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From Iron in beta to double Diamond this week - what I've learned... sorry, no hype fragmovie
Second account to D1
PrefaceI'm just an average dude with average aim and average scores. This isn't a pro guide, just a compilation of tips and observations I made for myself that can help regular players with very average skills such as myself. You can skip the history part if you're not interested.
HistoryI've never really been great at FPS in general. I never played any cs, but I played lots of BF4, BF1 and Apex. I played a little Overwatch and some COD Warzone as well but all these games seemed to lack something. That something, I found in Valorant. When I got in the Beta, I was super excited until I realized... I sucked.
I started out as Iron 1 and it took me a month to get out of Iron. I then somehow quickly made it all the way to gold 1 before the end of beta. I then flopped around between gold 1 and plat 1 all throughout Act I. During this act, I started climbing more and more consistently, from gold 1 at the start, to diamond 2 currently (with my act rank as D1 currently).
Also, I should mention I used to always play with my friends, most of the time duo queuing but also stacking up to five regularly. Out of all my friends, I was never the best, they were always the ones top-fragging and popping off more than I ever did BUT I also rarely bottom fragged. About a month ago, I stopped playing with them and only ever solo queued from then on. After that, I noticed a significant improvement in my gameplay and my rank followed along as I went from gold 2 to diamond 2 which is like going from the 55th percentile to the 95th percentile.
Finally, I made a "smurf" account in Act I for when I wanted to play alone. That account has been exactly the same rank as my main since the start of Act II even though it has 10x fewer games. I also kept playing on my "smurf" after ditching my friends but only when I was feeling like I was having an off-day and didn't want to sink my rank on my main but somehow both my ranks evolved at the same pace and both hit diamond within 4 days from one another.
Anyway, here's what I learned:
- Try to solo queue. Every player has habits, and this often causes people who duo regularly to get used to each other's playstyle, which leads them to cater to each other's habits. This locks you down in a certain playstyle and very often prevents you from trying new strats or simply developing new skills which makes you less flexible and causes you to get absolutely smashed when someone figures you out. By solo queuing you'll be forced to play along with more different types of players without having the option to rely on your friend for whatever reason.
- Don't think you have to carry every game. This is the reason I included both my screenshots. You can clearly see that I VERY RARELY top frag, yet manage to win very consistently. I'll talk about it in the macromechanics section because a part of this success is in how I play, and the other part of it is in the mindset. This is all about the attitude. We've all had moments where we get absolutely shit on for 5 straight rounds and it feels like we've excreted our will to live but this is not a reason to give up or start trying to play funky games. Keep trying. Legit close your eyes for 15 seconds during the buy phase, take deep breaths and let go of your attachment to the outcome. Which leads me to my next point:
- Stop paying attention to the scoreboard. I personally do this, and I know a lot of people also do this. You'll look at the scoreboard and see yourself sitting at 0-6 and tilt, or you'll see yourself at 6-0 while your sentinel is on 1-7 and tilt. Stop. Don't. Your score, or someone else's score, isn't an indication of how useful you/they are. Even if you're "playing like shit" because you're not hitting your headshots, doesn't mean you can't be useful.
- Don't be toxic. I know right? Like that needed to be said! Well, I think it needs to be said. Too many of you are toxic without realizing it. That's because you don't go nuclear, but instead just sneak in passive-aggressive remarks that intoxicate your teammates and make them tilt. There's no need to sarcastically congratulate your teammate for finally getting their first kill on 7th round. They know more than you what went wrong and you pointing it out only antagonizes them, it distracts them (as they think of what snarky comment they can make next time you die) and makes them spectate you every time they die (so like, every round) just looking for what mistakes you can make that they can burn you for. It's always better to say something positive and reassuring like "good job, don't worry about the early game, we got this" than something inflammatory. This makes a huge difference in your odds of winning. Playing 5v5 is a whole lot easier than 4v5.
