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Lessons From Bravado CoD4



In this story Stephen White and I will be sharing thoughts on what made Bravado’s Call of Duty 4 (CoD4) team so successful.

Stephen White has worked for Do Gaming as both a full time and freelance writer and seeing as he did some work for Do Gaming in December, I commissioned him to write this piece. He was somewhat hesitant at first not wanting to shout their achievements from the rooftops, but I believed that he has valuable knowledge on the game and insisted that it was a piece worth writing.

Bravado / Brazen’s record speaks for itself: winners at the DGL LAN Championships in 2009, winners at the Gaming Inc LAN Championships in 2010 and runners up at the 2011 DGL LAN Championships.

Apart from that they have over 20 first place finishes in online competitions and LANs over the last three years.

What follows are some of his thoughts on the matter.

Stephen White Stephen White

History

At the end of 2008, Michael “Bl4ckout” Ferguson, Max “fAiTh” Mclaughlin and I (Stephen “TrolY” White) had just finished a quite frustrating competitive year of Call of Duty 4 (CoD4) with our team reZ. We had struggled to maintain a stable line-up throughout the year and although we were very enthusiastic, we hadn’t got any first places.

During the course of FRAG LAN (December 2008) we chatted a bit with the Grobler brothers and realised that they had the same drive to win that we did, and so they left Pantheon Gaming to join us and we formed Team Proximity.

Our name then changed when we joined Brazen, which was a multi-gaming organisation (MGO) at that stage. The MGO ended up dying very quickly but we kept the name because we had grown fond of it. Over the next three years we kept the same four-player core line-up and placed pretty well continuously.

We also joined the Bravado Gaming MGO in 2010 and had some good successes there too.

Competitiveness

I think one of the things that's different about our team is that all four of us are very competitive, or to put it another way, we absolutely hate to lose and love to win.

The Bravado TeamSpeak channel is not a happy place to be after a loss – that's for sure. A lot of people might think it’s a bit silly to care so much about a game, but for us, I don’t think it was ever really a conscious decision; it’s just the way we all are.

There is no doubt that the desire to win is an extremely important part of winning – for example it’s obvious that BFB really wanted to beat us in this year’s rAge final and that was a big part of them actually winning.

If you watch the top teams play in a LAN environment, you can see from their intensity that most of the top players are all extremely competitive people. Teams like BFB and Bravado are always shouting at each other, jumping up and slapping each other on the back etc. The point being that the burning desire to win is the most important requirement to victory.

Strategy

In my opinion, CoD4 is so fast-paced that strategy ends up not being that important. In the past couple of months I often felt like I was playing virtual ching-chong-cha, with the differentiating factor being how well each team was playing on the day.

The thing is you can have the best strategies in the world but they can so easily be ruined by one lucky grenade or a fortunately-positioned enemy player. CoD4 is very much a game of momentum. Obviously strategy is important but in the past couple of years all the top players have become so familiar with the maps and the game that its more about the execution of strategy (i.e. teamwork and aim) as opposed to doing something that is actually original or surprising. The sheer randomness in the game ended up causing the 2011 rAge final to be one of the slowest-paced finals ever I think, but it was very tense and fun to play in.

Steve Whitford: Having known White for a long time and interviewed him as a player for many articles and heard him share his thoughts as one of my journalists, I think there is no doubt that the stability of the team over three years, together with the hard work they put in during the start of their playing together, had a massive impact for them.

It carried them through, particularly because there have been few teams who have put the amount of strategic brain power into their game play that Bravado did. This enabled them to rest on their hard work and experience to some degree. Although, personally I wonder whether they weren’t a little too comfortable going into the 2011 DGL LAN Championships final for CoD4
.

Bravado CoD4 claiming their prize at the DGL 2011 Championships Bravado CoD4 claiming their prize at the DGL 2011 Championships

Calmness

Staying calm allows the player to focus properly, adapt where necessary and just play better.

One player in particular who always stays very calm is Michael “Bl4ckout” Ferguson. He can get a crazy set of kills and just sit there like nothing happened. If I did something like that I would be jumping around or slamming my table and spilling coffee everywhere.

I think staying calm is important but that can be very difficult under pressure. Some people seem to crack under pressure and others don’t, it just depends on your personality I think. eSports is a mind game and if you can be in complete control of your own mind then you are probably going to play better.

Steve Whitford: I will never forget Ferguson at the 2009 DGL LAN Championship Final. He was completely focused and barely moved a muscle apart from his hands on the keyboard and mouse the whole game. And when they won, he got up and a little smile tugged at his mouth while his team mates jumped up and down with adrenaline induced shouts of euphoria.

Leadership

If anyone has read John Smit’s Autobiography, he speaks about appointing sub-captains within the team to manage things like lineouts and the backline.

In our case I have to mention the Grobler brothers, Vindicator and r0adrunner, who are more than capable leaders in their own right. They don’t mince their words and always get right to the root of their problem.

Sean “r0adrunner” Grobler in particular has never got the credit he deserves. All the best teams have at least a few players who are capable of putting their hand up and making tough decisions in difficult situations. A silent team is generally a losing team.

Steve Whitford: Watching White play on LAN is generally different from other teams I’ve seen. He’s a great communicator, always talking to his team. While the other players show strong leadership too, I’ve always noticed the healthy respect they seem to have had for White.

His deliberate leadership and calling pulled the team together in my opinion. The start of every map would see a call go out from White as to how they would play the round and he talked to his players even if he was killed early in the round, following his players with intensity and shouting out anything he sees.

While I’ve heard other teams talk about the importance of calling and leadership, I’ve rarely seen it so evident and so effective as demonstrated by the Bravado CoD4 team.

White at the DGL 2009 Champs White at the DGL 2009 Champs

Teamwork and cohesion

Obviously teamwork is extremely important in any team game or sport. The importance of working together cannot be overstated. Another thing which is important is the way a team gels: the way different personalities and play-styles mix together. This is something which is very difficult to plan, it seems to me like it either fits or it doesn’t. In this regard I think we were quite fortunate, in 2009 we managed to gel very quickly and we were getting results almost immediately.

I think players trying to create a good team just have to keep on trying players until they find a combination that works and then stick to it. From what I have experienced, the best teams seem to be the ones where the play styles of the different players complement each other. For example Chris “Evax” Noble and Ian “ITR” Robinson are too very different players but together in BFB they achieved success at rAge 2011. It’s up to Evax to sit at the back and be Mr. Reliable while ITR runs around doing his thing.

Conclusion

The best way to get better is to play your way into a top team, it really is as simple as that. If you’re not sure where to start you can check out Do Gaming's competitive guides, starting here.

It seems like I’m heading off to Korea next year and as a member of the CoD4 community I’d just like to say thanks to everyone for the good times over the years and a special thanks to the people who have been generous to me.

Steve Whitford: White’s loss to the local competitive scene as a player, shout-caster and writer is significant. Do Gaming wishes him well for the future.




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