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.

 

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.

 

 

 

Why Do I Play Better In Practice Than In Tournament?

eSporst Practice Competition Training Learning
Reading Time: 8 minutes

You’ve prepared all week for your next tournament. Doubling the amount of practice time. Putting all your focus into your sessions. You’re killing it. Winning matches you thought you would lose, making plays you never thought you could. You’re ready.

Your name gets called for your first match and you are brimming with anticipation. You know this player, and you’ve beaten him in the past, and you’re ready to put all this hard work into action. The first match starts and mid way through you notice that you’re missing things that you weren’t missing in practice. Things aren’t going as smoothly as expected and your self-talk is kicking in.

“Why am I missing?”

“Ugh, how did I let that hit me?”

“Come on, focus.”

Luckily you win the match, but it definitely didn’t go the way you thought it would. I mean, you spent all that time practicing, and this first rounder almost beat you. Now the thoughts are flooding in, and before you know it, you’ve lost your next two matches and you’re out of the tournament.

So how does this happen? How is it you can play so well in practice, put in so much time, and still under perform?Continue Reading–>

eSports Film Study (Reviewing Film)

Chalk X's and O's
Reading Time: 5 minutes

The Purpose of Film Study

The voice you just heard is legendary NBA Player Kobe Bryant, talking about the purpose of watching film, or re-watching your game. Reviewing game tape or film study has always been a foundation of the repeatable success formula in traditional sports. Whether it’s after a loss, a win or even just preparing for the next game. Coaches and teams have been reviewing games forever. Even if it was just on a chalkboard with some x’s and o’s. You can go to YouTube and listen to coaches explain in great detail how they KNEW their play would work based on things they had seen in the film room. When we see it for the first time, we may think it’s luck or just a great play. But the level of preparation is literally game changing.

In eSports

eSports has identified the enormous benefits of film study and incorporates it at the highest level in all team games. Counter Strike, League of Legends, Dota, Starcraft, you name it. Individual players who perform at their highest level also incorporate film study into their practice routines. This incredibly powerful resource is an enormous tool for illuminating blind spots in your game, growing your game sense and understanding on a micro/macro level. Continue Reading–>

Playing the Meta Without Shame

Fork In the Road
Reading Time: 7 minutes

As you continue down your eSports journey you are inevitably going to come to one of many forks in the road. On one side of the fork is having fun, being comfortable, expressing yourself, and most importantly not conforming. On the other side of the fork is Playing the Meta. The latter is most often perceived as slaving over the same character in every single game, running the same strategy in every single game, or abusing the tier list.

Using this analogy it’s of no surprise that people can struggle with this choice. Fortunately for us, our journey isn’t that black and white.

 

Defining Meta

Meta

At this point in time “Meta” is a familiar concept with most, so I won’t spend too much time defining it.Continue Reading–>

How to Get Good 202: The Method

Fighting
Reading Time: 7 minutes

In Part l we discussed the basic concepts that in order to get good, a player needs to resist stressful situations (successfully or not) in order to adapt to them, and that is best accomplished by focusing on specific elements (or fundamentals) of their game play. We concluded that resistance must be combined with specifics, and be done frequently (resistance + specificity + frequency = adaptation), in order for the player to progress. Now in part ll of this series, we’re going to illustrate the method in which a player can use these basics to begin improving right away.

As a brief reminder, in part l we also talked about the fact that matchmaking is chaos, with a lot outside of your control, and that both getting good, and the method revolve almost exclusively around manipulating the things you CAN control.

So without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Continue Reading–>

How to Get Good 101: Introduction

Chess
Reading Time: 3 minutes

In a previous episode of The Canal we flirted with the idea that in order to get good, you need to get structured. In today’s post we’re going to start you on that path by introducing the basic concepts behind progression and structured environments in e-sports.

It’s no secret that resistance to stress makes you stronger, the act of overcoming or trying to overcome a difficult challenge begins to force your brain and body to adapt, to get better, stronger, faster, smarter. Following this line of thinking, it makes sense that putting yourself in these scenarios yields results, and that putting yourself through these scenarios more often will lead to faster results right? Continue Reading–>