Counter Strike: My Odyssey

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Recently I have gotten back into playing my favorite video game of all time: Counter Strike.

I first played Counter Strike in 2001 or something like that, back when I was in elementary school. It was at my neighbor Tony’s place and I was so terrible at the game. But of course I loved it and I just wanted to play it all the time. Too bad I didn’t have a good enough computer back then to do so. If I wanted to game it had to be next door at Tony’s, which also meant I was on his computer, and that I was stealing it from him.

So naturally, I didn’t get to play that much.

Fast forward to the high school years and a newer version of Counter Strike had been released, and at this point I was using it to just play around on the Zombie Mod mini-game. I loved this game mode. It sadly doesn’t really exist anymore, but times change.

Back then for the majority of players, Counter Strike was all about the mini game experience. But with the newest iteration of Counter Strike: Global Offensive, the game became very competitive based, with dedicated servers for matchmaking.

Now there had been a pro scene in Counter Strike for many many years but the way you played it was very disorganized. There were independent leagues with their own servers that would set up the games and players would drive to attend the events. The parent company, Valve really had little to nothing to do with the professional aspect of the sport.

But with the new game it all changed. Valve became much more active in the sport and started organizing major tournaments. Money began to flow into the sport and betting on the matches started happening.

This caused Counter Strike to explode.

Within the span of two years the game went from having 2 million active players to 12 million active players. Everyone wanted a piece of Counter Strike, and everyone was trying to be a professional player.

Myself included.

In fact I was so gung-ho on this endeavor of mine that when I received my Masters Degree I informed the announcer to speak that I was going on to pursue my goal as a twitch streamer and a semi-professional Counter Strike player.

My friends in the crowd went wild, and the adults were also confused, but only the ones that didn’t know me.

Over the years I decided to move on from twitch and pursue new interests, but Counter Strike has always come back to me. Mostly because I set a goal that I have yet to have actually hit, well legitimately.

In Counter Strike there is a rank titled “The Global Elite.” It is an extremely coveted rank that only belongs to the top 0.5% or so of all Counter Strike players worldwide. It truly is an achievement to get this rank. For years I have wanted to get this rank more than anything. I want to be the best, and this rank is indicative that you truly are the best.

There actually was a time at one point that I was a Global Elite, but sadly it turned out that one of my teammates, and honestly our best player, was a cheater and when he was caught, the rest of us on the team lost our ranks.

That hurt.

To get to the top, but then have it taken away. But honestly, we all knew that we weren’t really that good. I mean, we were good players, but not Globals. We knew that Chico was the reason we got that rank. He carried us to the win and saved us from losing so many games that without him we would have lost otherwise. There were times that we were suspicious of his plays, and that he was cheating, but we trusted him as we had become friends.

He always denied his cheating.

But when he got caught, that was it. He deleted us all from his friends list and never spoke to us ever again. The team then disbanded and we went our separate ways. But after that I always wanted to reclaim my place at the top, but this time do it legitimately.

Over the years I tried so hard to make it to the top, and a few times I got pretty close. I hit the Legendary Eagle Master rank twice, (top 3.5-6%) before and after the dreaded “De-rankening” where Valve stripped everyone of their ranks and forced everyone to re-rank based on a new point system as the ranks had become way too inflated.

I had proven to myself multiple times that I was a good player, but yet the Global Elite rank still evaded me.

And there were many reasons why I never got it, but it really always boiled down to focus. There were jobs I was working, or I was studying for school, or I was hanging out with friends, dating, etc. But a major distraction that I never fully realized until recently was my twitch stream. While this has been the basis of my Counter Strike playing, namely live-streaming it to the world to see, it was also a major problem for rank placement.

To play Counter Strike effectively, especially at high ranks, you must be completely in tune with the game: focusing on every aspect, the footsteps of enemy players, the mini-map, your spray control, and proper grenade usage. The moment you are talking to your fans and putting on a literal show while trying to play competitively, you already have your head in two different places.

This was not conducive to getting wins.

Every time I streamed I always played worse than if the camera was off. While some people might say that was because I was nervous in front of an audience, I disagree. I really don’t care if people see me lose a game and say I suck, but what I did care was if fans were typing to me and that if I didn’t respond quickly enough to their comments that they would leave my show and stop watching me because in their eyes,

“I didn’t care about them.”

