In almost every blog post we have written, you will see that we always address the reader’s experiences in eSports, as a journey. Although, ‘trek’ might be the more accurate term. Finding a career in eSports is not something that will happen over night. Becoming the best at a specific game also, won’t happen over night. The truth is, becoming a professional in anything takes time, and effort. Unfortunately for competing in eSports, there is no traditional path. Every great player’s success story is different. For most of the G.O.A.T’s, eSports was still in pre-infancy. It wasn’t like it is today, with thousands of teams, broadcasts, and content to consume.
Luckily for us, eSports is getting to it’s prime position. Growing, evolving, and becoming more and more studied along side traditional sports. For us, we have the advantage of coming in with a different mindset. Unlike the previous greats, we are able to see the obstacles in front of us, light at the end of the tunnel and a small window into our dreams. Idols to look up to and emulate, and trophies to win. We have the assurance to know that our ‘hobby’ can become a career. All we have to do is go beyond a competitive mindset, and enter into an eSports Mindset.
Stop to Smell the Roses
Take a minute to think about the current best team or player from the game you follow the most. How many tournaments they win, how big their following is, etc.
Now think about, lets say, the eighth best player or team. The one who never wins a major tournament, or just barely makes it into qualifiers. What is the most important thing these two entities share in common? They are being paid to do what they love.
Of course this isn’t about money. This is about how far we’ve come as an industry. We now live in an era, where competitive eSports is looking very similar to traditional sports. The pure amount of effort that it takes to make it from collegiate sports, into the big leagues is staggering. Even back ups and bench players who we never idolize, made the cut over thousands of other players. Those players, the bench players, the back ups have succeeded, even if it’s not by our measure. To do this, these athletes had to carry a big league mindset. That mindset enables them to know that there is opportunity. Regardless of wins and losses, or perception, they know it’s about how much effort they put towards preparing for the big league.
Opportunity is becoming abundant for a higher percentage of players in eSports. As the industry grows, so does the room for essential players, whether in the front lines or the back, similar to traditional sports. Which means that the virus like mindset of “If i’m not the absolute best, then I will never succeed. Therefor I shouldn’t try or put the effort in.” is becoming obsolete. Now, more than ever, enhancing your eSports mindset and training for longevity is key.
Swim or Swim Faster….But Never Sink
To enhance your eSports mindset, we have to dispel the dreaded Two-Option Polar Thinking. An example would be ‘Sink or Swim’. Another would be ‘Win or Lose’. My personal favorite is “If you’re not in first, you’re in last!”.
Two-Option Polar Thinking is a crippling force. Let’s look at an example of ‘Life or Death’. A very easy choice, if we had to choose. But if we weren’t in control of the choice, but rather ‘Life or Death’ was a potential consequence of an action. How frightening is the concept of death? How much worse would you perform under pressure if those were the stakes.
The same can be said about ‘Win or Lose’. Although a much less threatening reality. Using our examples from above, let’s look at the best player or team and the eighth best player or team. Notice that they are both winning. When we remove the judgement of the teams placements, we realize that being in the top eight out of millions of people is definitely a winning position.
To keep the record straight. I am not saying that you shouldn’t try to be the absolute best. That should always be your goal. What I am saying is that “Be the best or nothing at all.” is a mindset that needs dispelling. It could be the very mindset that creeps into your head and stops you from competing at your potential.
To dispel the Two-Option Polar Thinking mindset, we should turn our back on the idea of right now. As we pointed out earlier, becoming a success doesn’t happen over night. When it does, it usually doesn’t last, and sometimes what we think was an overnight success actually has a long back story to accompany it.
Instead of right now, let’s focus on taking quality steps forward. To do this, it’s important to gain focus on how you improve. Although there are guides and improvement strategies for every game out there, we don’t always have the necessary tools to execute.
I propose we break down each game into buckets or categories. These buckets represent the necessary tools you must possess to compete.
One – Technical (Fine Motor Skills, Hands)
Two – Meta (Strategy, Game Knowledge)
Three – Mindset (Emotions, Confidence)
At any given time throughout our trek. On a day to day basis, we can be improving in one of these three categories. For Technical, you can be practicing game scenarios that involve precise movements, or rhythm. Meta, is the process of reading, studying and visualization. Lastly, Mindset is something that you can monitor throughout all of your activities. I consider these the foundation for all improvement. You can be stronger or weaker in each category, but all three must have some equilibrium.
Have you ever noticed how seamlessly a professional can play a different character? They may not know exactly how to be the most optimal. But technical execution is rarely an obstacle, and neither is mindset. It’s because they already have a solid foundation.
What if the foundation is incredibly skewed? I think it goes without saying that, all the knowledge in the world doesn’t help if you can’t execute. Continuing that, all the execution in the world doesn’t help if you don’t know how to incorporate it into the game. Lastly, anger or fear hinder proper execution and clear thought.
To me, this is the bridge over the gap. The gap between looking up a meta guide, and actually performing like the professional it was inspired by.
Putting It All Together
So, how does this help enhance your eSports mindset or help you get into one. eSports is growing exponentially and with that brings opportunity. Players are getting onto teams, and being sponsored way below the top one percentile. Companies and sponsors are becoming more involved.
The eSports mindset is about positioning yourself to be in the right place at the right time. To look at the trek for exactly what it is. To improve and practice with the knowledge that you have the ability to make a career out of doing what you love. Overcoming the Two-Option Polar Thinking and identifying that it may not be today, but with the right preparation it can be soon.
Changing your own success standard, slowing down the process of improvement, and doing what it takes to become great. Even if it seems trivial. Working on each bucket and restoring your self-trust. Knowing that the work you put in will come back around to you.
Bouncing back from tough losses, and momentary stalls.
Preparing yourself for the opportunity, and trusting that you will put your best foot forward each time.