The glory of winning is an irreplaceable feeling. Getting your hand raised or a having a splash screen regale you with your victory is a feeling that we can all love. Everyone likes being called a winner or a champion. Yet, many people never get the opportunity to savor even the small wins. Not because they can't win, but they don't know how to lose. How are they related? Symbiotically. Dualistically. Losing and winning are Yin and Yang, PB&J, Pokemon Red and Blue; learning how to make the best out of one is tantamount to learning how to do the other.
This is a broad topic that can apply to anything competitive, which is why some of this may sound very familiar. Sports, movies, books, even music often discuss the idea of dusting off and trying again, and video games are clearly no different. One of the biggest competitive professional games in the world, League of Legends, is also one of the most active casual/semi-casual communities of average, everyday players on the planet. If you've played a PvP game in League recently and lost, the victor has a much better chance of being some random person on the Internet than it does being some Matrix-reading League professional. What that really means is that if you lose a game, chances are it wasn't because your opponent was simply just better than you. You have more control over making sure that doesn't happen again than you think.
This is all coming from a guy who loses his fair share. I don't play Ranked as I don't have the time to grind out levels with any real consistency. I do play tons of PvP and I get my fair share of L's. Adjusting the way I think about my losses has, in turn, adjusted the way I feel about the game as a whole. This isn't to patronize, but to illuminate. I had to tell myself these things many times before I was really ready to get better, so I'm gonna tell them to you, too.
1. Be Prepared to Fail
If the idea of sitting down at your computer, playing a 30-40 minute match, and seeing "DEFEAT" blazed across the screen is a thought that gives you high anxiety, then I have to suggest you don't even turn the game on. The best winners in the world have all lost at some point. The UFC's Conor McGregor, boxing legend Muhammad Ali, World Champions SK Telecom T1, etc. Failure isn't just something that happens to people who don't win, it's something that happens to all of us. The idea that you will jump into anything, especially a game with complex mechanical interactions and strategies such as League, and just instantly be good isn't very realistic. Being bad in League does sometimes draw unnecessary hostility from some of the weaker minds of the player base, but Riot is doing what they can to curb that behavior, meaning you have to do the rest. Defeat isn't a condemnation to some lower caste of living. It's a lesson, and who doesn't like learning?
2. Understand that Your Win is Someone Else's Loss
Success is usually at someone's expense. The feeling of frustration and confusion you may feel when you lose is something that your opponent will feel when you win. Being empathetic to that idea is not only sportsmanship 101, but it encourages the development of an environment (even if it's just in your head) where loss isn't a one way ticket to Shamesville. You won this time and that's awesome, but you're just one bad play away from being where they are next time, so remember that before you fill the end game lobby with "ggez" and start calling out the enemy Jungler. You can't affect how your team will act, but you have full control over yourself.
3. Assume it's Something You Did
You died. It wasn't because the Jungler wasn't ganking your lane enough. It wasn't because your mid-laner got pushed so far back that the enemy could roam. It's not because your team isn't knocking the enemy up when you need them to. Your Rocket Grab didn't just suddenly glitch and miss that ADC. It's probably something you're doing.
That doesn't mean that the above examples couldn't be conditions that caused you to die, but they often become excuses not to self assess. Blaming your death on everyone else means you're delivering the power to change your fate to people you don't know and people you can't directly affect. If it's true that your mid-laner is on the ropes, allowing the enemy mid to feel more inclined to roam, do you just continue operating as normal or do you adjust your play style to accommodate for the potential addition to your lane?
4. Ask "Why?", but not Sarcastically
"Why (insert someone else who's not you in the team fight)?" is one of the most infuriating passive-aggressions I've encountered in my time with League of Legends. This sarcastic question piggy backs off of the previous point. It deflects blame in order to remove the necessity to self assess and take charge of your own progress. If you dive and blame your support when three champs roflstomp you for your troubles, you are doing it all wrong.
Instead, ask yourself why. Why am I getting pushed so easily in lane? Why do I always seem to get ambushed near objectives? Why do my attacks seem so ineffective? The search for these answers - past the "that champ is op" conceit - often opens up a whole new level of understanding when it comes the game. Maybe you're getting pushed because your lane opponent is building AP and you're building Armor. Maybe you're getting ambushed because there aren't enough wards near objectives. There's always a more productive answer waiting for you, you just have to look for it.
Winning is the goal at the end of every competition. But it isn't a scenario where the victor gets the spoils and the loser is left to live the rest of their miserable life. There is no better way to be the best at anything competitive than losing, because there is no sure fire way to get a list of things you need to improve. Winning isn't a gift for the lucky, it's the destination on the map for the hard workers. That can be anyone, that could be YOU! You just have work smart as well as hard.
Share with us some of your best tales of losing on Facebook or on Twitter. And while your making the best out of losing, stop by the Leaguepedia with your questions and fill your brain with the right answers.
Jarrett shares his love of video games and geek culture through feature articles on Gamepedia. He prides himself on his deep attraction to Japanese beat-em ups and his god-like Bushido Blade talents.