How To Play Above Your Skill Level

eAthlete Summit
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Competitive gaming is an interestingly cruel and ironic activity. Think about it, in almost everything you do in life, the better you get the easier the task becomes. However to improve your skill level in gaming you have to be exposed to increasingly difficult obstacles.

For example, you have been going 2-2 at every tournament and falling just short of making it out of pools. You grind and grind until one day you finally make it out of pools. Your reward? A harder opponent in the next round! But that is where the beauty of competition comes in. That harder opponent is actually the best reward you can ever win.

 

“If you have a chance at winning it will be through fundamentals and the experience will force you to take your core ability as far as it can go. Removing any reliance on chance or gimmicks to secure a win and exposing you to your own skill gaps and those reliance’s.”

 

Outside of winning, the true benefit of going deeper into tournaments or improving your rank isn’t having a lower number next to your name. It’s gaining the experience against opponents that create a challenge for you to overcome. That is the key to accelerating improvement in skill level. Consistent challenges that are within reach but difficult enough to invoke emotion and critical thinking. When those moments arise it’s crucial that you allow your brain to fully absorb the experience. You have to put up a fight and even give yourself a chance to win. Otherwise the experience is over in a flash and any improvement can be lost. The only way to do that is to play above your skill level. Let’s look at how to play above your skill level regardless of your circumstances.

Understanding Skill Level

Above Skill Level

Before we go over the ways to play above your skill level, I think it’s important that we examine and understand skill level. We commonly associate skill level with the way a player performs. Typically grading it as good or bad. However skill level is simply a determination of where a person ranks among other players. Meaning a bronze player isn’t necessarily bad seeing as their is a chance they may not always be bronze. There are more variables that come into play. Time spent, game knowledge, skill and skill potential become a factor. It may not be that a gold player is better it may be that they know more or have more experience.

When you can zoom out and see it from this perspective, you understand why competing at skill levels that sit above yours can provide massive benefits and accelerate your improvement. They may have more knowledge than you, put you into situations you’ve never seen before or they may even just push you to dig deep and do things you’ve never done before. As stated above, to absorb as much experience as you can, you have to give yourself a fighting chance. With this out of the way, let’s look at how we can do that.

Focus on Fundamentals

The process of improvement is typically done through trial and correction. That often requires small amounts of experimentation. As you improve you will often be attempting to find a unique brand of play that best fits you and also works. Usually a combination of the fundamentals and some personal flair.

However when faced with an opponent that sits in a higher level than yours, it’s important to focus purely on the fundamentals. Focusing on safe but effective options that have the highest rate of success will keep you in the fight. This doesn’t mean you are rolling over or laying up. It just means that you are forgoing the experimentation and replacing it with consistency.

There are a few reasons this works as effectively as it does. First, your opponent is also in the process of improvement and will often look at an opponent who sits at a lower rank as an opportunity to experiment more. Allowing them to take more risks and make plays that may be suboptimal. This isn’t always the case but it is very common. Second, by removing experimentation you are capable of focusing on trial and correction as it pertains to current match. You are able to truly assess what is working and what isn’t and why, without all of the extra thought process.

Finally it allows you to assess your core ability against an opponent that may have more knowledge or execution around the fundamentals of the game. That very process allows a connection to be made in your brain between where you are and where you can be. Allowing it to be explored the next time you face an opponent that is on or below your skill level.

If you have a chance at winning it will be through fundamentals and the experience will force you to take your core ability as far as it can go. Removing any reliance on chance or gimmicks to secure a win and exposing you to your own skill gaps and those reliance’s.

Research and Observe

eSports Replay Analysis

To play above your skill level you have to know what it looks like and what it’s requirements are. That means universally used strategies and tactics. By understanding the expectations of being at the high skill levels you can properly set a path to them. Of course it isn’t as simple as just knowing them. It’s about understanding how they fit into the context of the game and of winning. Let’s use Dota 2 as a quick example. You can understand the necessity of warding for vision and that every top player does it. But that doesn’t mean you know where, how, or why.

The best way to truly understand this information is to observe. Watch less as a fan and more as an active participant. Analyzing and questioning the decisions being made and trying to visualize how it would impact your game. Not just replicating it because a top player is doing it. This will help project you into a higher skill level by preparing yourself for when that information becomes necessary. Effectively setting yourself up for your next set of trial and correction.

The most difficult part of this comes when you are attempting to translate the information that you are observing into your sessions. Remember that the environment that these players operate in can be different than yours. For example, have you ever played a game with someone that has never played it before? They are just hitting buttons and doing all sorts of random stuff, but it’s working on you every once in a while. That’s because you’re looking out for things that your opponent knows nothing about, leaving you open to things you aren’t ready for. Try not to discount what you observe from the higher skill level if it isn’t making an immediate impact on your games. Remember that it works and it’s possible that you either don’t truly know why, or it’s not the information you need to advance your skill level.

Have Courage

Lion

Believe in your own ability and the time you put in. Believe in yourself to manage both the game and the outcome. Remember that every opponent is just one more step in your journey and that ultimately you will come out on top.

Never fear or worry about who your opponent is. If you’re trying to improve, win the tournament or be the best in the world, you’re going to have to beat them eventually. Putting your opponent on a pedestal is distracting and doesn’t help you win the match. It only helps you justify it after the fact.

