Age :39
Group: Member
Location: United Kingdom
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Misc  /  1 Apr 2011, 18:07
When is Div1 not really Div1?
I have come to the realisation lately, that I am probably one of the least successful Div1 players of all time. I’m using ‘Div1 player’ in the literal sense, to cover the times that I have played in Division 1 of whatever the premier 4on4 event has been (typically EQL or NQR, before then Smackdown and Villains which didn’t use divisions but were regarded as reasonably ‘elite’). I don’t know how many seasons I played in div1, but it would be pretty much every season until summer 2006, and then from January 2010 onwards. So, other players have undoubtedly played more seasons in div1 than I have. But have any been as spectacularly unsuccessful as I have? In all those years, I have never reached a semifinal that I can remember, never mind a final or god forbid, actually winning anything. There was some random Clanbase tourney I think Hyphen might have reached the semi, not sure, but it wasn’t the same calibre of competition as EQL/NQR. I did win every map we played in 4on4 at the only Swedish LAN I’ve been to (Reunion, back in 2003), but there were no elite clans in attendance. So the best finish I ever managed in a proper tournament was last season where TKS ranked 6th in EQL12.
So who has played as long as me, in div1, with less success? Well, anyone who has played in one of the top clans like SR, TVS, CMF, fOm, LA, DS, HF, FS, SD, KOFF etc for any length of time will have experienced a semifinal. Clans like ToT played div1 a long time and weren’t all that successful, but they are long gone. I did wonder about the Soviets, people like XN perhaps, but then I recalled that during my 3 year hiatus from clan play, 3B reached at least one semi or final. Most of the oldschool players still left playing are either in top clans, or in the lower divisions.

Bearing all this in mind, you’d think that div1 isn’t the place for me. If I was good enough to compete, surely I’d either drag my clan up to the required level, or I’d have been recruited by a top clan. Many of my former clanmates have gone on to be successful, especially at Slackers (Zero, Murdoc, Insane, Mja, Dragon, en_karl) and Firing Squad (Crit, Blixem, Spoink, Blitz, Keyser). Maybe part of the problem is that I that I end up in clans with ‘rising stars’ where I can see potential but of course they end up rising above my level and move on to better things.

So the inference is that I should be playing in div2. In fact on my return to QW in 2009 I did play one season in div2, with Boefje, where we reached the final (that for some reason never got played). So I seem destined to be stuck with “div1.5” clans – trash, hyphen, insanity, boefje, 3tk, tks… teams that are not good enough to compete with the best clans but instead float around the bottom of div1 or maybe top of div2.

So how does this make me feel? Well, the reality is that I have now resigned myself to the fact that I’m actually not a bona fide div1 player any more (if I ever was). Some of my current clanmates have been playing QW for a relatively short amount of time (in QW terms), so they have the potential to develop, but I seem destined to be stuck at this plateaued level. My item timing has definitely improved over the past year, I feel like I’m more effective on e1m2 that I used to be, but the ‘raw skills’ of quake are much the same as they have been for years. The rest of the scene has moved on while I have remained fairly static. There was a time (5+ years ago) when I played a lot of mix and was actually fairly competitive. Bottom-fragging wasn’t on the agenda. Players wanting to switch the teams would say “hey, this ain’t fair, you’ve got XYZ and HangTime!” – now they say “**** it, I’m not playing with these teams /quit” if I’m lining up alongside them . I would sometimes get invited to play standin for decent clans like SR, FS, fOm etc; that never happens anymore! So in a funny sort of way I think I was actually a better player in the early noughties than I realised. Maybe if I’d made the right move clanwise and kept playing I could have developed into a proper div1 player – not an elite player, but you know, just a standard div1 player being carried by elite players to a bit of success. Maybe if we’d made better use of timers and voice comms back in the day my clans would have been more successful.

I remember reading a forum post from blaze once about what he looks for in a player, and basically it wasn’t any one particular thing specifically, or even a combination of things – he said he looked for players who excelled at something, but it didn’t really matter what that was (pov, 2on2 or whatever). And I guess that’s been my problem – over the years I’ve had a reasonably well-rounded game but never managed to take one particular facet of my game to the elite level. One of the things I felt I was good at, reading and interpreting the game based on deathmsgs, teammsgs, player actions etc has faded in importance now thanks to mm3. So I’m destined to a career of mediocrity….

