I want to share with the NW community my tips on doing better than you deserve to in a tournament. I credit these tips for placing higher than my fair skill level in many tournaments. In other words, following these tips has let me place higher than people who were better than me.
Sleep. Get 8-10 hours of sleep before your first round. This makes a huge difference. Later on in the day people become physically and mentally tired. Tired people make mistakes, don’t play well, and stop caring. I’ve beat players much better than me in tournaments because they didn’t care anymore and wanted to watch some other game. If you’re starting to feel tired, go to your room for an hour and take a nap. This isn’t an old man tip, I was doing this when I was 20.
Drink a lot. Drink lots of water or sports drinks (gatorade, powerade, etc). I’ve happily spent $20 on overpriced sports drink at the local 7-11 while my opponents were too cheap to do so. They didn’t drink, and they got tired, and I won. If you aren’t pissing every hour you aren’t drinking enough. I suggest staying away from soda, as sugar will get you high for the first few hours but then you’ll have a sugar crash and get tired. Drink when you aren’t thirsty. If you’re thirsty, it’s too late and you are tired.
Eat well and frequently. While your opponents are getting pizza and chips at the food court, get a subway sandwich, or something healthy. Make sure to get protein and carbs. Don’t wait until you are super hungry to get food. If you’re that hungry, then you are tired, and your play suffers. When you wake up in the morning, go get breakfast. Your opponents will be rushing down to play as fast as possible, hurting their long term chances. Take advantage of their mistake and eat first thing in the morning.
Take breaks. Take breaks fequently. Take small breaks by taking 5 min walks out and stretching your legs, and take several hour long breaks (go to the pool, or the gym, or something physical). You’ll get cramped sitting on the floor or on a chair playing games all the time, and standing up is also very tiring. Taking breaks also gives your brain a chance to rest and process. You know how you play like shit at the end of a 4 hour gaming session? That’s your brain needing a break. Frequent breaks lets your mind process and re-evaluate your gameplay. Your opponents will be waiting in line to play sf4 and will have been on a 40 game rotation for another game. They’ll be weak and tired, but they won’t know it. You’ll be physically and mentally prepared and refreshed, and strongly motivated.
Doing these four things makes a big difference. I’d say it’s about equivalent to starting the round with your opponent already having taken 25% damage. That’s a big difference! The difference is magnified the later on you get into the tournament. Everyone’s jazzed up on round one, but when it’s 8pm and the tournament has been going on for 6 hours, fatigue sets in, and motivation and condition makes a big difference.
Tournaments are an endurance sport. Treat it seriously as such and you will have a big advantage.