Wrap Up

Hopefully this information helps you understand the importance of playing above your skill level. How it can accelerate your improvement and expose you to the experiences you need. Most importantly always remember, the longer you stay in the fight the more achievable it becomes. Invoking emotions and motivations that you may not have tapped into yet. Don’t shy away from your potential and play above your skill level.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 Best Pre-Game Practices to Win More Games in eSports

6 Best Pre-Game Practices to Win More Games in eSports
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Have you ever sat down to start a competitive gaming session and then quickly stopped playing because it just wasn’t feeling right? Or felt like you started on the wrong foot and just couldn’t bare the losses?

We published a post quite some time ago about a secret technique that improved performance. That technique being a pre-game ritual. We explained the importance of it, but never really gave too many examples. So in this post we are going to tell you the 6 Best Pre-Game Practices to Win More Games in eSports.

These 6 practices are guaranteed to help you see performance results and also make your sessions last a whole lot longer. The trick is to start on the right foot, and then trust yourself to see it through. Let’s jump into them.

1. Reflect On Your Previous Session – Then Let It Go

You have to reflect on your previous session before jumping into a new one. This way you are effectively walking down a path and not just playing at random. Not to say it will always be a progressive path. You won’t always have home run sessions. However, just being aware of your last session, and visualizing it, will help you in your next one. It keeps a pulse on your performance and allows you to stay within your optimal zone. The idea being that you ‘grow through, what you go through’. Most important is to then let it go. You shouldn’t dwell on your past session. Dwelling allows you to label it either good or bad and that information does not serve you in the current session.

2. Set Goals For The New Session – Macro and Micro

We have spoken in ad nauseum about goal setting. But that doesn’t change it’s importance. Setting goals is the fuel in your engine. It keeps you going and striving towards an end point. This will help maintain your passion and intensity throughout your session and draw your concentration back whenever it starts to wander. Focus on both macro and micro goals. Set overall big goals that revolve around a result of your performance. Typically in the form of wins and losses or points. Then set micro goals that focus on aspects of your performance. The micro goals can be more emotional and less trackable. Like wanting to execute what you’ve practiced. For example, landing combos or hitting more shots. They can also be trackable like kills and deaths, or creep score.

3. Visualize Performance and Concentration

Before you jump into a session it can be beneficial to visualize yourself playing. Consider this a moment to prime yourself for the next step. Visualize yourself playing the game without distraction and with a level of concentration that can’t be broken. If you do this correctly, it’s possible to convince your brain to stay away from things like your phone or social media during your session. By visualizing yourself playing and keeping those aspects out of your mind, you are less likely to gravitate towards them. Giving you an add layer of concentration that may not have been there prior.

4. Decide If It’s a Critical Thinking Day or A Performance Day

These differ entirely. Sometimes when we play, we are playing to ‘learn’. Meaning that we are allowing our brains to narrate things to us in a feedback loop as events take place. This is can be great for learning and making progress, but it doesn’t always net specific results. On the other hand, performance days are days where we tune it all out. Then we execute and worry about what happened later during our video review. Make the distinction and decision before stepping into your session. It will help guide you on managing your results and your emotional state.

5. Commit and Bring Intensity

You are primed from the prior step and almost ready to play. This is your moment to make a commitment to yourself. That you will fully concentrate and put effort into your performance. Too often we tend to merge our energy from one task to another but expect different results. Imagine if you brought the same energy that it takes to move laundry into whatever game you’re playing. Sounds silly, but it happens. Sure that energy is useful for moving laundry, but will it help you win? Same goes for browsing social media and other activities that don’t fuel a competitive mindset. After you make your commitment, bring your intensity. Amp it up! Think about driving in your car and listening to a song that you haven’t heard in a while but you really like. What are you going to do? You’re gonna reach down and turn it up! No effort required! So do the same here. Turn it up! Get ready and act as if you’re going to war.

6. Warm Up

Overlooked. I could end this point right there. It goes without saying how important warming up is. But false confidence can sometimes allow us to jump into a session expecting peak performance without us actually being there. Warm up, get yourself one step closer to peak. This will help you build self trust and confidence in your ability. Ultimately leading to less second guessing.

Wrap Up

Give these 6 Best Pre-Game Practices to Win More Games in eSports a try and see your improvement. Ritualization and routines really help to achieve that peak optimal space as an eAthlete.

 

 

Best Replay Review Tool For eSports – Insights.gg

Reading Time: 4 minutes

A while back I created a YouTube video demonstrating what I believe to be the best replay review tool for eSports. I wanted to make a blog post to reflect that video, and also add some more input to it’s importance. If you would like to check out the video you can check it out below! You know how important replay review is. We wrote an entire blog about it!

Insights.gg

Insights.gg is an incredible website. The website acts as a video host where you can watch videos live with multiple people, or save them and watch them later. It is relatively new and the team behind it are making updates every single day. Since the start of my coaching career, finding a way to watch replays at the same time has never been easy. I used to record live tournament matches on my phone and then drive to the players house to watch it.

In more modern times, I would have to save a video, edit it, and then upload it to YouTube to review. Not a difficult thing to do, however it is very time consuming. Insights.gg solves all of that. Just before finding Insights.gg I was using sites like watch2gether and mycircle.tv. Unfortunately those sites weren’t built for eSports. Let me show you why this tool is so powerful and why even if you aren’t a coach, you can use it.

Overview

Insights.gg eSports Review Tool
Main Screen

The main screen is built in a familiar fashion to Discord. You have the ability to separate and organize the teams that you are coaching. Label them and create different channels for them. For instance if you wanted to make a channel for each individual player on a team.