- Communicate. Pass the info along, let your team know what you see, tell them your intention. Way too many times do people stay silent and say things like "look at your minimap, are you blind?". This isn't a moba with a low TTK like LoL, here, you often have to hold angles where if you even get your eyes off your crosshair for just a quarter of a second, you're dead. In a tactical shooter like this, for equal skill, the team with the better coms will win 99% of the time. The more useful information your team has, the better their decision-making is going to be.
- Dodge. I know this one is going to be controversial but it has to be said. Don't be afraid to dodge lobbies that don't feel quite right. The quickest dodge? 4-stacks with large rank disparities. They are not a good bet, ever. First of all, because they're highly likely to be on discord just talking with each other and not sharing info with you. Secondly, because they're unavoidably going to be toxic towards you the minute something goes wrong. And finally, because (as far as I know) the system assumes that 4 stacks are supposed to be more coordinated, it'll place you against a better team of solos overall. But 4-stacks suck. They're not coordinated, they're just friends that decided to play together and who are kind of just doing their own thing anyways.The other times I dodge is when I'm alone at three divisions above everyone else. These are usually kill-race duels between you and the other team's highest rank, just competitions of who can carry the hardest. Also, and this isn't confirmed info but pretty much all elo systems in the world work like that: being the highest rank means you're a candidate for lesser elo gains on a win and greater elo losses in defeat. It's a high-risk, low-reward situation, it's boring and I'm so glad that they announced that they will restrain the rank division gap that people can queue with in ranked because I cannot stand another Diamond 1 player telling me "it's ok bro, trust me he's gold 1 but he's really good for his rank".
- Get the right mindset. You're not better than your rank shows, winning doesn't mean you played well and ranking up doesn't mean you're better overall. Assume you can improve and focus on improving - not winning. Caring more about the outcome than about the process won't get you anywhere.
- Pay attention to the scoreboard. I know I literally just told you the opposite, but this time it's for different reasons.A) Look at the money and make sure to manage your team's econ (e.g. if someone is about to bust the 9k limit, have them buy for a teammate with low money). This probably seems obvious to most of you, but managing your econ is something I've seen diamonds do much better at than golds. Even plat players will sometimes be selfish and not say anything even if they should offer to drop someone. This isn't a major game-changer, but it definitely helps and it's super easy to implement.B) Look at the enemy team's econ. You can eventually predict who's gonna have a shotgun, when Jett's gonna ult, which opponent has util, etc. This will help your decision making down the road and can easily win you rounds.
- Don't think you have to carry every game part 2. As shown above, I rarely top frag, yet consistently win. This is because I always play for the round, not the frags. I do my best to look for plays that give my teams opportunities, space, time or info. You can do things such as splitting up the opposing team with util, forcing someone to watch the flank, creating distractions, scouting, flanking, etc. Each of those techniques probably could have their own youtube tutorial and I'm sure there are a bunch out there, but I mostly learned these from watching pros and asking myself why they do what they do.The one thing all these techniques have in common is they require you to stay alive. If you're trying to flank and aggressively challenge enemies and go for kills and die, you're giving the opposing team opportunities to win. If you see a hard push coming to your site and decide to stand your ground and die without being traded, it's bad even if you get a kill. It's (almost) always better to retreat and use util to delay the push until someone can support you. I won't go through every situation, but the general idea is STAY ALIVE and give your team a chance to support you or at least trade you/utilize your death.
- Play for the round, not the frags. I mean as a duelist, enter on site first and create space for your team, even if that means dying. As a sentinel or controller, make sure to follow your duelists, support them and place yourself in situations where you can trade them when they go in.Stop trying to get free kills on the rotation while your team is trying to take a site, all it does is pad your kda and boost your ego. It doesn't mean you can't look for rotation kills or flanks while your team fakes a site, but if they commit to a site you need to stop sitting in a corner trying to get a free kill from across the map. Especially if you're the duelist or breach that the team needs in order to enter on site.
