Some few weeks ago, my friends signed us up for what they called a "laser skirmish clan war." As the date loomed closer, it became obvious that it was a little more than just a "clan war."
It was a championship. A national championship.
When I heard this, I somewhat knew what to expect, having seen professional paintball matches. In short, put the visages of "Q-ZAR" and kiddy laser-tag (or how you and your gormless mates play paintball >:3) out of your mind. It's an athletic, intense sport, and the elite of the sport are actual athletes who practice, are hungry to win, skilled, keep themselves in good shape, sponsored by companies and have refined strategies. One match was a 10-second long storm.
However, my team had NOT seen professional paintball and the way we usually play is colossally different. We play military-simulation on expansive fields, using our camouflage and, no shit, radios to communicate quietly over long distances. Despite that, we're still actually playing casually "for shits and giggles." That's not what this was about at all, and my team was woefully unprepared.
We got absolutely ruined in the overall score.
But, fortunately, my characters' attitudes to tournaments mirror my own. It was a load of fun, and everyone involved were good sports. Doesn't matter if we lost - the few matches where we were competitive or won were worth everything. Besides, I did pretty good, I like to think! (The advantage of knowing what to expect from the start.)
If you haven't read what Mike says in that chapter: you always lose your first tournament, especially at higher levels of competition (and "entire country's elite" is pretty fucking high level competition). There are many reasons for that, including the fact that tournaments are just a different environment that either daunts or distracts you, and you need to compete a little to learn the "meta-game".
It's not enough to know how to win against your friends in football/Counter-Strike/poker/whatever (given I've actually been in some Counter-Strike tournaments, I can tell you video games are no exception to these rules). You need to know how the game is played at the higher tiers, in tournament format. Even knowing how competitive paintball is played, I was stunned to see some of the tricks and tactics used in competitive laser-tag.
So, really, you've just got to lose your way to experience, then start trying to do the opposite of this "losing" thing. Practice and a good mentality are the only ways to do that. The "in-born talent" view of prowess and skill, the correct term for which I don't remember, is 100% incorrect (and parents really need to stop instilling it in their kids).
I noticed something interesting, though.
There's something I call the "FPS Effect." I was somewhat surprised to see it in effect so strongly here, and I'm sure as hell not saying I'm immune to it myself.
Look, I'm no real soldier and I've never been fired at, but I think that in a real firefight, you tend to get badly hurt if you get shot. If you know someone has a gun trained on your position, don't stick your head out of cover. Don't step out, just because your Halo-murder-shoot-kill reflex makes you want to shoot at something. It's the entire purpose of suppressive fire, and if you stick your head out when someone is just waiting from 15 feet away, or spraying your cover with bullets, then you die - this is something you should avoid.
But many first person shooter games have enemy characters with inconsistent accuracy, no idea how to use or react to suppressive fire, or player characters that just encase themselves in entire bank-vaults worth of armor and don't give a shit about being shot.
Real life/ArmA2: sometimes, if you're alone behind a tiny bit of cover with three guys waiting for you to stand up, your course of action is to stay the fuck down and wait. They have the advantage. Call of Duty - Modern Warfare: even on Veteran you don't mind eating a few bullets for the chance to snap a few shots off with your over-developed mouse hand; then you go "hurr, hurr, I'm a soldjuh" and insult the other players over voice-chat.
It was astounding how many people would get themselves killed just for the chance to make their toy-gun go "bam-bam-bam" a few times. Guh. Stop doing this, everyone.
By the time we finally were getting into the swing of things, the day was over.
One of the local teams even expressed confusion that we did so poorly, given we usually win against them and others. But that's because we usually played an entirely different game. Using entirely different skill sets. We'll work on it. I hope. XD
Now, over the last 72 hours, I've got about 9 hours of sleep, little of it restful. I feel like complete garbage, and now I have work.