You can add a profile picture for your team, add members and even create tags. This is useful not just for the coach of the team, but the members as well. Being able to access the dashboard of their team and review replays themselves, or past replays that have already been edited. Being organized is one part of success in anything you do, and insights.gg gives you the ability to do that in a very simple package.

The Reviewing Tools

Insights.gg eSports Review Tool
Note The Widgets

The thing that really separates insights.gg from any other tool I’ve found or listed, is the fact that you have overlay tools at your disposal. Being able to effortlessly draw shapes, arrows and lines makes reviewing so easy. You can even set the drawing permissions. So if you have more than 1 person watching live, you can have multiple people making notes and lines, or just one. This makes the transfer of information so much easier. Being able to add a visual guide for yourself or your players really makes the information stick.

When you do any form of drawing, it saves the timestamp of when you made the notes, and puts them in the chat window. Allowing you to revisit them easily without having to scrub back through. It’s also possible to leave annotated notes in the chat with Good or Bad labels for your players or team to see if you aren’t doing the replay review live.

Other Great Tools & Conclusion

Insights.gg has some other really great tools. But I would recommend heading to their site to check them out.

Insights.gg is just one great step in eSports learning and development. Custom API’s and tools like this are only going to make the learning process that much easier. Paving the way for coaches and players alike to modernize and polish the improvement process. The best part, is it’s entirely free. It doesn’t matter what game you play. If you have the ability to record it and put it on YouTube, or copy the replay from your twitch, then you can utilize this tool. Visual representation of learning concepts go a really long way for solidifying concepts in the brain. Similar to writing things down that you want to accomplish. Definitely go check it out, you won’t be disappointed.

Keep Your Eyes on The Prize – A Lesson For eAthletes

Prize eAthlete
Reading Time: 5 minutes

They say you should always keep your eyes on the prize. A phrase that is both powerful and difficult. In the realm of eSports, maintaining motivation can be a daunting task. This is true for both new players and veterans. Even more so for players and content creators who haven’t made it big.

The amount of time that is put into competitive gaming is massive for an individual. Especially for those who have a full time job and family. Not only is it a requirement for you to be skilled and maintain your skills, but as a competitor you are driven to. So you hop on every single day. Playing for hours, streaming for hours. Running discords and social media accounts. Just trying to make something happen. Then one day, you just stop. It just isn’t happening. The competitive fire dies, and although you want to keep going, the very thing that brought you so much joy and fulfillment is now a burden on your mind.

I don’t typically like starting off a post with a story filled with so much negativity. However having just watched this very thing happen with one of my players I felt it an important topic to discuss. Mainly the different types of motivation, and how to keep your eyes on the prize.

Two Motivating Factors

Motivation can be placed into two categories. Extrinsic and Intrinsic. (Note: There are more than just these two, however for simplicity we will stick to these.) Both motivational factors are incredibly powerful. Often overlapping with one another. But in their differences they hold answers to questions such as; Why do people or I keep jumping from game to game? Why do so many players quit? How is it possible to achieve what my favorite players have achieved? Especially when it’s so difficult for me.

Let’s take an introspective look into these questions and the difference between Extrinsic and Intrinsic motivation.

Extrinsic Motivation

reward

By definition Extrinsic Motivation refers to behavior that is driven by external rewards such as money, fame, grades, and praise. This is the ‘Prize’ that I was referring to in the title. It would be foolish to say that anyone and everyone doesn’t want money or recognition. Of course we do. However in the space of gaming and eSports, when you make it the sole reason you are competing, streaming, or creating content, it can create obstacles. See the issue isn’t in the desire for external rewards. It’s when you obsess yourself with the reward based nature of motivation.

Imagine only playing a game because it’s popular and has financial support. You don’t really enjoy playing it, but it feels like the only way to break out as an eSports star, or make money. Imagine boxing yourself in to a single game because it’s all you’re known for and without it you feel as though you won’t make any money or have support.

How much harder is it to take a loss? How much faster will you give up when you aren’t making progress? These are struggles that plague every type of player, new and old.

The Answer

The truth is, fully dedicating yourself to something because of a chance at an external reward takes an immensely heavy toll on your mind and will. You’re basically working at a job that may or may not pay you. No matter how many hours you work. This mentality can be a suffocating and it is a huge cause of burnout and forfeit. The scary thing about the mentality is how easy it is to slip into it.

You can’t really blame new players. They see all their favorite players and content creators doing it, and figure they can do it as well. Older players have other time constraints and responsibilities that plague them as well. So what can be done? How can you maintain your motivation? What is missing, and what can be regained?

Intrinsic Motivation

By definition Intrinsic Motivation refers to behavior that is driven by internal rewards. In other words, the motivation to engage in a behavior arises from within the individual because it is naturally satisfying to you. This is the biggest difference between the players who fizzle out and those who manage to keep going. It’s vital to enjoy what you are doing. To actively want to do it and seek out each obstacle that comes your way. Without finding your Intrinsic motivation you leave your longevity and enjoyment up to chance. Chance of feeling the rush of improvement, or chance of winning.

Now of course you have the ability to influence whether you win or not and can take the necessary steps to achieve those wins. However, even after those successes you will be craving more. That’s the natural response when your motivations lie solely in the outcome, and not in the experience. It doesn’t always start out this way. I’m sure even right now you can look back at your first discovery of the game you’re playing. How fun it was to pick up, and how addicting the feeling of improvement was.

