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.

 

 

 

The Natural Learning Process as an eAthlete (Pt. 2)

Reading Time: 5 minutes

In our previous post on The Natural Learning Process as an eAthlete (Pt. 1), we introduced the concept of Self 1 and Self 2. We explored the idea that Self 1 is made up of your ego and your active thinking mind. Where Self 1 comes from, and how it can be disrupting your performance. For The Natural Learning Process as an eAthlete (Pt.2) we will dig deeper into Self 2. Who Self 2 is, the power it possesses and how you can tap into it to improve as an eAthlete.

As you read through this blog post, I urge you to be open to the idea of the two selves. It is through acknowledging their existence and understanding them that you will achieve consistency and improved results. You just have to find your ability to trust something deep inside of you.

A Common Experience for an eAthlete

eSports, eAthlete

Lets imagine that you decide to play in a tournament. For all intents and purposes lets say you entered the tournament on a whim. You’ve been practicing, but the idea of being in the tournament didn’t cross your mind until the last minute.

First game is a little bit shaky, but who cares. You’re not expecting much out of this. You take the win and move on.

Second game is a breeze. You’re warmed up now, relaxed even, and you’re having a good time. You may even be surprised at how well you played. Prior to this you only checked the bracket to see when your next match was to be played. However, now you’re looking ahead in the bracket. “Okay, so If I win my next match then I have to play X. If I beat X then I get into the next bracket.”

Third game is really tight. You made a lot of mistakes that you know you shouldn’t be making. There were so many missed opportunities, and you allowed your opponents to control some of the match. You won, but just barely.

Now here are you are. Going against X to make it into the next bracket. You’re analyzing the match ahead of time. Telling yourself that you just need to win this one. Not to make the same mistakes you made last time. Although you want to win, you’re telling yourself not to lose. Before you even know it, the match is over. You’ve lost. How is this possible? You told yourself not to make the same mistakes. Played as safe as you possibly could, and even tried something you saw someone else do in the same situations.

So, Who is Self 2?

If Self 1 is the teller as described in our previous post. Then Self 2 is the do-erSelf 2 is the powerful entity inside of you that is able to learn, understand, and execute series of actions without you having to give any additional instruction. For example, logging into your game, selecting your character, movement, action buttons. All of those things now learned are executed without hesitation.

Navigating to this website and clicking this blog. Reading the words and comprehending them. All actions performed by Self 2. Our lives would not be what they are without this tremendous internal processing system. Every action we take would require some form of instruction. However because of the natural learning process, and Self 2’s ability to retain information, we can do amazing feats without thought.

If we use the example above, Self 2 is you in the first two matches. Calm and relaxed. Not expecting much. Just playing and allowing yourself to naturally adjust as needed. Even playing exceptional in the second match without having to try too hard. But by the third match, Self 1 starts to find it’s way back into the picture. Proud of what it believes is it’s work and the prospect of advancing in the tournament. It starts to wrestle control from Self 2. You start to make mistakes, play timidly and over all lose trust in your own ability. None of which was happening or important in the first two matches.

Playing Out Of Your Mind

the natural learning process of an eAthlete

Self 1 and Self 2 have to reach a level of harmony to achieve peak performance. This means that you have to stop the constant “ego-driven thinking” of Self 1 that interferes with Self 2’s natural capabilities. The only way to reach this harmony is when the mind is quiet and focused at the same time.

Have you ever played a game that you were so focused in that everything around you disappeared? When the game was over your mind is racing trying to remember exactly what it did. All the clutch and incredible plays. It’s almost like you blacked out and you’re trying to retrace your steps. Even though you acknowledged the incredible thing you did in the moment, it feels like you can’t see a mental image of it.

That is in essence the idea of playing out of your mind, or being in the zone. In previous posts we referred to it as a flow state. While you are in this state you’re not thinking about when or how to execute. You’re not thinking about the outcomes of your micro decisions and where they place you. Everything seems to happen properly without requiring any thought. There may be an awareness of the tactical situation or the effects of your actions,  but you just seem to know what you’re doing regardless of the outcome.

