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If you can find any high-level coaches of 1v1 games who are interested in running experiments, that's great. I don't have the option of just becoming a pro Starcraft coach in order to run a 'better' experiment. 

I'm also curious why you think this; skills of communication/teamwork are pretty central to what I'm thinking. We already have lots of information about how good smart people are at chess and how smart pro chess players are, too, so it's just a matter of figuring out where individual games lie on the spectrum from something like chess (very strategic) to something like Smash (very twitchy). We have much less information about FPS, so to me it's a much more interesting experiment.

I would prefer not to take on people with history of being gold players because it seems like bad science. However, I don't have a ton of interest at the moment, so I might consider whether it's a good idea?

"Picking only smart people is like a school accepting only good students and then miraclously having good grades for their students." - I don't think this is true. Yes, if I picked a bunch of smart students and then my students all turned out to be good at mathematics or programming or Greek, it wouldn't be surprising. However, if I picked people purely on IQ and then it turned out they were all very good marathon runners, it actually would be very surprising! My point is that many people think that esports is a similar domain to marathon running (you primarily need genetics/reflexes and lots of time) whereas I think esports is in a similar domain to mathematics (smart people can become good at it quickly). This is precisely the point I am trying to prove; I am not trying to prove that I am a good coach or measure the impact of coaching or anything along those lines. That would be sort of egotistical. 

"Concepts made by 4000 to be consumed by 4000 people might be hard for others to adopt not because of cognitiive domination but it being relevant to that style and culture." - This is occasionally true, but primarily because of the way other people play in lower SR games. For instance, I might tell a 4400 player to do something which relies on the assumption that they will be backed up and supported by others, whereas in gold your teammates will leave you to die and you cannot demand so many resources. I think if you train an entire team simultaneously, this effect is wholly nullified. 4400 players are just better than gold players, and they play the strategies they play because they win, not because of a stylistic difference.

"There is also a difference of being able to execute" - yes, but this is not relevant for the goal of reaching ~3500. It is not even relevant if your goal was 4200. This is relevant if you wanted to become a 4500+ coach, and basically never relevant as a player.

On learning being less fun - I suspect this is significantly less true for LW-y nerdy types, who will enjoy a game more (not less) if it's a tricky intellectual strategy game rather than a mindless spray-and-pray aiming adventure (which is the primary way I see the 'but doing it properly wouldn't be fun' thing ever come up). 

I can expect that you will have fun without guaranteeing that you will have fun. I think there is a high probability that you will have fun. 

I am not planning on bailing out the second I think I am wrong. However, I will cancel the "mandatory activities that all six of you have to do as a team" part if I think the amount of fun/success you will have is not worth the mandatory-attendance-activity-time. In such a scenario I'm still more than happy to do optional one-on-one work if someone just wants to be better at video games for their own sake. 

Yeah, this definitely doesn't explain my gold players who spend hours every day in Kovaaks.

No, elo is not a flat distribution. Roughly 2-3% of accounts are in Grandmaster (4000+), the next 5% in master (3500-4000), the next ~10% in diamond (3000-3500), the next 30% in platinum (2500-3000), the next 30% in gold (2000-2500)... but this is skewed for a few reasons. Casual players are more likely to stick to Quick Play and not rank in Competitive, and higher-level players are significantly more likely to have multiple accounts, so the percentage of accounts in higher ranks represents a smaller percent of actual players. Sometimes the top 10 accounts in a region (Europe / Americas / Asia) are held by the same 3 people, playing on several accounts each. So 3500+ is much more of an achievement than top 20-25%.

I genuinely think that the limiting factor for lots of people stuck below 3500 is related to conceptual understanding, learning or cognition. They can have fundamental concepts explained to them, but they don't really understand them, or they understand what you're telling them about one specific situation but can't generalise it to future situations. I also see lots of players with issues with tilt, mentality, attitude, multitasking, communication and general 'thinking speed'. I know a lot of people who will make the right decision on a 30-second delay, by which point it's a bad decision - that's not "reflexes", it's how well you can offload concepts to sys1 so you see things faster. Keep in mind this is from my perspective as mainly a scrim/tourney coach; I don't really see individual ladder games, so the play I tend to look at is significantly more strategic and less mechanical. There's a reason I specified I think they could scrim 3500. I see consistently poor group decision-making from teams below 3500.

Huh, my experience doesn't support this. I run an organization that has lower-ranked teams as well as higher-ranked teams. Many of my lower-ranked players have been attending scrims and reviews for years (definitely far more work than the equivalent of casting 100 games) and are still below average. I find that a lot of them don't have good mental tools for integrating information and applying it, or don't signal to me when they've fundamentally misunderstood something, or quickly forget things and reverse improvements, or aren't good at introspecting about how/why they make mistakes.

I think most-people-don't-try-very-hard explains why people are bad at many skills, but it struggles to explain why people are bad at video games. Video games are fun, so it's not difficult to find someone willing to put in 1000 hours. I know lots of people who have put in over 1000 hours and are still bad.