The Championship: Keeping a Level Head

cvhWell, fellow Kaijudo duelists, the time is upon us.  The very first Kaijudo Championship event is being held in Seattle tomorrow, and by the time I post this, I'll have already landed in the city.  It's truly going to be the most exciting weekend of Kaijudo yet, and I can't wait to experience every bit of it.  In addition to Saturday, when those of us who qualified will be able to sit down with some of the creators of the game, Sunday is the real test: the actual tournament itself.  The metagame has been talked about time after time on this site and others, but for this article I'll hopefully be able to impart some last-minute advice for everyone else attending.

Keep Calm and Play Kaijudo

Kaijudo is a game at its core.  However, the competitive aspect of it, especially at higher-level tournaments, can be stressful.  I personally can't imagine anything more stressful in Kaijudo than being one of the players attempting to earn an invite at the Last Chance Qualifiers.  Since this will most likely be posted after the winners of those events are decided, I'd like to offer my congratulations to whoever managed to snag their invites.

Being put in a situation where one match dictates your life in a tournament, or future tournament, can be nerve-wracking.  It's very easy to get caught up on the moment and become distracted thinking about the weight of that one match.  When this happens, misplays become more frequent.  You might be thinking, "shouldn't realizing the importance of the match help me play better?"  I would say yes, but realizing that the match is important is very different from letting it make you nervous.  As a player, every match should be important to you, from a local Duel Day all the way to the bubble at a KMC or the Championship.  There might be more at stake on the bubble of the Championship, but walking into it with the same coolness and calmness with which you might approach an earlier round will benefit you greatly.

Going On Tilt

"Tilt" in poker is "a state of mental or emotional confusion or frustration in which a player adopts a less than optimal strategy."  Just because millions of dollars are frequently at stake in poker doesn't mean its the only game where tilt can be a problem.  You've probably had those losses where you made one crucial misplay that cost you the entire game.  You've probably also all had losses where you can look back and think, "I played a perfect game.  Did I just get out-drawn?" Each of these can be incredibly frustrating in its own way.  A friend of mine said on Facebook that he hopes no one loses a match to simply opening up with an unplayable hand against a perfect setup.  Besides the fact that deck-building needs to be taken into account, even a well-constructed deck can suffer from unplayable hands a small percentage of the time, and it's sure to happen at least a few times at any tournament.  Having the proper reactions and not letting it ruin your day is key.

Don't dismiss the possibility of misplays in either situation, but don't let them affect your overall tournament experience.  Look back to see if there's any possible thing you could have done differently to change the outcome and learn from it.  Avoid taking any negative emotions into future matches.  It can be hard to pick yourself up after a particularly brutal loss, especially if there isn't much time between rounds, but it's the most important thing to do.  Shake your opponent's hand either way, and try to sit down at your table in the next round with the same attitude that you had walking into the last round; it's a new match, and each match is just as important as the others.  Losing one doesn't make you any less likely to win the next.

In the same respect, each game needs to be approached separately.  Remember, each match is potentially three games long, and while losing the first game in a devastating fashion can be depressing, there are still two games left.  Over-thinking every play because you know one more loss will cost you the match might simply result in more misplays.  Also, just as it's important to not let results from previous games affect you in a negative way, don't get too cocky if you happen to deliver a blowout victory in game one.  Players frequently recover from a game one loss to take matches, and thinking you have the match in the bag after one game can lead to playing worse than your opponent if they were able to keep a positive frame of mind after their loss.

Coming Prepared

Have you ever shown up to a tournament and just had the feeling that you weren't ready for it?  It's definitely one of the worst feelings a gamer can have, and it can seriously start your day off on the wrong foot.  Going into a match expecting to lose will actually make you more likely to play worse, whereas having an air of confidence can enhance your plays, as well as make your opponent think you actually know what you're doing.  There are a number of aspects that go into being truly prepared for an event, not the least of which is knowing the meta.  Be sure to check out the last few articles on this site, where my fellow writers and I dissected different decks and possible strategies.  Whether you're heading into the Championship or a Duel Day, you will be a lot more confident if you know what the top decks are and how to beat them.

The other aspects are slightly less TCG-related: get a lot of sleep, wake up early, don't forget anything you're used to having such as your mat or notebook, and stay well-hydrated.  It's easy to be distracted by things that have nothing to do with the game you're playing, and we know focus is key to a successful tournament result.  Sometimes real life can be problematic and it's easy to be bothered by outside factors, but there's no reason not to control the things you can.  You don't want to be sitting in an intense match while thinking about your next meal.  If you put in the mental effort dedication to the game during the match,  your results will reflect it.

That about wraps it up for this week!  I'm sure I touched on a lot of things you all already knew, but it's an important topic especially with the first Championship just a matter of hours away.  I'm sure those who do well will not only have made wise choices in their deck, but also given the game the focus it requires in such high-level play.  Remember, to make the most out of your tournament experience don't get overly frustrated in your games, try to learn from your mistakes without over-thinking things, and most of all, Play Hard or Go Home!