Before I get into the meat of this post, I just want to do a quick little update. I hopped on the Yo craze a few weeks ago (if you don’t know what Yo is, go look it up!) and just saw made an account for this blog. No longer will you have to wait via email or social media updates to know when the next post is out – if you have Yo and add this name to your list of Yo contacts, a Yo will be sent out (with the url to the blog) from the account! The name is JUSTSAYINBLOG!
Okay, time to get to the real post!
Time to turn on the heels of my last post about execution. I want to talk about something that I see a lot of new players in any competitive game I’ve watched struggle with. Because Super Smash Bros. is the primary game series I compete in, I’m going to use that as an example.
Imagine that you’re a new player for Super Smash Bros. Melee. You’ve been watching the pros for a while, and dream of doing all the crazy technical stuff that they can do. You start to practice wave dashing, dash dancing, L-canceling, ledge hops, jump cancels, ledge cancels. You go to a tournament, ready to show off your skills, and some guy who doesn’t do any of that tech stomps you.
What happened? You’ve become proficient in all the technical skills required of the game, and this guy didn’t even L-cancel his aerials! I’ll tell you what happened – that guy who doesn’t L-cancel has a greater understanding of the fundamentals of Super Smash Bros..
I think a big problem with getting into some competitive games is that there’s so much tech to learn that you become overwhelmed and focus on learning the tech instead of learning the fundamentals of that game. Instead of learning how to properly space aerials, zone, and maintain an advantageous stage position, new players are doing tech that even I can’t do, but they have no idea when to use it correctly – they just kinda flash around the stage and get beaten.
Every game is different in their specific physics and tech, but one thing remains constant: the need for good spacing, zoning, and stage position control. Every Super Smash Bros. game requires these skills to be a good player. Once you learn the fundamentals, you can transition between games because you have the option to play smart. You have the ability to take new techniques learned and apply them in a way that helps you instead of hinders you. As a kid, I learned how to wavedash in Melee and lost a lot because I had no idea when to use it. I just thought using it and knowing how to execute it would make me better. Then I came from Brawl to Melee and Project M once I had been playing Brawl competitively for a few years, and while I struggled with execution at first, I immediately realized the effectiveness dash dancing and wavedashing had on maintaining stage control and zoning and simply thought about when the application of those techniques would achieve those goals best.
Fundamentals are the most important thing to learn when approaching any activity, whether it be writing, competitive gaming, sports, programming…you name it! Once you’ve mastered the fundamentals, all the techniques you’ve been practicing will fall into place.
And you’ll find yourself succeeding.