Being Valuable to Sponsors

For players who dream of making money from their passion for gaming, becoming a member of a team and/or being sponsored is one of the best ways to go pro.  Many players have some misconceptions about what it means to be sponsored and by changing their perspective just a little they can really discover many ways that they can become good sponsor prospects, if they put in the time and effort to do so.  

Traditional sports have many different revenue streams that can keep players and teams paid and happy, but in esports there is really only one major revenue stream and that’s sponsorship for the purpose of advertising.  Companies want to advertise their products, players and teams offer to get the word out on their products for a price. If you play your cards right you too could have a huge logo tattooed on your forehead while you play grand finals.  What you need to do is put yourself in the shoes of one of these companies and ask, “Why would they pay ME to advertise for them?”. Well first imagine that you are literally a walking billboard for their product. How are people gonna see that billboard?

“Easy!”, you say, “I’ll just win.”  That’s a good start, winning is always a great way to advertise and for many it’s the best or only way to get noticed.  The more events you win the more you’ll appear on stream, the more times your name and sponsor tag will appear on strangers computer monitors. Winning, no matter how you do it or how little people like how you did it, is always good advertising.  So one of your goals should be to be the best or one of the best at whatever your game is so you stand out and get attention.

“Alright, I’ll work on winning, what else can I be doing?”  Winning isn’t the only way you can get your face and name in front of people.  Commentators get attention and tons of stream time so if you can get on that mic.  Being funny, smart, or professional in front of a camera is going to earn you a lot of points with potential sponsors.  Sponsors love to make advertisements and being able to put you in there helps you and them. If you can show that you are great on camera or can even make your own ads then that looks great!

Social media is amazing for advertising so having a strong presence on Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube is a huge plus.  Even if you don’t have the followers yet, just showing that you can act the ways sponsors would want you to is points for you.  Most sponsors want some combination of professional, funny and insightful, so start making connections and posting as much as you can.

Ultimately the mindset you should cultivate is that pretending you are already sponsored and imagining what a sponsor would ask of you will help guide you to be the professional you aim to be.  This will also allow you to get creative and even find ways of increasing your potential value to teams by finding new ways to get noticed. Every win (or top 8) you get, every popular tweet, funny video, or personal connection you form will help.  Imagine each connection or piece of content on an esports resume that you could show to Cloud 9 or TSM. If what you did sounds like it could get eyes on you, you are heading in the right direction.

Creating a Tournament Report

One of the difficult aspects of improving in a game like Smash Bros is finding out your own weaknesses and areas for improvement then turning around and creating a practice plan to address those points.  While there are a number of ways of being faced with your own weak points, like online matches, training with friends, and tournament matches, there is a big difference between knowing you have weaknesses and being able to put them into words.  Something that helps me is creating a Tournament Report after every tournament I enter to identify things to practice.  

A Tournament Report is a small page of notes on various aspects of the tournament that can help you focus on what you can work on for the next tournament. I’d recommend writing a report the next day or even the same day after the tournament, but leaving a little time to get a little emotional distance so you aren’t just pouring salt on your opponents for the whole report.  A good report will have the following points in as much detail as you can remember:

1.   The characters you and your opponents played in each game of each set

Understanding what characters you each picked and why can help you make different decisions later if that might help, or allow you to work out a strategy for later.  If either of you is using blind-pick, keeping track of what certain opponents pick can help you out a lot later too. 

2.   The stages played and who counter picked what stage

Same as above, evaluating whether your stage picks helped or hurt you can help a lot in the future.

3.   Notes about how you were feeling before the tournament

Note here things like whether you warmed up before the set, were you feeling good, nervous, or down, did you eat before playing, etc. 

4.   How well you were able to focus during each set

How did you feel during the set?  Were you getting angry, upset, what moves caused you to feel what? Did you feel like you could adapt to the way your opponent played?

5.   Thoughts or feelings you had after each set, either about yourself or about how the opponent played

Same as above, but what was going through your head after the games?

