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Old 15-04-2012, 02:48
Australia
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iMyukiintel yuki is offline
Past/Current All-Australian
Gamers,

In retrospect, I believe what I am about to say in this next column post would be was not quite “correct” - I said this would be pertaining to mental state and attitude while playing TF2.

While this is mostly true, it is more-so what I have written in the title “The mental game of TF2” - pertaining not just to one’s mental state and general attitude while playing TF2, but also things like decision making, thought process, etcetera. So, let’s get into it (mind you, I’ll usually go into walls of text usually with my past involved with the current topic, so please bear with me as I try to give you some perspective).

Before I get stuck into this, if you HAVEN’T read it (or even if you have!), I INSIST that you read Bowt’s thread on “getting good” (http://ozfortress.com/showthread.php?t=37375). While it may be all over the place, it really gives you a general idea of how to think about the game.

When I started out playing TF2 with my first team (whitespace), I was never really taking the game seriously. Despite playing scrims nearly every night, my attitude was pretty poor. I would often AFK mid-scrim to eat dinner, not say anything on vent the whole game, and generally just not care about what was happening in the game. I wouldn’t be thinking about any situations arising or what I should be doing in these certain situations. As time went on and I got more serious about TF2, I started being more critical of my play (this started when I was in intensity, circa March 2009). I would watch my povs nearly every night and had notepad open while I would note down a large number of things that I could observe from my POV.

Things like: don’t chase the medic in this situation, or reload rockets more often. You may think these things are pretty simple - and you are correct. However, things like this I would easily forget despite seeing and writing them down so many times, and it would be frustrating when it occurred again despite me knowing that I shouldn’t do it. Not only would I watch my own POVs- I would also watch those of better players. Players such as RocketSurgeon, yaug, seagull, Reptile, Paladin, all really competent soldiers playing the pocket role at one point in time (the role I played, commonly known as “primary” in Australia) were the subject of my observation.

I would constantly take note of the fact of their extremely consistent play - that they would rarely, if ever, make the simple mistakes I did, and even some of the more intelligent/complex plays that they would make (some really impressive aggressive ubers from Reptile going from a 3-4 player disadvantage to having the whole enemy combo dead). However, it wasn’t until I joined clan -A-, that I started thinking about the game as I do today.

As with pretty much every game - TF2 is a game about knowledge. You’re thinking “hurr durr knowledge is power xDDDD lololol”, and in reality that is pretty much true. It’s all about knowing what’s going on in the game: what the enemy team is doing, what your team is doing, what current advantages you have, what disadvantages you have, what position you should be in for this situation, what players are alive, how much health/ammo do you/enemy team have, who should I shoot?. These are just some of the things that roll through my head when I play TF2, you may not necessarily need to think about all of these but you DO need to think about some of them.The simple things that you need to think about when playing TF2 are extremely obvious. “Should we push?”, “Who should I shoot?” , “Should we retreat?” “Do we have advantage (uber/player)?”. These are pretty simple, and I’ll elaborate what should go on in your mind while you think about these questions rolling in your head.

Always ask questions. ASK ASK ASK ASK ASK. While I don’t suggest you to spam your mumble every 5 seconds “DO WE HAVE UBER ADVANTAGE DO WE HAVE UBER ADVANTAGE????” or “WHERES THEIR TEAM WHERES THEIR TEAM???”, you should at least ask a question if you are unsure. There is a strong chance that someone in your team will have an answer (for example, your medic will be able to tell you if you have uber advantage or not if he has been tracking the enemy’s uber). As I said previously - it’s a game about knowledge. If you don’t know what is happening, how are you able to make a decision on what you are supposed to do?

Let’s assume you have uber advantage - what next you may ask? The problem with the next part is something that newer players will find daunting - “Ok we have uber advantage, what next?”. With newer/inexperienced players, the next part of the thought process usually goes to something along the lines of “Let’s uber into them and kill the medic”.

Great! You have an idea (albeit EXTREMELY vague and basic) of what you are going to do with your uber. However, therein lies the problem. You have no idea who is going to push with this uber, and where it’s going to go. By the time you figure out who is going with the uber and where, there is a good chance the enemy team would have caught up with uber and you have lost your advantage. What’s the lesson learnt from this?