Listen to how D. T. Suzuki, a renowned Zen Master, describes the effects of the ego-mind on archery in his forward to Zen in the Art of Archery:

“As soon as we reflect, deliberate, and conceptualize, the original unconsciousness is lost and a thought interferes. . . . The arrow is off the string but does not fly straight to the target, nor does the target stand where it is. Calculation, which is miscalculation, sets in. . . .

Man is a thinking reed but his great works are done when he is not calculating and thinking. “Childlikeness” has to be restored . . .”

Wrap Up

Being able to tap into this Zone, or Flow State consistently is how we achieve consistent peak performance. It’s how the professionals manage to always be a step above everyone else. They can tap into this mode because of the harmony they achieve between Self 1 and Self 2 even if they aren’t aware of it. This is done through a lot of Self Trust, and allowing the Natural Learning Process as an eAthlete run it’s course.

In our next post we will rediscover the natural learning process. From quieting your Self 1 to communicating and eventually regaining trust with Self 2.

This video captures the idea of the two selves perfectly, here is Super Smash Bros. Melee professional Mango talking about a recent tournament win.

 

 

The Natural Learning Process as an eAthlete (Pt. 1)

Kid Natural Learning Process eSports
Reading Time: 5 minutes

When it comes to peak performance, the measurement of success for most is consistency. It’s one thing to win a major tournament and then disappear. It’s another to win several major tournaments and always be in the top 8. Likewise, after a sports team wins a championship, we almost fully expect them to win another. It’s well known that true adoration of players comes from their ability to maintain their level of performance. The second they slip, we are the first to be disappointed and sometimes down right angry. So how do they maintain such a peak performance? Luck? Skill? Or is it the Natural Learning Process they go through as an eAthlete?

 Why do all of them have such unique styles despite all being so optimal? How can you increase your skill and maintain it? The answers lie deep inside of us, in an almost primal fashion. Let’s help you rediscover your Natural Learning Process as an eAthlete. By breaking down the Natural Learning Process, we can identify opportunities in your performance and help you become a better eAthlete.

The Natural Learning Process Through The Lens of an eAthlete

eSporst Practice Competition Training Learning

The Natural Learning Process is something that we are born with. It’s one of the many fascinating aspects of human existence. You can see it in infants. How they learn to walk, grip objects, and cry in times of need. No one teaches them to do those things, nor does anyone critique the act. It’s something that comes naturally.
It’s a lot like the first video game you ever played. Take yourself back to that experience. Remember the joy you felt when you overcame each obstacle. For most us our parents didn’t understand how to play the games, or how to help us. This meant we were free to figure it out. Win when we won, and lose when we lost. No critique, no tutorials, just trial and correction. Not trial and error. This form of progression is attributed to the Natural Learning Process.

The same can be said about our first step into competitive gaming. We all remember the moment where we went from playing casual to taking it seriously on a competitive level. Our ability and confidence to jump into that ranked setting, or tournament setting comes from our pre-established Natural Learning Process. That first time feeling is something a lot of players chase. Their “glory days” if you will. It happens because that first competitive step came naturally. It didn’t have any motivations other than showing off your skills and competing. You didn’t have to force it.
However, something in life changes as time goes by. Something that alters The Natural Learning Process that we inevitably bring into our lives as eAthletes.

Introducing Self 1 & Self 2

Yin Yang, Cofee, Self 1, Self 2, eAthlete

Imagine if you will that you have two different versions of yourself working in tandem while you are playing. We will call them Self 1 and Self 2. Take yourself back to a competitive game that you were losing in. Let’s say a ranked ladder match, or a tournament set. When you made a mistake, or your opponent got the better of you, what happened in your brain? What did you say to yourself, in your head or out loud. For example “%*^$ I need to hit my shots!” or “COME ON THAT WAS GARBAGE !”. For some it can even be directed towards themselves like “You need to play better, tighten up, stop being so stupid.”. That is an example of Self 1 in action.

