Rob Ambrose – Trick Strat – 3,2,1, Draw

We sat down with Rob Ambrose, the Founder of Trick Strat, an esports drawing app for Android and iOS. 

Rob Ambrose, Trick Strat

Esports Insider: Hi Rob, can you talk us through what Trick Strat is and how you came up with it.

Rob Ambrose: Trick Strat is an esports drawing application designed for the players, streamers, coaches, and analysts of competitive gaming. The tool enables competitors to improve their teamwork at live events by reviewing and planning their strategies before or after their matches. As a competitor, I’ve always encouraged my team to huddle up and review our strategies. I started doing this by sketching out the maps in notebooks and laminated pages.

“Having our playbook by our side, my teams have been able to stay sharp in-game by visualising key scenarios and executing them with precision”

I later transitioned my drawings into digital form, thus the development of Trick Strat began: a platform for all esports competitors to build their strategies on the go. Having our playbook by our side, my teams have been able to stay sharp in-game by visualising key scenarios and executing them with precision.

ESI: You started off with Gears and mention that there are more titles coming soon and you’ve big plans for its future. What’s the gameplan for the next 12 months?

Rob: I can’t share any specific details on future development, however, I can say that my goal is to provide the best tool for competitors and analysts to improve their gameplay and teach their audience. Esports features some of the most passionate gaming communities out there, and I am working hard to bring everyone’s favorite titles to the platform. I will continue adding features and improving the user experience.

ESI: What’s your own background in esports?

Rob: I’ve always taken my gaming very seriously. I began traveling for tournaments when I was 10 years old, competing heavily in Magic: The Gathering and spending many hours on all Blizzard games. But console shooters were always my thing. When Xbox Live came out, the opportunity to play against the world finally arrived, and I quickly climbed to the top of in-game and gamebattles ladders. Fast forward a bit, Gears of War released during my freshman year of college. I fell in love with the game and was ecstatic when it started to receive attention from the big leagues.

“I’ve always encouraged my team to huddle up and review our strategies. I started doing this by sketching out the maps in notebooks and laminated pages”

Once I completed my undergrad, Gears of War 2 became a serious focus. 2009 was by far my most accomplished year as a competitor: multiple tournament wins, a top-three finish at MLG, and a finalist at World Cyber Games Nationals. I’ve continued competing on and off at a high level through Gears 3 and 4, but have committed far more time as a content-creator, community member and analyst, most notably as on-screen talent for Major League Gaming, a dedicated observer for the Esports Gears circuit, and a game-tester for both Gears: UE and Gears 4. Outside of Gears, I continue to compete in Blizzard games, most recently advancing to regionals for collegiate Tespa events in Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm.

ESI: Do you see this tool being mainly facilitated by pro teams and players, or do you expect casual players to take to it as well? Moreover, how do you see it being used outside of teams – in the post-match analysis for example…

Rob: Trick Strat is a tool for anyone who plays to win. It can benefit any gamer to improve their strategies or even just to deepen their game experience. The post-match analysis was a major influence for Trick Strat.

I’ve personally been creating training videos for years using just a whiteboard and marker. Trick Strat allows myself and other content-creators or analysts to quickly pull up a map on a big screen and break it down for an audience.

Trick Strat being used by Gears of War competitors during the Microsoft Store tournaments this past weekend

ESI: Do you think the current methods employed in coaching across esports titles can be thoroughly improved? What else can be done?

Rob: There are many elements in coaching that are not practiced enough in Esports. Professional competition is all about giving yourself or your team the best chance and winning. This is true for both physical sports and competitive games. Coaches can add a huge advantage to a team when used the right way, both in and out of the game.

“The way I’ve seen coaches used today is essentially to relieve the players of having to worry about the ‘little things'”

The way I’ve seen coaches used today is essentially to relieve the players of having to worry about the “little things”. A coach should only interject on the mic with incredibly useful information for his team, so not to clog the airways, such as weapon timers and objective based updates. This method of coaching is fine, but I would love to see a greater level of trust developed between a coach and his players, where the coach becomes the in-game leader of the team, directing the play-calling and communicating heavily, like conducting an orchestra.

Outside of the game, coaches should be getting in their opponents heads during matches and scouting opponent strategies. They should make sure their team is bonding throughout the tournament to maximize chemistry, staying focused on the business at hand.  

If I were to ever coach a professional team, I would ensure that we are finding every angle to gain a competitive edge. Whether it be by using a drawing tool to review our strats or shouting some trash talk to our opponents!