But over time it’s common for those things to fade away. We get into a routine and a groove. Sometimes a good groove, sometimes a bad groove. While there we feel pressured to not play for our enjoyment or fun, because the definition of fun has changed for us. That right there is the key to finding your intrinsic motivation. Recognizing that your definition of fulfillment or enjoyment has changed and trying to rekindle your original efforts. Not to fully replace your desire to improve, win, or become something more. But to allow them to work along side each other, and overlap.

That is the key to longevity. Think about your favorite players and content creators. Could they possibly continue doing this every single day if they weren’t enjoying themselves and fearless of the outcome? Most of them are there, because they were never waiting on the outcome. They recognized a lack of guarantee and plunged in head first regardless.

A Lesson for eAthletes

Put forth the effort to become great. To improve wholly. Use the critical thinking and decision making required inside of the game, outside of the game. Actively remember your goals, your motivations and your purpose.

Never give your motivations an ultimatum. “If it doesn’t go well this time then  _____.” You remove all possibility of enjoyment and belief in the future. There are no guarantees, only what you can control. Tap into your intrinsic motivations. Think about the future and keep going.

 

Is Achieving a Repeatable Success Formula Possible in eSports

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Is achieving a repeatable success formula possible in eSports? This is a question that has been floating around in my mind for about 2 years now. Mainly the importance of having one. This has been for the most part one of the spring boards for starting the blog. Uncovering this question and it’s potential answer as attributed to most of my motivation. I personally think it is key to the future of eSports as a whole. Let me share my thoughts on the important question: Is achieving a repeatable success formula possible in eSports?

What Is a Repeatable Success Formula?

Just based on the words themselves, it’s pretty easy to deduce what it means. A formula of success in which we can repeat. So to really drive it home, lets look at some examples. Let’s use Basketball. I’m going to list off a few names and lets see if you know them.

Those names comprise a 40 year time span of generational talent. Names that will never be forgotten in the sport. As each player was reaching the end of their career, a new one was being thrust into the minds of fans as the next great. Here are a few of today’s names.

Before this turns into a basketball blog let me state my point. The point is that after every incredible irreplaceable talent, another one manages to appear. This is because the sport of basketball has a repeatable success formula. All across the country, even the world it is taught in incredibly similar ways. Although every coach or organization might be slightly different, the keys to creating the next best player start with the fundamentals, mixed in with motivation, and the intensity of drive the player exhibits. This is why all of these great players have come from different states and upbringings. It wouldn’t be possible if the game was being taught in wildly diverse manners.

Why Is a Repeatable Success Formula Important?

What makes sports like basketball so successful lies in it’s predictability. The revolving door of talent, storylines, hype, spectator to team buy in, and analysts/pundits is all part of the business model. It’s part of the reason you know the names I listed above, even if you don’t watch basketball. This wouldn’t be possible if you weren’t able to guarantee talent and you had long stints of below average basketball.

With that predictability comes investment assurance. Major companies like Nike can feel comfortable investing in the NBA and actually see profitable returns from their investments. No matter what year it is, there will always be a player or storyline to attach your brand to. Although eSports is getting closer to gaining bigger endorsements with companies like Geico joining in. These companies are merely names and product placements in eSports. They don’t spend a lot of their own money advertising eSports, because they won’t see profit coming from their customer base.

Having a repeatable success formula will entice more brands to endorse eSports and their teams. It would start to solve the viewership issue that eSports has. Namely the average dollar worth of an eSports viewer, and the casual to enthusiast ratio. One huge difference in eSports and traditional sports is the fact that the majority of eSports viewers are also players. This divides attention and creates a level of internal competition with star competitors. With everyone trying to make a name for themselves in the industry, there is a lot less fanfare than in traditional sports. However, if there can be a guaranteed storyline that draws the attention of everyone, and it has the financial support to generate the hype, that could change the tides.

Is It Possible to Have a Repeatable Success Formula in eSports?

I wish this was a simple and emphatic yes. However there are some pretty serious obstacles that stand in the way. Namely there is the issue of game updates and game changes. When we look at traditional sports, such as baseball, it never changes. Sure there are some technological advancements and subtle rule changes that have been made throughout the course of history. But the core game has stayed the same. Making adaptation and advancement relatively easy. In the world of eSports, you have a different game become a standard every few years. This makes it relatively difficult to create a one size fits all solution to becoming a professional eAthlete.

Another obstacle is the aspect of game design. Games are designed for profit, not necessarily for sport. Because of this developers typically don’t focus on making a 5 or 10 year product that can fulfill a long term eSport. Although we have some games that have stood that test such as Dota 2, LoL, or CS:GO. It can’t be said that they went into the development with that goal in mind. Luckily they capitalized on the opportunity when it arrived. Unfortunately developers tend to develop games that are easily accessible and can continue to increase their profits. Leading to high skill floors, and low skill ceilings. Although important for the overall eco system, it creates the obstacle of evolving titles.

Moreover when a game is developed for sport, it typically can’t retain the active player base. This due to lesser skilled players dropping out and a lack of instant gratification. This is by no means the industries fault, and it makes sense that games are developed with an accessible mindset. These obstacles make it difficult to fully establish a repeatable success formula, or at least an effective collective.

It Can Happen

With everything that has been said in this post, I do believe that a repeatable success formula is possible. That’s why I tend to focus on universal concepts such as: Goal Setting, Benchmarking, Video Review, etc. These concepts are at the core of every single game in eSports and if utilized correctly could pave the way for more success across the board. As of right now there isn’t a ton of openness to this methodology. Mainly because there hasn’t been a pure demonstration of it’s effectiveness besides a few. Hopefully as more players emerge and improve, they will start to speak on these concepts more and more. Until then I will continue to coach, and drive the message forward.