I’d like to pretend that I don’t care what other players think of me, but the truth is everyone has an ego to one level or another. I used to feel like I was respected by at least some div1 players (going back to the standin/mix point), they would be happy playing with me. Now I just get 20 lines of mm2 whine from somebody scratching around in div5 a few years ago. I played an EQL game on e1m2 a few weeks back and made 15 frags against SR2. I literally don’t ever remember getting 15 frags on e1m2 in my life against any clan with any teammates in the history of QW – and I’ve played against pretty much every elite clan from the past 10 years. That’s embarrassing and I should be thick skinned enough not to care now, I’ve lost more games of quake in my life than most players have played, yet I still find myself getting annoyed that I can’t put up a better showing. When I returned to playing in 2009 I think based on what they said some people (in particular some of those in Fusion at the time that had known me from years before) expected more from me – again, not to be an elite player, but certainly to be one of the better players in my clans.

Still, every now and then I wonder if the ‘plateau’ is really there. Maybe I could improve. Maybe if I grind out 100 mix rounds a month I could start to cut down on the mistakes, fine-tune my decision making, hone the aim a little bit. Maybe a more methodical approach would work – actively looking at what I’m doing, what works, what doesn’t work. When do I tend to die, is it when I attack certain areas, is it when I am too static, is it when I’m late for powerups, am I standing in the wrong places? That’s something I’ve never really done, I’ve always “just played” and based my choices around what I see other players doing right, rather than learning from what I’m doing wrong.

Ultimately, it is pretty obvious by now that I play QW because it’s a great game, not because I crave success at it – otherwise I’d have quit long ago. Rising to the top is not the be-all and end-all of gaming. But I know in my early years I had this feeling that, y’know, I was steadily improving, that I was building a reputation, that sooner or later I’d hit the big time. It had happened in the UK (back when there were still regional scenes), then in Western Europe, and it felt like only a matter of time before I would be a force in European quakeworld. I guess most players that put a lot of time into competitive gaming feel the same, at least while they are still improving.
Comments
2011-04-01, 18:31
Dont be so hard on yourself dude , u're a very decent player, very recognizable among the players. U do nicely at QW, sometimes it just doesnt work out for some reason and for some time. Keep up the attitude and the good days will be back again
2011-04-01, 18:57
2011-04-01, 19:33
I feel the same, but for me its mid-div2

Won div4 once when there was 6 divisions in eql4 and lost the nqr11 silver cup final.

I stay because its a great game
2011-04-01, 21:02
Hi ^Hang^Time (you ARE l33t enough to have your capital/coloured letters back!),

I'm pretty sure you are right when you say that something like a skill-plateau exists, above which a player can't reasonably rise to become even better. For each and everyone this may be different, of course. Actually, I kind of have my own theory on the subject, which basically separates a player into "skills" and "talent". The former obviously depends on the effort you put into your game (playing practice, cfg hax0ring, reading about strategies, watching demos, analysing games of better players/teams etc), whereas the latter is just your base-skill that may be improved to a certain point but isn't dependent on a daily form and won't be lost/gained that quickly, and, most importantly, comes with a limitation (for example physical as in your eye-hand coordination-ability, general reactions, ability to focus).
Throughout the years you saw many players come and go, and maybe return at a certain point and you know the difference how long it might take some people to return to their old level (if ever), and others are as if they were never gone. I remember Fasti from TFP, who regularly disappeared for 3-4 months, hadn't played quake at all (damn 16 year olds with real lives :< and then just hopped into our team and was the best of all. Examples you certainly know better are Rags and Venture, who also took regular breaks (maybe not that long) and just returned with their high "base" skills and found their game amazingly quickly, if they ever lost it. I'm not naming any scandi names here, because I never was that involved but I'm sure there were also examples. Possibly TCO (TheChosenOne), who also just had a base skill above many others'.

