• Vertex

who owns the moment?

Your teammate just gave up a free kill and you're forced to stall 4v5 for the next 40 seconds. The crowd is starting to drown out the comms with loud roars as the team morale is shutting down. You're pissed off that your scrims this past week were garbage and your entire team performed poorly - that's probably why this is all happening. On top of it all, how are the tournament organizers so bad at their job and not turning on the AC when it's so hot in the room? How are you suppose to win when EVERYTHING isn't going right?

Of everything I just mentioned, which of those things can you change? None. You can't. They are out of your control. Deal with it. What is in your control is how you react to them, how you move forward, and how you adapt to what happened. You can't fix the fact that your teammate just fed a free kill to them. But, let's take a look at this situation. Being frustrated is fine; it's natural. However, flaming your teammate is not. The only thing that can accomplish is making a bad situation way worse. By the time they've respawned, you've sapped out all their confidence, caused a team dynamic issue, and you've fed your own anger. You're now at an even bigger disadvantage for the upcoming plays because of the emotions you've allowed to impact you and the team.

One of the big factors that separates elite esport athletes from amateur ones is their ability to recognize the things within their control and let go of the things that aren't. If something is out of your control, putting your thoughts and effort into it will not change anything. All you're doing is committing valuable mental resources to something that you have no ability to impact. Those mental resources have a much more effective use: you need to be able to rapidly and accurately switch your focus to what you can control.

Your squad mate just got picked off in a poor rotation. You can't change that they made a poor decision and died, so what are the controllables in that moment and what can you do to try to minimize losses? Play the scenario out in your mind right now, it doesn't matter the game you play. Think about a time when your teammate made a mistake and you were left to pick up the pieces. In those moments, what strat change, what decision, what callout can you do that will help remedy the situation? Getting angry at them won't change the fact that it happened - the only thing that matters is fixing it. We can deal with their mistake later in a post-game debrief or training session, but that's not for this moment.

I'd recommend trying something like this out:

Get in the habit of mentally saying "FIX IT," "CONTROLLABLES," or "ADAPT" when something goes wrong. If, during practices, you train yourself to automatically think a phrase like that, you'll automatically do the same in competition. When the time inevitably comes that something goes wrong, you won't need to battle whether or not you should flame your teammate. Your default setting is already set to "fixing" it.

Competition is chaos and things go wrong constantly. The thing that makes professionals able to stay at the top is that they are good at immediately shifting their strategy to adapt for the situation. Make it a team habit to work on automatically identifying the controllables and adapting to the unique moment. Start out by watching VODs with the full team of a time you all made a big mistake or something bad happened out of the blue. Rather than spending time only assessing what the optimal play would have been to prevent that or trying to understand why it occurred, spend time trying to coach yourselves on what response would have been best given the circumstances. What could have been done to make the most out of that s!@# situation? Essentially, when you do that, you're learning how to identify controllables in an unfortunate situation.

Don't get me wrong, understanding what would have been the optimal play or how you could have avoided that situation is INCREDIBLY important and it's a part of training that you need to be doing, but it's also important to learn how to deal with the consequences of bad mistakes. Once you start getting good at discussing it as a team and identifying how to remedy a big mistake, you can take it into practice. Now, when a bad thing happens, how does the team automatically react? Talk about it. Did the team make the best out of it or did they shut down and cause more issues because of it? Talking about those moments with the team will help everyone understand if they handled the situation in the most effective recovery method possible or if you guys reacted to your emotions and focused on uncontrollables. If you don't talk about it, you lose a lot of important information from different perspectives that you might not otherwise consider. As you continue to practice this in VOD reviews and training sessions, the results start permeating into your competitive mindset. Focusing on the controllables will become the default setting in your brain rather than letting your emotions dwell on what is out of your hands.

If it's out of your hands, trying to control it will lead to a performance failure. Learning to let go, move on, and focus on what's in your control is a skill of champions, but it's no easy skill to master without deliberate practice. The moment belongs to you, don't let emotions take it away.