 

 

How to Deal With Losing as an eAthlete

Broken mirror, Gaming, Losing, Reflection
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Losing is the absolute worst. I think we can all agree on that. Watching your rank points go down. Feeling your time spent for nothing. Having to stop playing because you’re out of the tournament. All just miserable things. It’s so universally agreed upon that a while ago we wrote a post titled: The Day After – Post Tournament Loss. That post focused heavily on the initial fallout after losing in a tournament. As well as the emotional consequences. It’s time to revisit losing. Look at it from a more general perspective, and teach you How To Deal With Losing as an eAthlete.

“You Can’t Win Them All.”

How to Deal WIth Losing as an eAthlete

Such a powerful phrase, with often such little impact. The above mentality is the most recognized perspective on losing. It’s just unpleasant. Normally we would avoid starting a post with so much negativity. However, if you relate to it then it’s important that you recognize your current relationship with losing. Emotional, dismissive, and heavy emphasis on avoidance.

Regardless of improvement, feeling that amount of negativity every time you sit down for a session is simply not good for your mindset. Your enjoyment of your session can’t be contingent on going undefeated every time. So to help you transition into a more positive mindset, and also help with improvement, there are two things you must identify.

  1. Losing is awful and you dislike it. (obviously)
  2. Like a shadow or reflection, losing is not going anywhere.

Put simply, losing is a part of the process. It’s even part of winning.

This puts you at a fork in the road. You can’t win them all. So you can either grit your teeth and live in the frustration every session. Or you can change your relationship with losing.

Changing Your Relationship With Losing

eSports Coaching

There is an incredible article written by Henry Rollins titled “Iron and The Soul“. The article talks about his relationship with weight lifting. In it he says “It took me years to fully appreciate the value of the lessons I have learned from the Iron. I used to think that it was my adversary, that I was trying to lift that which does not want to be lifted. I was wrong. When the Iron doesn’t want to come off the mat, it’s the kindest thing it can do for you. If it flew up and went through the ceiling, it wouldn’t teach you anything. That’s the way the Iron talks to you. It tells you that the material you work with is that which you will come to resemble. That which you work against will always work against you.” (It’s a powerful article, I recommend reading it.)

In a lot of ways losing is like the ‘Iron’ described above. Helping you and communicating with you just by happening or existing. It shows you how much better you can be and how far you can take the game. It illuminates where your performance gaps are and opens your blind spots. Losing brings you closer to yourself and your ego. Without losing, there would be no rush. No stakes in gaming. It would lose all of it’s depth. At that point you might as well play those cash grabbing, auto play mobile games(You know the ones). Changing your relationship with losing is about reframing the way you perceive loss. Without it, there would be nothing to play for.

Every Loss is an Opportunity

Doors

Becoming the best eAthlete you can is a 360 degree task. It isn’t just the way you play the game or the outcome. It involves emotions, perseverance, and a development of soft skills outside of the game. Losing creates a call to action to those aspects. It helps you decide who you want to be and how you want to overcome it. This can be done in a number of ways. You can watch your own replays, which is a skill of it’s own. Check your communication with teammates. Learn to accept feedback and manage your emotions. All of this comes from losing. It builds character. Think about your favorite players and their persona’s. Would they exist if they didn’t have a relationship with losing?

Making The Best Out Of Losing

I mentioned earlier that “You can’t win them all” is a powerful phrase, but has little impact. The reason I said this is because the positive message that comes from the phrase has been lost. It’s been turned into a consolation and it’s true meaning lost. The truth is, you really can’t win them all. Allow that truth to absorb some of the negative energy that is associated with losses. Remember that some of your opponents want it as bad or more than you do. This means there is always a chance that someone will out play you. Equally, this is why you have to learn how to deal with losing as an eAthlete.

When you can truly accept these facts, you can start to clear away the storm clouds that approach after a loss. You can work to see through the fog, and use each loss as a weapon or tool to help you improve for the next session, tournament or game. Although you won’t always find something useful in every loss, by being able to positively push through it, it will help you carry the deserved momentum into the next one.

It starts with changing your relationship with losing. Becoming curious with your loss. “How did I lose that?” “What did they do differently?” “What could I do differently?” Using it to find a level of humbleness, and recognizing that there is always something to improve upon.

If you can successfully do this, and remember that winning and losing are all part of the same process. You will not only improve your overall enjoyment, but you will see results. Try it for a little while, and then see how much closer you are to becoming an eAthlete.

 

 

 

Team Dynamics for eAthletes: Managing Ego

Reading Time: 5 minutes

For this post we are going to focus on Team Dynamics for eAthletes: Managing Ego. This is going to be the first in a series titled Team Dynamics for eAthletes. There are many aspects of competitive gaming that aren’t discussed very often, and I believe Team Dynamics is one of them.

Finding a team is a crucial goal for any eAthlete depending on the game they compete in. Not to be confused with finding an Organization or getting sponsored. Finding a team doesn’t always result in being signed to a major organization. For most it just means finding a group of 4-5 players to consistently play with while working towards getting signed. In every team oriented game there will be a transitional skill gap between those who solo queue, those who have a team, and those at the professional level. Therefore, to get the effective practice you need to move on to that next level, you have to find yourself on a team.

Barrier to Entry

Team Dynamics for eAthletes: Managing Ego

What are the three most important things you need to be picked up by a team? The first three things that come to your mind.

Skill? Reputation? Work Ethic (grind)?

