Revisiting competitive games after a break shows the decay of your skills like nothing else. Our reflexes are non-existent and our brain processes visual and audio cues at a crawl. So how does one get back into top competitive shape?
Competitive games have a way of drawing the best possible performance out of their players. Because you want that win! Whether it's a Victory Royale, the destruction of an personal StarCraft rival, or acing the enemy team with Lord 'Chanka, the actual shape and arena of victory is interchangeable.
You may be at the top of your game one moment, only to start pursuing other aspects of life, or just find a different game more interesting for a while. By the time you return, it can easily feel like you were never even competitive to begin with.
The same rule that goes for boring old regular sports applies to competitive games as well. Now, with football or basketball the reason why you're not playing for a while could be that your squaddies are unable to play as well. So, when you all return, your own skill decay might not stand out, as everyone else was doing other things in the meantime same as you.
With video games however, while you're not playing for an extended period of time, your peers are practising on a daily basis. When you return you have to practice for weeks to get back on their level, and during this time you will experience bewilderment at your own inability to execute the most basic of plays. We have all found ourselves in this conundrum at some point, so let's get to solving it.
First and foremost, in competitive video games you obviously need a clear head. If you previously worked hard in order to keep yourself calm in frustrating situations, that ability may be gone by the time you get back to your game.
Practice it again, just like you would practice anything else. This way you can make sure nothing triggers you, because once that happens - tunnel vision follows. Subway vision is your worst enemy, since most competitive games require a clairvoyance levels of map awareness.
Your general decision making process will also be slowed to a crawl. Following up on sound and visual cues may have been child's play for you before, but upon your flimsily triumphant return it will be super hard. This is in part due to your rusty reflexes, since trivial things like farming minions in a MOBA or checking corners in shooter games will take more of your attention than they should.
Part of the solution here is to keep playing regularly again in order to reactivate your muscle memory, and in doing so allow for more brainpower to be utilised elsewhere.
Depending on the nature of your absence, you may be lacking physical activity. Without it, your blood stream will slow down and less blood circulating in your head means slower brain function.
You don't need to go to a gym or bench press a laundry machine to fix this particular quirk of human physiology. Jumping jacks work wonders for me, they're not hard to do and they get the blood pumping. I usually feel the full effects a couple of hours after the exercise. Running is great too, just as any other cardio exercise, but let's face it - most of us are because we are too lazy for real sports. These exercises also work very well if you're a heavy drinker or smoker, as they help pump the toxins out of your system faster.
Regular sleep should go without saying here, but there are habits and rituals you may have forgotten during your absence, such as the position you're normally sitting in or the way your desk used to be arranged. These tiny details can prove to be an ever so slight distraction but even if it takes 1 per cent of your attention, you might ruin a clutch moment during a match.
When it comes to regaining your muscle memory and reflexes, I mentioned playing regularly will get you far, but you may be in need of some alternatives for a lot of different and equality legitimate reasons. So, if you're stuck in a loading screen or waiting in queue, feel free to brush up on your mechanics mastery in the meantime with things like osu! , mouseaccuracy and Aimbooster.
All of these issues can also be the result of a drop in your form and some of the tips here may help get you back into the zone, but the slump may be a direct result of a burnout. Cardio might do the trick here as well, but if it doesn't , you may need to take an extended break from the game. It doesn't have to be a long one, as you return to it as soon as you feel your energy coming back.
Please remember to always play safe. No win is worth sacrificing your health for, regardless of what you may have been made to believe. A hospitalised player can't ever hope to compete while he is being prepped for surgery.