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Guide to Streaming: From Zero to Hero

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Almost
Introduction
The aim of this guide is to teach you how to go from not even being able to use 2 fingers to being able to stream proficiently and beyond. This guide will be split into 2 parts, the first will be targeted towards complete newbies of this game and the second for more intermediate players who are completely lost on how to improve further.

There are 3 underlying principles to this guide:
  1. Building a proper foundation
  2. Maintaining a good foundation
  3. Leveling up correctly

If your goal is to be able to pass Freedom Dive by next month, this is not the guide that will teach you to do that. If you follow my advice, I can almost guarantee you that this will feel "slower" but there is a good reason for this. If I wanted to, I could teach you how to stream 220 bpm by next week but the downsides are greater than any upsides you gain. Starting off slower and more meticulously will result in greater gains in the long run. Trying to take "shortcuts" to improve at streaming only results in the building of many bad habits which will only take you longer to correct later on. Remember that streaming is an incredibly mechanical activity so the only way to get better is by getting lots and lots of reps (yes, PLAY MORE).

Please note that this guide will not give you map examples. I am aiming to teach you how to fish but I'm not going to give you the bait and fishing rod, you will have to find them yourself.

Correct Hand Positioning
This is a topic that is too greatly emphasized. There is no one correct way of positioning your hand on your keyboard. Everyone is different and because of these differences, it's up to you to experiment and find out what works for you. You may take inspiration from top players however it is important to make clear that just because what they do works for them does not mean it will work for you. As a basic rule of thumb though, try to keep your wrist neutral simply from a ergonomics standpoint. Everything else is basically free game from whether you decide to hover your arm to curling your pinky/ring fingers.

Hand tensing
Some very common advice you might hear is something along the lines of "don't tense your hand while streaming". The reason you don't want to tense your hand when you're streaming is that your stamina will take a hit. However, people tend to take this advice to the extreme. Go on a stream speed testing site and compare your speed when trying to relax your hand as much as possible versus when when you go all out without caring about tensing your hand (don't purposely tense your hand!). Here are my results for reference.

The reason you tense your hand when you play fast streams is because it's a strenuous activity. As you gain the ability to stream faster, you won't need to tense your hand as much for higher and higher bpms (much like how lifting heavier weights feel easier when you become stronger). With this in mind, I would advise you not to care too much about whether or not you're tensing your hand. Your subconscious is a lot better at knowing how much to tense than your conscious mind is (and if you do over-tense, it's most likely due to other factor like stress).

Crash Course in Reading/Aiming Streams
This is a topic that generally gets pretty vague answers like "just aim in the middle of the stream" or something. So to make things very clear, I will teach the method that works for me as there's no ambiguity and it's a very simple process.

Starting off, we aren't going to be look at a stream but a singles pattern.

A common pattern you may find in-game is one similar to the one above. Each circle above denotes one single note. To many newer players, the methodology they use to read this pattern is by looking at it as a whole and then tracing their cursor across. However doing this results in inconsistency. The best method of reading this pattern is by looking at each individual circle as you need to click them. You don't need to worry about what your cursor does and just let it follow your eyes. So the first step to learning to read streams is to practice playing this pattern in that way.

Once you can do that, you can now move onto streams. The same philosophy applies to streams too. Newer players tend to read streams exactly the same way as the above pattern (i.e. as a whole and tracing). Streams are a little more difficult compared to the above singles pattern though. For the single pattern, you can 'snap' your eyes on to each circle and sync that with one tap. Streams are a little different as you can't really do that and have to move your eyes in a more fluid motion. The main idea is the same though, look directly at the circle in the stream that you need to hit. Again, don't worry too much about your cursor and just let it follow your eyes.

TIP: Start the stream on the right foot by making sure you lock eyes on the very first circle of the stream!

So what does being able to read a stream correctly feel like? If you can correctly read the stream, it should feel like you are very much in control of what is going on. There won't be any 'guessing' to where your cursor should be. Remember though that this takes practice and some streams will be harder to read than others which I will go over later.

Foundation Course
This section of the guide will be solely dedicated to teaching a complete beginner who doesn't know how to use their second finger to being able to eventually deathstream so you can skip this if you are more intermediate.

One of the biggest mistakes people tend to make with streaming is placing too much emphasis on the tapping hand. The problem with that though is that streaming is not just about the tapping. Therefore, in this section, we will start from bare-bones basics and slowly add elements so you can get used to individual skills in isolation.

To start, use of your second finger will come once you reach 3* maps. So I am going to assume you are at this level. The first use of your second finger will come in the form of triples. So the first step in learning to stream will be learning to play triples. Try finding maps that have triples in a stack so you don't have to move your cursor to play them. The goal for this step is to learn to associate a triple with a movement pattern (zxz) and get comfortable using your second finger. This step will be much hard for single tappers than alternators. If you are an alternator however, it might be a good idea for you to learn to start triples on your 'weaker' finger. Learning to full alternate now will be much easier than later though the downside is that it will increase the initial learning curve. This step is optional as you can still do well without being able to full alternate.

