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Mentality - The Unsung Hero of Esports

flanksteak

flanksteak

Sun 29th Dec 2019 - 5:00pm

In esports, it feels like if you’re good enough, you can’t go anywhere but up. However, that isn’t always true. Even the most skilled players can struggle to see any improvement in their results. This is very often due to one factor. This factor has caused heartbreaking losses and even pushed some players into retirement. The factor I’m talking about is your “mental game”. This isn’t something that is unique to esports. In any type of competition, this is something that many players struggle with. In this article, I want to talk about the importance of mindset and how it can affect your overall gameplay.  

For this piece, it was essential for me to understand mindset at a level I am not familiar with. While being a competitive player, I cannot fully understand what goes on in players’ heads at a high level.  This is why I decided to interview a player who I know personally and who has had drastically better results after improving their mindset. I sat down with Kip “Kip!” Monroy for a few questions in order to understand the topic as best I can. So a huge thanks to him.

The first thing you need to understand when talking about “mental game” is that it goes beyond just wanting to win. There are a lot of factors that can affect where your mind is at during the game. It could be your physical health or something in your life that’s distracting you. Everyone has problems like this in their life and while they aren’t always in your control; it's how you deal with them that makes the difference. There is no cut and dry way of telling someone how to deal with any mentality issues they’re experiencing; however, there are some methods that often help. As cliché as it sounds, putting yourself in a kind of “happy place” can be really effective. Use this time to avoid thinking about the consequences of losing or even winning the match, and to focus fully on the game in front of you. If you can maintain this thought process, it will be much easier for you to make clear decisions.

One of the most challenging things to overcome in any game is when you are about to go up against an opponent that you just can’t seem to beat. In many player’s heads, they’ve already lost. This is the worst possible thing you can do. Often players will begin to look towards their losers bracket or look at what they will place after inevitably falling out of the tournament. While it is important to have goals, it is even more important to be able to surpass those goals. Kip told me one of his key points of improvement came when he stopped being okay with “doing the bare minimum”. Instead of just shooting for placements or wins against ranked players, he started trying to win the whole thing, and in order to do that, he had to defeat his hardest opponents. This is not just key to getting a win in one particular match, but it is key to improving your mindset overall.  You need to remind yourself that you are the protagonist of your story, and you can beat anyone.

Taking losses can be really hard. Go watch a YouTube compilation of salty moments and you’ll see plenty of players lose their head over a seemingly meaningless set. The important thing to do is not to let it get to you. It’s okay to be angry after a tough loss. After all, not being content is part of having a strong competitive spirit, but you shouldn’t let it affect your other matches in the future. The important thing to remember, even when a lot is on the line, is to try and have fun. This was another piece of advice that Kip offered. It seems like something people just say, but in reality, it is actually extremely helpful. Kip said when you’re having fun playing the game, “getting hit by something stupid won’t affect you as much.” He means that when the game isn’t going your way, it won’t negatively affect your gameplay if you’re just trying to have fun. Even if your livelihood depends on the outcome of the game, you still have to remember why you are playing in the first place. 

Strengthening your mentality can be a long process. You have to analyze what goes through your head when the pressure is on and decide how to deal with it. The first step of creating a better mentality is being aware of the flaws in your current one. The results are not going to be instant, but if you take the time to really understand how a good mental game can improve your gameplay, you will see better results.

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