Decisions need to be made quickly, preferably in advance (for example, if you have 40% uber advantage, this is IDEALLY called while you’re at 40% and the enemy is at 0%, you have approximately 20 seconds to figure out what you are going to do with your uber). The speed required to make decisions obviously increases as the window for your advantage is smaller (for example, if you have just finished a skirmish and you have 2 player advantage, you have x amount of seconds [typically between 15 or less] to decide how you are going to use that advantage. It’s a difficult thing to do, but something that you (more-so if you are the main caller in your team) will have to do, and do WELL.

There are some things that can help you with your thought and decision process, and I’ll go into them now.

(1) Have a plan: this is something that we went through with Bowt in clan -A- a lot at the start. We would be in IRC after every game talking about numerous situations (more-so the ones that any player was unsure about). These would usually be pertaining to pushing with any sort of advantage in game. Here’s an extremely old chatlog to give you an example.

Feb 2010 (sorry for caps):

Feb 15 23:55:09 <Bowt> 6v6 ATTACKING WAREHOUSE :
Feb 15 23:55:13 <Bowt> UBER ADVANTAGE = UBER YUKI
Feb 15 23:55:17 <yookstah> yep
Feb 15 23:55:28 <Bowt> UBER DISADVANTAGE = TRY TO HOLD COURTYARD MAKE THEM POP ---> FALLOUT
Feb 15 23:55:33 <Bowt> EVEN UBER = IF THEY HAVE THEIR DEMOMAN + MAIN SOLDIER WATCHING POINT = WE CANT ATTACK FROM THE RIGHT AND EXPECT TO WIN
Feb 15 23:56:09 <Bowt> so we try to work stairs to get a player advantage maybe a pick on the 2nd soldier


This is something that you need to be thinking about as a less experienced player: detailing specific situations and an example of what you would do in those situations. I’ll elaborate what Bowt said for the sake of it.

Bowt always liked to uber a demoman and scout (usually through connector) into the second point on granary if we had uber advantage. He felt that a soldier gets bounced too easily, and that a demoman in general is just able to put out more damage quickly and trap the medic if he tries to run away.

Since most teams would hold their medic considerably forward despite having uber disadvantage, this was a very effective strategy. However, if we had uber disadvantage, our plan was to attempt to hold courtyard with combo + demo on the right and roamer + scouts on the left and try and force the enemy team’s uber, followed by us falling out from the courtyard. This is pretty elementary, but something that needs to be drilled in regardless. “If uber disadvantage, hold good position, attempt to force uber, retreat when they come out”. And finally, if we had even ubers, we would attempt to get a player advantage in stairs (usually by killing a soldier or scout), followed by the combo attempting to pressure the point while we have said player advantage.

The lesson for this part? Talk with your team after games. Don’t have everyone disappear off steam/IRC/Mumble if you’ve had a bad game. Discuss what went wrong, what went well, what you could have done better. If you do not communicate with your team things like this, how can you expect to improve? Having a general idea/plan of what you would do in a large number of situations can improve your performance by a large amount - as you will not be confused mid-game on what to do, allowing you more time to kill the bad guys with confidence! However, don’t necessarily think that there is only and should be only one way to act in a certain situation. Many situations can be played out differently, and having multiple possibilities is good for making your play more unpredictable.

Something else you could try: watching stvs of other teams and “calling” for them. This seems a bit awkward, so I’ll elaborate on the subject matter. When I mean by “call” for them is that you analyse the situation occurring at that moment in time and then decide whether they should do x or y. If they do x or y, good job! If they did z, figure out - why? Does the other team have better deathmatching skills and the advantage was insignificant because of that? Were players out of ammo? Were the players on this team in a bad position to use that advantage? This is something I wouldn’t often do, but I still did it once every now and then and it helped give me a huge confidence boost and identifying what I could do in some situations.

(2) Play. Play play play play play play, practice practice practice......

Don’t play in one scrim per week and expect to have any clue of what is going on in game. The more you play per week, the more that certain situations will arise (duh, the more you play the more that stuff happens, YOU DON'T SAY!). Seriously, the number of teams that barely scrim every week and wonder why they aren’t better, this is a pretty obvious point. Play more -> realise you are bad and why -> get better. (woo hoo something simple that I didn’t make a wall of text for!)