Once you can comfortably use your second finger, it's time to try some short bursts with 5 notes. Again, try to find maps that have these in a stack. The goal for this step is to learn to alternate quickly for a longer period. Once you are comfortable with that, you can try increase the amount of notes but try to limit it to under 10. At this stage, it will be a good idea to try to get some good accuracy on your triples/bursts.

To get good accuracy, it is important to be listening to the correct things. The issue is that what everyone does here is personal and can only really be learnt through experience. For a start, you might want to consider getting good hit sounds. For this, taking the hit sounds off any top player's skin will suffice. Next, you will want to try experimenting with listening to hit sounds and the music to varying degrees (try adjusting the hit sound volume relative to the music too). You can also use a hit error bar which can be found in the Options under General > Score meter type to visually see whether you are under or over streaming too.

After you can comfortably burst, we will now add some movement in. Try find some maps with bursts and triples that have a spacing of 1/2 or less of a note between each note and try to find these burst with no curvature (straight lines) or very slight curvature (a shallow arc shape). Use the methodology of reading streams that I described earlier in this guide.

Getting to the next step will require you to be able to play 4* maps at least so keep playing 3* maps until you get to that level. Focus on getting good accuracy and reading of moving bursts during this stage. Once you are ready at 4*, find maps that have streams between 10-20 notes. Again, try to find streams with less than 1/2 of a note spacing between circles. These will be much harder to maintain accuracy on so your goal here will be to gain the ability to play these short streams with good accuracy.

Finally once you can do that, you can move onto a final 'test' of your streaming abilities.. Your goal to cap off this course is to FC beatmapsets/38235#osu/124321. To pass, you must FC with at least 97% accuracy with higher obviously being better. You most likely won't immediately be able to do this if you've just gotten to this stage so keep practicing on shorter streams while slowly increasing the stream length until you can. Once you finish this, you are ready for more targeted stream training!

This course will probably take you 4 months to complete (my guess). However, if it takes you longer, that's okay. This is not a race and taking longer will probably be better as you will polish your fundamentals more.

After completing this course you will have gained:
  1. the ability to alternate streams
  2. a basic ability to read streams
  3. an understanding of how to get good accuracy
  4. ability to play deathstreams

Please note: the goal at each step is to achieve a 'consistent' performance. Just because you could achieve 100% accuracy on a stream once or twice does not mean you're done with it. You have have be able to repeat your performance on a drop of a dime to consider it done. Also, please try to limit the bpm of the maps you choose to under 180 bpm during this course. A common beginner mistake is focusing too much on streaming speed. Focusing on technique first and speed later will give you a lot less headaches as you progress.

Accuracy training
There are 3 things that increase the difficulty to accuracy a stream: the OD, the bpm (lower being harder) and the length. Each of these aspects can be tackled to improve streaming accuracy. As a base, it's a good idea to practice stream accuracy on maps without difficult spacing so you can focus on your tapping as much as possible and also so it's easy to distinguish whether a drop in accuracy is due to poor finger control or aim.

With regards to OD, it's best to slowly increase the OD rather than just jumping face first into OD10. By slowly increasing the OD, your experience will be much less frustrating. I would recommend first starting off at OD7. Once you can achieve 99+% accuracy consistently, then bump it up to OD8 and so on.

Low bpm streams are more difficult to accuracy because OD is a set window no matter the bpm so there is a bigger 'gap' in timing where you can make a mistake. How low of a bpm you go will depend on how fast you can stream and how low you really think you need to go. For example, if you're playing maps mainly in the 200-250 bpm ranges, you probably won't need to practice 120 bpm streams. At a minimum, I would suggest one is able to play 170 bpm.

Longer streams require you to sustain good coordinated movements for a longer period of time (i.e. more finger control). For stream length, it's best to learn to stream shorter streams with good accuracy and slowly progress onto longer streams. Longer streams also require you to have good enough stamina. Thankfully, it is possible to train both at the same time (which will be discussed a little more later).

Flow Aim
Streams can vary quite widely in difficulty based solely off the difficulty in it's spacing. Here is a list in rough order of difficulty (least difficult first):
  1. ≤1/2 Note spacing
  2. Curved streams
  3. Changing spacing
  4. ≥1/2 but ≤1 Note spacing
  5. 1 Note spacing
  6. Oddly shaped streams (E.g. W-shaped, self-overlapping, etc.)
  7. >1 Note spacing
  8. Streams with a jump(s) in the middle without break of stream
  9. Completely irregular streams with lots of jumps without break of stream

Many streams have combinations of these but you get the idea. It's best to work through this list in order. Try to practice these on lower bpms as higher bpm streams with the exact same spacing are more difficult.

