For all you players in Bronze through Gold who are too focused on “theory crafting” or how to theoretically improve your game play without actually playing the game…
Do NOT try to imitate the pros. Do NOT try to execute sick plays. Do NOT try to perform some awesome micro.
When you log on, crack your knuckles, crack your neck, take a deep breath, and then press find match and just go with it. No thinking, no negative thoughts, just press that find match button.
I used to be very very worried about my ladder standing and rank and points. I would make sure to warm up a LOT. If I didn’t feel “just right,” I wouldn’t play. I would have all these procedures (warm water, marine split trainer, a few games vs AI, or maybe some unranked) before I even sat down to play a ladder game.
All I was really doing was saying, “Hey I’m afraid of losing. I’m afraid of looking bad and I’m afraid to present anything less than my perfect self to the world.”
You’re not perfect. Just tell your mind to shut up, press the find match button, and play it out.
And beyond all else, stop thinking you understand how to play your race on a high level. This sounds like a dick thing to say, but you really really do not.
The pros have different things in mind when they play. More often than not, their builds are catered to the map or player in question. They make decisions based on scouting and instinct that you cannot even begin to comprehend because not even the casters pick up on them. And beyond all else, many of their builds simply will not work on ladder. [Side note: this is one of the main reasons that IMBAbuilds is very selective about the build orders written up on this site.]
Instead of worrying yourself all about how the matchup is played in Korean GM and above, just set for yourself a realistic goal that you know you can reach.
A realistic goal for you might simply be to ladder a set number of times each day. Say to yourself, “I’m going to play 5 games today” and then actually play them. If you feel like you want to play more after that, great! If not, then that’s fine too – just stop at the 5 games you said you had to play. After the ladder session, re-watch some of the wins to feel good about yourself, and ignore the losses.
Then wait one day and, before you start the next day’s ladder session, analyze all of your losses from the previous day. Write down your major mistakes in a word document (mine is in the double digit pages at this point) and actively avoid those mistakes in the present day’s games. If you are actively avoiding these mistakes (for instance: I’m always supply blocked at 18, always banking chronoboost at 7 minutes, and always dying to the same drops at the same spots because I F2 and a-click too much), then you will inevitably improve. It’s impossible not to.
Unrealistic goals that you should NOT set for yourself would be: “I’m going to get to Platinum/Diamond/Masters by X time” or “I’m going to win 80% of my games today”. Those are not realistic because they’re not guaranteed, and if you fail, you will most likely feel like shit. There is no actual way you can screw up playing X number of games today unless your cat sets the house on fire or a serial killer comes over to your house with a knife.
One final thought. Losing makes you stronger. If you don’t lose, you can never improve. Strive to meet the people that kill you on ladder. Throw your ego right out the window. And above and beyond all else, understand that your knowledge of the game from watching the pro scene means literally nothing. On ladder, there’s only you, your willpower, and how hard you practiced in the past few nights.
-Shalashaka1022 (editing by NoseKnowsAll)
TL;DR: Don’t worry about how the pros play, or even try to mimic their strategies; remember that it’s just you against some random opponent on ladder. Set yourself an attainable goal and actually reach it. Accept that you are going to lose, and continue to hit the find match button anyway.