And every fan really counts in twitch because the more people watching your exponentially increases your exposure to potential new fans. And when they leave it also exponentially decreases your exposure as well. There were definitely times I felt a little bit hostage to my own show. Yes, I wanted to win the game, but more importantly I wanted to put on a show for fans and grow my audience.

This time around I had retired from streaming, yet the fire to get The Global Elite was rekindled in me. The way it happened was at an office meeting last week. Brad Pearson, an absolutely stellar Real Estate Agent for Coldwell Banker came to our office and gave us a motivational speech which truly fired me up. He talked about being the best and how to be the best, and it resonated.

I want to the best. And I’m going to do what I need to become that.

After the speech I had the pleasure of chatting with him for a bit about our hobbies and what not and he revealed to me his love of cars and how spending his money that he makes on the cars that he loves is awesome to him as they are a sort of goal. (Note, I am paraphrasing and extracting from what I got out of the conversation.) It got me thinking throughout the day that work is great, and that I want to be an amazing Real Estate Agent, but what other goals do I really have?

Hitting The Global Elite Rank.

So this week I decided I really did want to get back on the horse and start playing. But the first thing I noticed was how hard the game was. I used to be so good at the game but I had truly lost so much skill. In fact I was ranked at Silver Elite Master, one of the lower ranks of the game.

I really had a long road set ahead of me.

But the good news is that I have started to rank up and I have successfully broken out of the lower ranks by getting to Gold Nova. But I still have a long way to get to the upper ranks starting with Master Guardian Elite. I can do it, but I need to seriously practice. Counter Strike players are hardcore. The best go into deathmatch servers every single day and work on their aim, a sort of virtual driving range if you will for people unfamiliar with the sport.

For a few days this past week I had not been doing deathmatch. I just decided to practice on bots and do some other light warm ups, but really it was not enough. There were many games where I just ended up losing out completely and not moving up the ladder. So last night I decided to deathmatch for over an hour, and the results were tremendous. The game I played right after I dropped over 40 kills.

I dropped the 40 bomb.

In Counter Strike, 30 kills is an amazing game, referred to as the 30 bomb. If a player gets 40 kills in a game, that just does not happen. Clearly the deathmatch practice came in clutch.

Now I know what I must do if I am going to get The Global Elite. I have to practice every day for at least an hour in deathmatch and seriously commit my energies to focusing on improving my aim skill. Just playing game after game without practicing the fundamentals will not make me any better, in fact I bet that it will make me worse.

But deathmatch pits you against the best players in the game over and over again without end until you want to exit the server, and as such you are forced to work on your fundamentals, or lest you are just repeatedly killed by players better than you.

And that is often how the deathmatches start. I get trucked by player after player until I start to find my groove, but then I get rolling and I start dropping people left and right. Once I feel comfortable it is time to go into the game and then get that actually competitive victory that moves me onwards towards the rank that I want.

Getting The Global Elite is going to be a tough journey, I know it, and not just because of the skilled players, but also because of the cheaters. Unfortunately there are way too many cheating players out there that make getting the high rank extremely difficult, and I would know I played with one unbeknownst to me in the past, but I won’t let this stop me.

Even more so do the cheaters make me want to prevail and gain The Global Elite rank. To show that despite the odds, and all the cheaters, that it is possible to prevail and be the best. The rest will make excuses as to why they could never be the top, but the best don’t.

The best prevail.

And that is what I will do.

 

Keep Smiling,

Nolan

Hustle is Necessary

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Today marks the formal beginning of my work as a real estate agent. Why today? Well, because today is the day that I received my business cards. You can’t really conduct yourself in real estate, or any other white-collar profession, without them. Nothing screams unprofessional like not having a business card. As such, I decided to wait in letting people know I was a real estate agent until I had my cards in my pocket ready to give them.

I’m not interested in blowing leads.

But now that I am armed, and locked and loaded, it is now time for me to hit the ground running. This morning I attended my very first official meeting at Coldwell Banker where I was introduced to the other agents in attendance and was briefed on some market statistics, among other things. The president of the Southern California region, Jamie Duran was present and gave a fantastic speech. She further gave me great advice and inspiration as to how to get out there and get motivated to start my career in Real Estate.

It really is special when you get to meet a real role model.

She has the track record to prove it, and honestly exudes charisma as well. I was blown away. Listening to her stories about how she sells real estate and especially what she did walking neighbors when she first started out was particularly useful to me. She gave me a few different tips, and some stories of her own, but the most important tip she gave me was that meeting people is paramount. She said to me that as a new agent I really need to be meeting at least 25 people a day. So in other words,

I need to hustle.