6.   How did your opponent play?

What was their style like?  Aggressive? Combo oriented?  How did they respond to your play?  Did they stay calm or what caused them to react?

7.   How did you play?

What got under your skin?  Did you feel like you played well?  Did you stick to your game plan?

8.   What are some practicable points that you can take away from this set? 

How can you be better prepared for playing this opponent again? What can you do in training mode today to be better for the next tournament?


 

Being able to put all of these notes down will help you understand your own performance better and give you something to keep in mind for next time.  You’ll also feel more confident for the next time you face these opponents because you’ll have put in time and practice just for them!

 

*Here’s a quick example of what my last tournament report looks like.  If you want help making one of these, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter and I’ll give whatever advice I can.  (https://countesports.com/2020/03/04/wnf-2-26-tournament-report-for-count)

WNF 2/26 Tournament Report for Count

Count player 4 sets, going 2-2


 

Set one:  Neverpullout, playing Mario

Game one Count played Snake, Lost (PS2)

Game two Count played Dedede, Lost (Smashville)

 

Count did not warm up before his first set, and played somewhat poorly, missing b reversals, getting frustrated, airdodging in a lot and not properly DIing.  He also SDed once at low percent stock two in game one. He had more presence for game two but fell prey to Mario combos. He consistently went for shield grabs in unsafe situations and got punished for it.  

Never played a very aggressive game, often fading straight into Count and going for aggressive shield pressure and combos.  He got hit a lot coming in but didn’t become deterred. He seemed to not like playing against defensive players, and could be easily frustrated. Never is an emotive player, often shaking his head during games and showing his frustration.

 

Takeaways:  Practice DIing Mario combos, OOS options against Mario, Having a game plan against aggressive Marios, Remembering to warm up before sets, Consider using Lucina for particularly aggressive Marios, Practice maintaining a positive mindset against negative players, 


 

Set two: NgocOut (Knockout), playing Greninja (?) and Yoshi

Game one Count played Snake, Won vs Greninja

Game two Count played Lucina, Won vs Yoshi

 

NgocOut was very new to the game and likely won’t be entering future tournaments, and is a way from being a threat.  Nice guy though. 


 

Set three: Big Sean played Bowser

Game one Count played Snake, Won (PS2)

Game two Count played Snake, Lost (Smashville?)

Game three Count played Snake, WIn (Kalos)

Sean banned both triplats.  

 

Sean looked uncomfortable playing against Snake. He went for more side Bs as the set progressed, possibly to adjust to Count shielding a lot.  Sean Up B’d OOS a good amount when behind him. At low percent look for the flame breath, at higher percent look for pivot up tilt. Dairing may be a frustration move that Sean goes for, pulling grenades and staying mobile worked well.  Only used down B for platform pressure, and only once or twice.  

 

Takeaways: Practice down throw follow ups, Snake gets a lot from throwing Bowser.  

(Low % upthrow > uptilt, mid % throw offstage, high % dthrow to jab/ftilt/uptilt), Frustrating Sean by making him chase you across the stage and back looks like a promising strategy, He used side b mostly aggressively rarely going for it when I approached but when he approached so landing near him with shield and grenade was good and set up good trades when Snake can follow up from the grenade explosion. Sean may ride momentum in his sets, having trouble making comebacks but gaining confidence from taking early stocks. He could go for slightly different strategies when up versus when he’s behind.  


 

Set four: Dave played Daisy

Game one Count played Snake, Lost (PS2?)

Game two Count played Snake, Won (BF?)

Game three Count played Snake, Lost

Dave banned Lylat and ?

 

Dave has fairly emotive, getting a little frustrated by campy strategies, but adjusted by pulling more turnips, throwing them and going in after fairly consistently.  He was comfortable playing around shields, going for good pressure, baiting shield grabs and comboing fairly well. He didn’t dair shield, preferring bair and nair. He waits for people to jump from ledge, not going for trumps or hits on the ledge.  He side Bs from the ledge occasionally when recovering. Odd moves and unexpected plays seem to get to Dave particularly. Likes to throw Snake off stage and go for a jump read fair, didn’t seem as comfortable countering low recoveries but they are still very risky.  He dealt with Snake up smashes well, don’t use them as a keep out tool.  

