There is a lot going on when it comes to the Seasonal Open Rounds, as there are at least nine hours packed with intense gameplay and hard decisions at every corner – or are they? You do not have to bother yourself to answer those questions because I did it for you, so you can use your time as efficiently as possible preparing for the event.
My aim with this article was to gather the collective experience of as many players as possible that made Top Cut during previous Seasonal Open Rounds and registered great success, filter it, shape and mold it into a product that will help you achieve similar results to theirs.
Before proceeding, I would like to give a shoutout to all of them who helped me with their advice and experience. So, in no particular order:
StolenConch – Americas Top 32 Seasonal player
Drisoth – Americas Top 32 Seasonal player
Adel – SEA Seasonal Runner-Up
DK – Asia Seasonal Winner
Painas – Europe Top 32 Seasonal player
BaJAtak – Europe Seasonal Winner
Freshlobster – Europe Seasonal Runner-Up
Random7 – Americas Seasonal Runner-Up
Sergi2Vamos – Europe Seasonal Runner-Up
Ultraman – Europe Top 32 Seasonal player constantly
Gems – Europe Top 32 Seasonal player
Den – Europe Seasonal Winner
BrokenBall – Europe Top 32 Seasonal player
Moe – Americas Seasonal Winner
Aikado – Americas Seasonal Runner-Up
Jasensational (or however he’s calling himself now xD) – Americas Top 32 player
LuserBeam – Americas Top 32 Seasonal player
Seku – Americas Top 32 Seasonal player
Henneky – America’s Eternal Top 4 Seasonal player
WhatAmI - America’s Eternal Top 8 Seasonal player
I assume that you are reading this article at this very specific moment because it is one of your first Seasonal Open Rounds experiences, something didn’t click or felt out of place in the last ones but you could not really put your finger on it or you simply want to elevate your gameplay in the Riot-Lock format. For all of these scenarios I have prepared and synthesized the advice of the aforementioned Seasonal performers as follows:
This is one aspect that all players agreed upon in one form or another: You need preparation! You cannot just jump in head-on and expect things to go smoothly. As the famous automobile racer, Bobby Unser once said, “Success is where preparation and opportunity meet”.
But what does preparation come down to specifically when we are talking about Legends of Runeterra? What is giving people that edge that they honed before the event? Luckily for you, I found the answer: the line-up strategy. Even though divided in their opinions, all the players that I questioned emphasized that you need a line-up strategy! You may want to check Wamuu's in-depth article (link) about how to craft one yourself, on top of the insights shared below.
Ultraman and Sergi2Vamos made it more obvious, as the first told me “It mostly comes down to line-up making” and the second told me “The most important part about preparing is choosing three decks.”
And from here on starts the fun part: How the hell am I supposed to choose my decks?
Funnily enough, there is no one single way of choosing them, as the various competitors came with different types of strategies in choosing those.
The most common one that emerged was: Bring comfort decks that you are experienced with!
Yes. You do not have to search for the golden egg as it is right under your nose. As our friend, Painas would say “Good knowledge of the deck and its matchups is increasing the win-rate of the deck by 5-10%”. One idea that the former Asia Seasonal Winner DK recommends for new players and is already being used by players like Jasensational is building your line-up around one core deck and populating it with two others that are similar, so you can have clear ban targets.
Let’s take my domain of expertise, for example: if you are an aggressive player, you can bring Poppy-Ziggs, Gangplank-TF, and let’s say PnZ-Noxus Burn. Your bans are the decks that can go toe to toe with you in terms of healing or those that can remove your units efficiently very early.
Even though it is about comfort, “ideally your comfort is not Starlit Seer Ephemerals” because you might be in trouble then as BrokenBall says 🤣
There are also a few secondary strategies that you can resort to if you are feeling confident in your knowledge and ability to pilot. One of them that is pretty obvious is Bring Meta. As our friend Adel told us, “these decks are rated highly for a reason. Most of the time it very consistent and for nine rounds of Swiss you can only rely on consistency”. Not to mention that this consistency is going to give you a high boost of confidence, knowing that your deck can perform better than any other subpar/inconsistent pile you might be playing or facing. Simply put by Ultraman, “with stable, strong decks you will have far more chances outplaying your opponents than with more polarized decks”.
The other secondary strategy is to Counter Meta / Counter the most popular deck(s) that has been used successfully by StolenConch. His reasoning behind this is that you have higher chances to face a popular deck and get the matchups you want rather than targeting something more obscure that you may never run into. This strategy is specifically effective for him because he is getting his match-up knowledge right from the start by grinding many ladder games. When I asked him why ladder games over scrims his answer was pretty simple and obvious: “More variety of opponents. If you play one person several times you can grind one specific matchup more but that player might have certain tendencies or be doing something wrong and so you get false ideas of how things go”.
