Your Ego Is Holding You Back
The scrim match is over, another win thanks to your 9-1 performance on Genji. Your team held a two- to three-level lead through the midgame, and though you couldn’t close out the game until past 20 minutes, it was a full team wipe and core march once the final battle took place. However, when reviewing the game, instead of praising how hard you carried all the team fights, the team seems fixated on why it took so long to close out such a one-sided match.
The discussion is centered around when your team had a three-level midgame lead, the objective was spawned, and an enemy keep was down. “Could we have ended five minutes earlier if we had just all stayed grouped up, secured the objective, and pushed for core instead of chasing kills?”
I mean, sure, you dived past a fort to try and finish those fleeing enemies and lost the objective after your death, but why is everyone so fixated on the one mistake you made all game?! So you fire back with how they only had that lead because of you to begin with, and your top-laner got ganked three times or you would have already won anyways, so your death shouldn’t even have mattered.
Fast-forward two minutes, and nobody even remembers the original discussion about how to focus on closing out games more quickly. Instead, everyone is justifying their own mistakes as team members take turns pointing out where others messed up. Variations of this scenario happen constantly across all levels of play, whether you’re playing in Heroes of the Dorm, playing for an open team, or already in the HGC—egos derail potential improvement opportunities when players lose focus on the team as a whole and get caught up in defending or blaming an individual action without taking the time to understand the other perspectives.
While I’ve seen a lot of teams struggle with this issue over the years, and unfortunately been that pro Genji myself on a few occasions, it’s a well-known roadblock for improvement, and one that is usually taken into consideration when forming teams. Here we’re going to go over a more understated way that egos can stagnate improvement or prevent a team’s growth: disrespecting your opponents.
It’s surprisingly easy to fall into this trap as egos tend to reinforce each other when evaluating other teams. This can lead to the warped outlook of viewing teams ranked lower than your own as “trash,” and dismissing those ranked higher with statements like “All they do is cheese with X, Y, or Z every game.” Just because a team has fewer wins in the standings, or doesn’t play some aspect of the game very well, how is that going to help your own team improve if you just write off the strategy they always seem to beat you with in scrims, or ignore how they steal games off top teams using a specific map?
In today’s competitive landscape, it’s more common than ever for low-ranked teams to take games, if not entire sets, off top teams. As the hero pools of both the game and individual players have expanded, so too have the different strategies, compositions and play styles. With each of these components subject to further variations based on map, it’s no wonder that upsets are at an all-time high.
Top teams no longer simply do everything better. At this point, every team plays at least some aspect of the game well; the biggest differences are in the number of things they do well, and how they leverage that versatility over the course of a series. Sure, you don’t want to let the enemy team have their best comps or maps in a tournament set, but you should sometimes let them have it intentionally in scrims. Figure out why they always beat you with a particular comp, practice how to play against it, or run it against them and see how they react before you write them off as one-tricks—you’re only limiting your own growth that way.
If your ego won’t let you respect the strengths of your opponents, especially if they aren’t considered an overall better team, you’ll be missing out on just as many opportunities for improvement as in the intra-team example. And if you can learn to respect the advantages that other teams gain from adopting a different perspective, you can learn to respect the same from your teammates.
At the end of the day, teammates are eventually going to make mistakes, be split on the best course of action, and get into arguments. It isn’t about determining who was in the absolute right or wrong in each case, but understanding the perspective behind why a decision or action was made—both from the person who made it, and from those who think there could have been a superior option. Each time you do so, it gets easier to agree on what to do next time, or what actions to anticipate from your teammates based on those discussions.
There’s a big difference between saying “Why did you do that!” in an accusatory manner, and “Why did you do that?” with the intent of starting a dialogue.