These are the things that come to most peoples minds. Although they aren’t wrong. Skill is definitely required and is the most important factor. There are other aspects to Team Dynamics that go overlooked. Aspects that I believe should be factored in before joining any team. Being aware of these soft skills will help you land more teams, and be prepared for the organization that eventually picks you up.

Understanding The Commitment

When you join a team the way you look at your performance has to change. Your successes and failures no longer just reflect on you. They reflect on your entire team. Although this sounds self explanatory you would be surprised at how difficult the transition truly is. This is why Managing Ego is so important.

Obstacles of The Ego

Internal

The first obstacle most players run into is a lack of self awareness and emotional radiance. It is very common when playing by yourself to make knee jerk reactions to the things happening in the game. Getting frustrated or remarking about something negative can have adverse effects on your teammates without you even knowing it. Even though you’re making a solitary comment about your own individual interaction, it can change the attitudes of others. It can lead to putting in less effort or giving up. It can lead to a lack of communication and stillness.

Depending on how you say it, others may find offense in it or will be quick to hold you accountable. Thus resulting in potential confrontation. Other reactions such as logging off immediately after a loss, or denouncing the entire game can ruin team synergy and trust.

The second obstacle most players run into is not understanding how to receive or deliver constructive criticism. Simply put, everything said feels like an attack or a need to defend. More often than not, neither of those things are true. However depending on the circumstance, typically after a loss, it can be difficult to see it in any other way.

External

The third obstacle is playing at your full potential or perceived skill level. This obstacle really feeds into the first two. When you first find yourself on a team, a desire to play properly to not be judged can kick in. Making it difficult for you to fully play the way you normally do. Or the team is having a hard time finding synergy with each other despite being talented on their own. Making it feel like you’re playing poorly, or someone on the team is. Further, just the desire to not let the team down can cause you to make decisions through them, instead of trusting your own ability. This leads to the ego stepping in and blinding you of self awareness. Leading you to attack or defend internally or even externally in low moments.

The fourth obstacle is framing, and it comes from outside of the game. It typically goes one of two ways. Either teams take insignificant losses to seriously. (pubs, one off tournaments) Or the teams don’t take the practice or time commitment seriously because they aren’t being paid or part of a major organization. Truthfully this is just a step in getting signed and getting paid, however it still needs to be taken seriously and at the right levels.

If you were a part of a major organization would they tolerate in house fighting? Would you be able to slack off? Would it be acceptable to get overly frustrated at insignificant losses?

Finding well functioning teams is not an easy thing to do. It can be incredibly difficult to find people with schedules that line up, people that have a good work ethic or good attitude. So it’s important to capitalize on any and every opportunity you get when joining a team. Regardless of reputation.

Playing Your Part Effectively

eSports Puzzle

Skill alone does not make you a great teammate. Lately I have been coaching  a Rogue Company team. The Rogue Company community has had so many teams go through roster changes because of the things I’ve listed above. Being incredibly skilled does not make you easy to work with, and it won’t always lead to wins. Is it possible to win with just skill alone? Sure. But it isn’t sustainable and it also isn’t attractive to the organizations who look to sign players professionally.

Being a great teammate doesn’t always equate to success or skill, but it does translate into other areas. Such as helping your team manage their egos by leading by example.

Ultimately a team is a collection of individuals putting their best foot forward in every single interaction. Whether it’s the hard skills of the game, or the soft skills of teamwork. You need all of it to win and reach the goals you want to at a consistent rate. Becoming aware of the obstacles listed above will help you to focus more of your energy into playing, and less into obstructing the teams progress. The work you put in to a game if it puts you at odds with your team, does not make you a great teammate. You should be doing things for the betterment of your team, and yourself. Not exclusively to either side.

Wrap Up

Before you reach the professional level you will be a part of a ton of teams. Not all of them will have a coach to help manage egos, and keep the team focused. It’s important that you play your part fully from every aspect. Reflect on how you communicate now. Imagine yourself on a team and see if you can focus on playing properly and managing your communication as well. It can be difficult, it’s best to get ahead of it now and make the strongest commitment to every team.

We will be expanding the conversation on Team Dynamics for eAthletes: Managing Ego by addressing communication in our next post.

 

 

Performance Benchmarking For eAthletes

Peformance Benchmarking for eAthletes
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Quite a while ago we published a blog post titled ‘Setting Your Benchmark‘. In that post we focused on General Benchmarking instead of Performance Benchmarking for eAthletes. Time, Motivation, and Ability. Those three aspects are the foundation for your career as an eAthlete. Without identifying your benchmark on those three components, you won’t even be able to get started. Although they help you get started, they don’t provide a continuation to your improvement. This post is going to focus on Performance Benchmarking for eAthletes.

Why is Performance Benchmarking Important?

As with all benchmarking, it’s crucial to know exactly what your skill level is. This helps you carve a path forward and set goals for improvement. Without it you can find yourself just hoping to get better by each game. Without fully understanding what it will take to improve. The improvement process can be incredibly ambiguous. Identifying even just one component you need to focus on gives you direction and motivation. Performance Benchmarking specifically helps you identify those components.

What Is Performance Benchmarking?

When we spoke about ability in our last benchmarking post, we focused on results more than we did specific aspects of the game you’re playing. Such as what rank you are, or where you place in tournaments.

Performance Benchmarking helps you identify your performance gaps. Where you are lacking, and what you need to improve on. The specific aspects of it vary depending on the game you are playing. They are broken down by identifying what are called KPI’s or Key Performance Indicators. All of these small components are what make up your overall performance and drive your results.