Summing up the thought process/decision making subject - what can you learn?
Ask questions - knowing what’s going on makes it easier to make a decision
Think about your advantages and disadvantages
Have a general idea of what your team would do in certain situations
Talk with your team after games
Play TF2 more

Going onto the next subject - mental state and attitude when playing. This is something that is extremely important and needs to not be ignored, especially when you are trying to improve.

Many inexperienced players have an extreme defeatist attitude when playing. So many times have we played a “weaker” team in OZFL, have there been posts in the match thread saying things like “We’ve got the lube ready” or “Anytime is fine, it will be quick”. Excuse my language, but what the fuck? You want to get better, yet here you are, openly proclaiming your defeat BEFORE the game is even played.

Sure if a team is better than you, acknowledge that, but how will you improve against better teams if you play like you have already lost? In -A-, Bowt would openly get upset at the team when we had a defeatist attitude. At the start of every game, he would say “C’mon guys, fire up lets win” or something to encourage us, if we lost a round “Bad luck guys, let’s go this rollout”. Keeping a positive attitude while playing is extremely important and impacts on your performance in game - go into every game with the aim to play your best and to improve, not just to win.

Underestimating a team is something that you should never do. Similar to admitting that you have lost before you’ve played your game. If you think you are going to stomp any team, your team is going to become complacent - and complacency is something you definitely do not want. As you start to think you’re the king of the world and, before you know it, start losing to teams that you “should not” lose to. Acknowledge who your opposition is and treat them accordingly.

Like with anything that requires “effort”, playing TF2 while in a not positive state of mental or even physical health is detrimental to your performance. If you play while you are ill, your room is “too hot” or you are tired then your performance is definitely going to be much less than if these conditions were ideal.

I know this is stating the obvious but the amount of people (I’m guilty of these on occasion) that play even though they aren’t feeling 100% is quite large. After games, some players will say “yeah sorry I didn’t play too well I had a headache”. Why did you play? If you aren’t feeling well, you won’t be thinking properly about what’s going on in-game, and your mechanics will suffer too.

Playing when your health is at 110% is what you want to be doing. Before games, do something like going for a walk, having a shower, a cold/warm drink (depending on weather), have a stretch.

Doing something as simple as any of these, you’d be surprised how much better you would play than if you didn’t.

Summary:
As you go into games, have the attitude to play your best, improve, and win. Don’t give up before you’ve even started
Don’t underestimate other teams. Underestimating opposition = complacency = false sense of superiority.
Play while at 110% mental and physical health. Don’t play when you are not.

That’s all for now, if you have any questions PM them to me or post them in the thread. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it.

As promised, I’ll be answering some of your questions. I’ve picked 3, and I’ll answer the others at another time.

Q: “Hi Yuki. Nice to see you're keen to pass some of your knowledge on. One thing I'm curious about is the best way to approach an uber v uber situation as demoman in closed areas. Say for example both teams have uber at Granary 2nd, the attacking team comes through the roller door and both teams pop at almost the same time. Both medics flash between the pocket and the demo. In this case what is the best course of action for the demos? Would you pull back and spam into the fray, hopefully catching players without uber or get up close and try to push them back with sheer presence alone?”

A: There’s no really “best” way to approach this situation, but I’ll try using as small an explanation as I can. In uber vs uber fights you “generally” don’t want to be sharing uber. Your aim in an even uber fight is to have uber on one person for as long as possible. The reason for this being simple - the more times you change targets is less uber time overall, which means you have to concede positioning. As a demoman, I would be sitting at the back waiting for the combo’s to interlock and just lay stickies around the point, trying to catch an un-ubered target off-guard or waiting for the enemy uber to fade. Making sure you have full ammo as uber wears off is important, as it allows you to push forward to deal damage and ideally capture the point as a result of your damage and presence.

Q: “Hi, I was hoping to get some insight on this hold we use on Gravelpit defending B.

We have our roamer on the roof of B watching Long and short, Our demo watching the C tunnels with stickies, Our medic (me) hiding on shadow side to avoid enemy fire, Our pocket spamming the long tunnel and one of our scouts playing engineer building sentrys+dispensers+teles to keep them occupied.

My question is, Using this hold, is it better for our other scout to stay as scout and watch any flanks + give additional firepower or have him go sniper (to which ill also add hes a very good sniper).

We have used both holds with success but want to know which would be consistantly better.”


