Trinity series 8th November.

Last wednesday, Trinity series took place, and the first game between G2 and Team Liquid was pretty interesting. I won’t talk about the development of the game, but what happened at the end where the fatigue mechanic came into its crucial point and became relevant.

The game came to a fatigue match where warlock (Gul’dan) had one minion 4/4 on board, no cards on hand and at 28 hp., just relieving on his hero power, Gul’dan  also had 3 more cards on fatigue than the mage. On the other hand, the mage (Jaina) had 3 cards left, while 1 on his deck, (which was arcanologist) she had an ice block on and was at lower hp., 12 actually. It was Jainas turn.

Share, communicate and explore all the possibilities

G2 even talked about dropping Alex (aka Alextrasza) but at the end they decided that it was not time for Alex, probably they were thinking on the defensive move with him, so they refuse to drop it on themselves now (better to wait one or two turns more to take more value, I guess).
They fireballed the minion and pinged, leaving Alex on their hand.
But, what if they had thought of an offensive Alex? Could that had been the way to finish this off sooner, and by the way, winning? Let’s see.

Dropping Alex on Gul’dan would mean to put the warlock at 15 hp. + 2 armour. While leaving 8 damage for the incoming turns on board. Gul’dan takes 2 damage form fatigue, so he starts at 15 his next turn, Gul’dan could not kill that Alex, the minion (4) plus his hero power (3) isn’t enough, so he shall go face. That means that he leaves Jaina at 12-4-3 = 5 hp, while he stays at 18 (got 3 health from his hero power), with 3 fatigue damage incoming his next turn.
Turn for Jaina, she still has a fireball on hand and she deals 8+1+6 = 15, leaving Gul’dan at 3 hp.! The fatigue would have made the rest!
First chance for lethal in this very late game missed.

I don’t mind the misplay, I’m interested in why they thought and acted like they did or what happened or induced to that situation in order to help those players for the next time.
Now, seeing this, it comes to my mind two kinds of tactics, two ways of thinking for those players. I’m talking about the defensive or aggressive strategy. What I can guess here, is that they took the defensive spot, and did not thought of a possible offensive Alex (but later on they will, as we will see soon).
That said, they did not thought all the possibilities they could have made on that play. That’s the interesting point and what took my attention.
Three pro players, three minds thinking, working and cooperating to win were not able to see this. To me, that means that they did not explore, thought or shared all the possibilities they, as a group, could have seen in that play/moment.

What could have been the reason?

-Maybe one of them thought of this, but was not encouraged or confident enough to say it? – Then they could work more on teamwork, communication and decisions management.
-They all were focused on his hp. more than warlocks, so only defensive plays came to their minds? – Then they could try to work on each turn about all possible tactics, rather than just keeping one through some turns/all the game.
-They were all the game behind, so they did not believe on their chances and that stopped them from making one step ahead to take the advantage? –They shall never stop believe in their chances and keep in mind possibilities rather than probabilities.
-They were tired of the game, and could not think properly or pay attention to the board at its full? – They could work and train about managing resources, fatigue and ideas during their games to prevent the tiredness.

Many more reasons could be. I’m barely stating some that come to my mind. What I want to remark is that they did not miss this lethal because they miscounted nor they did not calculated their potential damage, what I see here is that they did not pay attention to that because their minds and objectives were not towards that direction, that way and possibility was out of their range.
As I see it, they were not paying less or more attention, using less or more maths, they were handing the situation with less capacities/resources of exploring and recognizing possibilities.

This is just my guess. What I know is there was something which made them not play or explore all the possibilities, and that’s something they can work on and improve for their incoming games. And as a professional players they are, I believe it is something they should not waste. And as a professional of those matters, it is something in which we can help them.

To either think defensive or aggressive, but act accordly 

And now, once they decided that play, the game goes on.

So, here they are. And now happens something really interesting, regarding the prior situation. Somehow, now, one of them change that defensive mind (regarding Alex) to an offensive mind, and decides and shares that Alex to Gul’dan was the way to win.
They were playing defensive the turns before, and now, something they have seen or came up with makes them change their mind and drastically make a 180º turn.
What would have happened if they had made that change two turns before? Would they have seen that lethal? Possibly, but now it was too late.

My point here is that they were on a defensive tactic, acting and playing cards that way until they decide to change that. There was some dissonance. What could that mean?  It means that the prior moves they did, may not match well with this decision that was taken. In other words, suddenly changing the tactic may not be a good thing. The calculations they did were not accurate and were wrong, were those due that turn which was made so fast and caused them to not think properly that play? As we see in the video, shooting Alex to Gul’dan that turn was condemning them to a death.
Is thinking defensive and acting offensive making thoughts and plays not matching the way to go? It is for sure more risky, and it can go out of control way easily, so that’s something I would suggest not to do.

I’m not against sudden change of plays, I don’t blame them for making that change, I do support this kind of behaviour if you have explored all the possibilities or chances.
Did they come up with that offensive play because they saw all the possibilities, explored and made their calculations to the victory? Then go on, I would full support this.
On the other hand, did they come up with that play without exploring all the possibilities, without making all the calculations, more likely on a desperate play, etc? Then I am not fan of this, and I think there is work to do there to prevent this “fails” as much as possible.

Working in our cognitive skills 

What comes next is about miscalculations.  Once we know they missed lethal and his next play wasn’t the winning one, shall we ask ourselves, was there any way of playing that could have lead G2 to the victory? Yes, there was. I know it is easier to say and see now while it was way harder to see it while playing, still, that does not mean that players could not achieve this.

The winning play on that turn needed to play defensive, not aggressive with the Alex (as we have seen before), and not only that, the winning play was to delay Alex one turn, playing the arcanologist before.

Defensive Alextrasza:

Scenario A) Playing Alex first would have meant Jaina to die by fatigue four turns after.

Scenario B) By playing Alex after the arcanologist, Gul’dan would have died at turn fourth (on Jainas turn if the warlock ignored the arcanologist, or on Gul’dans turn (by fatigue) if Gul’dan killed the arcanologist before going face with his hero power).

As we can see, there was a time for an offensive play, and one for a defensive play, both leading to victory. But they had to be played at their time.

The point here is that those players need to make up calculations and based on their knowledge and the board situation (something they usually know); the problem comes when they have to engage those calculations. The problem is the lack of time and the capacities or resources of the players to figure it out.
To make this exercise they need, besides knowledge about the mechanics of the game (how fatigue works, etc.), the capacity to recreate and make the calculations in their head.
The needed of speed and mental working is crucial in those situations (concentration, attention, organization and imagery among them).
Players can train this kind of activities, and we the professionals can help them to find easier ways to take control over the situation (management of nerves, hurries and helpful advises for calculate and display, etc.).