How To Performance Benchmark

As stated before this can vary depending on the game you play. However, it isn’t terribly difficult. Simply put it’s the process of breaking down the whole of your game into smaller pieces. Utilizing in game statistics instead of going off of a feeling. Let’s use League of Legends as an example.

In League of Legends there are many components to the game. CSing, Team Fighting, Vision, Laning, the list goes on. Let’s say you are an ADC and your win/loss is hovering around 50%. This is resulting in you being stuck in silver or gold. If we take the time to honestly analyze the portion we are accountable for, what can we find?

How often do we win our lane? Let’s say we win our lane 30% of the time. Okay cool, direct correlation. Increase our lane win percentage and our overall win/loss percentage will also go up. What does it take to win our lane more often?

If we exercise some external benchmarking, and judge our competition we can see that players in Platinum on average have X amount of CS by X game time. How do we compare in our CS to them? How big of a difference will that item spike help us in the lane and in the mid game? Improving minor aspects of your game won’t always increase your win percentage exponentially. Since you still have many other aspects in the game to focus on. However, focusing on one component, and becoming better at it will free you to focus on everything else. If you can guarantee within a small margin that you will always have the amount of CS necessary, then you have a much stronger base line for consistently improving in team fights. You also have a clear understanding of your power level when you have succeeded, or have been disrupted. That then translates to your positioning in team fights, and how far you can test your limit with your item advantage or disadvantage. Thus adding to the aspect of team fighting, which can be broken up into: ability usage, positioning, timing.

Putting it All Together

Performance Benchmarking for eAthletes

All of these KPI’s are what make the professional players professionals. They are the components that directly result in wins or losses. Using the example above you can see how Performance Benchmarking for eAthletes is incredibly powerful for improvement. The KPI’s vary between games, roles and situations. But just taking the time to dig deep into your performance will help you identify your opportunities and build strategies to improve. The best part is that most of this information is readily available to you. You don’t have to be a coach or an expert to simply put a few things together based on your statistics. As you improve you will consistently return to your Performance Benchmark and adjust or change it all together. As metas shift, balance changes, or you decide to change games, you will have to revisit it.

Then after compiling your information you will structure new goals. There is no perfect way to do this, yet. You can assign yourself grades from A to F. You can give yourself number ratings from 1-10. However you do it, it’s important that you stick to the statistical facts and not how you feel about it. I can think or feel that I am a great shooter, but if my accuracy is sub 50% then I am simply not a great shot. I can blame it on everything under the sun, but the fact remains that I have to get into the shooting range as part of my practice. Think about the key components that make up a successful game for you, analyze yourself and start improving on your opportunities.

Final note

Performance Benchmarking for eAthletes is just one piece of the overall puzzle. This can be applied to any and every game you have ever competed in. Do not let the simplicity tempt you to judge it’s effectiveness. Give it a try and you will notice a difference.

 

The Natural Learning Process as an eAthlete (Pt. 3)

Natural Learning Process of an eAthlete
Reading Time: 7 minutes

In our previous post on The Natural Learning Process as an eAthlete (Pt 2), we introduced Self 2 as the do-er and Self 1 as the teller. We gave a common example of the two selves interacting within a tournament, and described the concept of being “in the zone”.  For The Natural Learning Process as an eAthlete (Pt 3), we will look at what is needed to achieve that “in the zone” mentality. By the time you finish reading this post you will have the tools necessary to build consistency around playing at your peak.

The intention of the this post and the last two is to help you rediscover The Natural Learning Process as an eAthlete. It’s very easy these days to become mentally cluttered while trying to improve. There is a ton of perceived pressure that comes from social media that clashes with our desires and goals. The Natural Learning Process empowers us to focus all of our attention into our performance.

By reminding us of what we are capable of doing and have done, we can effectively get out of our own way. We find the ability to communicate with the portion of our brain that has a true impact on the outcome of each and every game. To do this, we have to learn how to speak with Self 2 more than we do with Self 1.

Quieting Self 1

Natural Learning Process of an eAthlete

In order to reach “in the zone” or peak performance, we first have to work on quieting Self 1. The very concept of being at your peak performance is when everything just flows. Almost with a level of spontaneity. You’re in a childlike state of mind, an unthinking-thinking. While in this mode its as if everything has disappeared around you, and nothing but the task at hand matters.

Attempt to speak about this mode while in it, and it will disappear as fast as it arrived.  Self 1 wants to speak about it. Wants to take credit for it, and wants to judge it. Self 1 would have you believe that playing at your peak coincides with your results. Meaning winning equals being at your peak. Let’s take a second and reflect on this idea.

Is winning playing at your peak? It would seem that way. Since it feels as though you can’t win unless you’re at your peak. However, this thinking doesn’t take your opponents into consideration. So if I beat my opponent because my opponent was playing exceptionally poor. Does that mean I was at my peak?

This is important to consider to help identify what playing at your peak is, and what it feels like. It doesn’t always result in a win, or a series of wins. However, it does result in your best performance in that given time, or the most mental clarity for that given time. Mental clarity being critical for maintaining peak performance.

So how can we quiet Self 1?

Letting Go of Judgement

Natural Learning Process of an eAthlete

The first step we can take to quiet Self 1 is to learn to let go of judgement. Judgement is Self 1’s favorite form of language. It’s much easier than instruction, and it satisfies an emotional need. No matter what type of exchange you have in any game, you can be sure that Self 1 and judgement are waiting to jump.

