Hello there, Gamer Sensei community! Let me introduce myself: my name is Remo “Ray” Bügler. I live in my hometown of Münchwilen, a Swiss village in the state of Thurgau. I’m 26 years old and play for Team SILENTGAMING. And this year, as a brand new entrant to the competitive scene, I had the honor of representing Switzerland in the Hearthstone Global Games (HGG)! I started playing Hearthstone competitively about one year ago… Before that, ladder was the closest I came. On two separate occasions, I achieved the first Legend (EU) rank after a reset – and I’ve hit Legend every month since. In this article, I’d like to share my story of how coaching helped me break into the pro scene!
Being Better is a Choice!
As we all know, everyone is unique. There are many different playstyles out there, but some players want to improve and nevertheless seem to struggle. I believe this is because they are – metaphorically speaking – “wearing blinders.” In other words, they cannot see beyond their ego, and fail to adjust their play. They refuse to acknowledge mistakes, even though they happen constantly… even to the best players! Was it truly the “RNG” that lost that game? At the end of the day, this is an excuse any player can make. Professional players who are aiming for the top won’t settle for excuses.
If you want to improve your gameplay, you have to “take the blinders off” and change your mindset. RNG exists, but you often lose because you had alternate lines of play and didn’t recognize them. Getting a coach helps immensely, as an outside perspective makes it easier to identify these moments. But there’s one important thing to remember: your coach isn’t a miracle worker! You’ll still have to put in the work on your end. A coaching lesson will not magically turn you into a pro after one session: rather, it’s a way to make faster progress down a long road.
If you want to achieve your goals, you have to work hard every minute. Most people think that this comes down to just playing more, but that isn’t the right mindset. There’s much more to do than just play 24/7. To be successful, you have to work offline: there’s tons of critical theorycrafting going on behind the scenes. All of this is crucial for taking your game to the next level! You have to understand the exact reasons that a certain card is in your deck, how to approach each matchup, and so forth.
Professional Coaching is a Competitive Edge
Sometimes, in Hearthstone as in life, you have to change your plans and be flexible. A coach can be invaluable in helping you do this. This is perhaps the greatest incentive to try professional coaching: a different mindset! What’s more, coaches have extensive experience and knowledge that they can share. This is the ultimate opportunity to grow as a player! With a coach, you learn to adopt the right mindset, adjust your decisions based on context, and – of course – improve your plays!
I started taking lessons from Sensei FKIShadow about eight months ago. The first few weeks, our sessions lasted between four to eight hours and focused on building lineups and enhancing my in-game decisions. This was not someone giving me generic advice. He was teaching with strategies catered uniquely to my individual goals… This is how, in less than a year, I was able to go from casual play to the highest echelons of the game!
Choosing the Best Coach for You
Before you book a lesson, you have to ask a vital question: which coach is right for me? I’ll share a few related thoughts which should help to narrow things down…
- What is your goal? (Achieving Legend, getting into the tournament scene, or just making more gold from your Arena games.)
- What playstyle do you prefer? (Midrange, control, or aggro?)
- Is there a language barrier? (This sounds silly, but it could be a big problem if you can’t communicate properly!)
I went through similar issues, and had a hard time choosing a coach because each had their respective pros and cons. However I knew my goals, and this narrowed down the selection process. My primary goal was (and still is) to analyze my plays and improve. I also like playing control decks – mostly greedy ones. So when it came down to selecting a coach, FKIShadow fit the bill. He plays with a very calculating style, and he loves control decks too!
How A Lesson Unfolds
The coach starts by talking with you about your goals and what you expect from the lesson. The best way to get value from a coaching session is your own preparation: I recommend two to four hours per day. The reason is that the first hour mostly consists of reviewing your last lesson! Be sure to ask questions if you want to analyze something new on your mind. Remember that the point of coaching is to learn, so don’t be shy!
While in the practice session, the coach will structure things around what you want. He spectates your games on the Ranked ladder, teaches you a new deck, or plays a few “what-would-you-do” scenarios. The focus is often on mulligans, examining your decisions versus your coach’s. The coach shows you why and how he would play in particular situations. My advice is to discuss as much as possible every turn, so ask plenty of questions! These are your best chances to pick your coach’s brain.
After the practice session, there’s a chance for some feedback. If you don’t like something, say so. If you hold back, neither of you can improve! It’s a two-way street: your coach is learning from you just as you’re learning from them!
The next step for advanced students is theorycrafting. This is all about building a competitive mindset. You learn how to prepare lineups for tournaments, which bans to prefer, and why. It’s an engaging part of any lesson. You look through tracked games, learn where to find meta reports, and how to interpret them. Data is only useful if you know what you’re looking for! At this point, you usually don’t play with your coach anymore. This is the most fascinating – but toughest- stage for a coach and a student.
Always Striving for More
I began with a focus on playing, practicing, and improving my decisions. I analyzed every single matchup with the help of my coach – and I’m still doing it. I’ve learned how important it is to change your mindset and game plan while playing, which isn’t easy. But the most important thing is how I’ve build the skillset to improve myself… every single day!
Many thanks to Sensei FKIShadow, Karomizu (my practice partner), and my wife Becca who supports me in every single situation!
Editor’s Note: you can find our previous interview with Ray linked here! And if this article inspires you, try a lesson with Sensei FKIShadow! Click the button below to see his profile.