Now think about a game that you were winning in. A game that you would describe yourself as “being in the zone” or “playing out of your mind”. Remember how focused but relaxed you were. There was no judgment, no fear, just execution. That is an example of Self 2 in action, without Self 1 trying to take over. A form of ‘flow state’ if you will.
Self 1 is a representation of your ego. It’s the intellectual side of the process that spends it’s time instructing Self 2 what to do. However, the issue is that Self 2 often doesn’t need instruction. Especially in the way Self 1 is giving it.

Think back to that infant walking. Imagine now if you are that infant’s parent, and you are teaching the walking in the same way Self 1 communicates with Self 2. “Okay now extend your right knee and gently place your foot on the floor. Now apply a small amount of pressure, not too much pressure. Then lift that foot, and start to extend your left knee. DON’T PUT TOO MUCH PRESSURE.”

A little ridiculous right, but how difficult would it be for the infant to walk properly, with instruction like that. The truth is, Self 2 is very good at learning and understanding things without the help of Self 1. For instance, you grabbing your phone, or computer. Navigating to this website and reading this blog didn’t require any assistance from Self 1. Knowing where the buttons on your controller are, or the keys on your keyboard are all because of Self 2. Not Self 1.

Where Does Self 1 Come From?

Classroom, Natural Learning Process eAthlete

Self 1 has it’s roots in reward and punishment. From the moment we start to understand praise, and fear, Self 1 comes into existence(Teachers, Parents, Bosses, Friends, etc). When we do extremely well in something, and we feel the emotional rewards of doing well, we want to replicate it as much as possible. So Self 1 will tell Self 2 “Okay, do it just like you did last time. But make sure you don’t do that one thing you did. You’re doing it wrong. We’re never going to get where we were before.”

Suddenly you have a conflict going on inside of you that is actually hindering performance. You didn’t need that instruction the first time you succeeded, why need it now? Self 1 as stated before is a form of your ego. It wants all the credit for everything Self 2 does, because reward is fed directly to Self 1. The same goes for punishment and fear. Fear of losing, fear of letting others and yourself down. It all stems from the same place, and can create that internal and subconscious dialogue.

A Simple Experiment for Self 1

If you want further proof of Self 1’s existence. Take something fairly complex that you perform in your game every day. Some tech skill, or specific play. Now try to demonstrate that tech skill to someone while explaining it. Can you do it? How many tries did it take? Or try to teach it someone and listen to the way you explain it. Think about it, you do it perfectly every game when you’re not talking about it, yet when you attempt to show or teach it, you struggle. That’s because Self 1 is telling you how to do it for your audience. As opposed to Self 2 just doing it because it knows when and how to execute.

Wrap Up

This post was intended to introduce the concept of the two selves that coexist inside of you. To show you how Self 1 is a trained behavior that can be disruptive to performance. Both Self 1 and Self 2 need to work in harmony to achieve peak performance.
In our next post we are going to dive into why quieting Self 1 is important to performance and improvement. How to regain trust in the power of Self 2, and how to utilize the Natural Learning Process to make you a better eAthlete.

Experience is Vital for eAthletes

Coach Czech, eSports, Experience eAthlete
Reading Time: 5 minutes

If you’ve read most of our posts, you know we focus on the improvement side of eSports. Trying to help eAthletes achieve their goals, and make a career in eSports. Often times we focus on the methods of improvement, and the required will it takes to get there. Although all of that information is important and can be the difference between winning and losing. It needs to be stated that experience is the most vital ingredient for eAthletes to improve. Experience has many different forms. Some effective, others ineffective. This may seem fairly obvious to most. You have to play to improve, but there are subtle aspects to experience that if overlooked can stop you from reaching the next level as an eAthlete.