- Learn how to play for retake with your specific character. Very often, you can secure half the site for your team, which creates space for your team to retake the site after a plant. For example, if you're Brimstone on bind A site, smoking off u-hall and mollying the entrance as the opposing team commits to site almost guarantees that you can keep control of it while they plant, which significantly reduces the number of angles your team has to check before going for the defuse. Similar plays are available for a lot of champions, the key is staying alive and holding the amount of ground you can. It's very often better than to peek, maybe get a kill and then die and force your team to retake blindly while having to check every angle possible.
MicromechanicsThere's a million small things like don't run after faking the defuse because it'll tell your opponents that you didn't stick it, or don't slow peak around key corners, or don't not hit your shots, etc. But honestly, I suck. I'm not good at micromechanics.
The one thing I started actively practicing which has significantly improved my results is crosshair placement. This is something that I feel is the biggest most significant improvement most people can make in a very short amount of time that will net them a lot more kills. Just put your crosshair where you think the adversary is going to be before you peek around a corner instead of slowly turning around the corner. When holding an angle, put your crosshair where you think the adversary's head is going to be when he peeks out of a corner. You'd be surprised how many more kills you get just by using pure reflex instead of having to actually aim.
Anyway! I hope this helps someone!
Edit: Woah that's a whole lot of awards! Thank you guys, I didn't expect that!
Something else I should mention that I forgot: Don't overplay. I rarely do more than 3 games a day and I take at least 5-10 mins between games. This is a rhythm that works for me, maybe it's more or less for you, but chaining back-to-back games for hours on end never yielded great results for me. Just getting up and getting the blood moving a little bit helps a lot.
[PI] A Demon From Earth (Ch 39)
Ok, going weekly now, at least for a bit. If the … forelog(???) of stuff builds faster than they're getting posted, I'll go back to twice a week. Because, seriously, having to wait a week between eps sucks, as I was just reminded. Though I think it generally takes longer to read one of these than an episode of Lore Olympus. ;-)
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"What is that abominable stuff? You made a face, but it didn't seem like you found it that horrible. Do you just not have any sense of taste?"
"That's distilled alcohol. It's the part of the wine that makes it fun to drink, without any of the other parts that make it taste good. Believe me, I found it atrocious as well, but… I've had a lot of terrible booze. The fact that I made it out of bad wine certainly didn't help. But I'm not making it to drink, and it'll work just fine for burning trolls."
"I can't believe anyone would drink that for fun."
"You'd be surprised. Ok, now that I know that the process works, I should show one of your people how to do it, so I can work on other things."
"I'll ask the queen to appoint someone to the task. Perhaps one of the winemakers."
"That would seem to be the right place to start. Hey, since we're just sitting around watching the fire burn and the still drip, I've got a question I was wondering about. What does your system of writing look like?"
"I'm not sure if I understand the question."
"Ok, fair. Did whatever it was that let you speak to me also let you read the language?"
"I'm not sure if I've ever seen your writing."
"Ok, so that's probably a no, then, because you definitely have. For one thing, there's writing all over the cars," I said, pointing at the rear bumper of Mercury.
"Oh, are those lines and curves your writing system? It doesn't really look anything like ours."
"Yeah. That piece there, the shiny yellow rectangle with the red marks on it says 'MERCURY', which is the name of the truck. It's what's called a license plate, which… well, just think about it as a permission marking to operate the truck on government roads. And the bit on the rear bumper over there on the right says 'LAST RESPONDER', which is a complicated joke about the truck having once been used to carry sick and injured people to a healer. You see, in ancient mythology, Mercury was the name of a god, and one of his duties was to guide the spirits of the dead to the afterlife. And, as you've seen first hand, the truck is well suited to sending people there."
She made a face at that.
"Anyway, the class of professional people who do that job are known as first responders, but since this is more suited to the other task, the joke is that the truck is the last thing they'll see."
"So, the shortest collection of symbols is for the word 'last', and the longer one is for 'responder'?"
