If you’re like me, you enjoy video games because they’re fun. I enjoy making plays that helps win a teamfight, or chaining my skills together for a well-executed combo. I get excited watching professional gamers’ brilliant display of skill, strategy, and out of the box thinking. I then try to do what these professionals do on my own, and I’m absolutely ecstatic if I’m able to pull it off. From time to time, this sense of enjoyment diminishes. There are various reasons to why this happens; the main culprit is anger.
There are numerous causes to rage including:
- Unskilled teammates
This anger can decrease our performance, sometimes giving us tunnel-vision, blinds us with rage, or perhaps we inadvertently put on our rage glasses. However, it is important to note that anger is neither good nor bad. It’s what you do with your anger that matters. Dr. Mitch Abrams writes, “anger can be harnessed and used as fuel to assist in performance. Can it interfere with performance? You bet! Does it have to? Absolutely not.”
In order to help you successfully manage some of the anger and negativity you might encounter, here are five tips that can help you navigate SoloQ rage:
1) Understand your rage
Recall a previous article on managing anxiety. Whenever you face a challenge, obstacle or a problem, the first step to success is building awareness. Managing anger works similarly in that you need to know:
- What makes you tick
- What happens when you feel angry
- Times when you’ve played well with this anger
Once you’ve noticed your patterns or tendencies, you can work on controlling, harnessing, responding differently, or avoiding situations that make you rage.
Pretend you’re in a normal game and you call a solo lane before the creeps spawn. Even after you made that call, one of your teammates does not listen and goes to your lane anyway. Your teammate then competes with you for CS, messes up your rhythm, and even ends up feeding a kill. Let’s go through these points above and find a way we to use this information.
First, you identify what causes you to rage. In this case, it was an uncooperative teammate. What happens when you get ticked off? Do you flame your teammate? Do you stop communicating? Do you stop trying? Do you try harder? It’s important to know when your anger does not serve you, and could lead to a chain of negativity. At the same time, maybe some anger helps you play more focused or more aggressive. Maybe being mad at this disruptive teammate made you take it out on your opponents. You decide to roam and help your team secure map control with some great ganks.
2) Control or redirect your anger
Remember that anger is neither good nor bad, and that it can be harnessed. Have you had a game filled with negativity and hostility but you still found a way to play well? What might have happened was you redirected that anger towards the game. Maybe you were motivated to destroy the other team, prove a player wrong, or you were just fed up with your teammates. See this video as an example:
The runner in the video, Heather Dorniden took an unfortunate fall and ended up flat on her face. She took a moment to get up and appeared to have harnessed whatever anger she had to finish the race. Note her reaction at the end of the video. Her teammate came to greet her, but Heather looked like she was still in her ‘beast mode’. She appeared still upset from the fall, and it took a moment before it finally sunk in that she had won.
In one of her workshops, XTERRA (off-road triathlon) champion Lesley Paterson called an event like this “finding your f-it moment”. Lesley had a terrible start to the 2013 XTERRA World Championships. She had gotten a flat tire not once, but twice and was behind six-minutes. She felt like giving up, thought the race was over and had numerous negative thoughts come up. Eventually she found her ‘f-it moment’ where she stopped caring about the results and just raced. She even notes that if it wasn’t for this bad start, she might have never had one of her best performances. (Start watching around 7:40).
Again, anger is neither good nor bad. There are times it can be good or bad, and what matters most is what you do with that anger. I encourage you to think about rage like a double-edged sword. Just make sure you’re swinging in the right direction.
3) Reset: Know when to retreat
Another part about controlling your anger is sometimes stopping yourself. Imagining you’re tower diving to go after an enemy. A successful tower dive would result in a kill, but sometimes dives might not work out. (e.g., enemy teammate TPs in, opponent jukes very well, you miscalculated your mana). In these situations it is helpful to realize when you are going in too deep and need to back up before you feed.
Apply this to dealing with anger. Recall in the first key point that you need to first identify your anger. You notice you’re getting upset, you have the urge to criticize or flame your team, you feel like pounding or kicking your desk, you’re going to go YOLO and probably feed, etc. Before letting your anger get the best of you, you still have time to back up. Like in the in-game scenario where you retreat from a tower dive, you could catch yourself before your rage becomes detrimental. In both the in-game scenario and dealing with rage, there is a fine line between making the right choice and or going in too deep. Once you cross that line, there’s no coming back.
One way to reset is to have a preplanned statement you say to yourself in these situations. By having these statements ready, you can draw on them in times of need. You might say to yourself, “it’s okay, I’m still in this”, “don’t worry about the team, just focus on yourself”, “calm down”, or a statement you find personally meaningful. Also consider combining your statement with a deep breath, where you’re absorbing good vibes with your inhale and letting go of our rage with your exhale.
4) Find your best course of action
At several points in a game, you may need to adjust your strategy, skill builds, and item choices. The game can be very dynamic, and a number of factors can influence the flow of the game. Having the flexibility to adjust your strategy, mindset or playstyle can increase your effectiveness.
Let’s say you’re in a game that doesn’t quite go your way. You find your rage creeping up on you, and know if the rage is left unchecked, you could end up playing worse. At this point, you might to stop and think “is this helpful?” Should I respond to a teammate who’s being hostile? Do I tell a teammate off for making a mistake and then getting defensive over it? Do I stay mad because RNG did not work for me?
Once you’ve decided that some of your responses may or may not be in your best interest, take it one step further and ask yourself:
- What is my best course of action right now?
- What is my strategy?
- What do I focus on?
Is it working on communicating with your team? Focusing on farming? Telling your team what the strategy is for the next fight? Even in a situations where you might not end up winning, there is likely a best course of option. Often, this action is within your control.
5) Focus on what you can control
Let me start by sharing a quote:
Where your focus goes, energy flows. – Darren Hardy
Are you focused on the problem or the solution? Are you focused on an unsuccessful gank or going back to the jungle to continue farming? Are you focused on your teammate’s mistake or moving on to your next objective?
What I often tell my clients is that if they’re focused on one thing, they’re not focused on something else. What happens if a bad play happens and you stay fixated on it? How might that impact you physically, mentally, or emotionally? How will that impact your gameplay moving forward? It’s important to focus on the right things, and often those are things that they can control.
Here’s a short exercise that you might find helpful. In that list, what are thoughts that come up of where your focus goes? How many items are in each list? Are there any adjustments you might want to make to where you put your focus?