So what makes a pro player exeptional ? Why are some players consistenly
stand-out at multiple games while others are not ? What qualifies as a skill or
general "Skill" in a game ? What can you improve to become a better player ?
The Anatomy of Skill
Doing well in a game requires a bunch of various skills. Most commonly and often wrongly sole associated with player performance is mechanical skill, but there are varied other
factors that play just as much of a role.
1. Mechanical Skills
Mechanical skills describe how fast, flawless and accurate the players phsyical input is.
Switching and aquiring targets, moving his character or mouse as precisely as possible,
using his skills in the correct order at the time required, being able to handle a lot of
varied binded hotkeys, you get the idea. Mechanical skills can be trained through routine,
and memorizing patterns. Mechanical skills are often closely tied to
2. Multi Tasking & Observation
Multi Tasking is a big limiting factor for many players as humans are naturally bad at it.
The human brain can process 7 (plus minus 2) different informations at a time in it's working memory (Miller's Law) and in games plethora of things can happen at once,
especially in games with highly complex systems such as Dota or World of Warcraft.
Multi Tasking is one of the skills that drift the most apart between players.
Being able to control multiple unit, watching out for all the known patterns / hazards
and noticing things at various places on the screen, minimap or map and reacting
to them in correct priority requires fast decisionmaking and quick mechanical reactions.
Noticing a threat and reacting to it as quickly as possible does not mean that the final
outcome was the correct one. Making the wrong decision, while executed perfectly
still gives the wrong output. Decisions can be very slow and wrong or very quick and
correct. Decision making requires previous knowledge, logic and pattern recognition.
This is mostly tied to experience and game knowledge.
4. Experience & Knowledge
Being confronted with a puzzle, challenge or other decision that has to be made, be it simple things "Which way do I go?" or "Which target should I focus on?" to longer game plans and strategies, requires knowledge about the systems, mechanics, and not to forget
final dynamics of the game that has to be aquired over time.
While some things can be taken over from other experiences (Games or Real life)
most things have to be learned a new when starting on a new game.
Having amazing mechanical or observational skills may not help if you do not know
which button to press or what to watch out for.
Playtime and Experience go hand in hand, although players vary in pattern recognition (some learn faster or slower). Still players with a lot of playtime are not necessarily any
good at the game if they lack on the other skills, although game knowledge is one of the
most important pillars. Nobody is born with experience.
Knowing what happens when 5 different heroes clash and making strategies based
on this extrapolation of the games dynamics require a lot of experience, build upon
many small memorized dynamics. (Per Example: Fragile Sniper is getting destroyed by
the brute force Spirit Breaker Hero, he can not fight him. Going deeper: Sniper can not survive because of his low health, no escape ability and low damage and the fact that
Spirit Breaker has X ability doing Y amounts of damage)
Or what happens when 5 terrorists with pistols fight versus 3 enemies with SMGs
at Bombsite B of the map (and why they have chosen the pistols in the first place)
Knowing what you can pull off and where the boundaries are comes with experience.
Very experienced players can seek exeptional reward in plays that lesser experienced
players would not think of or not dare to try. Calculating your exact limits given the current
situation and opportunity cost is a big limiting factor of playing exeptionally.
Playing passively / defensively and being ignorant of other parts of the game (p.Ex. Heroes or Weapons you not like, not reading patchnotes) can slow down the gain of or even add incorrect experience.
5. Game Sense / Map Awareness
Game Sense or (map) awareness are important skills that are heavily tied to
Experience / Knowledge. Game sense is about expecting (enemy) actions based
you do not actively see or can not know for sure.
While having never measured the exact time a player needs to run from spot A to B,
with enough experience you can expect his approximate arrival and wait for him.
With more experience, a player may foresee where exactly the enemy will come from,
based on his averaged memorized occurances of the same situation on the same map.
You subconciously know certain things that will happen based on certain patterns that
repeat themselves and indicate something happening.
Per example: "No enemy can be seen on the map, they may have gone into a smoke
screen and try to surprise us". Knowing which route the enemy will take, or having a
inner timer that remembers you whenever the dragon will respawn without looking at
a clock or thinking about it actively.
Game sense dictates a players positioning, short term goals and actions.
New players with no game sense are constantly found caught out of position and off guard, not knowing their limits and when, and where to expect an enemy action.
They will also often wander without clear direction or short term goal, essentially
wasting time and opportunity.
Game Sense comes with Experience but can also be aquired quicker by
paying good attention and recognizing trends or patterns.
What defines a good player? Let's find out.
Anatomy of a Pro Player and "Skill".
11 November 2015 by Eric Krutten "Shrike"
Please keep in mind that English is my 4th
Language and there will be errors.