Dealing With Rage in LoL and Competitive Gaming

We've all been here before.

There's no doubt that if you play this game, or any competitive game where you set expectations for yourself and/or your team, you've felt rage.

The reasons for rage are countless.  In league, someone is feeding, a teammate took the kill you flashed for, you are getting camped, you have a troll on your team. In Sm4sh or any fighting game, the other guy played too campy, you missed a crucial input, the tournament sucked, or pretty much any john you can think of.

The best way to deal with rage, like any problem, is admitting that it happens.  Nobody likes to get upset.  Rage leads to tilt, and tilt leads to poor decision making.  So accepting rage: what the hell are we dealing with here?

Rage is rooted in two things; hope and fear.  

When you feel that anger brewing deep within you, you've let  these two things get the best of your play.  Maybe you were hoping that the last tick of ignite would get you first blood and because it didn't, you fear that your summoner spell disadvantage will now cost you lane pressure.  Maybe you hoped your opponent didn't have an answer to your character, and because they do, you fear that they'll have an edge in the match-up. This culminates in the obscenities that you no doubt have been guilty of spewing after the matter.

I'm guilty of getting frustrated with my teammates when "they didn't do what I needed them to do."  This is a selfish behavior (go figure, I'm a no good ADC main.)  The game of League, specifically, goes beyond one players' situation at any given moment.  The time between entering the rift and the Victory/Defeat screen creates ten different stories that can be told ten different ways.

Why It's Important

A game, like League of Legends for example, takes a lot of time and energy.  You might only get four or five games in before the night is over.  What doesn't seem to change, however, is the desire to play the game, despite the horrible freaking games you might have.  All I'm saying is that you'll probably feel pretty damn weird after those four to five games if you were tilted since game one.  

If you haven't watched Imaqtpie's Motivational Speech that I posted at the start of this, I'd recommend taking a second to scroll up and watching that now.  Imaqtpie is a challenger level LoL player in North America and an ex-pro.  He streams League content for 8-10 hours for 5-7 days a week.  How does he not burn out?

Well, besides having played the game since it's launch (6 years), he still manages to grind game after game while laughing off high pressure situations.  I believe these years of experience attest to his understanding of the game and ability to brush off a bad game.  He already knows what went wrong, so there's no reason to be upset.  He's not trying to go pro again, he just wants to do his best and have fun in a game that is competitive by nature.

To me, it seems like a waste of time waiting for the game where everybody on your team snowballs their lane, only to be completely caught off guard when it's the enemy team doing the snowballing.  I feel like this attitude caters to a false understanding of the game.  This is where rage hibernates from one moment of triggering to the next.  Unless you do something about it, it will keep stirring and finding new experiences (or old ones) to feed it's insatiable hunger.  At heart, it's a poison.  

Flipping The Switch

Accept it.  Embrace the fact that you will get mad.  Tell yourself before the loading screen that the next 30-45 minutes may have moments leaving you with feelings of rage.  Do away with the attitude telling you that you need to go 20/0 to have fun.  You should never underestimate your opponents' ability to play better than you.

This isn't to say that you should rage, though!  Simply, you should understand that your worst moments in league or competitive gaming are not past you, and in order to improve you will need to break the frustration barrier.  By accepting early that you will have moments of rage, you're actively tackling half of the battle.  This is the easy part!

In the second half of the battle to beat raging, the outcome will be determined by how you handle those moments where you fall short.  How do you assess what happened?  Are you the type to die and immediately start typing to your team in an attempt to push the blame off on somebody else?  

The Not-So-Fun Part

Process what happens in the moment.  Most competitive games require some time for reflection in order for players to understand what they can improve on.  In League, start with looking at the death recap instead of typing in team chat.  In fighting games, identify where you were beaten and work backwards to see how you were put in the position that made you lose.  

This chipping process can allow you to see your mistakes through an objective lens.  In meditation this is called vipassana, or seeing things as they really are.  Once you see those mistakes for yourself, you can learn.  When you learn enough, you become a much stronger opponent than you were before.  

This has to be the part where most people roll their eyes or tune out.  The thing is, most players think they have their shit together when they really don't.  The only difference between a naturally talented player and one who isn't naturally talented is that the former can progress faster than the latter.  When these two players face off, it's no longer a question of who's better but one of who put in the work necessary to come out on top.  

If you keep letting yourself rage, you stall yourself from ever seeing anything beyond that instance, and why it wasn't your fault, and all the different ways that you could have approached the same situation.  

Do Better.
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