Before advancing to the next stepping-stone in our journey keep these tips and tricks in mind, depending on the type of player you are:
- Whatever you are playing, know your matchups very well.
- Don’t bring decks weak into the meta, because you will be facing lots of them; be the bully rather than the bullied.
- Choose your deck targets and stick to them.
- Adjust your decks to be favorite into your targeted decks.
- Don’t bring complex decks if you cannot afford around four hours or more of daily practice as you will be exhausting and burning yourself out while finding the best lines and even sneak misplays in your gameplay due to that.
- Be prepared to play against Aggro decks, as they are widely popular and easy to pick up.
- If want to get even greater results, be prepared to risk it for the biscuit; challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone and learn those meta decks that are tearing everything apart.
I will leave this short section to my good friends and former Seasonal Winners Den, BaJAtak and MajinBae, as they are recommending to:
- Prepare yourself for playing for a long period and plan accordingly:
- Sleep and eat well the day before;
- Prepare water and snacks for the day you are playing;
- You can go to the gym before the tournament or do some physical exercise, just like Henneky, to loosen some nerves;
- You can sit down with a few friends and chill in a Discord call before the whole thing starts.
The Mental Game
I will let the former Asia Seasonal Winner DK take over for this section. DK, you have the floor:
The general idea is that it is better to keep thinking about “HOW TO WIN” while you are playing. Rather than sticking to one win and one win, I tend to “Let’s play the very best we can!” or “Let’s not make mistakes!” every moment. Honestly, no matter how better the other player is they cannot play their very best 100% of the Open Rounds - this is applying to me as well as all the other players. So even if you lose a game due to a bad play, it is better to focus on the next game right away rather than beating yourself up for that mistake.
Last but not least, what I finally want to the people that are just starting to play competitively in the Seasonal Open Rounds is: THE OUTCOME OF THE TOURNAMENT DOES NOT REPRESENT WHO YOU ARE.
Winning first place in a tournament does not mean you are above someone else; poor performance in a tournament does not mean you are a loser.
Games are always games. Just enter the competition with a mindset of: LET’S SHOW THE PEOPLE HOW AWESOME I CAN PLAY!
During The Event
Even though you are a gamer and you are bragging about staying up late at night during those “Gamer Hours”, what you need to understand is you are very much human as any of us is. That means you need proper “fuel” and time to rest and detach from the games. Henneky is explaining it perfectly: “It is a marathon, not a race, and nothing is worse for you than just sitting at your computer for ten hours straight”.
I love a lot the word that Drisoth is using for this process: DECOMPRESS; decompress after each round, go for a walk, do something chill, and with a low-stress impact on you. He is playing chess puzzles or going for walks, Random7, Moe, Henneky and Seku are going for a short walk after each round, BaJAtak is listening to music. As the last one on the previous list is saying: “Open rounds are long and tedious, so you have to do everything you can to not be tired in the end”.
Do not forget to stretch your body in between games, eat a few snacks especially in the long break after round five – do not eat something too “heavy” as your stomach will be employed in a laborious digestive process and you are going to get sleepy and feel without energy.
During the event, you need to keep a strong mental and not get tilted, as it will directly impact the quality of your plays. One piece of advice I received from Sergi2Vamos before the last Seasonal was to make sure the environment surrounding me is as peaceful as possible. Don’t even listen to music during games, as we are not programmed to multi-task and you will spread your brain’s attention unnecessarily – multi-tasking is a lie.
One last thing that is obvious and you should do is take screenshots of your opponent’s decklists, so you can play or allow yourself not to play around certain cards.
Going Beyond & “Crucial” Last Tips
You might be in for the long run, not just play this one tournament, call yourself lucky or unlucky depending on your result and then call it a day. If you are looking to improve, Seku is recommending you to record and re-watch the matches you were less sure about - you can learn a lot from those! You can do that by opening the Xbox app on Windows and then pressing Windows Key + G and then starting the recording (keep in mind you need the Xbox app open for it to work) or using software like OBS Ninja or the likes of it to record your gameplay or dedicated apps like Outplayed from Overwolf.
In the end, remember to:
- Always check if your opponent has an obvious deck they want to ban before doing your banning, so you can plan around that;
- Play Pokemon Unite for a guaranteed Top 32 or Seasonal win, as Gems and Moe did;
- PayPal Sergi2Vamos 50 € for god RNG;
- Make sure you have unplugged your keyboard so you are not accidentally hitting your Spacebar and ending the round.
Playing for ten hours straight is not easy and the Seasonal Open Rounds are indeed difficult even for the most experienced of players. And that is why I am glad I could put this article together, to make it enjoyable for you and not just something you will despise if you are not using the right approach when you are playing in it.
Whatever that future may hold, I hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful.
Don’t forget to check out my Twitter as I will keep you up to date there about my future articles and future interviews with top competitors like the ones featured in this article.