Lose Until You Start Winning

Losing in eSports, FreeAgencyeSports

Have you ever heard the advice “The best way to get better is to get destroyed by a better player for hours.”? A lot of people live by this advice and there is definitely merit to it. The act of facing a player that gives you a challenge, that is outside of your reach helps the brain recognize small moments of improvement. Even if your opponent isn’t giving you advice. They are often playing in a routine fashion throughout the games. Giving you a chance to adapt and make small improvements that become recognizable. Even if you don’t flat out win, you improve. That’s the power of raw experience. This translates to any game in which you are facing an opponent that currently has the upper hand over you. Doesn’t matter if it’s team based or not, you will ultimately find yourself in situations that test your mettle versus a single opponent. This experience is quite possibly the most enjoyable, even more than winning at times.

A Youthful Example We Can All Relate To

When I was younger a group of friends and I would compete in all sorts of games. We would bet Pokemon cards over games of Mario Golf, or high scores on SSX Tricky. We would also play fighting games like Tekken or Killer Instinct. Most of the time I lost in the fighting games. But on rare occasion I had the chance to play with one of my friends older brothers. He would destroy me all the time in Tekken, but after a while I got better. After those small sessions, I became unbeatable to my other friends. I couldn’t explain why at the time, but it was because I was being challenged to do more, and adapt differently. Effectively increasing my skill level.

I would love to tell you that all you have to do is go lose to better players and eventually you’ll be a pro. But unfortunately this method has it’s exceptions.

  • You may not be ready to absorb the lessons being taught.
    If you’re just starting out in a game, or haven’t fully grasped the concept of winning. Facing someone at a much higher skill level can’t help you. In fact it could impede your learning ability because you will be attempting to emulate more than naturally getting a feel.
  • You don’t have the mental resilience.
    Losing typically isn’t fun. It can be discouraging and invite the idea of giving up entirely.

Highlights, Guides, Pseudo Experience

With the advent of twitch and YouTube it has never been easier to watch eSports. Esports are unique in the sense that most spectators are also players even if at just a casual level. There is a very small, almost microscopic percentage of spectators who don’t play. The difference between watching an eSports event, and playing a match on your own is much smaller than say, watching an NBA game and playing basketball at the park. Most traditional sports spectators don’t actually play that sport.

This creates a unique situation where eAthletes spend a lot of time comparing themselves to the professionals. Watching guides and tutorials to become better, or finding a favorite content creators to watch. I consider this a form of Pseudo Experience and it’s very easy to fall into. It can create this “Every dollar I make, you make” mentality but from an improvement stand point. Watching people be successful almost takes the position of working hard to become successful yourself. To some degree attempting to experience the success through them, and spending time on it as well. This is a hard concept to explain because it makes a lot of assumptions about your lifestyle. So to simplify it, I will say, if you spend more time watching other eAthletes be successful, and take nothing away from what you see to apply to your own performance, you are subjecting yourself to Pseudo Experience.

The outcome will not meet the expectation. The act can impede the natural learning process by putting more reliance on the intellectual portion of your brain, rather than the natural inclinations of your brain.

Experience Will Make You. If You Let It.

eSporst Coaching

Over everything else, true improvement comes from rising to every new challenge and overcoming it. The method in which you do that with can be found in all of our other posts. As I have said many times and will continue saying, just simply playing is not enough. Experience will only take you so far if you don’t do the mental work around it. Having awareness, reflecting, preparing, practice, resilience. It all goes into improving and becoming the best version of yourself. Inside the game and outside of the game.

I can confidently write these posts because of my experiences over my career in eSports. Living through your wins and losses creates an emotional connection to what you do. It helps you build character. It’s taking risks and chances on yourself and seeing them through regardless of the outcome.
You can watch others play for as long as you want to. You can listen to every tutorial and guide that you want to. The only way you’re truly going to reach your goals is to experience it. Without the rest of the noise, without trying to adhere to others standards.

Experimentation, implementation, your own brand of success. It all comes from the experiences that you allow yourself to have. Ever wonder why the players at the top are all seen as having a unique perspective on their game? They all look different? It’s because they have learned and grown through their experiences and maintained their own personal standard.

No matter the size or format of a tournament. Go play in it. No matter the level of difficulty, go explore it. Win or lose, just focus on improvement, and experience the process.

