(Also posted on Medium 🙂 )
For a significant part of my life, especially my college years, League of Legends was my identity. Many of my friends knew me as “that guy who plays League”. My typical day would consist of League, classes, food and sleep. (Eat, sleep, league, repeat)
People may see this chunk of my life as a waste, but I disagree. In retrospect, I learned a lot about life through my days toiling through Solo Queue and I wanted to share my lessons with you.
Test Your Might
I started playing League because a cute girl wanted to play with me (gamer girls ❤). After a few stops and starts, I realized just how deep the game was and quickly took to learning every nook and cranny I could.
The most interesting thing about League of Legends for me was always the ranked ladder. The ladder is a very visible way of knowing how you fare compared to the millions of other people playing this game. Each player gets a public Elo number that reflects how good they are. In each game, you match up against others in your Elo range. When you win, your number would go up. When you lose, it would go down.
(The system is different now, but I liked the old system. BRING BACK ELO)
I wanted to test my mettle and see how far I could climb, so when I thought I had enough knowledge, I started my Solo Queue journey.
My ranked journey began disastrously with about 30 losses in a row. You start at 1100 Elo, I bottomed out at ~770 Elo. My background in Dota served me well, but while I did many things right, I just couldn’t win. I began blaming my teammates. I became emotional. I was the embodiment of BabyRage.
Every game, I would find some reason I lost, and it was never me. A teammate threw here, a bad call was made there, someone didn’t execute right. And while my Elo improved, it was a slow and torturous climb.
HotShitGG, I Ain’t
In my search for ways to climb the ladder, I stumbled onto gaming streams. Popular pro gamers like Doublelift, HotshotGG, and Dyrus were showing their games on streaming sites like Own3d.tv (RIP in pieces).
I remember the first time I opened Doublelift’s stream. Within the next 15 minutes, he had successfully 1v5ed the other team. Pentakill. He made it look easy and this was in an Elo much higher than mine. As I watched more frequently, I came to understand this was a fairly common occurrence on his stream.
This put the game in perspective to me. It wasn’t my team that was causing me to lose, it was me. If Doublelift were playing in my place, he would have effortlessly dominated the game. The only thing I could change from game to game was myself.
So I completely changed the questions I was asking during my games. It was no longer, “Why did my teammate do that? What the fuck is he doing?”, but instead, “What could I have done differently there? How could I have won that teamfight?”
And as a result, my climb was calmer and I learned more effectively.
League Is Life
League taught me that a simple change in perspective can empower you or neuter you depending on what you see. If I looked at my losses and blamed my teammates and the luck of the matchmaking system, I would be giving those factors power. And thus, I couldn’t change my results.
But by realizing that the only thing I can change is myself, I had all the power. I could adjust the way I play until things fell into place and I started winning. And that’s what I did. I climbed from 770 all the way up to 1500 by the end of the season. I was very proud.
I realized I could generalize those ideas into life lessons. If you look at your results and only find reasons outside of yourself, you are giving those outside influences power. You cannot improve your outcome. But if you look at your results and find reasons within yourself, you have all the power.
Choose Your Adventure
The reality is, both perspectives are right. You very well could have results from things beyond your power. There are many injustices in this world. You could be born poor. You could have a bum leg. You could have experienced all sorts of horrible things that I can’t pretend to understand. But blaming those things helps no one. All that empowers you to do is wallow in self-pity.
If you choose to take the extra step to find responsibility within yourself, you find power. And I’ll leave you with that.
What can you do differently to get the outcome that you desire?