Then, on the other hand, you have players whose base skill level is lower but need time and practice to find their forms. I might be a good example, back in '01 at Denial when I had my highest form, I was so much better than ever before or after. Now I haven't seen you play that much lately but I guess it's as you say, that you're at the top of your learning curve and in full practice, but what hinders you may be the lower level of "base skill" (no offense intented!) compared to some other div0/1 players.

By the way, when you said you do not excel at anything in particular, I have to disagree. There are only 2 players whom I have NEVER seen type "I have to quit now" on a server, you just type ready and play. When you're on a server, you play, quietly without any noise, but reliably as a Swiss clockwork. You always had outstanding thinking abilities with regard to teamplay in qw, and I'm sure you're a great addition to every team. I know, this praise doesn't mean much coming from a low div3 player, but if I had to form a new clan with players I could freely choose, you'd definitely be on it
2011-04-01, 21:28
I suspect that you don't put anywhere near enough hours into qw to really improve. At least I don't remember seeing you in mixeds at all. Slackers have put staggering 100 rounds per month just into 4on4 this year alone and that doesn't even count mixeds, 2on2s and duels so is it any wonder that their routine is on another level entirely.
2011-04-01, 23:09
the only games you've played this season have been the eql matches pretty much? and some bloodfest ;p
it's probably not as bad as you think
2011-04-02, 09:37
While it is true that I don't play enough (only 27 maps mix in past year I think), this didn't used to be the case. Going back a few years I did put a lot of hours into QW but seemed to reach something of a peak. The problem I find is that having got used to mm3 I find it very frustrating playing mix games. Last year I did play a lot of clan matches though, around 500 which was probably more than any player outside of SR and TKS.

But anyway as I said maybe I need to try some mix grinding and see where it goes, it's difficult to know what I will take out of it (since I don't have a 'learning strategy' or retrospective) but maybe the simple art of playing will help.
2011-04-02, 10:36
Mixeds are good for practicing solo takeovers in a 4on4 setup. If you expect teamplay in them you will only be disappointed. They are good for improving your individual tdm skills, not teamplay. I think it's useful to start the mix with the right attitude so you don't get too frustrated. I'm always happy if I manage to outplay enemy quad or kill several enemy rls etc, even if we lose.
2011-04-02, 23:34
This was a nice read HT, as always really. I took the liberty of updating your wiki page with the results I could find from SD, eQL and NQR, it was a quarter final vs cMF in Clanbase by the way. Considering my own ''trackrecord' I believe I can relate to your flow of thoughts. Especially during your period in Hyphen, when you beat SR, I think you were considered to be a very good and solid teamplayer, not one that stood out, but one that didn't make mistakes. Actually earlier today I was thinking about writing a column about this which I might do, even though I doubt I'll find the time. Except that ParadokS has always seen me as a div2 player I'm totally clueless about how good/bad teammates of mine think/thought about my level of play. I imagine some think I was a solid enough fourth and others that I belong(ed) in div2. Sometimes I was in very good shape though and had the idea that it didn't go by unnoticed because of things like you said, mixes and such.

For a very long time I thought I was on a plateau too but I don't believe in this anymore. You remember we played in America in m@cs and 5am together, even though it might be as obvious as things can be, but by playing with 90-130ms I was forced to play so defensive (even though with antilag I suppose sqz doesn't do that anymore) it became very apparent how careless I was on 13-25ms. I don't feel that was a very large improvement of my game though, but I wasn't too active in EU around that time, so I'm not sure.

Two other things made a huge difference though. I'm not sure when it was but at some point just before or after I joined SR2 (the old one with Striker, Zero, Krab, Ted, Mja and me) ParadokS told me that I should play duel, instead of only 4on4 all the time. It was true that I only played 4on4, sometimes 2on2, but rarely ever duels. Even though I didn't play enough of them after this, I do believe that dueling made me significantly better in 4on4 because of the different approach I devolped in confrontations. Strangely enough it changed my whole view on 1on1 confrontations in 4on4 and thus on 4on4 all together. By playing duel you are forced not to rely on anyone else, forced to get yourself into the better position, aim, prediction, spam, retreat better. Really, if you have the time, duel, it can make your 4on4 better a lot if you know how to 4on4 already.

