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How To Grow Past The Permablue Plateau - By Kolni

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This is the last, last extensive guide I'm making. For real this time, I have some other threads in mind for content but not in this manner.. This isn't just for the players the title fits, but it's going to be focusing on these players and why they aren't improving and how to start doing so. 

 

For the sake of numbers, I will be using tier 10 for this, but everything applies to the game as a whole.

 

Intro:

 

Great, you're decent at the game. This is where things ramp up a lot in difficulty and where almost all of these players stagnate. Performance in this game scales exponentially. An average player will deal below 2000 damage at tier 10 per game. A player dealing 3000 damage on average at tier 10 carries roughly the weight of 1.5 players which is enough to tilt the scale of winning about 5-7%. A 3500 player will likely reach 60% as they carry just shy of two players. A 5000 damage player deals enough damage to cover 2,5 people doing absolutely nothing and will stagnate at 72-73% solo (using Hall of Fame to verify this). The people that do get past 2500 averages already have some understanding of the game. They likely don’t interpret them right however which keeps them from progressing further.  

 

So how do you get past this? It's a long process, involving many, many steps. I'll outline the ones here that helped me push through that barrier, and the one after that. The 2k-3k barrier was one that didn't take me very long, but it's likely the one with the most people trying to perform well, knowing they have some talent but have stagnated from evolving further. Perma-blue is WoT-lingo for a reason. Understanding that some people cannot keep track of all the things required to do these things means that you have to treat your teammates as nonsensical. This is likely the biggest one thing I find this part of the playerbase having trouble getting over. You can’t make a teammate tank a shot for you even if it’s a game winner. If he doesn’t understand that concept - he won’t know how to make the decision. Same applies for EVERY concept in the game - and the more obscure they get - the less likely it is they’ll do what you want them to. Chat is of no use, nor are pings in this sense. It requires awareness to track and you can’t expect that from a random teammate. You can try, and have success, but expecting it will only lead to frustration. 

 

This leads me to the next part, emotional investment:

 

You want to do well, you care about doing well and not doing so is frustrating. This is still a PVP 15v15 game, with a lot of PVE elements you also can’t control. 15v15 gameplay means that games can end in losses with you playing perfectly. More than likely your ammo count is simply not enough to cover the HP differences in steamrolls, nor your DPM to cover the HP before the game ends - you simply cannot win these games. There is no Kobayashi Maru. You have to let these games go emotionally as the frustration serves no purpose, it’s anger for the sake of anger. And this may sound counter-intuitive, but giving up your desire of winning in favour of performance will actually win you more games. I am likely the most passive player you’ll ever have on your team - but still have a 70% winrate, no platoons. See how that shouldn’t make sense? Same things goes for most of the top players. Players below them are by far more aggressive and take way more risks - and that’s where the problem comes in. Risk-averse gameplay is king in consistency when your skill level can compensate for not taking them. There are exceptions, but they’re far fewer. These (the average) players will never understand this, and expecting them to do so will only lead to bad calls in game. 

 

The average player has a much better mentality than one trying to improve. The casual player shrugs a bad game off as it literally doesn’t matter to them. Their service record means squat and they will just go next game without any afterthought. This is a blessing to enjoy things without frustration, but it’s also what’s keeping them back from understanding the game in any real way. Improvement is a grind, and grinds are tedious - they take the fun out of playing in favour of doing better. Some people simply cannot let this go, and among those players some will rise and become great. Unlike other games, WoT seems to be a very self-taught game. Playstyle and preference vary heavily even between the top where a consensus would normally be reached in other games. There is meta in tanks, but things ilke openings, pacing and tempo are very individual in the decisions they make. This isn’t a bad thing at all, it just means that the information available to guide you might not apply to you, and you need to consider that. Once the realisation is made that you are skilled, the more teammates will start to frustrate you, because they don’t understand you and vice versa. You are the better player, so you will assume you are right, and this is where a lot of people get toxic as their ego grows.

