For a week, players of MLB 2K12 have been going in on the title’s “Perfect Game” challenge where you must pitch a perfect game with any pitcher against any team. So far 95 perfect games have been counted and the number is still growing. Competitors have a chance at winning a trip to New York and play up to 7 other perfect gamers for a grand prize of a million bucks. The winner will also be inducted into 2K Games “Perfect Club” where their name will rank among the game’s elite.
Pro gamer Joseph Kim offered some advice to everyone planning on taking the big prize. For over a decade, Joe has won worldwide competitions, co-created the infamous Xeno Clan gaming crew and refereed the biggest tournaments in pro gaming. The Quake master has since hung up his controllers and has become a developer with Ninja Superstar and Silver Wing hitting iOS devices within the next few weeks. We talked to him about his start and how to gain the skills necessary to beat the best out there.
What was the defining moment that made you decide to go pro?
It was actually accidental. I went to a tournament in Toronto for Quake 2 and I didn’t do so well. I came back the next year and beat everyone that I played before. From that point after Quake 3 came out, I fell in love with it and played all the time. I dropped out of school and realized that I was playing more than doing anything else.
All this was happening during the pioneer years of competitive gaming so there were events going on about once or twice a year. I started doing that full time and that’s how it all started.
How long did it take you to become good enough to beat so many people?
It took me about a year and a half to get to the top tier.
You started over a decade ago, how has the scene changed over the years?
It’s evolved a lot and there are more factors that have come into play now. Back then, there was a lot less competition because there were just people who fell in love with computing and found the competitions. You also have to take into consideration that now there are a lot of places where people can watch others play and get a feel of how they do it. Before you had to actually play someone to gain experience on how to play against them. These days, you can just watch someone’s replays.
What would you say it takes to be called a “professional”?
There’s a lot that goes into it besides your basic twitch reflexes. You have to have a good sense of timing and a lot of what you do revolves around map knowledge. When you’re playing these games, you have to figure out how your opponent thinks. They may be aggressive or defensive and you’ll have to counter that with your own strategy. There really is a lot of thinking that goes into professional gaming.
Can you tell us how players can best prepare for it for the “Perfect Game Challenge”?
There’s two parts to the challenge. The easiest part is getting the game and then qualifying. After that, you’ll want to get yourself used to being uncomfortable. I say that because you’re going to be in front of a live audience in a competition. You’re fingers are going to shake and you’ll be nervous but it’ll really be a shame to get that far and not come through. I you really want to do your best, put yourself into really uncomfortable gaming situations or anything that will help you figure out how to control your nerves. That’s what’s going to really get you in the end.
With you being a pro, what are some of techniques you use to get over the nervous energy?
A lot of it comes from experience. I can’t lie, in my first couple of tournaments, my hands would shake and I’d miss shots. If you’re not seasoned, it’s easy to choke. That’s why you have to really focus. A good thing to do is to get into a routine before a match that puts you into a certain mental state--a lot of pro athletes do this. Visualize yourself winning before you even start. Play through it all in your head and when game time comes, focus, don’t let anything bother you and win the game.
What would you say are the differences between playing against the AI and a human opponent?
Take into consideration that the computer is very predictable. When you practice, do it with live players because you’ll experience random things you wouldn’t expect. On the event, I’d pay close attention to how other people play and figure out a strategy to beat theirs.
With all that competition around, do you think you’ll get the urge to challenge someone?
I’d love to. Maybe I’ll find a couple of weeks to put into it and we’ll see what happens.