Last but not least, even though you might not think you're nervous or uncomfortable or whatever, if you really are having just as much fun when scoring 15 frags on e1m2 as when you're scoring 100, you won't score 15. In the last 10-15 years I've seen hundreds of nervous players, especially inlcuding some of the best of the best, and that is really not weird because they played in what we, and they, thought were important games. I've also seen people that want to prove themselves in every game they play. In any case, people are quickly tense, if you somehow manage to take that tension away you'll also play a lot better. I do believe that everyone experiences different levels of stress and that they get rid of it in different ways (or not at all). It simply can be a different mindset because you approach the game differently or because of something that happened irl. Also, for example you've played with gijs/wimpeeh, he was one of the best pov/end players in EU when he smoked a shitload of weed a day but fell back when he didn't. Some people smoke cigs or use snus to relax and others just need to get laid
Anyway, even if you've played for years it's likely that you do have some adrenaline streaming through your veins every eQL game and there probably is way to get rid of it, even if it's just another mindset rather than an outside thing that releaves your tension. If you can get rid of it you might always play without the mistakes that you now you make and by that lift your game to another level.
Simply the change of mind that instead of you thinking that you're div1.5 but that your level of play is good enough to support any (top) div1 team because you simply don't (often) make (large) errors can actually make you play more relaxed and thus better.

As long as you won't get invited to a top team you won't play those big games, unless TKS as a whole steps up ofcourse but there is a lot of room to improve from what I can see. Somewhere in the blog you say that you'd think that you'd lift your team up a level. Tbh, I think that you can be a player of importance in a top div1 team, making the difference just by being there, not making mistakes. Those kind of players are not the ones that can lift any team to a higher level but they can make any team better. To balance teams out you often need a player like this, that is not so overly offensive and thus doesn't have to be able to make a takeover by himself when facing a div0 team.
2011-04-02, 23:56
very good read there HT and Purity!!

Purity has a good point with playing duels but I think your biggest asset is in watching more 4on4 demos, specially without autotrack....
I have tons of Milton demos in both mix/tvs that I can share on CHTV that gives me new views of where to stand, shoot, aim etc..
His way of playing dm2/3 are the best in both analyzing the game in diff. situations to actually doing it.
When u see his demos u will find new ways of doing things differently than your used to..

I remember you as one of the "elite" players back then, "doing a commentary with elite-HT" was a huge thing even for the one-world-order-sassa The Hyphen clan where among the best and I know that you beat the top clans in praccs at that time in QW-history but unfortunatly not in leagues
Todays HT is imo not as good as he was before due to... no clue
2011-04-03, 08:18
I tell you Sassa, it's the white and lower case "H" and "T". At the moment, he's running with wrong settings, just like he did http://troglopundit.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/stallone-over-the-top.jpg .
2011-04-03, 08:58
Very nice read. I'd like to share some thoughts on this as well...

You are far from your limit, if one such thing can even exist. Maybe you've reached a stage where you don't really notice any improvement since you don't put in so many hours to QW, but there is no doubt in my mind that you could still improve a lot by putting more effort into becomming good. By more effort I mostly mean more time into the game, but maybe you could spend your time when you're actually playing better as well. I haven't followed you closely enough to know how you spend your QW-time, so that is just an assumption ofc

Another valid point is Puritys about duels. Outsmaring opponents in 1v1 situations can be very vital to be a big impact on the game; The difference between killing an opponent with weapon, getting killed wtih a weapon, dropping a pack or even just know when to flee can really change the outcome of games. Ofc there is plenty of high div1 players that don't care about duels, but from my view the best of the best has always been into duels to some degree and dominated that part of the game as well. (Dag, Milton, Reppie, Para are some rexamples from "later times". Sure, not everyone are gonna be the best of the best, but theres plenty to be learned from how they spend their QW time to improve your own game as well.

So, imo, this is more about setting a realistic goal and then putting the required amount of hours into it. Winning div1 you say? Try a ~2-3 hours a day for a year or two, and I'd say it is a good chance you're there or close to there .