 

With skill comes ego, and that ego is not only necessary to improve but to push your limits. Want to be the best? You have to believe you can be, and want to be. Nobody goes down the path of pro in gaming considering the incredible commitment to very little rewards - in any game, streaming as a strong player is always a safer career path. This ego however does also get in your way. because it doesn't develop close to the top but much sooner. This is a giant problem for people nearing greatness but falling short - they think they can do it and overestimate their abilities. Frustrated by that - they blame literally everything but the important part, themselves. I can not believe the excuses I hear from players when it comes to falling short. It is literally anything but their misplay. (Hint: they misplayed)

 

This is the biggest step to get over, and by far the most difficult one to manage. Ego doesn't go away. With skill, it grows. Take me as an example, I have the biggest ego on this forum by a mile. This isn't necessarily bad either. It is, in fact, required to reach the top. Do you think anyone achieving number 1 at anything ever didn't think they are capable of doing it? That question is a little far away from the topic, but managing your ego in a way to self criticize together with logic to not let emotions take control is the first step to systematically improving your gameplay. I could probably end the topic here, as this is all there is to it really - but specifics help a lot so I'll get into it. 

 

I’ll start with taking a page from the pubbie playbook I mentioned above:

 

Distancing your emotions: 

Average players don’t care. You care. Things don’t go your way - how do you keep your composure? The best way is to see things for what they are and accept your situation. It might sound defeatist but it really is the best way to keep your head clear for the rest of the game/session. Shrugging off a bad game isn’t as easy as wanting to do it and that’s what a lot of players need to start with. You can do this by applying a more practical approach to the game, with just evaluating the situation, regardless of your performance. This makes a rational evaluation of what happened much easier, so you learn from them more efficiently. Efficiency is key here, as development has to be quite rapid until you actually see any results. You can make these evaluations in concepts of “Was I where I should’ve been?” “Why did this thing happen” and you don’t stop until you have an answer you think is right. This is really hard to do in the heat of the moment, so expanding your knowledge prior to the situation occurring again to know what to do right away and be much faster with your decisions. This applies to things like line of fire too. Found a niche one but failed the clutch? Good to know for next time. Don’t forget it. 

 

Focusing on things like these don’t take the anger away, but it does help take your mind somewhere productive to increase your consistency to make the moments of frustration fewer in between. 

 

How do you become consistent?:

 

This is a difficult question to answer, but the most common one is practice. But what practice? Spamming games clearly isn’t the answer, so there’s other places you should be looking in to. I for one was not a natural at this game, I was below 50%WR for 2 years until I actually started learning. Some people have this from the get go, but sadly that’s not true for most people. Start by considering an area, any area at all, where you are good at what you do. How did you get there? If you don’t know, keep trying to find an answer. You can use all your experiences throughout your life and apply them to anything. I for one translated WoT into Chess. Applying the same practice, the 98th percentile took about a year of grinding. Things like trading patterns translate well into taking turns, and pieces on the board resemble a composition on a map and the same method of finding a crack in that composition is what let me do it. Translating it literally isn’t easy, but without WoT as a foundation I would have never gotten there. For the readers, it is the opposite way around. You can use things like studying methods of efficient learning and apply them too, you just have to translate them into comprehensible results. 

 

Once you commit to growing as a player, you’ll also run into a problem of a previously good idea not being so good anymore as you aim higher, or that another one is better. You can’t fall into the rut of doing the same thing expecting similar results when the game is fluid and changes. A good way to stay fresh is to evaluate your teammates. Is someone using a position that in this situation is completely broken? Now you know that, and it’s in your arsenal. Same thing applies for more obscure things, like how much damage you take from rams at different speeds and what bushes to blind fire - but there are so many of these things to keep track of that you need to play enough for these things to become intuitive. Your guesses will become more accurate the more you experiment and guessing is and will always be a huge part of games including fog of war. Eventually you will be able to predict things without vision, and this generally comes from preparing for the best enemy counter. Walk a mile in your teammates’ shoes, and your enemies too. It makes the game much more predictable, which is what you want. This is very hard, and takes a while to learn but eventually you will become more accurate and thus, better. Trying not to tilt doesn’t stop tilting. Stopping whatever you’re doing stops the tilt. Play with discipline. Set benchmarks, play until you fall below your standards and stop. This is the best way to keep tilt in check. 

 

Knowledge:

 

This is a very big part of the game. Knowing the values and landscapes of everything is so much information to take in that you almost can’t do it. How many of you can tell me the shell velocity of an IS-7 APCR round without looking it up? This literally never matters up until the point where you miss a shot because you mislead the aim. Things like this require extensive game time, as these things are based on feeling alone, nobody thinks of velocity before firing - there’s not enough time. Nobody does trigonometry in their heads to figure out if a shot is pennable but will still know when to fire. 

