Hi, I’m Ashwin. Participating in a WCA competition is a dream come true for any speed cuber, and so was it for me. I started cubing as a hobby in 2020 just when the world locked down as a result of the pandemic. All WCA competitions were on hold. Finally, the long wait was over and I got to participate in SSN Cube Open 2022 at Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.
Are you keen to know how it feels to be in a WCA competition? Are you looking for tips for your first competition? If you are, then I got you covered. This blog will take you through my experience at my first WCA competition as well as some tips and techniques I learnt which would be helpful for your first competition.
I was very excited and anxious at the same time. First and foremost, I simulated the same environment as a WCA competition by
- setting up a table and chair rather than practicing on bed/couch as I usually do
- using a stackmat timer instead of an online timer to time my solves.
- using a cubecover
- enabling the “WCA inspection” option in cstimer.net
I did around 100 solves a day tracking my progress each day. This made my solves more consistent. I also setup my cube in such a way that it would reach optimal performance by the time the comp starts. My main cube for my first WCA competition was the GAN 12 M Leap. Here is what I packed for my first competition
- Main cube and a backup cube because you never know what could happen
- Cube Lubricants
- Stackmat timer
- Snacks of course 😊
- Water and Juice for keeping myself hydrated
On the most awaited day- My first comp
As soon as I reached the venue, I met my online cubing friends for the first time- Saseeth, Sreehari, Vrishab to name a few. I got introduced to top cubers and it was exciting to get to know each other in person.
I entered the auditorium and there was a lot of buzz. My energy boosted as I saw the auditorium sizzling with Passionate cubers, energetic organizers and eager parents. I found my way to the registration desk, confirmed my presence and found a comfortable place. I had registered for 3x3x3 as my main event, 2x2x2 and pyraminx. The event finally started with a short inaugural speech and I could already sense my nerves. I was waiting for my turn while also observing young cubers volunteering to judge the comp. Finally, it was my turn. I took my seat and waited for my scrambled cube. And then there it was, my first ever solve in an official WCA competition.
My First WCA Comp Results
I felt very nervous in my first round, which impacted my performance resulting in a 9.16 Average. After the disappointing performance which was not at par with my usual performance, I was determined to do better in the second round. Therefore, I did a lot of solves before the round started.
Second round started. The solves which I did paid off like a charm and I got an 8.18 average and best single of 7.00. I was extremely happy and proud about my results.
After this, there was a long break and towards the end of the day the final round for 3x3x3 started. I was seated just below the AC vent which made my hands ice-cold. My nervousness added to it, making my fingers stiff. My solves deteriorated and I ended up with a 10.93 average. This was a horrible average for me. The last solve pushed my average even worse. I was at the last layer where I did an A perm but I messed up the alg which forced me to start from step 1 which resulted in me getting a 16s solve.
I was very disappointed after the finals ended. But I still enjoyed competing for the first time as well as meeting my online cubing friends And of course I met Vijay Kishore who is one of the fastest cubers in India.
I learnt a lot from this comp and I would like to share some tips.
1. Use Hand warmers if the venue is cold
Always ensure to carry hand warmers if you are competing in a closed cool venue. These warmers keep your hands warm which helps in getting optimal results. I use the one linked below.
Example of Hand Warmer
2. Treat the comp as if you are just at home doing casual solves
You will feel different and nervous when competing for the first time which will compromise your results. Try to imagine you are at home doing casual solves blurring the comp environment. This greatly reduced nerves for me.
3. Simulate competition environment while practicing at home before the comp
I used to do solves lazily lying on my couch most of the time. But I realized it is very important to simulate the comp environment for practicing with a proper seating arrangement.
WCA Environment Simulation
4. Use stackmat timer instead of a online timer to time your solves
In official competitions, stackmat timer is used instead of an online timer. Practicing this way will build experience in using a stackmat timer and help in avoiding unforced errors such as timer resets, failing to completely start or stop a timer.
5. Enable the “WCA inspection” option in cstimer.net
This will help you get accustomed to official inspection warning and timing. This will also help in practicing to find the start of your solution within the stipulated time.
Setting the WCA Inspection
6. Use your inspection time wisely
During inspection, it is natural to get really anxious and get to solving immediately on finding the first start of your solution, which may not be the best one. But make sure to utilize around 12 seconds to find the best start.
7. Follow a routine before each solve to calm your nerves
It is almost a necessity to have a proper routine before starting a solve. Here is my routine:
Warm my hands using hand warmer -> Use a cloth to keep my hands dry -> Take two deep breaths ->Say Ready to the Judge to lift the cube cover -> Start the solve
8. Practice solves and keep the momentum between rounds
After each round, it is necessary to keep the momentum and not lose focus. So do a lot of solves between rounds.
9. Make sure to set up your cube before the Comp
Ensure to clean your cube, add the right lubricants and break-in the cube before the comp. Remember to set up your back up cube as well. Carry the accessories of your main cube if in case your cube pops or you feel the need to adjust it during the comp.
Setting up the cube
10. Have fun!!
The last and probably the most important is to have fun during the comp as well as make new friends. Also don’t care about your results too much because there will surely be another opportunity for you to perform well where you can use the learning gained by you during your first comp.
The experience of attending a first WCA competition is something to be cherished forever. Hope these tips will help you give your best performance in your first comp. All the best and thanks for reading.