Again, nice read and GL with whatever path you plan to take from here!
2011-04-03, 09:16
"To balance teams out you often need a player like this, that is not so overly offensive and thus doesn't have to be able to make a takeover by himself when facing a div0 team."

I kind of disagree with this one. I think if a team really wants to go all the way, every single player has to be able to make those takeovers, because in the game you can't choose who gets the opportunity. Whoever gets the chance, must be able to capitalize on it.
2011-04-03, 09:57
Having players with different roles applies more to div2 as we dont have as many good players as div1 obviously. In div2 it is more acceptale to rely on 1-2 guys doing the important stuff and the other ones supporting. In div1 all 4 players must be able to do everything imo.

I think Willgurht wrote something interesting about different roles in 4on4. Again, this mostly applies to div2-3: http://www.quakeworld.nu/blogs/192/239/
2011-04-03, 11:22
@Rikoll: 2-3hrs a day for a year or two is something I did before, for about 5 years While it is true that I don't put the hours in anymore, I used to, so this blog shouldn't just be understood as "why do I suck now?" but also about "why did I still suck even when I put in the hours?". It was before your time but around 2000-2005 I was probably one of the more active players on the scene, as mentioned by Purity I even played in a North American clan as well as EU so I could get games after 00:00CET when the european scene was quiet.

As for playing duel it is a fair point but it is probably a step too far for me, aside from ztndm3 and 'fun' games against friends I don't really enjoy it. Now of course if the ultimate goal is to become a top player (in anything not just QW) then you have to do some hard training you don't enjoy. But due to other commitments like work, marriage etc there is only so many hours I can put into QW, and I'd prefer them to be moderately enjoyable.

One thing I could do is swap some ffa time for mix, as sometimes I wonder if ffa is teaching me bad habits (being over aggressive, dropping a lot of weapons etc).

Finally one point that hasn't been touched on as yet is about setup... so much has changed in terms of using different mouse, monitor, fov, antilag, blah blah. I've always believe that I'm a 'learner' who can adapt to a given setup rather than a 'tweaker' who has an optimal setup for them and needs to keep tweaking settings until they find it. But that's not to say maybe I shouldn't come up with a strategy for testing out different settings.

Oh and in terms of 'roles within the team', I think all players need to be capable of doing everything. But in terms of mentality, there are some players who just seem more naturally suited to certain roles. I think someone like Gamer was a good example, he was capable of explosive play but often times would be called upon to just put in a 'solid' performance at RA/ring, which seemed to suit his calm style.
2011-04-03, 11:48
Yeah, the difference is that he and other div0-1 can do stuff someone else in the team normally do.

When we in csn only have 1-2 rls left it had better be someone who can take quad and kill some rls.
2011-04-04, 03:47
We had that mega talk about skills and hours and I simply have to remind you that putting in 3 hours a night of just casually playing is nowhere near as effective as putting in 3 hours of mentally focused intense gaming where your aim is to consciously do your absolute best and be mindful of everything.

An interesting read as a whole and on many parts it touches on my own experiences which I might get back to later.
2011-04-04, 11:33
I think it's basically got to do with two things: Prac and determination. With a lot of practice but no clear goal what you want to achieve with it, you wont get much better. And of course the same goes for the other way around.

I've only been active since 2008, and during that year and like half of 2009 improved quite a lot. I had some really good teammates helping out with how to think and play different maps and opponents. I'm glad I didn't have hardly any 4on4 experience when i started, that gave me kind of an open perspective of how to play. I didn't have much to relate to.

I think the "old habits" and playstyle from more experienced players (no matter the level) might be an issue in many cases. You might be used to do things a certain way, because you have always done it like that, and that alone I personally think hinders your development.

Try to not fall into old habits, try to learn to play the maps in new ways, find new positions, and perhaps most important of all: Focus on one thing at the time.
2011-04-04, 13:14
Bah, I made a (too) long post which is gone. I did not mean to say what you quoted in the way I actually did blAze.