 

Same thing applies to maps. I advise you to explore every part of every map fairly extensively, it’ll lead to worse games short term but knowing every inch of a map makes for very smart positioning chances. There is for example a spot on Prokh mid (south spawn) of maybe a width of two tanks to stand in that lets you sit unspotted from light runs over the middle ridge while still being able to fire at both the hill and the 1 line without ever getting spotted from tanks using the mid bushes either.. This means you can be at the center of the map, in range of everything and not risk getting spotted, and that’s a net positive. You get to pre-aim the hill without having to fall back every time a light does a run over the middle, keeping reticle small and not risking taking damage from that hill while keeping an eye on it. Any tank smaller than superheavies can do it, but it’s so subtle terrain-wise (it’s a small bump) that most people simply can’t see it. Things like this lead to a lot more precision without risk and allows you to keep your output but taking far fewer risks while doing the exact same thing with more downsides two meters in any other direction.

 

A lot of information is given or easy to remember - like alpha damage, rate of fire and HP and weak spots, but knowing things (technically guessing, although very precise) that you can’t see or hear are still things you can play around. 

 

Things like this don’t come by only research, but also through game time and intuition. 

 

Intuition:

 

This is probably the hardest thing to teach, as it must be developed naturally. You can tell someone what to do, as I’ve done with many hours of coaching - but that doesn’t mean that will be the right decision in a similar situation because of variables you don’t see. How you practice this is simply by guessing until you start getting it right more often. Don’t do the stupid thing and take risks on guesses early on, but rather try to predict something on the other part of the map. If you were right, why did you think it’d happen? If not, why did you think it should’ve happened, and was that better than what actually happened - also consider if the response given was better than the one you anticipated. Start doing this regarding everything. You have the team comps during load in - guess where everyone is going. I’ll usually get half the enemy team right every game off of countdown, which makes for a much more precise game plan I have time to consider before having to commit anywhere. If I know where they’re going to be, I know where I should be. See how experience and intuition works in tandem? 

 

There are also the instincts, and that really can’t be taught. I can’t explain why I randomly turn my turret expecting a flank with zero indication of it beforehand, but still do it. You can develop these traits, but you honestly have to make these calls on your own and eventually they’ll become more educated guesses. That’s what this game really is outside of the shooting part, educated guessing. 

 

Mechanics:

 

This is one that’s purely based on game time alone. You can use aim practice tools and so on but the best trick is honestly a lower sensitivity. There’s a reason FPS gamers have low sensitivity at the highest level. Muscle memory works better with wider motions, so longer mouse swipes become more accurate. This isn’t necessary but when you take FoV into account, you’ll always want it as big as possible. Being in x25 zoom makes you very vulnerable to everything outside of the scope, and x8 for example is a much wider scope - less risk. These are small things but they do add up. 

 

The movement of your tank is another thing, as if you want to improve, it has to be precise. Can you overpeek a tank aiming another way, pull back into a sidescrape as he tries to fire back and track him as he does it, leaving no pennable shot for him but keeping him permatracked for you? This needs to be done in 3 seconds at most against mobile tanks, and I can tell you for sure that if you don’t clutch it you take the shot back, which is really bad if their alpha is higher. 

 

Aiming in WoT is different than in other games. The quicker you go from aimpoint A to B will let the reticle shrink more the faster you do it. It is limited by your turret, but making aimpoint B a pre-aimed shot means aiming somewhere the tank isn’t and to improve your odds of hitting those shots, this is how you should be doing it. Don’t follow the tank with the reticle until your reload and then swipe to lead. Lead preemptively.

 

Focus:

Do. Not. Autopilot. You want to focus on performance, so any outside disturbances need to go. There are ways to help keep you focused. The most common one in esports is breathing exercises to keep you centered, but for others it’s physical motions. For me, it’s hard techno. Find something that helps you keep your head in the game. If you want to be good, this has to be the only thing existing inside your head during that time. Find a way to do that. Your head should revolve around WoT when you’re in game. Try to expect as much as you absolutely can and draw conclusions from those assumptions whether you can take them with you or discard them. This is an infinite process. 


