Going Pro Part II

By Liquid`TLO
13:34 April 20 2013
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First of all I want to apologise having you made wait so long to continue my blog. Sadly I still am by nature a procrastinator, as much as I hate that part about me ...

So here's my update on how things are going, what has changed and how I feel:
Overall I'm pretty happy about my current situation (except I still don't have proper internet at my new flat, what a joke...) Spring is finally here and the sunny weather is giving me a lot of additional strength that I was lacking during Winter. Thanks to my new schedule I'm doing more sport than at any point in my adult life and probably even exercise more than I set out to. I haven't been following my routine hour for hour but it's proven to be a very good guideline to my training overall. I'm not someone who works that well following a schedule exactly as it is on paper, the most important is doing all the segments of it to me.

As long as I start the day properly. This shouldn't be toyed around with I think. A good balanced breakfast is extremely important to me. It usually consists of scrambled eggs or an omelet, yogurt with muesli and fruits, and bread plus ham or something similar. I notice I do much better all day when I actually take the time to prepare and eat my breakfast rather than just having a sandwich or rush it.

I'm capable of playing longer sessions without feeling uncomfortable. Even when I notice that I am getting tense I usually manage to relax again and any stress or pain related to that is gone in less than 5 minutes. My mind is more focused and I think I can bring my A-game to the table more often than in the past. However, I noticed that most of the time I have 1 outstandingly good session compared to the rest. I need to find out why I do better in that 1 session than in the others and recreate that environment for the other 1-2 sessions in order to maximize my training effort. Replacing 2-3 hours of highest focus with 6-9 can easily make my training twice as effective without actually playing more. A big point to help with that will be my diet, making it more regular and avoiding big meals that make me tired. I'll also try to have healthy snacks more often at my desk, which I can keep eating while playing in order to constantly replenish my energy levels.

One thing I am increasingly happy about is that my subconscious has been affected by my new gained confidence. When I was much younger I often literally dreamed about winning WCG, play the last game of the finals and miraculously defeat my much stronger opponent, that feeling screaming from the top of my lungs as I execute the winning move... opening the door of the booth and hearing the cheers of thousands of people. I don't know how it really is when you win that big, not yet. But in my dreams it's the most overpowering emotion known to me and it's addicting. When that happens and I open my eyes it fuels me for the rest of day.

I used to hate myself for being a very emotional guy because it makes my skill and behaviour very erratic, small things could pull me down, while just taking a walk through the forest on a sunny day can lift me up to happiness that can't be described as anything but bliss.
I realize now that I can use all of my emotions to my advantage. I'm melancholic. I like being sad sometimes, very sad even, but that's cool. One doesn't need a constant stream of elation in one's life to reflect on it and be happy. For me it's important to have strong emotions so I can mold them into motivation. My career as a progamer made me laugh, smile and gave me the best moments of my life, but it also made me scream in desperation and cry from disappointment. But most of all it has given me a sense of purpose and that dedication usually comes to light when I feel the most, no matter in what way. That's when I can see it all makes sense and lines up and I understand what I need to do and why.

Anger, especially, has often made me play faster and more focused, a friend of mine is even playing with the idea of finding ways to make me mad at tournaments, though, we're not sure yet if that would be productive or could backfire if it's done artificially. One of my favorite quotes is very relevant here:
''Anger is like gasoline. If you spray it around somebody lights a match, you've got an inferno.
But if we can put our anger inside an engine, it can drive us forward." - Scillia Elworthy (one of my favourite TED Talks by a remarkable woman: http://www.ted.com/talks/scilla_elworthy_fighting_with_non_violence.html )

I'm very excited for Dreamhack Stockholm and WCS. It'll be extremely crucial to use the coming week as much as I can to polish my game, but even more important to create a perfect situation for myself on the days of the tournaments, have the right kind of food ready, do some sport and get into a positive competitive mindset. The goal is to feel more confident and comfortable than anyone else in the tournament. Let me elaborate on that: basically, how I see it, being at a tournament gives players a modifier. Some people manage to play at 120% of the normal skill while others will plummet to 80%. I want to get that number as high as possible.
I used to get really sick at tournaments from being nervous, I learned that this is because of adrenaline not being properly pumped through my system. In nature there was no situation in which we wouldn't be in a very physical situation when adrenaline is released into our system. Our civilisation has created scenarios in which that is the case though: Exams, job interviews, presentations, fast driving, chess, SC2 tournaments and countless other situations. It's extremely important to take deep breaths and, if you have the opportunity, get your heart pumping. Get physical, go for a short run if you can, you'll feel so much better and now you can make use of that extra focus, strength, speed and increased reaction times.

All in all my biggest points to work on:
• Diet, avoid big meals that feel you sluggish and impair your ability to train
• increase amounts of sc2 while not cutting into any other activities that are important and crucial to my well-being
• Decrease procrastination on the Internet (it's not as bad as it once was, but there are a good amount of hours that I can free up for more useful and satisfying activities
• most importantly, become more analytic about my games, I'm an intuitive player but watching more replays won't hurt at all. Just watching 2-3 a day will only cost 15 minutes but could help a lot!

I've been posting decent results online, doing well in the ladder and won a bunch of showmatches, KOTH and online cups. So that's good and definitely progress, keeping my results, which are not yet impressive but at least consistent. The next challenges await and I honestly can't wait for the upcoming big tournaments!
That's it from me and see you at Dreamhack!
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