What's the most important thing when evaluating who is good and who is bad? It's not as easy as who does well in a specific game or, even when looking at e-Sports, a specific tournament. A player can have all the natural talent in the world, but if they don't have a willingness to practice, evaluate mistakes, and truly work to get better then they will eventually be surpassed. This applies in both solo queue and even more so in competitive League of Legends because a lot of teams only value how good a player is right now instead of viewing their top-end potential.
Asian teams do this the best, where they will pick a player who is run of the mill diamond level and might only play one or two champions at the time, but has the dedication to train hard and the willingness to take constructive criticism. Let's take a look at why the first step to getting better is changing your expectations from each game and attitude.
Winning is a by-product of playing the right way: Why it matters in Solo Queue
Doublelift has poked fun at Azubu Frost's AD Carry Captain Jack on a number of occasions, claiming he gets carried by his support and that he was overrated. These comments are always made in half-jest, but at the end of the day Captain Jack isn't a demonstrably better player than Doublelift. In fact, outside of top lane where Shy, Maknoon, and Stanley seem to be well ahead of the field, Asian teams don't seem to be significantly better at their individual positions. So why have they enjoyed the recent domination in tournaments? Simple, they don't rely on natural talent to win.
You see this sort of thing all the time in basketball and football. Professional athletes can have all the athleticism in the world, but if they don't put in the time to practice, if they aren't willing to humble themselves and get better, they don't stick. Now does this mean simply spamming lots of games? Absolutely not, because going through the motions isn't the way to get better. A player should go into a game thinking: What can I learn from this game?
If you are playing the right way winning will come, but losing can teach you much more if allow it to. Did you give up a kill early in lane? Learn to play from behind and do you best to be effective in team fights or capitalize on an opponent's mistake. Figuring out how a person beat you and being able to either mimic those tactics yourself, or at the very least avoid letting them beat you again are imperative to improvement. Were you ahead? Push your advantage and focus on how to keep your opponent behind and your team ahead throughout the game. See what worked and exploit it until someone counters it then study that.
Remember this, it's hard for a tiger to change its stripes, but it can certainly learn how to hunt better. In solo queue only so much is in your control, and if you go in and do things the right way everything else will slowly fall into place. Solo queue and competitive teams alike are much more likely to win when they aren't at each others throats calling everyone and their dog bad. Play to get better and to have fun and let winning be the by-product of those two things and watch your ELO pull a Dark Knight and rise.
Putting it into perspective for e-Sports: Long-term vs Short-term gains
Once upon a time CLG.Prime was the best team in the world. In fact, no one ever beat them and they rarely practiced because they didn't want people learning things off them. The scene largely stagnated and the talent level never really rose especially in North America for over a year. The Season 1 Championships came around and Europe plowed through and humbled an NA scene that hadn't been pushing each other to get better.
This game is becoming more and more popular in the e-Sports world, and it has much to learn from other sports. Let's look at basketball superstar Lebron James. He has multiple MVPs, was widely considered the best player in the world for several years and has been touted as "King James" ever since has on the cover of magazines as a high school student. However, for several years he was immature and unwilling to develop his all-around game and was content to rely on his natural athleticism and put up big numbers.
That didn't work for Lebron, so he left his team and joined a team with 2 other superstars and the results were the same. Finally, humbled, he worked on his low-post game and stopped focusing on stuff off the court. He went on to have one of the best playoff performance of any player in history and lead his to an NBA title all because he realized talent wasn't enough. A lot of players never have the epiphany Lebron had, and it's why all e-sports teams need to be careful when picking their players.
Teams are better off finding players that have that kind of drive, that kind of dedication than someone who might be better at this moment but doesn't want to put in the time. The parties, the stream viewers, the sponsorships, those have to be all secondary to the game because winning will bring those on faster than anything else. We are on the cusp of Season 3, where the ranked 5v5 ladder will decide who gets the last few spots in the coveted Riot salaried league. Old stalwarts in the scene like Curse, like whatever organization is sponsoring Fear this week, are going to face some new blood and don't be surprised if these teams are getting pushed by completely new faces that approach the game the right way.
So RoG'ers what do you think? How much is individual skill important in winning games and how much is it attitude and approach and what do you think we'll see in Season 3?
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