 

Now onto questions asked:

 

Hazzgar asked about what to do in stalemates. This is subjective as the stalemate in question will always be different. These situations are all about finding a way through, but it’s usually whittling down something until there’s an opening to take control over the game. Do. Not. Initiate. Fights. Out. Of. Boredom. This is most people’s problem. Some are too passive, some are too eager. This is a mismatch and you need to consider both parts of your team and enemy team regarding this when it comes to making your decisions. The best way to test your decision making is playing from behind. This is obviously something you don’t want, but it’s the best way to keep your head thinking about what you should be doing. A rule of thumb is also that you should never stay in the same place longer than 30 seconds if you aren’t getting damage out of being there. Try to find small shots here and there that add up, and then you can fight the blob in trades because you already have some damage to compensate for the 1 for 1 trading. These situations also require really high mechanics. 

 

ZXrage asked about when to play a general role that isn’t specific for your tank. And this is a really good question, because this is something that will occur and that you should do. I play very unconventionally, and focus very much on farming from distance until committing anywhere, in any tank. I play the FV215b as a sniper for example, because the gun allows for it very often. These situations aren’t always easy to recognise but trying to keep them in mind once again comes back to “am I doing the right thing right now?” There are situations where you should give up the malinovka bush because they’ve stopped firing. They’re still there, you’ll still spot them. But they know they will get spotted and pull back much quicker. This is always the optimal Malinovka play in a light, but when nobody is showing your vision is meaningless and you should do something else. Get vision somewhere else or put your gun into the game. A great example is X3N4. He had 2950DPG in the RU251 when it had tier 9 MM simply because he played it in a different way. Still over 1k assist too. These things take time to find and understand and it’s once again a long, long grind if this is what you really desire. If the will isn’t there you’re going to fall short. That’s just how it is. 


 

H4NI asked about tilting, and I described this in detail above. TL;DR is stop playing when emotions are starting to control you. These are the moments where you make the worst judgments possible and end up derping and even angrier, The solution is stopping, or at least mentally resetting. If you don’t have a way to do that, I strongly suggest that you find one because this isn’t only WoT related but stress related to everything in life. You can apply your emotions from WoT and connect them to reality and simultaneously treat them. Everything from breathing exercises, going for a run, playing skrims with friends or whatever. The important thing is that you mentally reset. The best way to do this is to review your game. Where did it go wrong so you can understand why the game went poorly and prevent it the next time.


 

Okay, that’s the thread for now. 

My next idea (not going to be a guide) is “Guess the Move”. This means that both me and everyone willing to post screenshots of situations where they were unsure of what to do, and the forum tries to guess what happens next, or what should have been done in case the answer is something they considered worse, I think it could breed some discussion. For this to work, people need to understand that things like this is much easier in countdown than it is to guess what happens when a tank is about to poke you. Try to keep it RNG free. It could be fruitful to start some thought processes regarding prediction which is a skill that most players lack and have a chance to get better at. I will be collecting some screenshots for this during the coming days and start the ball rolling. 

 

*If there’s context needed to estimate the situation (the tank in fog of near you is oneshot for example, or your getting spotted poking from a certain bush, or that arty just fired etc, but not what happened next) you should give it, but this is more trying to breed a discussion of clashing opinions on decision making which’ll hopefully lead to new things. 


 

I hope you enjoyed the read, Kolni/yung_xD/yun9


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Unlike other games, WoT seems to be a very self-taught game. Playstyle and preference vary heavily even between the top where a consensus would normally be reached in other games. There is meta in tanks, but things ilke openings, pacing and tempo are very individual in the decisions they make.

This is very much true, and one of the reason why wot is hard to teach (to others) is that even a simple question as: Which tank to shoot first? (as one, whats a priority target) is ver hard to answer, i mean, you as E50 can pick between:

  • Side of an E3 or killshot on KV4?
  • T92 with full hp, or an Rhm sitting in a bush 400m away (spotted because he shot)
  • A low hp scout on long range or an close range detrack + dmg on a 50TP?
  • An E75 or T30 both in the open, driving to village on fishermans bay (where an side scraping E75 is a huge pain in the ass)

Etc, i hate fighting E3`s, arty, late game scouts and T30`s so i will shoot those, but the Rhm might be better target (depending on plance and situation!)

 

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Damn @kolni, you're still pumping out great content for the community, and I for one really appreciate it. I think we all take for granted all the great stuff written years ago and how much there is (or was, at the time), and the level of effort that goes in to pulling something like this together. I hope it isn't your last serious content piece (there's still a lot you've got to offer, on more individual subjects like tank reviews, maps etc.), but if this is it a good way to go out.

