Not Very Effective: A Fearless GBL Inventory

After climbing to about 2614 in Ultra League Premier Cup I hit a wall that I put up myself. After years I finally had access to a decent PVP IV Heracross and wanted to put it to use, and so I spent the final few days of the Premier Cup trying out team comps only to drop about 150 ELO. But it was alright because Great League was right around the corner and I had a couple of decent lineups ready to go for the home stretch and final push to my goal (ending above 2500 ELO). But my rebound never materialized. My sets continued to end in more losses than wins and I got frustrated. I fell into old habits.

After a few practice battles with a friend I realized that I had to work on my mental game. And to that I turned to the other game I play regularly: Magic. There’s a concept from the game – coined by a former high level player and later designer of Magic Sam Stoddard – called the Fearless Magical Inventory.

The idea is simple: you are ruthlessly honest with yourself about your shortcomings with a game. This is not to beat yourself up but rather to find places to improve. And so with that in mind, I am going to attempt my first Fearless GBL Inventory:

1. I don’t practice enough: This one is simple as I still see the game as a diversion. I know I should practice battling more, especially with regards to reading team comps and move counting. It’s easy for me to say that I have a full-time job, freelance work, and a toddler at home as reasons that I don’t practice enough, but if I want to continue to improve at GBL I have to practice more. Maybe that means dedicating a set everyday to practicing, focusing on playing correctly and trying new things, or maybe it means expanding my friend network in game to get more practice in. However I can’t improve if I don’t take battles a little more seriously.

2. I blame my team comps: I probably spend too much time trying to craft good teams on PVPoke. Teams with good coverage and ones that handle the perceived metagame well. And then when I test out those teams I believe they should carry me and not the other way around. And so I get frustrated and blame the team almost more than myself in these situations. This is a bit of the inverse of the dreaded “algorithm”, where you blame your opponent’s team comps for your losses. The truth is, I picked the team, I built it, and if a team failed that isn’t the team comp’s fault but rather my own.

3. I get attracted to new and off-meta picks: I consume a decent amount of content and when something off meta or new gets featured, I immediately want to try it out for myself (cough cough Heracross cough cough). This happened with Galvantula before the Lunge buff and happened earlier this week with Greedent. Heck, it happened in the first half of this season where I was dead set on making a purified Dusclops work. I was so concerned with trying to make one element of my team function that I put wins at risk. I need to cut this out if I want to hit my goals in Season 9.

4. I have trouble reading meta shifts: If there is one thing I have noticed in my various climbs this season it is that ever 150-200 ELO points, the meta will shift. But sometimes the metagame can shift from set to set within that band. I struggle to see these changes and anticipate what changes I should make to my team (if any) or changes in strategic approach. This influences my next point…

5. I am too quick to change teams: If a team struggles for more than a day I tend to abandon it even though my best runs have come when I stick with a team through rough times. I can’t always handle losing set after set.

6. I don’t like ABB line ups: I feel that ABB team compositions leave you very vulnerable in the back and as a result I don’t give them proper credit. This is a leak in my game and one I have to work on as ABB lineups are an important tool in one’s arsenal.

7. I lose count of moves: Not much else to say here – I am still working on counting moves during competing animations.

8. I haven’t memorized move sets and charge times

9. I over estimate my ability to get off “one more move”

10: I have to improve at the physical mechanics of the game

11. I sometimes play when I am not able to fully focus on the game

12. I don’t have a good trade network to reroll IVs

13. I don’t have a good raid network to chase high value options with greater consistency

14. I am stingy with Elite TMs even if they would improve my options

15. I have not put in the work to grind to level 40 to access XL options

And this isn’t everything. I know there are more elements of my game that need improvement. But most of these are things that I can work on in the short and long term as a way to be a better battler.

So where does that leave me on the precipice of Go Battle Night? Well, I’m starting out with Shiftry – Skarmory – Galarian Stunfisk. And we’ll see where things go from there.

Published by Alex Ullman

Alex Ullman has been playing Magic since 1994 (he thinks). Since 2005, he's spent most of his time playing and exploring Pauper. One of his proudest accomplishments was being on the winnings side of the 2009 Community Cup. He makes his home in Brooklyn, New York, where he was born and raised.

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