Any competitive game you play is going to involve a grind. If it doesn’t, the game might be bad, or you might be the best in the world. But if either of those are true, you wouldn’t be reading this.

The simple part is that in order to get better at something, you need to do it more. The complicated part is that this mindset is too linearly applied, like it’s the same as lifting weights or running to get in shape. Just like exercise, there are different ways of achieving your goal, and every person does things differently. Some players are very good at situational awareness, but have bad aim, so doing more to work on your situational awareness isn’t going to really help your overall game. For others, their aim may be phenomenal, but they can’t tell the difference between an enemy sniper and a patch of grass. No point in being a good shot if they get you first.

Identifying your weaknesses is important. Figuring out ways to cover those weaknesses, while reinforcing your strengths, is critical.

For the longest time, I used to identify as an aggro player, through and through. In Magic, I would play aggressive decks constantly, to medium finishes, all the time. After transitioning to Hearthstone, my skills really started taking shape, as I learned exactly what my weaknesses were. I wasn’t preferring aggressive strategies, I was preferring playing aggressively. So, instead of registering [casthaven]Goblin Guide[/casthaven]s and [Murloc Warleader]s, I should have been taking a look at decks that allowed me to turn the corner on a dime, whenever I wanted, or decks that let me make plays that force my opponent’s hand as much as possible. The season I figured that out was the season I hit Legend in a little over a week with Big Priest.

It’s important that you understand that your preferences are not necessarily what you’re good at, and what you’re good at may not necessarily be what you think you’re capable of.

There’s a fair divide amongst competitive communities as well, the age old “Do what’s best” versus “Do what you’re good at” debate. While it’s important that you play to your strengths, it’s also very important that you know when to just play the best thing you can possibly play, regardless of strengths and weaknesses. Often times, when a metagame is solved or close to solved, a strategy will just carry you to victory more often than not. Pre-nerf Jade Druid is a big example of this. Yes, I could have played Pirate Warrior up to rank five, but it was comical just how many opponents folded to overpowered card after overpowered card, or a simple [Spreading Plague]. Many of those opponents just scooped just to get to the next game! I wasn’t any good with the deck, but it didn’t matter because everything was busted.

Sometimes, your playstyle pales in comparison to everything else happening in a metagame. Just let the top tier carry you.

It’s not like you get extra points for making it harder on yourself anyways.

Lastly, there’s time. There’s only a finite amount of time in a day, and while playing all day and all night seems like a good idea, it’s also important to play at a high level. Playing tired or otherwise impaired is not going to help you. Playing on no sleep isn’t going to help you. Playing lazy especially won’t help you. High level players will almost always put themselves in as close of a high level environment as possible. While a lot of that isn’t replicatable by us common folk, it’s important.

Play as if you’re playing in the environment you expect to play in when it matters.

This includes, but isn’t limited to, playing against players more potent than yourself. Avoiding distractions as frequently as possible, learning, analyzing, and figuring out ways to avoid mistakes. Making learning opportunities as efficient and as information heavy as can be, and constantly pushing yourself.

Grinding is difficult. There is no swift way to the top. Doing it in a smart and efficient manner is the hard part.

Anthony has been competing in games for the better part of his adult life and is dedicated to improving his game, improving his community, improving himself as a person, and most importantly having fun and enjoying himself while doing so. You can check out his stream to find out which video game is the latest to catch his attention.

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