DDK does duel theory!

Hey guys,

Considering I’ve just set my blog up somewhat properly although I hope to change the look in the future, I want to add some of the more important content I’ve created from the past.

In this video I explain my analytical approach towards breaking down QuakeLive duel in order to help people gain some understanding in how you can quantify some things and how you can generally aim to think about the game to help yourself improve.

If you haven’t seen it before, I hope you enjoy the lecture! ūüôā

Much love!

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New content flushing in, starting with QuakeWorld!

Hey guys!

So I’ve started to produce content again.

*inhales deeply*

Aaaaaaahh, how refreshing it is!

So here we are, I have completed my commentaries for the European Quake League 16 Grand Finals between the Viper Squad and Sudden Death.

The line-ups are as follows:

tVS: Milton, Ihminen, Xantom and Diki

SD: bps, ganon, carapace and rst

Forgive the quality of the first upload, the rest are in great shape as I remedied all the issues and even added a nice intro graphic after the first two matches. You can find the first map embedded here, check my youtube channel to find the rest!


It was a great series of games from arguably one of the best SD line-ups we’ve seen. Unfortunately tVS were having some issues here and there with PC troubles on Blaze and Xantom with some PL but I hope you guys enjoy, it was a great series!

You can look forward to more gaming and lifestlye related content coming up in the near future, I have a bunch of articles and accompanying videos in the works. Big thanks to ZeroQL for helping me out with all things production related as it’s not currently a strong suit of mine.

See ya soon.

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The Art of Strategy

* An old article a wrote a year back after I hit high masters in sc2 – repost ftw!*

You may have heard of Sun Tzu and his book “The Art of War”, or at least Napoleon, the famed military leader. These might be the first thoughts a non-gamer jumps to if they hear about the concept of strategy. Or perhaps they will think of successful businessmen and the contemporary battlefield that is the corporate world. Maybe they will think about Bobby Fischer, Garry Kasparov and other great chess players. The type of “in-game” strategy they are famous for is not the type of strategy I want to discuss, instead I want to focus on “out-of-game” strategy and how we can use it to better ourselves.

As a concept, you can apply strategy to everything you do, it is fundamentally about getting the job done in the best way; ‚Äúa plan, method of series of manoeuvres of stratagems for obtaining a specific goal or result‚ÄĚ. It is unfortunate then, unlike other intrinsic skills such as language, that it is something that is not taught in schools, maybe for fear that this would make school too interesting.

Strategy is unforgiving, difficult and at times abstract. However, like all skills it is something that you can get much better at applying the more practice you get. In any skills, you are given a set of tools and are told to apply those tools within the rule set of the discipline to achieve an outcome. So then, in StarCraft 2 (the rule-set) you are given an interface that allows you to use your units and buildings (the tools) to eliminate your opponent (the goal). Strategy is about the management of your tools to find the most optimal route to the goal.

Do you want to get fit? Do you want to learn an instrument? Do you want to feel less tired? Do you want a better job? Do you want better social skills? Do you want to jump really high? Clearly the answer is that you want to be better at StarCraft 2, right? Ok¬†good, we’re on the same page then. Something here to note is that my previous background is in FPS and I’m essentially new to playing RTS with SC2. But I’ve found great success when applying a learning strategy to improving in SC2 and Quake. This entire concept of strategy¬†isn’t as easily applicable to FPS games however, so this is probably a new thing for you if you are from that background.

Now with regards to SC2 we have 2 fundamental considerations, and based on those considerations we can formulate our strategy for improving.

#1 Understanding the discipline (SC2) РThis concerns your analytical abilities, which are required to identify and understand everything that is going on inside the game.

#2 The Strategy of Learning РThis concerns your approach to improving and learning as a whole.

Both of these areas are extremely synergistic and you can’t improve at the game significantly without addressing this duality. You can be analytically sound, able to identify all of your weaknesses, correctly choose the best BO’s and adjustments for all situations, but it counts¬†for nothing if you haven’t invested the time to train your mechanics. Equally, you can be really great at having a strict practice regime that has you training 8 hours a day religiously, but¬†if you don’t have the analytical abilities or the focus to train specifically, your time is spent inefficiently and you will only enforce bad habits and hurt your potential.

You need to build your understanding of the game (#1) to understand what your biggest problem areas are, which you can then use your learning strategy (#2) to be able to deal with them appropriately.

