Overwatch Healthy Psychology For Self Improvement
Have you gotten tilted lately? Lost a game, lost SR, and got mad about it? I think a lot of people experience anger whenever they lose a game of overwatch, for various reasons.
Of course, getting mad is a negative experience. It’s tiring, kills fun, and weakens how good you are at the game.
Not getting mad at the drop of a hat is one of the most important things to learn how to manage as you climb up the ladder. I fully believe that tons of people are hardstuck in their low rank because they can’t control their emotions, and end up playing badly. It’s one of the major reasons people below mid diamond get stuck.
I wanted to write a guide to healthy psychology in OW, to help those that suffer from tilt impacting their play. This guide also goes over some techniques I personally found helpful in my ranked career.
Skill Rating, and self delusion
To start this section, I’m going to drop some hard-to-swallow facts on ya.
- The OW ranking system works. You will generally end up where you belong, provided you play enough games. (I’ll talk more about this later)
- If you don’t play enough, your rank will be inaccurate. In my experience, ranks aren’t accurate until about 100 games have been played. With role queue, this is 100 games per role!
- All lost SR can be regained. All gained SR can be re-lost, too.
- Yes, you will lose games due to throwers. You will also win games due to throwers. You will be unable to detect the throwing on either side, most of the time, unless you’ve seen higher ranked play. (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people throwing games in lower ranked VODs, but nobody’s aware of it, sometimes not even the throwing party) If you’re in gold, you can’t necessarily identify throwers in gold correctly, etc. Sure, hard throwers (people that sit in spawn or throw themselves off the map repeatedly) are obvious, but there’s plenty of ways to soft throw without anyone realizing you’re doing it, maybe not even yourself.
- The above point applies to leavers too. Leavers occur on both sides, with the same regularity. You just don’t remember the enemy leaves, because they’re positive experiences.
- You have thrown games before. People have avoided you, even reported you. You have no idea, because most won’t tell you that they think you’re a bot. It takes a great deal of introspection to realize that you’ve thrown.
Now, before you say “oh, just another high rank player preaching about how elo hell doesn’t exist!” and hate me, hear me out. I used to have the mentality that elo hell existed, that I was stuck in gold because of trash teammates, all the things that hardstuck people think. It took me a good while to really realize that I was deluding myself, and only harming my ability to improve.
I initially placed back in season 8 in silver, around 1800. Through that season, I played about 30 games, and climbed into low gold, around 2080. I then spent about 3 seasons in low gold, never getting any higher than 2200 or so. During that time, I felt terrible. What kind of person who’s been playing FPS games since he was 14 ends up in low gold? I felt like I was dealt an injustice.
All along though, I didn’t notice what I was doing. I didn’t notice that I only played 10-30 games a season. I didn’t notice all the stupid mistakes I’d make in the heat of the moment.
So, after finishing season 10 in low gold, I took a break for a season. During that season, I played other games. When I came back in season 12, I decided that’d I’d start taking the game seriously. So, I started playing. And playing, and playing and playing, until I started to climb. 2300. 2400. Hit plat, still climbing. 2600. 2700. I finally ended up in 2800, with a 72% winrate on McCree and Zenyatta, and ended season 12. Turns out, I’m actually much better than I thought I was, and it took playing 120 games in a season to realize that. I’d played so few games that all the negatives of gold (the throwers, the unpredictable teammates, etc) all outweighed my skill pulling me up, so I stayed still. It took playing so many games that those “matchmaker failures” no longer had the same impact as they did when I was only playing 30 a season.
I was deluding myself, thinking that I could just play a couple games and still rank up. By nature of the system, you have to play a ton to rank up. After your first season, placements don’t really do anything special, so you have to play normal games, and win them, to rank up. It takes a ton of time.
Even if you have a 60% winrate, (aka 6/10 games won) at 25 SR per win, you’ve only gained 50 SR, a tenth of what you need to rank up. To gain 500 SR, you need to win 20 games more than you’ve lost (at 25 SR per win/loss). The fewer games you play, the higher your winrate has to be in order to rank up. Since getting much higher than 70% unless you’re smurfing is unlikely, the brutal reality is that most players are going to need to play many, many games in order to rank up.
Skill Rating, and the fear of loss
Related to the above, another problem people struggle with is the fear of losing SR. They’re concerned that they’re going to drop in SR, so they’re more likely to tilt when things go poorly in game. They have this compulsion to freak out whenever they lose, since it means losing SR, or potentially starting a loss streak, etc. The root cause of this fear isn’t necessarily the loss of the SR, oh no. It’s from imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is a thought condition that impacts a ton of people. Basically, you’re scared you don’t belong where you are, and that you’re just one unlucky step away from everything coming crashing down. People in whatever rank don’t believe (subconsciously) that they belong in their rank, so every loss of SR gets met with the internal response of “oh no, here we go, gonna fall down to where I actually belong”. This may be completely subconscious and hidden from their ego. Their ego could be saying “Yeah, I belong in diamond, but all these teammates are keeping me down”, while their subconscious thinks they’re boosted. It’s a fascinating phenomenon.
The trick to beating this is to remember that any SR lost can be regained. Why worry about one game, when you can just win the next one, and regain that lost SR like it never happened? Learning to release your fixation on “gotta win every game” is key to stopping tilt. If you can distance yourself from your rank, and make the focus on improving vs getting a number to be higher, you’ll have a much easier time keeping tilt away.