Looking forward to parsing through fully after work.

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24 minutes ago, Snoregasm2 said:

Damn @kolni, you're still pumping out great content for the community, and I for one really appreciate it. I think we all take for granted all the great stuff written years ago and how much there is (or was, at the time), and the level of effort that goes in to pulling something like this together. I hope it isn't your last serious content piece (there's still a lot you've got to offer, on more individual subjects like tank reviews, maps etc.), but if this is it a good way to go out.

Looking forward to parsing through fully after work.

Yea- This article is great. It's also exactly as true as it was 5-6 years ago! But just because someone distilled a delicious whiskey in 2015 doesn't mean there isn't demand for a newly distilled masterpiece in 2021. 

It is however why I struggle to write or participate too often. Equipment 2.0 was a point of exploration and discussion. Clearly the 279e missions were worth coalescing some wisdom - but for the most part change is highly incremental, and sits on a very broad base which is mostly in this forum - but exceedingly hard to locate and synthesize. What Carbonward wrote in 2013-2014, and Garbad in the same era+, is nearly as true as today. Maybe not the specifics, as those have changed with maps and meta, but the principles remain - and kolni has pulled a lot of them together nicely here.  

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When I was perma-blue, I got banned for awhile, then I wasn't blue anymore. J/K. Really good article.

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I've fully read through and thanks again for this @kolni. I've had a lot of feedback from you over the years, and it's nice to see i've improved because of it. There is no way i'd 3 mark tier 10s 2 years ago, or some of the harder tier 8s, yet now I can, which is really rewarding.

A couple of observations:

  1. I really struggle to stay in battle after I die to watch teammates and/or watch my own fail replays. On the first one, i'm often tilted that my team did fuck all and allowed me to die, which is completely stupid as the only person to blame is myself. That's a personal failing that i'm constantly improving on, but playing 279 missions brings out some of the worst in terms of tilting. Still, again i'm better than i used to be. On watching my own replays, i don't do this as whenever i die i already know what i did wrong. Maybe others need to understand this by watching, but i nearly always know that by deploying there, then peeking this, then not rotating then, it led me to the final unwinnable position. And that's the point - you don't die in the 5 seconds before you take the killing shot - you die in the 3 minutes leading up to that. One of my goals is to make sure i die having made good decisions / there's nothing more i could have done, and not dying having put myself in a bad situation. I've always been very passive as a player, so this comes naturally, but sometimes too much so, which leads on to 2. below ...
  2. I try very hard to keep the 30 seconds of inactivity as a guide, but i often fail, especially late game stalemates. There's a lot of times where i pause for too long (holding a flank, or watching for a rotation), and i lose all momentum and initiative. As you say, a lot of this game is educated guesses about where the enemy are rotating etc., and one of my biggest flaws is becoming paralysed and ceding the initiative to them. Sometimes it works and i get an ambush, other times i get outflanked and lose out. But this is a super fine line, as often moving for the sake of it falls under your "making a move out of boredom", which is just as bad.

I'd be interested in a "guess what happens next" thread.

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I find the whole do not auto pilot thing weird. When i was actually good at this game auto pilot was my way of accessing like that "innate skill". Focusing on performance makes me do things that are unnatural me but I did them anyways because it was supposed to be "good". Its actually a lot like writing music for me. If i try to write something I get in my head with basic theory but if I just expect nothing I can just let my body feel it out and jam. If you're expecting good results, for me at least, things that fuck you over are more affecting and in tanks and there are a lot of things to fuck you over. Maybe I'm misunderstanding somethingm

Tl;dr its a "i can" more than a "I should" thing.

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I think that there is a difference between "auto-pilot" and being "in the zone". You are more referencing being in the zone, where you have optimal situational awareness, focus and reaction without having to think through everything in detail. It's unfortunately not a state that most of us can be in most of the time.

Auto-pilot on the other hand is where you go to a spot because that is the spot that you always go, and you aren't focused or paying good attention to what is happening, and you are just going through the matches. That is an easy and common state to be in, one that most players are in most of the time.

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@kolni one thing regarding both the "what to do if nothing happens" and "what to do if you play outside your role" - I get that it's obvious in flexible tanks like Fv215 but what about big heavies like 60tp or 705a? They are bad at shifting flanks and they are bad outside their role given they can't snipe.

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