If I open up the can of worms that is specifics then this blog would quickly turn into a lengthy article, but I will offer a hypothetical example to show how these two concepts compliment each other and how you can use them in your improvement strategy to become a top player.

#1 Understanding SC2 РBuilding your knowledge and analytical ability


– Watch streams (preferably players who play in Korea eg. SaSe, YuGioH etc) and GSL (the premier SC2 league) – note the current builds/meta game in the match ups and how these players handle macro/mechanics.

– Build your understanding of macro in general and within the scope of your builds (production/managing your economy) so that you can understand where you are getting behind or ahead.

– Build your understanding of mechanics so that you can understand where they are limiting you (eg. scouting, macro, micro, multi-tasking etc). One of the best ways to improve your mechanics is definitely to play a lot, but remember that a good system of habits and efficient hotkeying is important too.

#2 The Strategy of Learning РThe approach


– 2-4 hour ladder sessions where you take small breaks every 30-45minutes (save replays!)

– Based on #1 arrange opponents to help you work on X matchup/situation –¬†situational practice can be very useful if you know which situations to practice.

– Practice macroing builds and their transitions repeatedly vs the very easy ai –¬†helps to learn macro and timings

– Healthy life-style –¬†good sleep, eating and exercise is always beneficial to productivity ūüôā

– Consistent practice environment –¬†comfort is important!

– Use knowledge gained from #1 to learn more from your own replays –¬†eg. doing x build pro player y had z supply at 10:00. Using this opening do I hit this supply? if I don’t then how can I reach that supply?

As an ending note, I’d like to say that StarCraft 2 like all games should be about fun. Whilst what I’ve described may not sound like fun, if you are a masochist like myself and can’t stand losing or not being good at something, then it’s not so bad and it may well help you move up that much more quickly.

That’s all from me for now, glhf!

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The Champion’s Mindset

Recently I did a cast with Booms, an old Italian ex-professional gamer. Arguably the first Italian pro-gamer along with cocis. This is a guy who has been successful in many ventures in his life and is a guy who I have a lot of respect for. Booms expressed huge disappointment when during the tournament we witnessed a player in a final showing signs of frustration, breaking mentally and ultimately quitting preemptively in his games.

This reminded me that for a while, I wanted to talk about this topic — the champions mindset.

In my life being a top level player, at some points being classified as a professional gamer, it has taught me that competitive gaming is really just like any other skill in life. Now this isn’t something that should surprise you, if we were to break down what makes a “skill” or the subsets within that skill, you’ll see the similarities. For example, to perform a skill there are always two elements, which depending upon the skill have their own sub-sets: theory and execution. These are the elements which are most highly regarded, documented and talked about. The third element is what Booms was talking about and it’s what distinguishes a title winner to someone who never quite gets there, and in Quake I can name a few examples but I won’t publicly call people out, but trust me there are many players like this, not to mention experiencing it first hand when I was younger.

So let’s have a quick look at these three elements.

1. Theory relates to the study of the skill, this helps one to understand all of the base elements of that skill which in turns allows better performance. Without this study it isn’t possible to efficiently distinguish the sub-sets and as such it is impossible to facilitate true growth. Sure, many of us gamers are testament to the idea, “Hey, I never studied the game. All I did was play for 10 years and spectate here and there and I got pretty good”. But that’s just it, that inefficiency and lack of understanding will bring to light many walls in your game, slow down progress and sometimes completely discourage you from playing because you have no idea where your leaks are. If you have a solid understanding of theory it’s easy to locate errors and it’s easy to see improvements, even in a game like Quake which has been argued by some to be the most difficult game to see ones improvements. Once you understand how to quantify information, it is a simple process.

2. Execution is the repetition element, building the technique and rehearsing it until it becomes second nature; a task that your subconscious can perform without thought. We have all experienced moments of being “in the zone”, or what is referred in sports psychology as “flow state”. That’s proof enough that through laborious practice our brains intrinsically understand what to do when presented with certain variables or scenarios and our conscious mind serves only to slow that process down. Especially in a game as fast as Quake, a game where you need to have duality of conscious and sub-conscious thought, timing and player reads versus performing execution and so on. This duality is difficult to develop and have at the level where the conscious processes don’t interfere with the sub-conscious ones, ultimately hindering overall performance.