 

Why Am I Not Improving? (eSports 2020)

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Why am I not improving is a critical question that often isn’t asked by those who need the answer most. There are many reasons why the question never comes up. Pride and ego can play a huge role. Excuses and deniability are contributing factors. Fear and embarrassment. The list goes on. It also could be the fact that no one can really give you the answer. Watching guides and tutorials may only give you one side of the story. Most critically though, the reason ‘Why Am I Not Improving goes unasked is because most players believe that they can just simply will their way to more wins. By just simply queuing for the next match, and grinding at the bone. Eventually your improvement will happen, right? You will hit that next rank, and increase that win percentage. If you don’t, you’ll just haphazardly do it again the next chance you get. You love playing the game, you love competing so it’s only natural that you will jump back in. If this resonates with you, or you’ve found yourself in this position. Then let’s ask the question together. Why Am I Not Improving?

Not So Black and White

The beauty of competition and the mindset that goes into it, makes the answers a little complex. It would be nice if there was a one size fits all solution, but then there would be no true competition. No, the answers are more nuanced, and require exploration and reflection. That’s the beauty of competition. However, we will make the answers easier to digest by listing five reasons why you’re not improving.

Poor Evaluation or Benchmark

Often times as players we tend to over estimate our abilities. This leads to having a “should be” mentality. For example, if you are Silver Tier in your game, but you believe you “should be” gold. This mentality can lead to feeling like you’re “being robbed” every time you lose. Effectively clouding your vision and making improvement very difficult. Although you may actually be a gold player stuck in a silver bracket, you are contributing more to your own losses than you realize. If 100% of your mental focus isn’t devoted to your mechanical skill and decision making. Chances are you aren’t going to succeed at the high enough win percentage to get out.

This is very common. We want to be a higher rank, and play at a higher rank for whatever our motivations may be. However, it’s a hard pill to swallow to realize that our unstructured desires may be the reason we aren’t achieving them. It’s difficult to be honest with ourselves, but important for building the skills to succeed.

Take every loss, even ones you don’t deserve as a moment to learn. Look at your performance critically, always ask yourself if you could have turned it up another gear. Ask yourself if you were truly focused on winning, and your play, or if you were focused on variables around you.

Leaving It Up To Chance

Leading off of the evaluation or benchmark. We often approach things with a casual attitude, but expect grand results. For example, even if we don’t have a truly focused benchmark, we have a feeling. A feeling that we rely on for how well we are playing, or how well we can play. This feeling and comfort often results in us just playing to play. Not fully capitalizing on our talents, efforts or abilities. This is what I consider leaving it up to chance. If you don’t put forth your full effort then you’re relying on your team, or your opponents to win/lose the game for you. That is chance. Think about the last time you sat down to climb the ladder in your game. How truly focused were you on your own performance? How distracted were you? When was the last time you really tried?

Nothing should be left to chance. You should put forth the most effort every time you play, review your own footage, study others. Take full control over what is within your control. Play and improve with intentionality. If you only put half in, you’ll only get half out. The equation for a 50% win rate.

Stuck On A  Peak or In The Past

Remember that time you played incredibly well. Won like 10 games in a row? Placed high at your tournament? Although these are great moments and you should bask in them, they can lead to that feeling we spoke about earlier. It’s important to separate your peak from your average. Otherwise you can find yourself clinging to an expectation. It’s best to look at a peak performance as your potential, not what you should be doing. Sometimes stars have to align, and sometimes it happens when you least expect it. Peak and your every day performance are very different. The goal being to always increase your average level of play to get closer to your peak.

But if you are constantly comparing your best performance to your current performance, you can lose the motivation for learning. Opting to believe you don’t need it, and have proof of it. Further you can become overtly frustrated by losses, or poor performance because of your standard you have set for yourself, based on a previous peak.

This journey and struggle really is an internal one, more than it is an external one. Focus on what you’re doing to try to recreate that peak performance, instead of using it as a belief system. 