The insurmountable task of trying to control others
You cannot control your teammates. You, an individual, have very limited control of other people on your team. The best you can do is suggest an action, and they’re free to accept or decline that action. You must accept this, so you don’t go crazy trying to control that which cannot be controlled.
You have to learn to adapt to your team. Being fixated on a person being the issue, “if only they’d listen to me, we could’ve won!”, will do nothing but tilt you, and probably them.
Instead, adjust yourself to your teammates. As a concrete example, say you have a rein that’s really aggressive. If you aren’t willing to adapt, he’ll die a bunch, you’ll think he’s a feeder, everyone gets mad, games get lost. Instead of trying to control him and raging at him for not being more passive, what if you thought about ways to work with his aggression?
There’s a really apt saying that applies to this: “One person doing something stupid is a throw, a whole team doing something stupid is a strategy.” Problems occur when there’s mismatches of intent within teams. Aggressive main tanks with passive off tanks causes problems. Offensive supports with passive teams creates issues.
If you have someone on your team who’s playstyle differs from yours, instead of raging at them to change, see if you can change yourself to suit them. If you have an aggressive rein, instead of leaving him out to dry, try being as aggressive as him. Push forward hard when he does. You’ll be surprised at the results.
Exiting your comfort zone and learning to adjust to your teammates is extremely critical. Why? Because if you learn how to adjust, you’ll never find yourself unable to help your team. If you learn how to play passive, you can adjust to passive teams. If you learn to play aggressive, you can play with aggressive teams.
Speaking of adjusting yourself, let’s talk about introspection.
Introspection and theorization of outcomes
Remember how I wrote earlier that throwers exist that you can’t detect, and it’s possible to throw a game without realizing?
Learning introspection and how to realize when you are the primary contributor to a loss is incredibly important and valuable. This skill will help you improve much faster than someone who can’t introspect.
After every teamfight, look at what happened, what you did, and what you could’ve done differently. I constantly saw mistakes being made over and over again that could’ve been prevented had the person making the mistake thought about it for a bit.
Let me give a concrete example that happened this season. I was playing Ana on defense on Horizon, and the enemy team got the idea to use symmetra to teleport straight from the “choke” (the area where you can first see them) directly through the hole to point. They ran two shields, a junkrat, and a symm, and teleported. I was hanging out on highground, and I saw an opening: I could throw nade at their backs as they came through the teleporter, and we could collapse on them and win. I did that, and we won the teamfight because they couldn’t heal 4 people.
Next fight, they tried the same thing: Teleporting straight to point, and once again, I attempted to punish them for their mistake by nading their backs as they came out of the porter. Again, it worked, we collapsed on them, and won again.
What could they have done? All they needed to do was block my nade. The rein or Sigma merely had to put their shield behind them after teleporting through, to catch the nade and prevent the 4 person antiheal. Had the shield tanks paid attention, after the first failure that resulted in their team and themselves getting naded, could’ve thought to watch for the nade (or other damage) coming at them from behind as they came through the porter. By the second attempt, the clock had run out, and we ended up full holding them.
Generally in OW, if something works, people will do the same thing again. If you fail to execute a strategy because something happens, just repeat the same strategy, but watch for what caused the failure last time. This is easy if the issue is “they ulted us” because they can only do that once. If it’s non ult related, just adjust your play to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Reposition your shield a certain way, kill a certain hero first, clear corners and find out where their flankers are first, etc.
A huge trap people fall into is trying one strategy, getting stopped for X reason, then trying another completely different strategy, getting stopped for Y reason, then trying a 3rd strategy, and getting stopped by Z reason, and then concluding that they must have a thrower or that there’s smurfs on the enemy team. No, the reality is that the reasons why they failed are all different, but because they didn’t try again, they’re unable to figure that out.
Concluding a game as Won or Lost before it is
This one is really widespread and can have a huge effect when it’s done.
“But Gangsir, why is it bad to pre-conclude a game?” Because each one has a similar and often negative on yourself and your team.
If you pre-conclude the game as won, suddenly you stop being “woke”, and you’ll be less aware of things the enemy is doing, you’ll get complacent, you’ll waste ults (because “it’s not a big deal, we already won”), etc, and it only takes a little bad luck or an enemy team that picks up on your complacency to punish you for this way of thinking.
If you pre-conclude the game as lost, a similar effect occurs, you stop trying, your teammates stop trying (either completely, ergo they throw, or they “play for appearances” as I like to call it, basically stop putting effort into anything they do). You might find people throwing away ults, dying without much attempt to stay alive, begin arguing in chat, etc.
Both of these actions result in negative attitudes and actions, which can sabotage games. In a way, it’s a kind of throwing via social manipulation. Until VICTORY or DEFEAT is on the screen, don’t conclude games as won or lost. You never know when you might turn it around, or the enemy might turn it around. I’ve won 5v6 games before, where the enemy concluded it won and stopped taking us seriously. The tilt and rage on the team of 6 was unreal.
Thanks for reading, and I hope these lessons reach you, and help you to become a better, more focused and relaxed player. Learning these concepts is critical to playing at a high level.
If you have any comments, questions or would like to share tips that worked for you, feel free.