"Yeah. That's usually how it goes. My language, in it's written form, uses what's known as an alphabet, where each symbol -- known as a letter -- has a sound associated with it. Although sometimes combinations of letters have different sounds than expected, and due to historical influences, sometimes even the same combinations have different sounds. There are also what are called 'uppercase' letters, and 'lowercase'. Those are all uppercase, though. Usually, in our written language, capitals are used sparingly, but sometimes for signs or slogans, things will be in all capitals."
"So, how does it work?"
"Ok. So, we've got an L, an A, an S, and a T. So that's lll aah sss tuh. And when you put it all together, you get 'last'."
I continued on this path, talking about letters, and the sounds they make, and how we have 26 of them in English, for a total of 52 between the upper and lower case letters. And then how German has 30, but one of them doesn't have an uppercase version, for a total of 59. Then I went into details about consonants and vowels, and how some writing systems only have the consonants and the vowels have to be understood from context. Then I tried to explain things like Chinese and Japanese writing, and told her she should probably ask Ivy for more details on that if she was curious, because she knew a lot more about that than I did.
It turned out that the elves also used an alphabet, though they had something like two hundred characters, and there was no such thing as capitalization. But every character represented a very specific sound. Some of them were very similar, because they represented similar sounds, but there was absolutely no way to mispronounce a word you were reading, as long as you knew what the symbols meant, anyway.
Overall, it was a lot like the International Phonetic Alphabet, although the symbols were completely different, and it was less rigorously built to cover every noise a human-ish or elvish mouth could make. Still, it was remarkably clever. It would certainly be much easier to learn to read Elvish than English, and get the pronunciation correct. Assuming you could make the noises at all, and completely ignoring questions of vocabulary and grammar. So, piece of cake, right? Heh.
Their numbering system was strange, though. Characters for 0 through 7. Ok, sure, they use a base 8 system. Then a separate character for 8. And also 16, 24, 32, 40, 48, 56, and 64. And 128, 192, 256, 320, 384, 448, and 512. And 1024, 1536, 2048, 2560, and so forth.
I suppose that if one is used to needing to memorize a lot of separate characters with very specific meanings anyway, it would seem normal. But it still struck me as cumbersome, and I said so.
"Well, how else can you do it?
So I explained Arabic numerals, and the positional number system.
"Fil, ah, sah, met, ket, hes, des, nun, tor. That's your version of zero, one, two, blah, blah, seven, eight, right? So I'd write the first eight characters the way you do, but then I'd write the tor as the symbol for ah, followed by the symbol for fil. Sah fil takes up a little more room on the page than… what did you say 16 was, sor? And ah fil fil takes up more space than whatever you said your word for 64 is, and again so at ah fil fil fil, rather than 512, but it's vastly simpler, and expands arbitrarily without needing to keep coming up with new symbols. I mean, what's your symbol for 16,777,216?"
"Why would we even need numbers that big? I don't know anyone who has ever had to count that high."
"Well, you know at least four of them. There are probably a dozen cities on Earth with that many people in them. And while it's not quite that large, the city that Anneke lives in has almost a quarter of that many people, and so does the one that Ivy and Corwin live in."
She looked like she was having difficulty with that idea.
"Anyway, let's move on for now."
I broke out a piece of paper and wrote down the letters, both cases, and went through them, naming them and making the sound they represented and trying to explain the history of W. She thought that was ridiculous, until I wrote down, and then pronounced in order, cough, rough, and slough. Then she just gave me that look again. She was getting pretty good at it. I gave her six out of ten on the Ivy scale.
She was working on the same task from the other side, showing me their alphabet and distinguishing the sounds -- although about half of them I couldn't actually tell the difference between two or three of them -- when a soldier rode up on one of the moose, pulling a cart behind it with several more satchels on it like the one from this morning. He said something to Friday.
"Mikrak says that they had apparently missed a few weapons earlier... He apologizes for the laxity of his previous search. He'd also like to speak with you again, if you can find the time."
Given that there were probably five times as many knives and such in the bags, it was clearly quite a lot more than "a few", but I was inclined to not make a fuss about it. He had delivered them after all. I guess seeing the trolls under the care of the elves must have made an impression. Maybe he would actually turn out to be someone who could be trusted in the end.
