I am a basketball coach and referee. Since 2011 I help ppl with SC2.
IMHO Tom Brady and his dedication to Football sets an example for every SC2 player heading for GM.
In 2000 no one could see his potential. You cannot prove talent, you cannot prove your ability to read a defense. But when he was chosen, draft pick #199 (6 round), he just said "That is not what my skill set is, but fortunately for me, that is not what's quarterbacking is about it either."
He said in one interview something like this: "I want to earn it every day on the practice field. If I do not earn it there, I should not play on a Sunday."
Tom Brady (and his coach Bill Belichick) studies a lot of games and tapes. They prepare a ton for specific situations. This works in SC, too, as you can see in ShoWTime vs. ByuN (PvT, WCS Global Finals 2016). ShoWTime watched a ton of ByuN's games. 4 ppl talked about the match beforehand, 4 of them predicted: "ByuN will win". He lost. ByuN later won the "Grand Finals", though.
Quote ShoWTime: "I watched a series against Zest (...) and I kinda realized he [ByuN] is a bit weak against quick Collossi play, I think."
Tom Brady has talent, loves his sport and works a ton.
Two fundamentals will help in SC2 as well:
> Time investment
A major issue like in every other sport as well. Often you hear: "Just play the game", which is one-third right.
(thanks to JaKaTaK)
> how much of a factor is PRACTICE TIME?
A huge factor. One of my "students" (Mamba) told me once: "It's about mechanics and mechanics are about muscle memory. Without good mechanics, you are overwhelmed by SC2. If you have good mechanics, you are able to think about the game and strategy."
Michael Jordan does not think about how he dribbles the ball. He does not even look at the ball like beginners do. He is able to think about strategy (Pick and roll, Triangle-Offense) because he has trained his muscle memory to perfection.
> Type of practice
See "quality of practice" in the video above.
> Do GMs just analyze the game more than masters and so on?
Harstem created IODIS (Is it IMBA or do I suck?).
You see two Master Players (PvZ, emctwo vs Quaterno) playing a ladder game. This game was sent to Harstem, because Zerg is IMBA. But Harstem proves with precision and logic: "[emctwo] You just suck."
I have seen Replays like that a thousand times. "emctwo" looses 9 Probes vs 4 Speedlings at 6:14 in the game. This is a major mistake. Harstem points out more critical mistakes. But emctwo thought after this game: "Zerg is IMBA, let's sent this Replay to Harstem. He will see how IMBA Zerg really is."
emctwo is not alone. I have encountered a lot of players who blame X, Y and Z for a losing streak or a single loss. But the truth is: They lost because they made mistakes. Or simply put: They suck.
To improve as a Basketball referee it is almost mandatory to watch yourself on tape. Almost nobody does that in the lower leagues.
Most of the times lower league players do not watch there Replays at all. And if someone does it, they watch the main fight.
Quote PiG: "... they zoom through the start talking in vague terms about their game plan (...) there is very little focus on the economy. And this goes right to high-level players."
Source: The PiG Daily #47 - Learning From Replays - Beginner Basics
In 8 years coaching, I have NEVER encountered a sentence like this: "This is a massive error" (Quote Harstem). Replay is at 3:42.
This is a Protoss-Master, who tries to copy a build order (BO), sends in a Replay saying "Zerg OP", but he is not able to play the BO correctly in the first 4 minutes.
Timings and Benchmarks
Ask a Plat/Diamond player about "Timings and Benchmarks" ... "Never heard of it"
Harstem talks about specifics of a BO all the time. "Usually this push arrives at around 4:35 with about 9 Adepts."
This is not a "vague term" (PiG) this is the opposite.
So, why is that?
1. Knowledge about your BO needs reading and training.
2. Replay analysis needs time and understanding.
3. Mechanics (and muscle memory) need a lot of time and training.
Most ppl I know just want to ladder, play 1on1 and reach Master. Without analyzing your Replays, without finding every error in your GamePlay, you will not reach GM.
> In that case, would that mean that masters
> and GMs just practice a similar amount
> but approach the game differently?
I have coached a Master1-Protoss. He advanced to GM later, but it was his victory, not mine. He played only 4 hours a day; sometimes 2, sometimes 6. But he copied BOs of a ProGamer almost perfectly. His major problem was: His opponent does something weird. 4 to 8 minutes: He would scout and get 700 or 800 minerals, without managing a fight or so. Serral never has this problem, not on a regular basis. He scouts, reacts and is prepared. He keeps his money low, his injections on point. In GM even little mistakes can have a massive effect on the game. This is especially true for the early game.
> Training environment
If you live in a team house with professional players and professional coaches, one thing is very easy: Finding your mistakes. It gets easier to solve your problems. X could ask Y (at breakfast): "Could we practice this map and this BO ten times in a row?"
> Financial and time resources
If SC2 cannot pay your bills, it will be hard to practice 10 hours a day. The more you can practice, the more you will improve. I don't think you can beat Serral, if you have to work 8 hours a day in a regular job.
> Age, Natural Ability
I doubt there will ever be a WCS champion above 30. But there are (a lot of?) GMs above 30, e. g. White-Ra.
As I mentioned in my English and German video there are five basic rules:
1. Build workers! (Zerg: DroneTiming)
2. Keep your money low!
3. No SupplyBlocks!
Finding your mistakes and actually solving all your problems is hard to do. Show me a Replay (loss, defeat) of a Diamond Player and I show you mistakes in at least 3 out of 5 of these areas.
In lower leagues Scouting sometimes is done without a reaction. But this rarely happens in higher leagues.
But it is much easier to say "X is IMBA" than "I will analyze all of my Replays, find 3 reoccurring mistakes and then fix them."
Below 6K MMR: "Is it IMBA or do you suck?" In my humble opinion ... you suck, but so does everybody else.
Printf is a GM, who once said: "There is no Replay, where I did not make any mistakes, and there is no Replay, where my opponent made no mistakes." Background: He sent some Replays to PiG for explaining how to play CannonRush.