Lose without excuses
Part 2 here may be a little more controversial. It's been discussed lately and thought this would be a good way to enlighten those who may be unaware. This is PT 2 - Online vs Offline and Tournaments, and it will cover "How online affects your gameplay" - "How online can be useful" - "Winning online" - "Tournaments"
Edits and revisions made for MK11 - May 16th, 2019
How online affects your gameplay:
The negative aspects of online are the dreaded lag and delay. When we talk about “lag” or “delay” in regards to gaming, especially in fighters, this is how we generally use the terms. “Lag” is generally associated with the random visual skips, and slow downs you see while playing. Delay is when you have button delay between your inputs and when it actually happens on the screen. Button delay can be caused by connection issues, TV latency, lag causing frame skips, etc.
These two factors are the main reasons why online play is deemed unreliable in the fighting game community to determine who the better player is. Even if there's 1 frame of delay, that can cost you a match at high levels. I've heard some players say that online only negatively affects your execution. While it definitely does negatively affect your execution, it also negatively affects your reactions, anticipation (reads), mind games, strategy and basically everything high level. Also, certain strategies or tactics can be become much better online due to lag/delay, which is often referred to as either “online tactics” or “lag tactics”.
Delay makes your reactions that of a debilitated turtle. When you need to do something on reaction, and there's button delay, you have to input it before you would need to normally. So in a lot of situations, you can't even react because it's impossible. But if you have good anticipation and adaption skills, you may be able to overcome the delay by not doing things on reaction. However, there's still lag. If you're anticipating a jump in, and a random lag spike hits, you're screwed. But the problem is, you can't dumb down your gameplay to 1 dimensional and expect to compete at high levels, and that's what online play forces you to do when you have a bad connection with someone. But even in the most perfect online conditions, it still can never be a 1:1 comparison to offline. But these days, especially with MK11’s amazing netcode, you can get pretty damn close.
How online play can be useful:
Online can be useful in the right conditions. If you and your opponent both have good connections with each other, online can become VERY useful. You can gain pretty much everything you gain in offline casuals via online (again, if the conditions are good). You can gain match-up knowledge, and just general practice. It's also a good place to meet new players in that respect. If you play offline just in your area, you won't be exposed to as many different play styles and character choices as you would by playing online. Since you'll be playing many different people from across the country (or from other countries), you'll get a diverse set of playstyles, character choices, and strategies. This is one distinct advantage online has over offline. Another advantage of online is the convenience it offers. Anytime you have access to the game and online, you can hop on and play people almost instantly.
When you play someone online, you have to realize, wins mean absolutely nothing. At least in the eyes of the competitive community. When I say they “mean” nothing, I’m saying they don’t hold weight. As far as who's the better player, that can only be determined in tournaments offline or when something is on the line.
If you’ve never played offline, you don't realize how different online play is from even offline casuals. Something you will come to realize is that true competition can't be forced through a broken, tiny straw and then say it's reliable (online). If you’re a competitive player, your primary goal from playing online should be improving. Not proving you’re better than someone else through online play, but improving and evolving as a player.
"People NEED to go to tournies and compete in a tournament setting. You MUST seek out formal matches in the form of tournaments. The best way to measure your progress is to measure your ability to win, but matches you play outside of formal competition, real as they may seem, are rarely a good measure of much. The strongest steel is forged in the hottest flame, and fiercest competitor is forged in the most serious battle. Casual play is often for “fun” but tournament play is for blood. Online matches are nothing compared to a tourny match and are only casuals.
In a tournament, even the same opponents you are used to facing may rise to a higher level of play. In a tournament, players tend to be more conservative. They also tend to find answers to tactics they have never answered before, because now they have to. They may cling to life in the game like the fate of Earth depends on it, whereas in casual play they freely give up a game in a position of disadvantage." ~ Sirlin
Playing in a tournament will improve your game. Being able to play great players in a situation where if you lose, you have no one (or nothing) to blame but yourself, will help you improve tremendously. You are forced to take full responsibility. An offline tournament is the pinnacle of fighting game competition. The pace at which you can improve as a player overall is drastically better when you’re playing in tournaments. A tournament will force you to play your best. When you and your opponent are playing at your absolute best with no handicaps, that's when you can achieve a higher level of play. You can free your mind of frustrating lag spikes, button delay, and rage quitters. It's just you versus the guy sitting next to you, nothing else matters.
Aside from all the benefits from competing in a tournament, I promise it will be some of the most fun you'll ever have. The atmosphere at a tournament can't be matched, copied, or fathomed unless you experience it for yourself. The only way you can truly experience it, is being there. Streams that you watch are only about 10% of what you can experience at a tournament. The hype you get watching a stream is 100x more hype in person. Not to mention the friendships and camaraderie you build by going to events. You can genuinely make life long friends, as many in the FGC have since the very beginning.
Being surrounded by competitive players for an entire weekend will improve your game, guaranteed.
There’s no question about it – you’ll walk away a better player. Even focusing solely on preliminary matches within your own entry pool, you’ll see things you’ve never seen before and face opponents you’ve never fought before. Every single victory will build your confidence and every loss will teach you something the hard way.
And yet, traveling outside your comfort zone to attend a major tournament will improve your online game as well. It all boils down to the level of competition you’re facing. The average player at Evo is more dedicated than the average player online. The average player at Evo makes a stronger effort to bring their A-game to the floor than the average player online. Combine these two factors and it becomes obvious why there’s nothing like the majors. ~ Sonichurricane
Online vs Offline/Tournaments in closing:
When you play someone online, there's nothing on the line. Sure there's your online reputation and maybe your W/L record, but both are completely arbitrary. You have nothing truly on the line. In a tournament, you have everything on the line. Which would include but isn't limited to; your reputation, your brand, your money, the prize money, and ultimately your tournament life. All of which add pressure and expectations that online can never possibly do. When you play online, other than your self inflated ego, you have nothing to lose. There's no incentive to really try your absolute best, there just isn't. You might say "But Juggs, there's rankings online!". You have to realize, that your rank online is frivolous. Your Rank or W/L record/ratio online provides nothing but a false sense of importance, and it's a form of delusion. The moment you thinking that your online ranking is an accurate portrayal of anything, is when you really hinder your progression as a player. Your mindset is such a powerful thing when it comes to becoming a better player.
Playing online is completely fine as a competitive player under the right conditions and mindset. But, don't put too much stock into your wins online, it will only hurt your gameplay in the long run. If you want to compete in its most purest form, go to a tournament. It's the only platform where you can prove that you're better than your opponent. Start going to locals, then graduate to regionals. Then save up to travel to the majors (To clarify, you don’t HAVE to go to locals or regionals before you go to majors. But the experience will help A LOT). Trust me, go to an event. I guarantee you that you won't regret it, and in the end, you'll be wondering why you haven't been playing offline or in tournaments all along.