Preparing for Master Challenges: The Right Mindset

Welcome back, fellow Kaijudo duelists!  Today, I have an important article for you all to finish off my mini-segment on preparing for the upcoming Kaijudo Master Challenges.  It addresses a subject that probably has the biggest impact on a player's overall successes in a duel, match, tournament, or even aspects of everyday life: mindset.

"Mindset" is defined as a fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person's responses to and interpretations of situations.  In a larger event such as the upcoming KMCs, there will be a lot of different situations a player has to encounter, and the only way to successfully navigate through them all is by using a proper mindset.  In this article, I hope to go over some of the aspects that I believe can lead to having a successful mindset and ways you can practice maintaining one.

The Concept of Confidence

During a conversation a while back with fellow Kaijudo player Preston Brimage of DenverKaijudo, he jokingly pointed out that I seemed cocky in a lot of videos; I responded by saying it was just confidence.  In my eyes, confidence is absolutely key to doing well at anything in life - this includes a trading card game tournament such as a KMC.  It's important to have confidence going into a tournament and in each individual match.  If you have the mindset that your deck is flawed or you aren't going to do well, your results are likely to reflect that.  In order to fix this, I walk into every tournament believing I have the ability to do well, and I sit down at every match believing I am capable of winning.

Though confidence is important, it's also necessary to not cross over into the aforementioned "cockiness".  There is a thin yet powerful line between believing you have the capacity to win every match and believing you deserve to win every match.  Since this game contains a very tangible element of luck, as all trading card games do to some degree, I'm a firm believer that it's impossible to "deserve" to win ANY specific game.  It's also just a generally detrimental mindset, because it sets you up for some pretty negative reactions.  For example, let's say your opponent casts a [ccProd]Bottle of Wishes[/ccProd] and randomly hits their only out to the situation at hand in their deck, or gets an incredibly lucky Shield Blast in their last shield.  The easy reaction is that of anger; saying things like "Man, I deserved to win that game, I got sacked!" takes the blame off you and places it right on the other person.  The smart reaction is to approach the event with a level head.  Recognize that there is an element of luck in this game, and recognize that in that specific scenario, your opponent had the right cards for the situation in their deck.  No matter how small of a chance there was of them having them at the right time, there was a concrete chance, and they were able to in that scenario.  Shake their hand, congratulate them on their win, and reflect on your own plays throughout the match.

The Concept of Misplays

Going off that point, I think now would be a good time to talk about what a misplay actually is and how it can affect the game.  When I say "reflect on your own plays throughout the match", I mean look for plays that weren't the best possible play when you did them.  The "when you did them" part is crucial, because a lot of the time, we make plays based on what we think the opponent is running, or the statistics of what's been used in their deck up to that point.  If there's a higher chance of my opponent having a game-winning Fast Attacker in their hand than the chance of them having their last game-saving Shield Blast in their shields, the correct play would be to break shields and attempt to go for game.  What if you hit their last game-saving shield blast and they didn't even have a Fast Attacker in their hand until you gave it to them from breaking it in their shields?  You shouldn't look back on this as a misplay; you analyzed all the options and made your reads of what they had in their hand and made the appropriate play, it just didn't work out in that instance.

The goal of every player shouldn't be to win, it should be to play as well as possible.  I believe it's impossible to play perfectly since there are so many variables outside of actual plays that make a huge difference, but with the set goal to play as well as possible, you will lead yourself to more victories overall than if your goal is to just "win".

Try as we might, we all make misplays every now and then due to making a bad call, analyzing the situation wrong, or something else.  It can be very difficult to maintain a positive mindset when recovering from these events, both in-game and match to match.  If you're still in the same game and you recognize that you made a misplay, say, the previous turn, learn from it.  Don’t let it negatively affect the way you play the rest of the game, just take even more thought in planning your following plays.  If you lost the game because of it, brush it off and recognize that you still have games to go in the match; your misplay lost you the last game.  Don't let it destroy your mindset and cause you to lose the current one, as well.

Going Into a Match

Every match should be regarded as equally important, just like every game should.  It's easy to be x-1 at the final round of the day and think, "this round is the most important of the day," but they all should have been that important.  The result of your first round match might not have directly determined whether or not you were going to make the top eight right then, but whether or not you won or lost could still make all the difference down the road.    Having a clear head going into each round is key.  In the event that you made a misplay that cost you the match one round, it's possible to do what is known as "going on tilt," where your future plays suffer because of your frustration.  If this happens, one match loss can turn to two, and that could spell the end of your life in the tournament.  Walk into every match like it's the only one that matters.  Obviously they all matter, but for the moment, you only have any control over how the current match goes.  Thinking about past matches or worrying about future matches will do nothing to benefit your results.

Focus is also a key factor in having success match-by-match.  At an event, a lot of things will be going on around you and getting distracted needs to be avoided.  You traveled to this event to meet people and have fun, but you entered the tournament to play, so when you sit down at the table, make sure that's where your mind is.  There's nothing worse than realizing you lost a match because you were un-focused, because controlling your focus is a skill that's entirely up to you to maintain.  Fellow ARG writer Joe Giorlando wrote an article about outside distractions a while back that had some great thoughts on the matter.  When traveling to events, it's easy to get distracted by a ton of things not having to do with the event itself.  Worrying about school, your job, your relationships, or what's going at home are all valid concerns, but they should be far away from your mind when you're shuffling up for a match.


Worrying about plays and over-analyzing often come from being, quite simply, too uptight about the game. I find that I play the best when I'm in a completely relaxed state of mind.  Of course, I'm not bored - I constantly have to think about all the possibilities and the repercussions of every move.  I just feel that I play the best when I'm not overly worried.  Just sit there, make sure you're playing your best, don't let your opponent or any distracting thoughts get to you, and always take time to think about each of your plays.  You could know everything there is to know about Kaijudo theory, but you have to be relaxed enough to be able to apply it in an actual game where it's easy to get stressed out.  We're Kaijudo players because we have fun playing the game, and it's impossible to reach your potential at anything in life unless you legitimately enjoy what you're doing.  Some people think you need to win in order to have a good time, but for me winning comes usually as a result of having a good time.

That about sums it up for the various aspects involved in keeping a positive mindset!  These are all things I personally work on every time I play, and hopefully they'll benefit you all as well.  In summary:

  1. Confidence - Have faith in your abilities.  Make sure you've gotten enough playtesting in and are comfortable with the different possible match-ups and popular strategies in the meta.
  2. Stay Calm - Don't let misplays get to you.  Avoid placing the blame for a loss on the situation or your opponent.  Don't even blame yourself; just move on and accept that you just had a learning experience!
  3. Recognize the Importance of Every Game - Don't let outside distractions take you away from the fact that every game is equally important, and every match is a separate entity that you have to go into with the same positive mindset.
  4. Have Fun! - The only way to reach your potential is by enjoying what you're doing, so remember that no matter how competitive you get or how high the stakes are, you're playing the game because you enjoy it.

Thanks for reading, and I hope this helped you all in your preparation for these events!  Leave a comment down below with your thoughts, and remember to Play Hard or Go Home at the KMCs!