 

Takeaways:  Practice throw follow ups (back throw > dash attack at low%, throw off stage at mid %), Work on jump habits offstage, Mix up OOS options more, Practice dealing with turnips, develop a strategy against players who prefer shield pressure over grabbing.  

“Going Pro” Part Two:

We talked last time about making the switch from an amateur to a professional mindset and how that allows you to focus on what you want and exert control over your goals for the future. To illustrate this in reverse, let’s take the example of a fictional guy named Steve.

Steve attends local tournaments for his favorite Smash Bros game.  Steve is pretty good at the game, plays all the time, makes some money here or there at locals and wants to make PR sometime or even go pro one day.  Steve ‘trains’ (reads: plays for hours) with his friends and fellow gamers with high aspirations. If you’ve been to a tournament you’ve probably met like 10 Steves.  But Steve has an amateur mindset and it permeates his play and his goals.  

Steve plays a middle of the road character who can do well but doesn’t exactly set Steve up for growth.  Because of Steve’s character choice you’ll occasionally see Steve ranting on Twitter about how “character X is bullshit” because Steve’s game plan against those characters is basically praying to not run into them every time he enters a tournament.  Steve travels to tournaments but only when his friends are going and when it’s convenient for him.  

Now nothing is wrong with the way Steve views the game or his life if this is what he wants out of it.  If he wants more though, he would do well to adjust his mindset and treat the game he loves like a professional would.  Taking training seriously by setting goals and practicing execution like a pro would, treating every aspect the game with serious respect and expecting your opponent to do the same (i.e. no tactic is off limits or cheap), not limiting yourself by picking a sub-optimal character*, treating competition as a proving ground for what he’s trained to do, and never treating winning and losing as a roll of the dice.  Steve will even find that when you treat more parts of your life like a professional would that you begin to realize that you have so much more control over your life than you thought. He’ll gain a newfound confidence in himself that will spill over into other parts of his life too.

Acting like a professional isn’t just for hobbies, it can give new meaning and joy to his job, his relationships and his view of himself.  Taking action rather than making excuses just might become a little more of what Steve is all about.  Treating gaming as something that can’t be taken seriously isn’t Steve’s fault though, our society has been telling people for years that gaming can’t be taken seriously for years, but things have been changing for the better for a while now and they’ll continue to be more accepting of everyone’s hobbies and goals.  

My urging for you is to take a few minutes to sit and think about what it is that you want to accomplish today and in the coming months.  You don’t need grandiose goals, but without some kind of goal going forward you will quickly find yourself thinking “where did the time go?”.  If you focus on what matters to you and take steps you’ll be blown away by what you can accomplish one set at a time.

 

 

* Playing a mid or low tier character isn’t strictly a bad idea for a few reasons, but overall I think it’s a mistake for someone who wants to compete at a high level.  Some reasons for picking a non-top tier include gaining fans who want to see unique characters (being a low tier hero), believing that people have vastly underestimated the character, or the game is balanced enough that no characters really limit your potential.  Even granting these I think you’d be better off picking a top tier, I’ll write about this at a later time.

“Going Pro”

Taking something you love and enjoy like esports and turning it into a career that can support you is the goal of many people.  “Going Pro” is the dream, and at its base that means being a professional, someone who makes money doing what they love. Technically getting top three at your eight man local might get you your entry fee back, so pro status achieved!  But let’s be real, you want to make enough to support yourself and quit your job. This is a tough goal to achieve for most people, but it’s not completely unattainable and giving it a shot might just be fun, heck if it would just quiet the voice in your head that says, “What if” then trying is absolutely worth it! Just don’t rush to quit your job, and let’s start with how best to view this new goal of yours.  