Not that I was going to count on that yet. It could still be a ruse intended to make me think just that.
"We found some holdouts after I told the other commanders what I had seen with the healers."
"I saw that. I'm glad to know that you're taking your duties as camp commander seriously. Your men must be quite clever at hiding things. If I didn't know better, I'd have guessed that was enough weapons for each of them to have one." My words were as dry as the scirocco.
"Yes, well. They're trained to always have something with them. Old habits die hard. But hearing that their fellows were being cared for was convincing. I don't think they truly believed that they wouldn't be slaughtered out of hand at some point."
"Well, I suppose that I can hardly blame them for that, if it's all they've ever known."
"Commander Fess. I'd like to propose something, which you may of course reject. But since you said that you were planning to break every town between here and the capitol, I'd like to send one of my leaders of 64 with you to talk to them, and let them know that you are both willing to spare them if they surrender, and unstoppable if they don't."
"That's actually a really good idea. I accept. Who will come with us? Ugrent, Miknirun, or Jusmuk?"
"You remembered their names?! That seems like a lot of effort. At any rate, it is Jusmuk who has volunteered to accompany you when you move out. And yes, it does seem strange that you can remember their names, Fess," Friday added at the end.
"You'd prefer I mangled your real name, Paylomayrinee?"
She twitched. "Ok, maybe being called Friday actually is better. Although I don't understand why you're referring to me by the name of one of your days."
"It's actually a literary reference. I'll explain later. He's looking confused. Please tell him that I accept."
She did as I asked.
"He asks when you will be leaving."
"It will probably be at least a week. Uh, one of your nine day weeks, a complete rotation of the ring. I think we've got at least that much work to do."
"Jusmuk will be ready. Although he'll be more convincing with his arms and armor. He understands that attempting anything foolish would be exceedingly unwise, even if he is armed."
"I'll ask one of the guardsmen to escort him to the place we're storing your equipment, and put it off to the side for when we're ready to leave."
"Wonderful. Thank you, Commander Fess."
"Really, just Fess is fine. I don't really need a title for anyone to distinguish me by."
"As you wish. I suppose you have a good point. But what did you mean about storing our equipment?"
"Ah, I suppose that would also be strange to you. Once all of this is over, your equipment will be returned. There are other hostile forces out there, one presumes, and I'm fairly certain that the elves won't much desire to end up as your protection."
He looked at me in bafflement. "Our king had one of every eight of those who returned from the previous battle beaten to death by the others for the crime of fleeing from the fight, and all of the officers who made it back. And now not only are you not killing us after we came to attack, but you're saying that once this is done you're going to return our weapons. I don't understand you at all."
"You're in plenty of company there, 256 Mikrak.
He bowed to me, and then walked away after my nod in return.
So, the trolls practiced decimation. Or, uh, octavimation? Fuck if I know, it's not like I speak Latin or anything.
In an even tone, I responded. "When this is over, you will not be their slaves. They will not be your slaves. No one will be anyone's slave. At the end of the war I mentioned, where my countrymen fought each other over the issue, the defeated soldiers were allowed to keep their weapons. The trolls will be free people just as you are. This isn't negotiable."
"I just think it's a bad idea to let them have weapons."
"You can't stop them from having weapons. It's just not that hard to make a pointy bit of metal. This way, they're going to remember that we trusted them enough to give their weapons back to them."
"I don't trust them!"
"Yeah, I know. I don't really, either. But the only way to build that trust is to try."
"I know you aren't an idiot, because of the things I've seen you build. But I think that you might be a fool."
"And you get to think that. Lots of my own people do as well. I'm used to it."
She just stood there for a minute, staring at me, then without another word, shook her head and walked away.
Ah well. I guess I should have figured that libertarianism wouldn't be any more popular here than it was back home.
I headed back towards the truck.
"You've got an awful lot of crap in here, Fess," Ivy said.
"Well, I wasn't exactly sure what we might need, and the last time I was here I was kinda short on equipment, so I just threw in anything I thought might be useful. But since you have it open, let's test the Molotov launcher."
