Why Am I Not Improving? (eSports 2020)

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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.

 

 

 

Lose The Battle, But Win The War

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Before you dive into this blog post, I would like to tell you something, that you may not know or may not have been told. YOU are AMAZINGSKILLED, COURAGEOUS, and VALUED.

Not because of your wins or losses, social stature or your expertise.  No, you are all of the above because you choose to compete. You go out and test your resolve; mentally, emotionally, and socially time and time again. Take this moment to reflect on all of your experiences. Think about those hard fought games, the ups and the downs. The way they made you feel during and after. Think about the way people reacted to those games. Really put yourself there again. Now think about the people you’ve met. Your training partners, your teammates, your friends.

All of these experiences shape you, and drive underlying motivations for why you compete. But there was a time before you had all of these motivations. However, you didn’t let that stop you from competing. So what is stopping you now?Continue Reading–>

Precise Practice

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

I was recently asked about my training regiment, and how I practice playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Though I’ve played many titles in the past, this is the current one that I am focused on. I wanted to take this time to share with you an example of my training.

I’m not going to dig deep into all of my tournament placings and moments. So treat this as an informal post if you will.

Challonge Bracket

I have been steadily proving myself in my region, now placing top 3 in our weekly tournaments for the last 3 weeks in a row. Without too much context, let’s just say I’ve surprised a few people. (Even myself at times lol)

I don’t have an abundance of time to practice these days, so I have to make my practice really count. Sometimes I will only get an hour or 30 minutes a week. This time constraint has driven me to name what I do, “Precise Practice”.Continue Reading–>

The Canal Live: Episode 4 – Skill Gap, Meta, Feedback Loops

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Due to a power outage during the podcast, we were only able to salvage the last 18 min of our recording. In this episode we went into detail about what  a Skill Gap is. What the ideal game looks like, and what the current state of gaming is. Why you should play Meta, and how certain feedback loops work.

Make sure you catch us live at www.twitch.tv/freeagencyesports every other Saturday for our podcast, and Thursday’s for our gaming stream.

Below are the written notes from the podcast.