Following Cookie Cutter Information

Learning is an organic process. We all come to our conclusions at different times and in different ways. Often times developing a natural ‘game sense’ requires you to experiment, learn things, and then unlearn them. However, we currently live in a time where there is readily available “optimized” information. Although this information is valuable for improvement. It often can hinder our potential and enjoyment. The way it does this is by skipping the discovery process in learning. To put it pragmatically, learning and improving requires critical thinking. Allowing others to critical think for us, from the very beginning, weakens our ability to critically think for ourselves. Causing us to hit ceilings quicker, and then seek new information from external sources. Further, if you follow a very popular concept, it’s likely your opponent is aware of it inside and out. Not only does the common day content teach you how to perform it, but also how to counter it.

Develop your own individual style. Optimize it based on results and efficiency. The critical thinking exercises, and visualization that you have to do will improve your mental clarity. Following other people’s ways will never teach you how to adapt. Most content is developed to be easy to understand, but never give the full information.

Having A Poor Perspective

This is a very broad topic, and it can relate to many different aspects of your eSports performance. You may not have the correct perspective about learning. You may struggle with the concept of learning from losses. It can be as simple as you aren’t playing for the right reasons. Correcting your perspective on your own performance requires you to take yourself and what you do seriously. It takes the understanding that improvement doesn’t happen over night, and the steps you take now may not flourish until three months from now. You have to find a way to want it, and strive for it.

Take some time to reflect on this concept. Not necessarily my words, but the concept that I am explaining in regards to your perspective. Open your mind to your own perspective, and see if it aligns with your desires. 

Wrap Up

As always there may be reasons you aren’t improving that are missed. The world of self improvement, and eSports is incredibly complex. However these five reasons may serve you as a breakthrough to your next accomplishments. With every step you take on this journey, make sure to reflect on every footprint.

 

 

 

6 Week eSports Improvement Plan (Wk. 6)

6 Week eSports Improvement Plan
Reading Time: 4 minutes

In part 5 of our 6 Week eSports Improvement plan we honed in on the concept of outreach. We explained the importance of building relationships with players in your respective scene and games. As well as give you some tips on how to best find players to play with. Even if you were only able to secure one steady person or team to play with for week 5 it can be considered a success. Week 5 by far has to be one of the most ambiguous and uncomfortable weeks for most. However, those connections you build are key to elevating your game. Since the people you are playing with have a similar goal in mind, they will bring a different and more realistic level of competition to your practice. Which cannot be stressed enough. Just going at your practice routine randomly, with random people is a subpar way of reaching your goals. (Although if it’s all you got, it’s all you got.)

As always the 6 week schedule is below.Continue Reading–>

6 Week eSports Improvement Plan (Wk. 5)

6 Week eSports Improvement Plan
Reading Time: 4 minutes

In part 4 of our 6 Week eSports Improvement Plan we focused on the importance of experimentation. We also took a deeper look at the background skills you’ve been developing and how they are necessary to the longevity of your improvement. During week 4 you may have taken a hit on your win percentage and fell back a little ways. This was expected because of the radical shift you were taking in your play. Taking risks, changing characters, and even philosophies can be disruptive. However, the hope is that you took small bits away from the experience that you can use and apply to your current strategy.

It’s important to become comfortable in your discomfort as we stated before. However, it’s also important to be comfortable with losing when you’re pursuing a better understanding of the game, and yourself.

As always, below is the 6 week schedule.Continue Reading–>

6 Week eSports Improvement Plan (Wk. 4)

Reading Time: 5 minutes

In part 2 and 3 of our 6 Week eSports Improvement Plan we went over the Reflection and Measure weeks of impact. During those weeks we modified the amount of time spent playing and supplemented it with video review. During those two weeks you should have seen the most improvement. As well as developed a new skill in regards to replay review.

As we go through the last part of the 6 Week improvement plan, we will be covering week 4. With each week we add new elements to your training that go beyond just playing. These elements are important for continuing your improvement after the 6 weeks are over. They can easily be overlooked without a coach. Before we jump into what makes week 4 different. Let’s address these new elements. Continue Reading–>