Scrimmage Etiquette: A Short Story About Practice in Competitive Gaming
There are no formal rules to scrimmaging or practicing in the competitive gaming scene. It’s more like a wild, informal, lack-of-structure type of atmosphere where consistency is an afterthought and players change teams like a baby changes diapers. At the beginning of the 2009 MLG Season our team adopted a set of guidelines to follow when preparing to practice against other teams in this inconsistent atmosphere. These self-imposed guidelines were a driving force behind our Scrimmage Mentality because they reflected the experiences and troubles we previously encountered as a team, but wanted to avoid and rectify in order to improve our “game” each and every day we practiced.
One of the earliest rules we adopted was the “first come, first serve” policy. Our reputation as one of the “weaker” top teams usually meant a lot of other top teams would leave in the middle of a scrimmage against us in order to practice against, what that team perceived as a “better” team. I am sure that the mentality of playing “better” teams equating to “better” practice still exists, but it just didn’t fly with us. Perhaps in some instances it truly is better practice, but for my team that simply was not the case. It became a little difficult to practice consistently against other top teams so we decided to shift our priority and focus on defining our principles and goals of practicing as a team. We wanted repetition, we wanted consistency and we wanted to play against teams that felt they needed to improve as much or more than our own team. That’s when things got really interesting; the moment we said “screw” trying to play “the best,” and instead working on perfecting our game and practicing in an environment that benefited our work ethic and dedication to improvement.
One of the first steps to executing this policy was starting fresh. We cleared our friend’s list and began adding players and teams that were always practicing. Our team quickly became the guys known for “playing anyone” regardless of how accomplished the opposing team may or may not have been. After playing a wide variety of teams we expanded on methods of improving our “first come, first serve” policy into a more structured set of scrimmaging guidelines. Once we adopted those methods and rules we began to heavily utilize them on the teams we would compete against. I can honestly say enforcing these rules was the best step we took in the progression of ourselves and informing teams that we wanted to take practice seriously.
We played full scrimmage cycles, if teams did not play full cycles I would take a mental note of that team or player on my friend’s list and ask them to finish the other half cycle the next time we played. In our experiences certain teams refused to play on their own host and would never finish the other “half” of a scrimmage cycle. After awhile that practice attitude became a little tiresome and non-beneficial to our progression so we annexed them from our scrimmage lists. If teams left for other scrimmages, I would take a mental note. Most of the time I would completely remove those players from my friend’s list. If a team was not ready to play once we were in a room, but they asked for an invite or sent a “scrim” message we would move on to another scrimmage with a team of four ready to play. If a team was taking too long between each map, I would leave Party chat and ask them to, “Please keep the pace steady, we’re on a tight schedule.” I think a lot of teams were kind of shocked at how serious we took things, but this process weeded out a ton of players and we started to see improvement with the quality of teams we were playing. And when I use the word “quality,” it’s not that they were necessarily better than some of the top teams, but the practice experience was infinitely improved and in turn incrementally improved our game. The general rules we followed:
- Have all 4 players in the room, ready to play.
- Be in party chat so you can get all of your guys into a room if you’re being invited.
- Don’t send out an invite unless you have everyone in the room.
- Don’t ask for a scrim or agree to a scrim if you’ve got a Gamebattles match.
- Don’t start a scrim if you’re only going to be able to play 2-3 maps (or at least let the
- other team know)
- Don’t rotate 5 to 6 people into a scrim, get a set roster.
- Don’t invite to a pub. A pub is not a scrim
- If a team leaves a scrimmage once take note
- If a team leaves a scrimmage twice remove from list
- If a team takes too long between each map, ask them to keep pace take note
- If a team does not Host their half of scrimmage cycle take note
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