For a long time, most of my undertakings regarding StarCraft, were lived alone. Despite being recruited in a team early in my StarCraft journey, I always had this feeling in my gut. An anxiety that would arise at the mere thought of having to ask for help.

In a way, I feared being told by someone “better than I was” that I was not cut-out for what I had set out to achieve.

A form of impostor syndrome, as I’ve come to understand it.

Several things in my life had to happen in order for me to come around and ask other people for help. One of those things, was going to therapy and working through my issues. I had this hunger to break the cycles that had stalled the lives and accomplishments of people close to me.

The other, was my experiences as a teacher. I’ve learned throughout the years that collaboration offers a rich environment to enhance the learning process. I started to think of my students more as learning partners. People whom I shared common learning goals with. This idea changed my perspective towards improving in StarCraft.

There are three things that have helped me progress more than I ever did before:

  • Help yourself
  • Ask for help
  • Offer to help

Help yourself

StarCraft is more than just a game now. It is a discipline to which a lot of people devote countless hours to. If you’re experiencing frustration, doubt, euphoria, self-loath, self-fulfillment from playing StarCraft, chances are you probably take it more seriously than the average passer-by.

Spending time understanding the way your brain learns and in general, the way it works, is something all of us should do, and in esports, it can make a huge difference.
The objective is not to become an expert in cognition, but rather to become an expert in how to help yourself achieve what you want, and the avenues to do this are multiple. There is no right path, other than what works for you as an individual.

A lot of the times we set ourselves up to fail because of a lack of understanding of our own processes.

I highly recommend this video by Healthy Gamer’s Dr. K. on motivation styles, just as an example of how unique our mind can be from that of other people.

Avoid toxicity as much as possible. Let’s face it. Life is rough and StarCraft is no easy game. Everyone who’s laddering, is there for different reasons. Be compassionate towards yourself and others on the ladder. Many times, I’ve used the line “Rough day?” after getting bm’ed in chat and most answers I’ve gotten have surprised me.

Toxicity towards others is generally a reflection of a toxic attitude towards ourselves and an inability to identify and manage the emotions that come with it. A lack of awareness of this could be a huge obstacle to your progress without you even knowing it.

On the subject of asking for help

The idea is simple. Approach people who can teach you things. For me, my clanmates, my friends and my coach, Bombs have been a great source of learning experiences.

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that knowledge can come from many different sources.
Having people around you who inspire you and are willing to share with you what they know, can be incredibly valuable. Not only can they provide knowledge, but they can also be great sources of motivation, which can sometimes be difficult to come by.
Some of these individuals may come and go, but with some of them, you’ll grow strong bonds of cooperation and mutual betterment. You’ll most likely find yourselves competing against each other, but above all, rooting for one another.

Something I’ve come to realise throughout the years I’ve spent playing, watching, studying and most recently, casting StarCraft, is that there is so much we can learn from the way other people learn the game.

Help others

All of us, no matter how high or low our rank is, can bring something valuable to the table. Whether it’s our uwavering tenacity, our positive and optimistic outlook on things, our highly analitical brains, or a strong work ethic. We can all help someone out.

Time and time again, I’ve heard people describe positive gaming communities as having members who are “welcoming and willing to help newcomers”. Offer a hand to someone who’s struggling with stuff that you’ve figured out. Take the time to answer a question in chat after a ladder game. Become a mentor to someone else. Be kind, first and foremost.

What about backseating? Backseating is only useful when welcome and asked for. Most of the time, people will fall into either one of two categories:
1.- They will ignore what you’re saying. Probably shoot back a snarky remark and move on.
2.- They will feel an added pressure to perform, which is often times taken negatively, they won’t be vocal about it at the time but internalize this criticism and carry it to the next games without a clear path of how to even apply all the little nuggets of wisdom.

Since the situations in competitive games can be easily recognized by their patterns and at the same time are so unique, “y u not go mech?” can be a pretty vague suggestion, to say the least.

Try this! If you are watching someone who you think you could help improve, ask them about it. “Hey, I’ve been watching you play for a while, I think I could offer some help, would it be ok if I backseat?

Isolation can only take us so far. In order for us to get to the higher-order skills in StarCraft, we must learn to socialize knowledge, which is a fancy term for the act of learning by interacting with others.

Being part of the StarCraft community has opened many doors to great opportunities to learn and grow as a player and as a professional in my area of expertise. I’ve learned that the best way to give back to that community and to the people who are a part of it is to share what little knowledge I have to offer.

Missed any of the previous Road to Masters posts? Click here!