[Competitive Chronicles] Preparation is Everything

“Competitive Chronicles” is a new blog series from David Eller, an amateur Street Fighter V player who travels to local tournaments and blogs about his experiences.  The views reflected in these personal posts may not reflect the views of Esports Source staff.

I’ll just get this out of the way: I’ve participated in a lot of tournaments over the last eight years since becoming a lover of the Street Fighter series, but despite my passion, I’ve never broken into the Top 16 at a Capcom tournament, or even placed highly at a tournament with over 200 participants.  To me, winning is less about the prizes and more about just being at my best.  I love the game when I play good matches, and I hate it when I don’t. 

Despite my lack of pro status, I’ve accrued a lot of tournament experience over the past eight years, and I’ve come up with a set of rules I follow for every competition:

  • I minimize my blood sugar levels the day before and during the tournament, I don’t want any highs or lows in my energy levels from my foods.  I do this by fasting during competition days, and only consuming water and black coffee.
  • I sleep well.  I make sure I get 7.5 hours of sleep, and I try to wake up whenever I normally wake up to feel fully alert and refreshed.
  • I do not share my hotel room with other people if I don’t know them.  Having my own room is more expensive, but the snores from other people can also cost me valuable sleep, so I think it’s worth the investment.
  • I do some light cardio before the tournament to get the blood flowing.  Exercise combined with caffeine gets my blood flowing and keeps my hands warm.

I did not follow these rules at the Choctaw Festival of Gaming, and I failed miserably.

To be successful in esports, you need to not only be the best player – but also the most consistent. Most of the time, groups of people travel together to tournaments, not only to compete, but to have fun.  The only problem: having fun may be detrimental to your ability to perform.

I went Choctaw Festival of Gaming this past weekend in Durant, Oklahoma, to compete in the SFV tournament which had a $5,000 bonus pot.  I brought a friend with me to the Choctaw Casino and Resort since he had never been to a casino before.  I didn’t sleep well because I was up late having fun, and I am not used to sleeping in a room with somebody else.  I did not give myself enough time to wake up and exercise, and I ate at the breakfast buffet that morning.  I got to the venue early enough to practice, but my hands were cold and I was still yawning, so I had a low carb energy drink.

All of the things I did contrary to my rules were running through my mind that morning, and it reflected in the result: I went 0-2.

I played poorly.  I was impatient in my matches, my fingers were cold, I dropped combos, I was slow to react to my opponents offense, and I didn’t take advantage of openings in my opponents defense. When I reflect upon my mental state at the time, I know I wasn’t ready to play.  I had fun with my friend at the event, but in the end I didn’t do well because I just wasn’t prepared.

Competitive gaming requires mental athleticism, and athletes have to treat themselves accordingly.  To me Street Fighter isn’t just a game, it’s a way for me to measure my own mental clarity as I get older.  My ability to play well is my positive reinforcement for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

To be successful at tournaments I have to have the discipline of an athlete.  I know this, but I just didn’t do it this time around.

Hopefully I take my own advice next time.

About David Eller 3 Articles
Competitive gamer, tech worker, aspiring comedian and coffee addict. I hark from the Northeast, grew up in one of the oldest towns in the country, and I'm known for having an entertaining perspective on things.