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
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
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.
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
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.
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.