My personal recommendation here is to stick around within the first 2 or 3 categories for a couple of months or until you get so comfortable at reading these sorts of streams that you're actually surprised that you mess up. This does not mean you can't try the other streams on this list but 95+% of the streams you will be playing should be within the first 2 or 3 categories. Doing this will give you a solid foundation to your stream aiming/reading abilities. If you can consistently FC beatmapsets/128931#osu/847314, then you can consider graduating to the next level.

Something I like to do to practice my flow aim is to edit high bpm maps with difficultly spaced streams to a lower bpm (I like 150) while also setting the AR lower. This is like playing the map with HT except you have greater customization. You can either use a program or just play on McOsu. Practicing in this way is great because it lets you slow down the stream and really focus on your technique. If you can get the technique down on the slower spaced streams, you'll find it'll be much easier when you speed things back up again.

There are other aspects that modify the aiming difficulty of streams which you can decide to try to improve upon depending on your goals. These include: HD, higher/lower ARs, smaller circle sizes and low AR HD. Remember, just because you can play difficultly spaced streams on AR9 won't mean you can do the same after throwing HR on so start from a lower difficulty level when using these modifiers.

Speed
To improve in speed, you simply just have to play bursts at a bpm just outside your comfort range. For example, if you can burst 200 bpm comfortably, then try 220 bpm. The goal here is to simply give your fingers the ability to move faster. DT will likely be your best friend when trying to improve your speed.

A caveat to this training is that you will want to throw in some lower bpm streams in intermittently. This is because when playing at the limits of your speed, you will be alternating all out without any conscious effort to control your speed. This is generally the reason why many newer players without good guidance end up building bad habits in their streaming leading them unable to stream lower bpms.

Stamina
There are a couple things you can do to improve in stamina but your bread and butter will be long monotonous streaming maps such as beatmapsets/72474#osu/207088. Your goal when doing these sorts of maps is to try to maintain good accuracy at the start and then burn through as much as you can before your fingers die off as your accuracy will suffer once you start running out of stamina. Start off at a lower bpm and once you can FC it, bump up the bpm by 10 and do it again. You can also come back later and go for a 99+% and do other things to increase the difficulty like editing the OD higher.

There is a minimum level required to do these sorts of maps in my opinion. If you can't do at least the first 100 circles with 99+% accuracy, then you probably need to work more on your accuracy on shorter streams first. I recommend you play this map at the very end of your session at most once a day.

Other things you can do include playing high bpm deathstream maps and playing lots of successive high bpm bursts/triples. The first one is more obvious in that it lets you practice playing longer streams that aren't super low in bpm. The second one trains different aspects of your stamina as the constant starting and stopping changes the dynamic a little.

Conclusion
Everything mentioned in this guide works, you just have to be patient with it. Following all the advice laid out within this guide, I was personally able to make huge leaps with my streaming abilities within a short period of time. Though you will most likely not be able to exactly replicate these sorts of results as quickly (I've got a lot of experience playing this game), you can get these results by putting in the work day after day.

For a final point, streaming is a very intensive activity. It's easy to overdo things and develop injuries (like RSI) so try to incorporate some wrist and hand exercise into your life and take breaks every now and then.

And that's basically it. Happy streaming :)
Maulr
i need this more than anyone knows
rbk
YES man almost is king
Ryuto
thanks man, finally my poor aim based ass can learn how to truly be a HR player!
Topic Starter
Almost

Ryuto wrote:

thanks man, finally my poor aim based ass can learn how to truly be a HR player!
I'm not sure you need any of my help lol
Nilocnus
Godlike post
BR41N

Almost wrote:

If your goal is to be able to pass Freedom Dive by next month, this is not the guide that will teach you to do that.
How about next week?





Just kidding. Whenever I try passing some actual stream maps (not just maps with bursts that only go up to like 12 notes) with high star rating, I just assume that I can fight through it with speed and stamina alone, but then I fail miserably by getting notelocked after skipping one circle in the stream (for various reasons like fingerlocking, misreading and misaiming).
So I'm just gonna hope that I can fix my consistency on streams.
Ryuto

Almost wrote:

Ryuto wrote:

thanks man, finally my poor aim based ass can learn how to truly be a HR player!
I'm not sure you need any of my help lol
I'm too aim and accuracy based so I wanted to learn streaming since ~250 hours now but I don't make huge improvements. I've only recently seen a bit of improvement at 180 BPM but that's it :/
DR3AMLiKE
good post, good op
Molly Sandera
I need to save this. This guide may actually be more effective for beginner stream players, those who are past this level then can read ryuks speed guide to further get better at it
Zenriel
God, its so usefull! THXXX
Phantonym
Bookmarked, thanks for the guide
Haengsyo
I’m going to use this religiously, I can’t even stream 160 for more than 10 seconds ROFL
SilentRiver
I don't care if this is necroing this post needs to be pinned wtf
Ommzzyy
i too will use this religiously
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