In part one, I detailed how I started playing League of Legends, how I met my roommate, and how, through him; I met “Lan”- the guy who took me under his wing as a player, and one of the people who originally served as mentor to my roommate. You can read it here, in the event that you missed it. Lan told me, much to my surprise, that he believed I possessed the potential to be incredibly skilled at the game – perhaps more so even than him, in some regards. He took great care to emphasize that the transition would be by no means simple.
Although I had a great deal of potential, I had also a wide array of idiosyncrasies which were standing in the way of that potential. In order for me to actually start becoming a good player, there were a number of barricades that first needed to be pushed aside; walls that needed to be torn down. The first of these was confidence.
“One of the most important things I’m going to teach you,” he told me “is to remain confident. Even when you’re losing, even if it’s false confidence, you need to act as though you’re sure of yourself. If you fail, fail with self-assurance. If you’re losing your lane or playing poorly; don’t demean yourself, don’t get down on yourself; just shut the fuck up and start believing you’ll do better. You almost always will”
“Everybody – even the top tier players – makes stupid plays. Everybody makes mistakes. They’ll happen,and all you can do is learn from them, recover, and do your best to catch up again.”
Those are lessons I’m still learning, to some degree. Awkward admissions time! I’ve wrestled with self-esteem issues for much of my life – as I’m sure many with our hobbies and interests have. Though I’ve largely managed to pull myself out of that rut, and though I’m generally quite happy with myself these days, I still have moments where I feel thoroughly discouraged.
I’ve made considerable progress, though. In doing so, I’ve noticed something (though it may sound rather absurd to many of you): as I become more confident and begin to have more faith in my capabilities in League of Legends, I’m gaining confidence in other areas of life. The moments where I feel discouraged are becoming fewer and fewer. Building myself up in League has – curiously enough – helped me to build myself up in other areas of life, as well.
“Another thing you need to stop doing is responding to people when they trash you or someone else, even to make fun of you. They honestly aren’t even worth the effort, and the distraction of talking to them will make you play worse.” he explained. It was, of course, entirely true- no one ever gains anything through trash talk. Again, I’ve discussed this before: trash talking your teammates serves no purpose aside from making everybody else’s game more miserable. This was, in a sense, linked to his lesson about confidence: the more confident one is; the less likely that verbal barbs from some putz online are going to have an impact.
The lesson here was simple: aside from having a thick skin – though I’m loathe to resort to such platitudes – “don’t sweat the small stuff.” The verbal attacks of toxic players on League of Legends definitely qualifies as “small stuff”: these are people you’re probably never going to meet, people who are either looking to get into your head or simply spread their own misery. Ignore them, play your game, and report them afterwards; at that point, you can promptly forget that they ever existed. The same is true of toxic people and small annoyances: not letting them get to me as much has made me better for it.
Communication, too, was an important factor In order for a ranked team to actually go anywhere tangible, there needs to be a certain level of understanding . “One of your most important responsibilities is to ward and keep an eye on your lane partner – if they go anywhere, be certain that you warn your team.” That said, there also needed to be moments at which communication is minimal- “I need a team,” Lan told me “which will respond to my calls or the calls of another leader immediately, without question. Yes, I’m going to make bad calls, occasionally – but in order for a team to function at higher levels, there needs to be a leader; there needs to be a strategist.”
Two words. folks: interpersonal skills. The sort of communication skills you need to work as part of a successful team are very similar to the skills you need to succeed…well, pretty much everywhere in life.
Lastly, there are all the technical skills I’m learning through Lan – the ability to calculate positioning, the timing necessary for last-hitting creeps, the reaction time and the attention required for consistent play are all huge boons for me. Again, perhaps as a result of League; I find myself able to think more clearly, focus better, and work more efficiently.
Do I still have a long way yet to climb? Definitely. There’s no doubt in my mind that I’m still in the early stages of my journey towards high-level play. But the level of focus required for such play, coupled with the technical and personal requirements have ultimately led me to improve in all areas of life. For me, this has been about far more than just getting better at League of Legends, even if that’s what I originally set out to do.