Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Article: Winning by Losing

“Learning to lose means learning to win”.
by:  Zrog

Inspired by several articles, including SlashStrike’s blog, Purge’s recent interview on teaming up with Zephyr, and FluffNStuff’s blog at Complexity (

Blame yourself, not others, for every loss.  There’s always something you could have done better, and done at the proper time, it may have tipped the game in your favour.  Even the sheer fact of doing better may inspire your teammates to make better plays and play more confidently.  In Dota, more last hits so you could start carrying earlier, more time in the jungle while you lane was pushed, grabbing a bit of farm as a support, smoke ganking as a support (early enough to make a difference) – these are all little things that can make a big difference.

Play games against those who are better than you, whenever possible.  This means that you WILL lose more than you win.  However, it will also force you to step up your game, and learn faster.  The faster you can learn, the more you will win, because you will always be doing better than your MMR.  The ideal is to always be better than your MMR.  That is, by the time you reach that MMR, you are already ready for it to be higher.  Thus, you should never whine that your MMR doesn’t reflect your “real skill level”, because it SHOULDN’T, if you’re improving.  If your MMR plateaus, ask yourself what YOU can be doing to improve your OWN game.

Watch pro games and see what CAN be done.  This will open your eyes to new techniques, strategies, and possibilities, by those who have dedicated large portions of their lives to the game, and to trying new things.  They’ve already spent the time discovering what works, so why not gain from that yourself?

Be willing to play position-5 support, and lose games.  Why?  Because warding wins games, once you know how to do it, and supports have a surprising influence on game flow, especially early game.  Learn how to impact the early game by being a clever support.  However, you will feed when you first start doing this, because you will have to take risks, and it will take a while before you recognize which risks pay off.  I first-picked Chaos Knight in one pub game and ended up being this support, because no one else would do it.  And yes, we won that game (with our mid and offlane carry…)

If you are okay with losing, that means less chance that you’ll lose your cool against teammates who make mistakes.  There’s no reason to do lash out if you want to win; it’s counterproductive.  People who are criticized during a game will freeze up at key moments, cease to listen to suggestions, and team cohesion will suffer (and everyone will go off and do their own thing, meaning you’ll hardly ever win a teamfight).  This does not mean you’re not allowed to be angry or frustrated!  These emotions will happen because you are a living, breathing human being!  All it means is that you should form the habit of venting your negative emotions privately, rather than lashing out – which makes you an easier person to associate with.

The fact of matchmaking is that you can’t win every game.  The system is designed, in fact, to ensure that you win only about 50% of your games.  If your rank is climbing and you are improving, you might get as high as 55-60%, but the system will auto-correct to bring you back to the 50% each time you hit a new skill plateau.

Your teammates will always make mistakes, and so will you.  Even the very top pros make “mistakes”.  Their mistakes seem smaller than ours, but the higher level you get, the smallest mistakes can still add up to a loss.  Getting bad mannered about mistakes hurts you and your team.  Recognizing and acknowledging your mistakes and keeping quiet about others’ mistakes (during the game) makes you a good teammate., gets you commended, and makes the game fun to play for others.

Games that stand the test of time, and are very popular, have steep learning curves.  It’s worth learning a “hard” game, because it will continually challenge you and stay interesting.  It will also continue to evolve.  The skills you learn in such a game, even if they are “soft” skills like cooperation and teamwork, will serve you elsewhere in your life, even if it’s only in future games.

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