I mean that not all players have to be as good as the others at quadrunning and taking over maps, sometimes teams are very unbalanced and even if you are good at doing these things there might be a div0 in your team who is better at it, for example in tVS you could argue that Milton was slightely better than others even though all were able to and were excellent top div1/div0 players. You can have this on another level too if you get supportive players who aren't considered to be that good, you can still leave armors/weapons/quads for the players in the team that are better than you at a certain task, in case this is needed.

I also wondered on what do we base if a player if div2 or low-mid-top div1? I believe that a player can take an invisible role in a team, not running quads or making big takeovers all the time but maybe being of vital help making these takeovers and securing those quads but you don't see them on autotrack. Do we base these players on the fact they are not so good at quadrunning, do we judge them based on their frags made, on their aim, on their teamplayer abilities as a whole, on the performance of the team they play in, on the number of deaths, on the teamkills, on damage done, on quads taken, on their timing of items, on their rl's killed, on their positioning, on their speed, movement, tricking, on their judgement, on their situational awareness, on their reaction time?

There are a shitload of factors, we usually consider the players the best that get the quads and make all the frags. Even if that's just because we see them play more because the guy that is securing dm3-ring or dm2-tele for 10 minutes straight is probably a lot less exciting to watch than the quadrunners but they can face very important fights sometimes or are just of importance for the campings sake.

If you really perfect this supporting role, in which ideally you are be able to make a takeover yourself in the odd situation indeed where it all does come down to you, which is not that often, you can still be a good div1 player. Even if it's just in the sense that you're in a top5 team and you hardly ever fuck up, might make you a top div1 player even though individually people might use different standards to measure this. If you are a player like this you won't make the same impact as the quadrunning gamebreaker you have in your team would if he moved to another team. Trying to say you can be just as steady and rock solid in a lower ranked team but not make them lot's and lot's better. You will get noticed a bit more because your teammates are worse there but since the team isn't as good you won't be seen as a top player but more as low/mid div1.

We've seen teams like these, but not in current div1. For example gtg with mrlame/griffin and ermac/dakoth, reppie/razor in the early eql's when spoink wasn't very active and in cMF during the years without any doubt, I think they played playoffs in 30 tournaments by now, they haven't always had four equally good div1 players.
The teams with milton (ssc), martin (free) and XN (bwl) longer ago, even though they didn't play those huge games div1 (semi)finals without a bit of help from other good players.

We were talking about not being low div1 players, not about making a team that is div0 in the way that tVS or SR is dominating the scene now or how FF/SR/LA did in the past. The skill difference inside teams that have reached (semi)finals of big tournaments has been huge in some cases. Of course you need a player that can make that deciding take over or quadrun, but if this player was to succeed every single time he would be top div1, if all four are they'll never lose. In the past we've seen teams reach (semi)finals often where one or two players made huge impact while the rest just did their job, it's the way the game works.

In conclusion:
The standards people use to measure a players skill/div are different for everybody.
How good the team is you play in matters.
You can be valuable not being the quadrunner or takeover guy but you should be able to do this at least decent.
2011-04-09, 00:31
If you have a task in any moment when you playing, you already reach a plateau in your personal tdm skills and you need to concentrate on aim and team routine improvement. If you do not have a task in some moments of playing, you still have ability to improve your tdm skills.
There are could be a lot of examples and it is a big difference between spawning in the middle of a game with though like "ok. I just spawned on sng, lets do SOMETHING." and "I spawned on sng. I know that RA will be in 8 seconds and LG in 13 seconds and I need to recall a mate with RL from YA to RA because I saw/heard enemy shaft on pent before dead.
Or: There are two mates on the pent in very beginning of the game and team decided to delay pent for 10 seconds. Who will get mega and who will get pent? What will guy without pent do after it?

And of course you can work under your aim too. You don't need to be best, but you need to have nice aim. dm2dmm4 and dm3hill is very nice maps. If you play vs bot on pov, try to beat him with lg_pref. If you can do it, you don't need to waste your time for pov anymore. And there are a popular clanarena server in NY. You will have ping 70+, but still it is very good practice to improve your aim on dm3.
2011-04-09, 22:12
Playing vs bot on pov with lg_pref hasn't done anything for my aim except learn how to shaft against bot movement, and teach me bad movement on that map (meaning I'm too predictable against humans)
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