I want to stress to you that “Going Pro” means more than just making money, the money part is realistically going to have to come later.  Before you are a professional in any endeavor, you are an amateur. Amateur is defined as “one who engages in a pursuit, study, science, or sport as a pastime rather than as a profession”.  A huge majority of people engage in their hobbies and sports as an amateur, spending a portion of their time at it, not taking it too seriously and simply enjoying it.  By the way, there is nothing wrong with this way of viewing the things you love, but if you want to one day be a professional you need to work to make the switch in your own mind and your actions to treat it like a professional would.  

Maybe you’ve heard of the phrase “Fake it till you make it”? While I’m not telling you to read “The Secret”, on a very practical level anyone wanting to go pro needs to begin working in earnest to achieve their goal, or else their want of professional status is just a dream.  Being serious means setting goals for the day, week and month that are measurable and achievable, regularly practicing the way a professional would so that those combos won’t drop even if you tried, scheduling intense training sessions with players better than you, asking for advice and criticism, and making no excuses for your play. 

In my next post I’ll give some examples of amateur thinking versus professional thinking at work and how the difference can affect not just your hobbies but the way you view all of your personal endeavors.  

Character’s Social Value

With a new game on the horizon for smash players one question that is on everyone’s mind is “What character am I going to play?”. While most people engage with this question more for the fun of mulling over a characters potential strength in a new meta, I think one aspect of playing a character is often overlooked or ignored more than it should be and that’s the social value of the character’s playstyle.

While most smashers are competitive in mindset, Smash is primarily a social game that people play for fun, and yes I’m talking about tournament players not just casuals.  Players go to tournaments to interact with new people, make friends, hang out and have fun.  Playing to win is just the way that those players like to have fun, but ACTUALLY winning is secondary to the social interaction for a vast majority of them. So if the social aspect is vitally important to these players it would behoove them to play a character that can facilitate having fun games with friends and increasing their interactions with others.

Now bear with me on this, but what I’m saying is that playing characters that most people hate playing against is COUNTER to a persons want of social interaction because people will actively dislike playing with them.

Now before you get mad here are some caveats: I’m not saying that players should be shamed if they play unfun characters. Defining what is fun is tough, and is different for different players as well.  However there are certain playstyles and characters who will receive more than usual disdain and playing one of these characters can hinder a persons social interactions. Ice Climbers in Melee is the classic example.  If Smash is a social game for you then showing up to the smashfest as an ICs main is probably going to be a little shitty because lots of people just won’t want to play with you.

I was a Dedede main in brawl and I can tell you that people just didn’t want to play against me.  Dedede destroys low tiers, requires that you play campy against him, and heavily punishes small mistakes.  Not fun!  Also the character was very underrepresented in tournament play so having practice against him wasn’t very useful.

So take a second when playing Ultimate to evaluate why you play the game when you pick your character, and I wish you luck in having tons of fun games!

Some ramblings about a future training project

I’ll be starting to help other players and probably myself by analyzing videos of game play, so I’d like to come up with some basic training regimens for all of the most common fighting games that I may help people at.  My first thought was that some games have pretty robust tutorials and some of them are really good at teaching fighting game mechanics, Skullgirls comes to mind as well as Guilty Gear.  Teaching smash-like games though, I think I’ll either have to borrow an outline of the training from others or make one from the ground up since I don’t think any smash games have good tutorials…but I’ll check Rivals of Aether and maybe Brawlhalla to be sure.

I also know that when I tend to create these sorts of regimens that I act like I’m programming a robot, you just list the steps and hit “enter” and BAM you get a top player.  But giving a player a list of skills to master is not training, goals need to be set in manageable ways, emotions need to be accounted for, progress needs to be palpable and regular.

I also feel like whatever games I will be training people in that I need to become more proficient and simply a better player in.  I know that expecting me to be as good as the player I’m training is just a pipe dream but I would feel better if I was at least confident in my play.  You wouldn’t expect a football coach to be as good as his players, but in the world of FGC and Smash I think most people expect trainers and coaches to be REALLY good at the game for someone to take their advice.  I’m going to work to dispel the notion that a player needs to be amazing to give good advice, but I understand that inclination to only want to hear from the best players.