3. Psychology, the element that Booms was talking about, the element of skill mastery that doesn’t get enough discussion. Improving at anything is hard:

  • Life is hard.
  • Adversity is challenging.
  • Obstacles require perserverance.
  • Growth requires a break down of your current state and a reformation into a stronger state.
  • You must go outside of your comfort zone.
  • You must experience failure.
  • You must experience rejection.
  • You must be honest with yourself.
  • You must take massive action to become awesome.
  • It’s not about instant gratification, it’s about achievement; a longer lasting satisfaction and a more meaningful process.

Do you still want to improve, win tournaments? If you don’t, go ahead, the door is right there. You can uninstall the game. You can throw away the books on writing you bought, there are too many writers anyway. You can give away your dumbells; I’m sure someone else can make better use of them, they are just gathering dust. Hey, what’s on Reddit today? You can apply some “healthy limitations”, why not? It’s not me. I’m too tired. I don’t have time. I’ll do it later. I’ll get another opportunity.

You can watch TV. You can see a movie, maybe drink some alcohol, smoke some weed, why not? You know, that sounds fun, it’s safe. Let’s play some Wii, let’s watch cats on youtube. You can settle for less.

This is the mindset of someone who is afraid to put their BALLS on the line and be a winner, it’s someone that limits themselves, it’s someone that believes deep inside that he is not enough, that he is not the best player in the fucking world. It’s the mentality of a player who is satisfied. What does the mindset of satisfaction give us? Stagnation.

I’m aware that this sounds extreme, intense and you are probably thinking, “holy shit ddk, I just want to play games, please don’t kill me!!”, but what I am describing is the level of intensity that a champion has and if you ever hope to truly become one, then you need to be extreme. This isn’t pussy shit.

So as a respite from that intense discourse, I’ll go onto explain how you cultivate this mindset. Because to create new behaviours, you first need to take action that will cultivate that behaviour. The process of cultivation requires you to force yourself into doing something characteristic of that behaviour until it becomes comfortable. For example, if I want to improve my social skills, instead of saying “oh I’m introverted, I’m not good socially” or go with the classic, “I need more confidence”, I’ll go out a lot. Eventually it’ll become more and more comfortable and my social comfort zone expands and it’ll become a behaviour, where the future decision to go out didn’t require pain. When you reach that moment of comfort and relaxation in that situation that once presented so much mental anxiety, that’s when you can truly perform and think clearly.

This leads nicely into the point Booms was trying to make. If you hope to become a champion, you can NEVER give up. Even if you make the argument that it’s okay to leave when it’s absolutely clear that it’s over, NO. Remember this mindset is extreme, it’s INTENSE. You have to keep taking actions that cultivate the mindset of never giving up. Why is that important? There are a few reasons:

1. You have to put yourself repeatedly into a position of¬†despair¬†and lack of hope, so that your mind is used to that situation and comfortable with it. The more you get put in that position, the more relaxed you are and the less the bad emotions affect your performance. When you’re down 2 maps in a best of 5 final, you need every psychological edge, every belief that you can do it because this affects what decisions your brain tells you are possible. If you are shaken by the situation, you won’t feel confident to go for a risky play, you’ll play overly safe without even realising it, this is a common thing in poker players and how tilt can sometimes be invisible to the person experiencing it.
2. Your opponent isn’t perfect. He will make mistakes. If you can maintain a clear head during times like this, you will find openings you never knew were there in your opponent.
3. You are teaching yourself to maintain focus regardless of the current situation. Many players will lose focus or give up because they are outcome dependent  you must move AWAY from outcome dependency  it is one of the biggest performance killers. If your focus becomes more and more unshakable then your performance gets a lot better, the more you go inside your head the less you can perform on the task at hand.

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Korean starcraft players come from a culture of this kind of attitude. Here’s an example, taken from teamliquid, “xellos is raining tank fire on his natural, and there is also tank gol in his main base too. buildings are dying left and right. his base is pretty much empty. still doesn’t GG for like 5 minutes or something.”

The spectators know it’s over, the commentators know it’s over, the opponent knows it’s over. But a champion never gives up. Everything is possible. You don’t get good by winning, you get good by losing and by testing your boundaries. This is the mindset of a champion. If you can develop these psychological elements in yourself, you will experience better things in life as well as success in competition.

THIS SHIT IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE EASY. If you think that it’s too hard, it is fucking hard. But that’s how you become a pimp motherfucker. You do it by subjecting yourself to extremely difficult situations, situations where you have to fundamentally change to overcome them.

Rant over, hope you guys enjoyed some of my personal insights and I’ll leave you with this Bruce Lee quote that nicely illustrates another facet of the champions mindset.

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Much love,

ddk

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