The Hard Climb: Mentally Preparing Yourself For Competitive Mode



Thu 10th Aug 2017 - 10:57am

If there’s one piece of advice that’s given to a gamer that wants to climb the ladder, it is to “focus on yourself”. You’ve heard it before in different variations: “Mute the team and focus on yourself.”, “When you die, ask yourself what can you learn from this? What did you do wrong? Should you have ulted? Should you have stuck with your team?” They seem like such easy rules to follow at first, but for some reason we can never do it. We can never see our mistakes and we make it difficult to improve our gameplay. It’s not just because you’re bad at the game, but because you don’t want to see that you’re bad at the game.

Gaming isn’t only about skills (eSports has proven that countless times by being 
so intense and strategic that it is now considered an actual sport), it is about your mentality. When you’re climbing that ladder, you want to stop continuously thinking about winning and instead, like what your Platinum, Diamond, and Grandmaster friends would say, focus on yourself. Focus on how you died, why you died, and how you can prevent dying again. But how can you when you keep dying? You focus less on the game and more on the Hanzo pick when your team really needs a Mercy or the Soldier 76 who tries to gank the enemy team (only to just get shotgun blasted by a Roadhog--Old Roadhog, not new Roadhog). As frustrating and unhelpful as all that may be, focusing on your teammates does nothing for you and distracts you from doing what you have to do for your team. Shouting into your mic how useless the Symmetra is is more damaging than helpful.

So, what does this say about you as a player? To put it simply, you’re not emotionally ready to play a competitive game. Some of your friends will inform you that if you follow their advice you’ll win about 80% of your games, but that’s not entirely true, especially if you’re around the Bronze-Platinum ranking. You’re going to be dealing with people who have never touched a Healer, or people who are going to throw the game for something as simple as you not reading their minds and picking a team comp that they wanted. Yes, seriously. I can say that this happened. You have to mentally prepare yourself for that before you become the thing that drags your team down.

Before you enter a game, you must realize that there’s a chance you won’t be the best. You probably won’t be the next Kehprii or “IDDQD.” Having the goal of wanting to be a pro can be beneficial to your gaming but it’s a double-edged sword. Some gamers can take every loss as a step backwards in their competitive career rather than a step forward.
So how can you prepare for a few games of competitive? Easy! Just play Arcade. In Arcade 65% of people don’t care if they win or lose. Depending on the playlist, you’re just going to get a bunch of people who wants to play a few games of Overwatch with their friends or to pass the time. Use this as a mood setter. If you’re not in a calm, almost nonchalant attitude, play until you feel that way. Also, use it for practice! Never, ever, just jump into a game of competitive. Sometimes, for your first few games, you need to adjust yourself in the game and you don’t want to wager your SR on something that could have been done in a throwaway game.

After Arcade, it’s up to you if you want to head straight to Quick Match or play a few more games in Arcade, but Quick Match will help you get into the competitive mindset. It will also help you get used to the fact that there will be games that you will lose in. People are much more serious about winning and try to be more strategic in this mode. While playing, take notes on how you feel during the gaming sessions. If you feel more at ease and more willing to learn from your mistakes, you’re ready to play competitively. If you’re getting more agitated with each game, then maybe you shouldn’t play Overwatch and watch some TV or do something more casual instead.

Finally, after getting through Arcade Mode and dealing with some Quick Match, it’s time for Competitive Mode. Prepare yourself to take notes and, like you’ve been preparing, dying and losing. You will get games where there will be someone who doesn’t get their way or someone who promises that they’re really good at Hanzo (no seriously, check his player profile), but you have to focus on yourself. This doesn’t mean continuously blaming yourself for your actions, but instead to realize when you messed up and where you could have improved. When you die, think before you type in the chat or passively aggressively say something to your teammates: Should you have ulted at that time? Were you out of place? Should you really have picked Hanzo? Be honest. And even if you’re not at fault, don’t criticize your teammates in the chat. It does nothing but makes other people play awfully or start an argument that will distract the team. Only critique when someone asks for advice.

The final thing you should take from this article if you take anything from this article is that it’s just a game. I’ve heard stories and almost been a victim to losing friends to competitive gaming, just for the mere fact that someone lacked skills in a certain role or failed to follow up during a team fight. I even had moments where my whole day was ruined just because I lost one game. Don’t let the game define who you are. It’s almost a silly thing to say, but I know that there are people who take the game way too seriously, to a point where it becomes unhealthy.  You don’t need to climb the ladder and you don’t need to be the best. There’s always next season and there’s always other games. For now, try your best and do what you can. Losing SR is frustrating, but it isn’t the end of the world.

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