With eSports finally earning the position it deserves in worldwide media, many of us are considering whether or not we have what it takes to perform on a professional level. Even if our intent isn’t to the best of the best, we all want to improve. Whether to gain a higher rank, better lead our guilds, or effectively crush our friends into dust, upping our skill is a fundamental part of being a modern game enthusiast.

So what are the best ways which we can improve, and which components do we always need to keep in mind?

It’s Dangerous to Go Alone, Take This (Advice)

Individuals can reach incredibly high levels of skill by themselves, but working alone is never a recipe for fulfilling your true potential. One of the best things about games is that they are, in effect, a problem we can somewhat solve as individuals. We can take our own paths, adopt our own tactics, and often use these to come out ahead of the pack.

On the highest level, though, working entirely alone will never be enough. Whether through using guides created by the developers themselves, or following reports of community testing and meta changes, a player’s interest in the grander scheme can dictate maximum possible growth.

Old Fashioned Practice

No matter how well you understand game theory, being able to perform means memorizing the practical. This applies to all genres of gaming, and on all levels of mental and physical performance.

Take a fighting game, for example. These require complex button inputs to throw out the best combos. Before you can run in a real match, you first need to learn how to walk. Combo practice offline in training mode is a huge part of fighting games, where mastery must first be gained before you can even hope to apply it in a real match.

On a larger scale, tactical decisions also need to be drilled into your mind through repetition. An unexpected push in DOTA might leave you scrambling the first time you experience it for yourself, especially in the rush of the moment. One this happens a dozen times, however, you’ll have already mentally acclimated to the stress, and thus can better apply your higher-level counter-strategies.

Watch the Pros

Major channels like ESPN and eSports news websites give viewers and punters an easy way to watch than ever before. By watching a live series like the Overwatch League, and learning about its developments, you can at the very least get a look at how the best in the game perform, and what they do and don’t do that you can emulate.

Just beware that you need to understand the why first, otherwise copying even the best strategies and techniques can be a failing proposition.

The best way to combine all of these ideas into a whole is to, whenever possible, keep engaged in a game’s community. Being in a community sphere will help you keep abreast of the biggest buffs and nerfs, new strategies, and anything else which could shape the scope of the competitive world.

Just be sure not to crush your friends too badly every time; not if you want them to play another round.