A: There’s a few things I can say about this. Firstly - you only have your demoman watching C side. 95% of teams generally push from C side following an A capture as you have a height advantage, and if you BLU plays it correctly the defending team is trapped. If you have ascertained that the enemy is going to push from C side, you should generally have your combo holding the crates (or “far” C, left if you are defending), with your demoman positioned on the ramp with the mini medkit on point watching right (or “close” C as we call it). If the enemy ubers through crates, your combo ubers into them, forces a multi-uber and is usually able to get a kill or two without fuss. If they uber through close, your combo can cross and do the same as before, while your demoman retreats to a safe place on point.

Secondly, it is generally better to have a scout than a sniper on gravelpit when defending. If there are two scouts on the attacking side (and you have none), it is extremely difficult to deal with them once ubers have faded. Not only that, an overhealed scout serves your team for excellent clean-up after ubers have been exchanged, and should be taken into consideration. Finally, having a scout constantly calling where the enemy team is gives you a ~10 second window for your team to change to a more favourable position.

There is no one set position on gravelpit - you change depending on where the enemy attacks. If they go long B, rotate to long with your combo + demoman and spam (with your roamer spamming from roof). If they head short B, positioning your combo near long with your demoman on point is strong. If they head C side, hold near C side. Gravelpit is extremely punishing when you make a mistake, and doing something as simple as holding in the incorrect position is a simple mistake.

Q: “I’ve recently switched from demoman to soldier(roaming soldier), I’ve just got a few questions.

As a roaming soldier on granary what should i do to counter a garage rollout? Also if the their combo does a normal rollout, but the demo goes catwalk should i jump the demo? or jump their crates and deal damage from there? or something else?

As a roaming soldier on pro viaduct at mid if i get the call that their combo has taken alot of damage but say theres both scouts behind or a soldier, should i just jump the med/combo and not worry about the scouts/soldier? i know soldiers arnt that effective on viaduct, but im just seeing how i could be a bit more effective”


A:The first part of your question is a bit general and confusing, but I’ll answer both parts anyway! To counter a garage rollout (as it is with countering any aggressive rollout) you should respond with your own aggression. The enemy team doing an aggressive rollout is making a gamble on deathmatching you and attempting to end the rollout quickly. You never want to be forced into a passive position if the enemy is doing an aggressive rollout. A simple solution would be for you to jump their combo. I covered this in a mentoring thread a while back addressing “How to deal with jumpers on rollouts”. ‘Have an aggressive soldier of your own. If they don't have to deal with a soldier that's in their face then they'll stomp your team. The fact that the jumping soldier is taking your attention/ammo, if you don't have someone else returning the favour to their heavies then what will you do? It's all good and well to assume things like airshots/scouts will take out the soldier, even so he's still done a good amount of damage and taken your attention.

To repeat myself for the 100th time, don't forget to have an aggressive soldier of your own. ‘

There’s no set play for what you can do if the demoman goes catwalk - It’s recommended you simply time your aggression with that of your teams and kill any target. There’s no right or wrong answer - it boils down to what the easiest target is for you to pressure/kill.

To answer the second part of your question, It’s more of the same. You need to make the decision on what you need to do, there’s no one set play you can do. Help your team isolate and kill targets, draw the other teams attention. You need to find out if the rest of your team can deal with the players that are behind. Keep in mind that players that are behind your team are “free kills” if you play it correctly.
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I hope I answered all of your questions adequately. If you are unsure about my answers, PM me again and I’m sure I’ll be able to help.

The International games I've watched so far:

Mihalys flow defeat quantic 5-4 on snakewater: Was actually not very entertaining to watch despite the close scoreline. Didn't really get to see many "good" plays, was more or less the team that lost each round making a mistake than the other team "playing really well"

Flow defeat br0 5-4: THIS is something I wish I had watched completely. Faster than the previous game, though I watched the second half and it was very close. yz50 going large in the second half here.

Player to watch: Shrugger - the guy may be new to invite this season but from the first week of games he is looking pretty good. He would take some duels against cyzer or clockwork which would "normally" seem unwinnable for most scouts - while he simply "shrugged it off" (How clever of me). Has the aim, movement to back it up. Does he have the brain? Time will tell.

Token anime image to annoy baf:
Last edited by yuki; 10-08-2012 at 23:52. Reason: Slight change.
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