Two weeks ago, we kicked off the PvP like a Pro series, where we talk to some of the best Arena players in the world and gain their insights. If you missed our interviews with Alec of team ABC, and FabsS of team Method: Triforce, you can check out parts 1 and 2 here:
PvP Like a Pro: Finding the Right Partners
PvP Like a Pro: Team Composition
Part 3 - Practicing Effectively
Minpojke of team Northern Gaming Blue has achieved rank one in Arena every season since 2011. His current squad has been playing together for more than two years, and came third in the Global Finals at BlizzCon 2016. With his help, we’ve built a five-step guide to help you practice like a pro!
Synergy - Align Your Team
It’s very important that everyone has the same goals and the same drive to do what it takes to win.
Before setting out on your quest to the top, make sure you’re “aligned as a team,” says Minpojke. Like in any group activity, “it’s very important that everyone has the same goals and the same drive to do what it takes to win.” Make sure your team shares similar ambitions, and is aligned on how much effort will be required to achieve them. And of course, make sure you have similar gaming schedules so you can play and practice together!
Atmosphere - Stay Positive
It’s easy to win as a team—in the sense that it’s easy to be happy and celebrate—but if you’re capable of losing together, then you’ll be a great team.
It’s important to have a good atmosphere while playing. Minpojke says, “If you and your group get along and even become friends, you’ll like playing and actually learn more as well.” Be sure that the mood stays positive so that you can enjoy competing and improving together. It’s much easier to keep a team motivated if you’re all having fun—it’s a game after all!
Stated more simply, Minpojke says, “It’s easy to win as a team—in the sense that it’s easy to be happy and celebrate—but if you’re capable of losing together, then you’ll be a great team.”
Strategy - Know the Meta
When it comes to making practice effective, Minpojke feels it’s a priority to stay up to date with the current meta. He told us that the best way to do this is to follow tournaments, high-level Arena streams, and the PvP Leaderboards to see which classes are on top.
Ask what you want to achieve as a team; will you focus on a lot of CC or try to draw out the game longer?
“It’s quite easy to keep up with the meta. Watch streams to see what the pros are playing, and track the ladder to see which classes and compositions are at the top. And don’t forget to follow tournaments to see the best comps shine.” Once you’re confident in what you want to play, it’s time to queue up! As FabsS discussed in our previous interview, Minpojke says that it’s important to set your win condition before the gates open. “Ask what you want to achieve as a team; will you focus on a lot of CC or try to draw out the game longer?” Since you know what matchup you’ll be playing against, you can start to ask these questions and develop your strategy.
Analysis - Review Your Games
If your setup supports it, Minpojke recommends recording as many sessions as you can—they’re much more valuable then looking at a damage meter. He says that the first objective is to see if you followed your game plan. Did you stick to it? Did it work? If the answer to either of these questions is no, you need to work on executing the plan better in future or possibly changing it up all together.
Always stay self-critical, and always look for ways to improve.
Watching your own recordings is also a chance to highlight individual mistakes. As Minpojke says, “Always stay self-critical, and always look for ways to improve—you’ll notice pretty quickly your most crucial and common mistakes.” While Minpojke emphasizes that “losing is arguably the best way of learning,” he also reminded us that “it’s very important to recognize when you do well.” Think positively here: no one can play the perfect game, but there are often good takeaways to be emulated going forward.
Reviewing recordings of his gameplay is a regular part of Minpojke’s routine, as well as discussing previous matches with his team between games while queueing. You can learn from a win as well as a loss!
Execute - Implement Your Analysis
Practice it, and read it over and over until it sticks in your head
After watching the replays, it’s time to set your goals. Decide what you want to focus on, and “make plans before you queue for a session.” If there was a specific matchup you were struggling with, you can discuss plans for how you’ll react to it next time.
In some instances, it could be worth writing some notes, especially if you have many things to focus on versus many compositions. Minpojke equated it to studying for a test, “Practice it, and read it over and over until it sticks in your head.”
Minpojke attended his first BlizzCon with current teammate Zunniyaki in 2013, finishing in second place. Northern Gaming Blue are the defending European Champions, and with nine BlizzCon appearances between their players, they’re one of the most experienced rosters in the field.
You can watch Minpojke and Northern Gaming Blue compete live at gamescom from August 23-26. For the full details on when and where you can watch, head on over to our European Championship Finals blog.