"That sounds entertaining. We actually going to set things on fire, or were you thinking practice rounds?"
"Practice rounds. We've got all that leftover wine sludge, so that should make finding the landing sites easier."
"Ok, what's the plan?" Corwin asked.
"Well," I said, opening one of the bins further forward, and pulling out a mess of heavy surgical tubing, "I'll take some of the jugs the Steward found, fill them with the dregs, and then we'll go launch them."
"How's that going to work?"
"Hopefully, very well."
I decanted the wine leavings into jugs that were about a gallon in volume, corked them, and then put them in the back of War God. Then I climbed in and fired it up.
"Come on, let's go outside."
Ivy got in the passenger seat, and Corwin climbed on the rear deck. I slowly headed for the gate. After the elves let us out, I turned left and trundled up the road aways at about 10 miles per hour. After we were around the corner from the POW camp, and thus out of sight, I pointed the nose of the car away from the wall and shut off the car.
"Ok… now what?"
"Climb down and find out."
After Corwin was off the back of the car, I connected the ends of the giant water balloon slingshot to the eyes on the tops of the posts on the rear bumper.
"Oh shit. Hah!" he exclaimed.
Ivy was just shaking her head.
"Hey, grab me a jug, yeah?"
She grabbed me one, and handed it to me. I stuck it in the pocket of the launcher, grabbed hold of the handle, walked backwards until there was some tension, then sort of threw myself backwards until I had just about reached the end of how far I could get it to move and sat down on my butt, then let go.
The jug shot forward as the surgical tubing contracted, rocketing between the uprights on the bumper, over the roof, and upwards at about a 30 degree angle. Not ideal, but I couldn't get it higher without modifying the bumper. It dwindled to a speck as it arced up, hitting the peak, and then back down to hit with a shatter.
"Let's go see how far that went!"
We started pacing off the distance, each of us keeping our own count. We had a pretty good idea of where it had landed, so we were only off by a few degrees.
"I've got 350 yards."
"325," Ivy said.
"340," was Corwin's response.
I knew Ivy had more practice at that than either of the other of us, so I said, "Call it 330?"
"I can live with that," she agreed.
The jug had broken on impact, of course, and a wedge shaped spray of wine sludge had fanned out about ten yards past the point of contact. I figured that would make for some very unhappy trolls.
"Let's go launch a couple more, and see if it's repeatable."
We hiked back, and I let three more fly, on slightly different trajectories. Corwin wanted a turn, so he set two more fly. Not to be left out, Ivy gave it a shot as well, but hers landed a lot closer.
"I don't think you have the weight for it."
"Of course I don't. I am a dainty flower."
"Yes you are. With thorns. And poison sap. And prey luring pheromones. And..."
"Shut up, Fess."
We all laughed as we headed out to see the landing sites.
Ivy's shot had only gone about 200 yards. Corwin had made 275. I'd actually gotten a true 350 this time. All of the splash zones were similarly long.
"Well, I think that counts as a successful test. We'll need to try a live shot, of course, but that'll do for now. Someone please remind me to bring big buckets of sand or dirt, if I forget."
We piled back in the car and headed to the city.
"Ok. So… I'm hoping you'll do me a favor. I'd like for you to watch this… play, and write down, in your language and script, what you hear. You're one of precisely two people I know who can possibly do this translation."
"Why?" she said distractedly. She was evidently fascinated by the moving images.
So then I told her about subtitles, and my plan to show the elves a movie.
"How are they all going to see it on this tiny… 'screen'?"
"Yes, 'screen' is correct. And they're not. I'm going to turn one of the city walls into a giant screen. You'll see."
"Ok. And this wide tile here makes it stop and start again?"
"Ok. I'll work on it."
I could already feel tomorrow picking at me. I ate dinner alone, and went to bed early. I ran through every technique I knew for not thinking about things, but as usual, none of them worked all that well.
Several hours later, I finally drifted off to sleep.
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