficult as an aspiring competitive player. It is too easy to blame people and let your ego get in the way of admitting mistakes.

With time, players grow. You never know what people will be like down the road.
Possibilities include: tournament organizers, DotA activists, competitive players, community leaders, and competitive connects to name a few.

There is some magic behind DotA and how it breeds it's fanatical players. DotA successfully bellows the flames of competition. The very nature of the game demands a wealth of knowledge, mechanical skill and precision. When I was first starting out, I became grossly obsessed with the game (not to say that I'm not today). Hours upon hours my mind would race with DotA. That's all I wanted to do, everyday and all day. I wanted to be the best. I wanted to show my friends up and gain their respect. That was my main motivation until I realized that I wanted more. I thought that I'd be satisfied in elevating to greater heights than my friends. I kept pushing forward, with more relentless schedules. Becoming the best was the only goal since then. People will rapidly develop their skills.

Believe me, many of the players you encounter will be around for a long time. Players I've met 5 years ago and quit are rediscovering each other now. DotA is a game that bonds a player for life. I always told my friends, "you can't quit DotA". In a sense it's true. I've rarely seen anyone truly quit. They'll still play pubs, mention it, or play DotA clones. I know married men with children who still play! KIDS!

There are late bloomers and early bloomers. Find a way to be kind and respectful to them. I promise that you'll reap the rewards in time. If there is one long-term goal you should keep in mind, it is social networking.

Facilitating a healthy ego.
I believe that an ego is necessary to being a competitive player. However, there is a difference between a healthy ego and a corrupted ego. There is a certain degree of unrelenting arrogance one needs to chase perfection.

A healthy ego is a player who is self confident and willing to push boundaries in order to keep growing. This player typically points out his own mistakes as they happen, but doesn't let them burden him. He is self-actualizing and able to progress without crushing others on his path. He understands his limits and welcomes criticism. However, he knows when to shut out tasteless criticisms and support his own beliefs wholeheartedly.

A corrupted ego is a player who is overly arrogant. A worst case scenario would involve someone who exaggerates his abilities and then gives into his false perception. This player is willing to abandon teammates and friends. This player is unstable and readily looking to lash out at teammates. He will not take any criticism and will often burn bridges indefinitely. Talking behind players backs and making shady deals on the side. This type of player will always believe in the saying "the grass is greener on the other side", never willing to commit.

Learning to learn (Pt. 1).
Learning to learn? Ambiguous, I know. That's a phrase I coined to express the most impactful aspect of growth.
This is a skill that will aid you greatly. Understanding your growth habits and knowing when to reach higher is a necessary skill.

I believe that it is necessary to gauge one's own growth repeatedly.
In order to gauge your own growth, set personal goals for yourself.

For example, one very easy way to identify growth is through picking up a new hero or uncomfortable hero. Watch replays, vods, and practice this hero until you feel extremely capable with it. However, NEVER EVER feel complacent.
One truth about DotA is that there will always be something to learn. After 4 years of playing and practicing Chen, I still learn something almost every time I play him. Don't stop looking for new and innovative ways to approach DotA. You'd be a fool to think in absolutes, when it comes to strategy and methodology.

Find A Mentor or Role Model

The greatest periods of growth and self reflection were brought upon me by mentors. Mentors and role models serve as great pillars of knowledge and break down barriers of entry.

A mentor doesn't necessarily need to be a clear-cut teacher. Join a clan and learn off of your clanmates and their higher ups. For example, when I was only playing All Pick Easy Mode DotA, I joined a clan and met someone who shifted my paradigm. It was one of the clan's "Shaman" (WC3 Clan System). Typically the higher ups were better at the game and more invovlved. He convinced me to have higher aspirations and recognize what DotA is truly about, the competition. If not for this person, I probably wouldn't have gotten out of casual DotA.Indirectly I was impacted because I allowed someone to instill beliefs and knowledge in me. He was just my friend and I was just a clanmate.

A year had passed and a couple of amateur tournament seasons with it. I had occupied my time with learning each and every hero one by one. I placed a special emphasis on learning the most difficult and obscure heroes. I held pride in knowing that I could play the most difficult heroes of the time such as meepo, chen and invoker. I had competed in multiple small-time tournaments and fulfilled unique roles, yet my progression met a halt.

*Before I go on with the story, I'd like to go on a tangent about Chen. A lot of players say "Oh I'm just not a Chen player" or "I can't micro for Sh*t". NEVER talk down to yourself or try to validate your failures by convincing others of such. I was not a strong micro player either. In fact, I had such bad micro that I'd often forget to cast multiple spells in order to throw out a simple hoof stomp.

*These so-called difficult heroes, such as invoker, are not out of your reach. Every skill in DotA can be acquired through practice and hard work. I implore you to find your own methods of operation and micro styles. Don't let anyone fully dictate how a hero should or should not be played. As I have developed my own way to micro efficiently with my own set of unique keys, so will you. All it takes is the drive to creatively face challenges and offer individual solutions.

*Note: I believe that, for those of you new to DotA 2, you will find significant advantages today in following the competitive scene. There is such a "in-your-face" and progressive stream culture. Top teams facing off and being casted regularly each and every day is great. Take advantage of this. I believe that newer members can learn, exponentially greater than before, about competitive DotA.

From Amateur to Invite.
As great as pub games were, I only breached the surface. So time had passed and, I didn't know it then, but I didn't undergo any significant growth. There is more to DotA than just learning the heroes and mechanics, that is just the first step. I thought that if I had just picked up on each and every hero, then naturally I'd be a great player.

Competitive and pubbing are completely different. It's almost as if you're playing an entirely new game with a new set of rules. Apart from just being a competitive player, drafting is a separate mess. Sometimes games can be won or lost through a draft. Relatively, however, most top teams will have competent lineups both capable of winning. I won't get in too much detail about that here.

League play and clan wars were what eventually shifted my focus to competitive play. I had decided to quit pubs entirely and dedicate all of my attention to scrims and clan wars only for a year. It was a radical move, in retrospect. Pubbing is still important to maintaining mechanical skill and discovering innovative tactics. Yet, in my mind, that was the only way to proceed.

My advice towards
finding teammates is to find a community. Whether it be associations made through friends or an established community, find a group of likeminded players. I can't really speak for the new generation on how to find a niche. That's something that you'll need to figure out yourself. I do believe it is necessary to find a group of inhouse players or DotA fiends who will play nonstop. Identify the strongest members and ask them questions. In doing so, also support those with lesser skill and knowledge. Improve off of each other and discover your talents and preferences.

Identify your role.
You don't have to commit to anything but be honest with yourself. The "jack of all trades, master of none" player is far too familiar. Support players simply do not exist when the stigma is for players to be "carried" for being "dumba*ses". I guarantee that if you focus on a role, you'll be more valuable than someone who can do everything decently. My blog "A Bird's Eye View Part 1": http://www.complexitygaming.com/forums/entry.php?b=2021 briefly explains roles. Once I move forward with that project, I'll be able to explain it further in detail.

It's been about 3 and a half hours of writing so I'll just stop here.

Also a special shoutout to Gameclucks.com, the lan center that will be sponsoring our bootcamp. Another shoutout to our new sponsor Gamma Gamers as well.


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