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Learning to Lose

No one likes to lose, it’s just a part of life. Everyone wants that win, that victory royale, that sweet sweet winner’s splash at the end of a game, but the fact of the matter is, you just can’t always win, regardless of the situation or day. Whether you’re a pro player or an amateur player, you will win some and lose some, but no matter who you are, you can turn those (literal) losses into (figurative) wins.

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“I went 34-0-11 in a game of League of Legends and lost, this game this is bull****!” We’ve all said it a million times, especially if you’re as good at League as I am. No one likes to lose, and I’ll reiterate— NO ONE LIKES TO LOSE— but in the grand scheme of things, we literally cannot win every time. My experience with losing is next-level, riding-full-speed-on-your-bike-into-a-stop-sign bad. But learning to lose becomes a win when you pull more information from a loss than a win. It allows you to focus on your mistakes (which we all make) and grow from them.

Courtesy of TheLolHounds

When you first start playing a game, there is a learning curve or skill cap. Some games are definitely harder than others; you can’t just jump into a game like League of Legends and be good at it (and if you can, you’re a freak of nature). Call of Duty you can hop right in and start spraying some bullets, maybe kill a couple players on the enemy team, but you’ll still wind up with a negative KDR. It happens. We have to learn and adapt, practicing maps, rotations, peak spots, how to build in Fortnite (what a nightmare that was), proper micro- and macro- play in LoL, proper macro- and kiting in WoW. Whatever the case, we need to learn, because we WILL make mistakes and it will come down to us the player to either learn from those mistakes or just let them continue.

I used to be probably the worst loser in the world (and I still, to this day, hate losing.) I would break controllers, keyboards, mice, you name it. I would get super-heated and blame every single aspect in the world but my own gameplay: “the sun was in my eyes,” “I lagged,” “he’s cheating,” “my team sucks.” But the day I learned most from was the day I sat down and thought to myself, “dude, I have to get better at this. I want to be better at this. What can I do.” I thought of what I had learned from my past, and the thing that really clicked for me was skateboarding.

I used to skate when I was a lot younger, but I didn’t just become good at skating overnight. Hours and hours and hours of practice— blood, sweat, and tears— went into it, heavy emphasis on “blood, sweat, and tears.” I did nothing but skate all day every day, rain snow sleet, it didn’t matter. I would find a way to skate and continue to get better as I practiced more and more. I became really good, got sponsored, and continued to progress and learn. Even after a sponsorship, there was always something more I wanted to do.

Learning to Lose
Courtesy of me, N3rdRag3

I applied the things I had taught myself when learning to skate to my gaming: the mentality, the focus, the trial-and-error, the what-ifs, the “not falling on my face down a flight of stairs” part. I started to calm down and really focus on my gameplay, regardless of whatever my team was doing. Focusing on my own plays and mistakes taught me that while someone can give you tips on what to do, you always have to apply them yourself. I started watching replays and noticing mistakes I made and would really put forth the effort to not make them again.

The problem with losing is that we don’t look for our mistakes right then and there. Once you start to notice your mistakes after looking at previous losses, you start to realize what you can improve on and polish. Losing sucks, that’s all there is to it, but you can turn a loss into a win by learning from it. It’s either that or you take the fattest loss of all, not learning from easily fixable mistakes and letting pride get the best of you.

The hardest part of losing is teaching yourself that a loss is okay. Sometimes, you just have to full send and get wrecked on repeat to learn, and typically you will learn more from playing aggressively then you will by playing passively anyway. Keep your cool, remember that a 51%-win ratio is still a positive win ratio, and you will continue to get better. In the meantime, I would suggest a punching bag or a stress ball, and when sh*t hits the fan, trust me: they do indeed break.

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