Lose an engagement: (insert your own colorful language below)

“That was a bad play”

“Why would I do that”

Judgmental statements like those give Self 1 an opportunity to have a say in what happened. If it was negative, then Self 1 can start criticizing and dictating. It’s quite amazing to see what the judgmental mind can do. First it may judge the event itself. “That was a bad game.”. After it may start to generalize  and say things like “I’m just playing poorly today.”. From there a few more games may turn into “I’m just bad at this game.”. Eventually leading to “I’m just not good and never will be.” The judgmental mind can eventually even judge itself!

The major concern with judgmental statements is that they serve as a distraction. They distract from important information that Self 2 needs for improvement. For example, where were my eyes at the moment of engagement? What was I thinking about? How was my posture? None of those questions have any judgement associated with them, and the answer to those questions may help me improve in the next engagement.

Example

I’ll use myself as an example. I typically don’t play a ton of FPS(First Person Shooter) games. My aim isn’t necessarily top notch. However, something I noticed in losing gun fights is that my wrist is in the wrong position. I seem to naturally slide my wrist into this resting position and often times don’t realize it. After a few bad gun fights I decided to take note of things other than the outcome. It didn’t take me very long to realize that my poor aim was due to the starting position of my wrist, and the over correction that followed. Now that I have made the adjustment, and my wrist can be in the ready position more often, I find that I have drastically improved my aim. Self 2, the do-er, now has the information required to consistently perform. If I relied solely on Self 1 to make those adjustments it could be tied to the emotional outcome of each engagement, which would lead to inconsistent results. If I spent all of my time judging each of those engagements as ‘bad’ engagements, I could never zoom out and identify the core issue. I may even end up telling myself “Well I don’t really play shooters, so……”

Judgement Is Subjective

Natural Learning Process of an eAthlete

A good way to let go of judgement is to realize that it is largely subjective. At least more subjective than you may have realized. Consider the example I just gave. Those ‘bad’ gun fights, were actually good for my opponent. The presence of both perspectives makes judgement less concrete, and thus easier to let go of. Instead of being a bad engagement, it just simply was an engagement. An engagement that should be looked at to understand why the outcome was the outcome. Then be able to make corrections to better improve the next outcome.

Let’s use tennis as an example. In tennis there are effectively 3 different people engaged in each play. The 2 players and the line judge. If one player makes a serve that the line judge deems “out”, that’s a point for the receiver. Although ‘bad’ for the server, it’s ‘good’ for the receiver. However, the line judge doesn’t care about bad or good. The line judge simply has to see the ball where it lands. This allows the line judge to be clear of mind, and able to make clear consistent calls. The same can be offered to a player who has served a ball outside of the line. Instead of slamming their racket and yelling at the judge, losing all track of their abilities. They need to simply just accept it, check their grip and move on. Once realizing that their grip was too tight, they can make the natural adjustment without putting pressure on themselves.

Communicating With Self 2

eSports Focus

Now that we have started the process of quieting Self 1, it’s important that we start to communicate with Self 2. There are a few ways to do this but for this post I am going to focus on one.

One of the best ways to communicate with Self 2 is to ask yourself for qualities. Meaning make a mental picture of the qualities you want to exhibit. If you want to be the player that remains calm in pressure situations, make a mental picture of that. If you want to feel as alert and focused as possible, then make a mental picture of that. The concept of creating mental images, an ideal result, will help guide you to achieve it.

Here’s an experiment that you can do to feel this in action. Before you start your next play session, watch a professional player. Don’t watch it with a judgmental mind and make self comparisons. Don’t even watch with the idea of trying to learn something to implement in your own game. Instead just quietly observe. Just let what they are doing sink in. Don’t over analyze or think too hard. Just simply observe from the beginning of the game till the end.

Now after that observation head into your own match. Continue to keep judgement detached and watch yourself play at a higher level. It can and will typically happen. Self 2 is absorbing the concept of quality, and then will attempt to reproduce it. I’m sure you’ve experienced these types of moments where you watch a tournament and then feel inspired to play. That is Self 1 wanting to emulate, Self 2 is what makes the difference in how you play.

Building Trust With Self 2

It is important to create a new type of communication between yourself and your abilities. This is one of the only ways to keep Self 1 at bay enough to consistently reach peak performance. Self 1 will always exist, your goal isn’t to remove Self 1. But it is to find a harmony between the two as we stated in our previous post.

To accomplish this you have to learn how to respect your own capabilities, and remind yourself of them often regardless of exterior results. Too often we can find ourselves conflating our self worth with our performance results. You will also have to ask yourself for non-judgmental approaches. Asking for form in how you sit or hold your controller. Asking for results in how you aim or move. Focusing on the aspects of performance that don’t revolve around judgement or outcomes. Practicing with precision, and then trusting yourself to execute. Allowing yourself the ability to put the work you have committed to into the game.

Knowing that you have made it this far, and that you have accomplished great feats in gaming. Understanding these concepts, communicating with Self 2, and allowing Self 2 to make the necessary corrections will help you get closer to peak performance. Fostering that consistency and finding your way into the zone more often.

Final Note

“Are you telling me that I can just go out there and play without thinking and I’ll do better?”

No. There will always be things that we need to learn, things we need to improve upon. What I am saying is to let those things happen. If you don’t know how to do something, then allow yourself to learn without internal criticism. If you know what you’re doing, then allow yourself to do it. Observe it, make note of it, and allow yourself to make the necessary changes to improve. Forcing it, or trying too hard will only result in an inconsistent performance.