So today begins that start. Not only am I off to seeing the people in my immediate sphere first, I am then planning where I can start going daily to maximize my exposure. I need to get into my routine of the places I will be where I can be seen. Otherwise, I won’t be meeting enough people to get the results that I need to get.

And it is all on the line now.

Now that I have my license, I am signed, and I have access to the MLS, it is now my time to get my act together and to get in gear. No more waiting around, no more holding period, no more excuses.

It’s time to get out there and to find people that are looking to buy or sell a house. This is not going to just come fall into my lap, much like anything else in life. If there is something that you want, you need to go get it. And this means developing a plan and then carrying it out.

For all those of you out there that have something you want to accomplish, start working towards it right now. Make your plan today, and then execute it the same day, or at the very least the next. Don’t wait and don’t make an excuse.

Just get it done.

 

Keep Smiling,

Nolan

 

All the way Up

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Yesterday marked a momentous achievement. Something unparalleled in recent twitch history. That is right, you guess it, I clawed my out of Bronze and back into Silver in Rainbow Six Siege.

And God damn did I claw.

About a month ago I decided to come back to PC video gaming and to Rainbow Six Siege. At that time I decided I was playing very casually and so I hopped into my placement matches without even so much as practicing. And further I listened to music throughout most of them.

What a mistake. First for not warming up. And second for not listening to in game sound cues. Well I paid the price. I was ranked Bronze 4. Oh how the mighty had fallen. At one point I was a mighty Platinum 3. Now I was a lowly Bronze. The only thing worse than this was copper.

And then I deranked.

Now I was in the nether regions of Rainbow: the Lowest of lows, the Marianna’s trench of video gaming if you will.

But things were different now. I had returned to streaming everyday, and I had returned to real PC gaming.

And I did not want to be here.

So I started the climb. Working tirelessly to win game after game, only to fail to clutch, or to have a game with teammates who failed me, or worse to encounter the scourge of smurfs.

Up and down were the games, making my way to Bronze 1, almost reaching silver again, but then failing to do so by tanking my rating back to Bronze 4.

But finally the skill returned. Yesterday I won every single game I played. I played well, I encouraged my teammates who performed amazingly in their own right, and I clawed my way all the way back to Silver.

It was a momentous day.

But now that day has passed and it is the next. Time to set a new goal: this time I climb for Gold. And I can do it. In fact I think it might be easier than climbing out of Bronze, chiefly because I think there will be less smurfs.

For those who are wondering a smurf is the Internet term for a strong player who sandbags on account that is ranked much lower than their skill really is.

These people are a scourge. I hate smurfs. They ruin gaming. People that have no business being in their respective divisions just beating up people worse than they are.

To all smurfs reading this. Stop doing it, and pick on someone your own size.

And to those who say they do it to play with their friends, think about the other people you are beating up. Sure you are playing with friends, but what about the other team whose game you are ruining? They are people too.

I remember when I really understood how smurfing was just not right. It was about a year and a half ago. I was working tirelessly all day back when I was living in Oregon. I would get home usually at 11 PM and I would only have 1 hour until I needed to go to bed at midnight. And what did I want to do that whole day while I was working? Get done with work and get home at 11 so I could play one game of counter strike.

That was it. Just one game. That is all the time I had then.

I would get home, start playing, and quickly get destroyed by some player on the other time that was smurfing.

And I was furious.

After all that was the only game I had time for. I couldn’t just play another. I had to go to bed so that I could wake up tomorrow for work. To that smurf it was no big deal, but to me, back then, it honestly ruined my whole day.

All I was looking forward to all day long was to finish work and play one game, and then this asshole ruined it. Then and there I realized how wrong smurfing is.

You don’t know who is on the other side of the screen or what they are going through, so please just play our own rank. And if that means you can’t play ranked with your friends so be it. Play casual with them or something. Remember there are other people out there too.

And dealing with the smurfs these past few weeks in bronze has been really annoying. But hopefully in silver it will slow down. St least I hope. Regardless I will crawl my through and get to gold.

And then next season I won’t fuck around in my placement matches. I’m not making that mistake again.

Well, it’s off to work for me, I will see hopefully see some of you in the stream later tonight and you can’t watch me crawl

All the way up.

Don’t smurf and keep smiling,

Nolan