Hello all, it’s Scott Sheahan (also known as “the Fire King guy” and many other nicknames) here with an article that will hopefully make your trips to events a lot less stressful, will allow you to focus more on enjoying the trip, and letting you focus on playing well. Although many people whom are successful at the game acknowledge them, there are many different factors that people seem to ignore when going to an event along with not feeling miserable the entire time they’re on the trip. We may all be at an event to play the same game but some players are more prepared and stable going into an event before registration even begins! Before I begin I will state two major points:
- This article assumes that you are limited on money (like a majority of the player population seems to be) and allows you to have better planning on your priority for spending it is.
- You actually think about how you will survive the weekend; if you leave for the event without having a dollar to your name then you’ve set yourself up to fail from the beginning.
Although this is obvious, assuming you are traveling longer than somewhere within your own state or near it: you need a place to stay the night. One of the things players whom have gone to multiple events realize is that at any given event you can have people from all over the country there and if you make enough connections and have a good enough feel for a person then most will be willing to allow you to spend the night at their place under the assumption that whenever there is an event near you they will be allowed to do so in return. Don’t be a mooch, have common curtesy towards that person and their family, don’t leave the place a mess, and at the bare minimum give a thank you to whomever the homeowner is for allowing you to stay the weekend because if they aren’t asking you to pay anything it is coming out of their own pocket to let you stay there.
Unfortunately this option is not always available which means you’re going to be stuck getting a hotel or a motel. With these types of things it does not help your mind nor your pocket to wait until the last possible second to book a hotel or motel because most major events are held in big cities which have a plethora of things going on the same weekend as your event. In any given situation there are going to be factors out of your control and by planning out where you’re staying you are going to save yourself a lot of disappointment and frustration. Fact: in order to get a hotel you are going to need to have a credit card. Although certain ones do allow you to stay the night if you give a very large security deposit, don’t risk it if you do not know a clear answer before you get there. If you do not have a credit card, then a motel is going to be your only option left. I’ve had a couple experiences with motels and for your own sake I suggest you do not do one in the city and do your research to find a decent one in a nearby suburb. It might cost you a little more gas but it saves you from getting to bad situations, is normally a lot more taken care of, and is cheaper than both a motel and hotel in the city. Where ever you end up staying, do both yourself (and everyone else) a favor and shower at least once each day. It relaxes you, wakes you up in a way that nothing else like it will, and just mentally allows you to have one less thing you have to deal with.
But as I’ve been writing this I’ve had the perspective of you being on your lonesome while traveling to events and trying to survive that way. Even at the most casual of locals you’ll find people whom just want to go to these events to see what it’s like to have hundreds of players in one location. Be smart, talk with these people, convince them to come along; it’ll make things cheaper and make you much more comfortable in the long run. There are very few things more miserable than driving in a car for 5 or more hours with nothing to do and trying to navigate to places you’ve most likely never seen in your life, not even accounting for weather being a factor. The cost for two nights at a hotel for $200+, $80+ gas, and more for tolls (without even accounting for food) becomes a heck of a lot easier when it’s divided evenly between four or more people. Be honest whichever side of the equation you’re on, if you’re driving or booking the room don’t ask for more than it actually is and if you’re paying have it ready for when it gets collected because you want this group of people to stick around for more than one event otherwise you are stuck alone for future ones.
So great you’ve planned the event, have naturally established a way you’re getting there, and will hopefully keep your moral up by having people whom you get along with at your side while you’re there. But there’s one important thing you need to do before you step out your door and meet up with the group: figure out your food situation. Any of my friends in the game that have traveled with me know how important I believe this to be for you to have your full mental capacity. At every event I attend I have a grocery bag or two packed with quick snacks, energy bars, and fruit for me to eat during car rides and during the day so that I never lose focus on a match. Simply put: any time you’re thinking about food and thirst is time you’re not thinking about your plays.
You see it kick in with even veterans at the later rounds, silly (and sometimes embarrassing) mistakes that make them lose big matches which could have been resolved if they weren’t tired or starving and just could have stayed at their usual skill level of play. This is also the way venues make their big chuck of money off of people, in order to stay close to the venue you’re forced to pay food from them and in order to be full you have to order multiple items. No one in their right mind wants to pay eight dollars for a hot dog but if you’re X-1 or X-2 going into the last round you sure as heck don’t want to risk getting game losses because you needed to eat. Bring more with you than you think you’re going to need; it’s so much easier, cheaper, and less risky to take your snacks back home with you on the trip than to have to fill up at an event. Bring food that will actually last the day and not spoil quickly because it’s going to be a long day in a room full of people causing a lot of heat; think logically about what’s going to not look disgusting after it’s been in your bag for nine or ten hours and fill it up.
Going along with this idea of being full of food is to be properly hydrated throughout the day. Hydration is a key component to proper brain functions and as such is an important preparation to your success rate. It’s pretty straight forward when you look at the situation logically. You are going to be at the event from nine in the morning (or earlier) to ten at night of an eight round day one. That’s thirteen hours of you playing, talking, moving, eating, etc. until you finally get back to where ever you are sleeping only to do the same the next day. Going thirteen hours without the thing that your body is approximately sixty percent of is bound to give you negative reactions of fatigue, lack of focus, and emotional distress. If you don’t have a water bottle in your back pack or hands for all of the day you’re giving yourself ways to fail that can be easily remedied. There’s a reason why you see most of the top players constantly having a water bottle in between rounds or sipping on one while an opponent makes a play; they are trying to insure that they make the best decisions in their games and don’t show the signs of fatigue that doing anything for 10 hours in a row would cause. It’s easily both the best tool for recovery and the best one for staying level headed.
Like anything else in life, it’s the littlest things that make all the difference between a successful event and a disappointing one. If you do proper planning, keep up your physical needs, and prepare in the proper way mentally for these events (assuming your main, extra, and side deck were prepared and make sense in the meta) you should have no doubt that you have a chance of doing well. I hope that people at all levels and stages of competitive play realize how important proper planning and physical care can make a difference in success.