Last week, we went over how to set healthy goals in Runeterra. While I was planning to write this next piece at a macro level, I realized a more concise, short-term tournament preparation article would be more pertinent for Seasonals. Hopefully, this will provide some useful information for your last-minute dash to the starting line. Don’t worry, I’ll chronoshift to the future and write additional articles on how to prepare a month and a week before a major tournament. For now, let’s jump into it!
By now, hopefully, you’ve had enough time to work out which decks you want to make up the core of your line-up. With this meta being as wide open as it is, I know many people are struggling for their third deck, or are contemplating one of two line-ups. If you find yourself in this position, breathe, you got this! What three decks do you know inside and out? A vast majority of the time, deck familiarity is going to be more valuable than trying to outmaneuver every possible line-up. Knowing your decks, what to mulligan for, and general approaches to the most common decks will benefit you greatly.
I highly recommend focusing on your weakest deck. Depending on what type of player you are, playing several games with the mindset of learning is one of the more valuable, last-minute preparations. Ideally, you would do this before the last day but, in this scenario, we’re out of time and need to make the most with what we have left.
Try to find a partner who is comfortable with their line-up and needs the experience of fine-tuning their play. If you need help finding a partner, hop over to the Mastering Runeterra Discord [https://discord.gg/4sxpfBds] and post in the scrims channel. Make sure you discuss your plays and work through cards in both of your hands to see how they affect your decisions. After each game, try to identify the pivotal turn or decision that swung the game into either player’s favor. These discussions will be just as valuable as the game itself because it allows you to analyze how you got there and to analyze the branches of how the turn could have played out with the cards available.
On the other hand, if you’re a bit more like me, you may prefer theory crafting. I tend to avoid making any major changes to my decks at the last minute. However, I may try to make my line-up more cohesive to a particular strategy. For instance, my plan this Seasonal is to ban Zoe Nami and target Draven Sion. My current line-up is TK Raka, Ez Vi, and either Zoe Lee, Draven Sion, or Noxus Bandle Tree. I feel the most comfortable on TK Raka, Ez Vi, and Draven Sion, which is what I will probably end up running. Noxus Bandle Tree feels like a great sleeper pick (due to the interaction for Tree being pretty low right now outside of Scorched Earth and Aloof Travelers). Zoe Lee has risen in popularity this last week (due to its ability to take down Poppy Ziggs and Draven Sion).
This deck is also very strong in a pick-ban setting since the answers to Lee are rather specific. I can generally work my ban around Lee if I think it will go unbanned because I have a good grasp of my matchups with TK Raka and Ez Vi. For instance, I may take a slightly weaker matchup on TK Raka to guarantee my Zoe Lee has an easier time as I have less experience on Zoe Lee than TK Raka.
If you’ve reached this point and you’re not sure how your three decks work into the meta, don’t panic! We can break it down. What card is generally problematic for your decks? If I was to run TK Raka and Bandle Tree, Scorched Earth would be the hardest card for me to beat. So, in that case, I would ban the deck with the most copies of Scorched Earth. For Ez Vi and Zoe Lee, Minimorph will cause the most headaches. Another thing to consider is if you have a deck you don’t enjoy playing against, keeping a positive mental state is very important in a tournament setting. If Glorious Evolution really grinds your gears, or Shellfolk makes you seasick, just ban them.
Keep breathing! It’s okay to get jitters or stressed about a big tournament; it happens to all of us. As you play more events and experience more high-level situations, you’ll become more comfortable and you can work this feeling towards excitement. For now, though, you’ve got this! One way or another, you’ll come out of the tournament stronger than you entered it. I highly recommend finding a way to record your matches so you can review them in the future. This will help you identify the key turns that we discussed regarding your last-minute playtesting sessions.
Make sure you give yourself the best shot to perform by getting a full night’s sleep. If you have a rough week of sleep (I’m in this boat a lot), try to keep your sleep schedule as close to “normal” as you can. Make sure you set multiple alarms and try to wake up a few hours before the tournament so you can warm up your mind and body.
The Day of the Tournament
You did it! You’ve prepared for this day, and now you get to play in one of the most exciting tournaments of Runeterra. Start your day off with a nice meal and something that gets the blood pumping. Whether that’s a light walk, a jog around your neighborhood, jumping jacks, or push-ups, make sure you’re on the move. This will help set your body off on the right foot and get it prepared for the journey ahead of you. The next step is to get comfortable and play some warm-up games (1-2 games per deck).
You may find that you play your best Runeterra on your phone outside, sitting at your computer, or even upside-down on your couch. Try to put yourself in that situation throughout the tournament. Humans are creatures of habit and being in places that we are comfortable performing said task helps us focus on what is in front of us. Try to avoid sugars or big meals while you play. You will need to stay alert for all 9 hours of the tournament. I recommend that you grab your favorite Poro Snack and beverage (Chai tea for me!) and strap in for the long haul.
During the tournament, remember to play each game in front of you. Don’t let your mind wander to a past play (unless it’s relevant for the current game-state), and don’t focus on how many wins you need. The best approach I’ve found for my mental health is playing until I’m told to stop. I am aware of the wins and losses, but I don’t focus on them. I play the game for as long as I can to play my best and learn for the future. If you can stay in this mindset, the losses will not feel as harsh or pressing.
As long as you play your best, you have nothing to worry about. If you are fortunate enough to find yourself in the top 32, that’s awesome! If you are like the other 992 competitors, focus on what you can do better for next time. Regardless of your final ranking, you did great! You challenged yourself in a new way and competed in a tournament that only 1024 competitors were invited to.
Thank you for your time! I’m planning to work out the rest of this series in the coming weeks and will focus on tournament preparation further in advance of the tournament. What line-up are you considering for seasonals and why? Best of luck in the tournament this weekend, and I hope you’re able to learn a lot about the competitive setting and your play!
Let’s do it again!