Prompt: After reading “Psychological Skills Training Manual for eSports Athletes” speak to the importance of goal setting highlighted in the article and how to set SMART Goals in an esports team. If you were the coach of an esports team, how would you implement a goal strategy for your team, how would you adjust the goals if your team didn’t meet them? How important is self-talk to a team and how can you control the narrative of that talk as a coach or a GM? (200-750 words). Post this summary in SMWW e-Arena in the Week Four Discussion Board by Friday. Have some fun with the discussion of this week’s theme. 

While the importance of goal-setting is obvious to almost anyone who’s attempted to improve at a video game, I’d never realized until the article highlighted it that I often fell into the trap of “plateauing” after mastering whatever skill I was training myself in. When OVerwatch first came out, I set out to become the greatest Lucio I could. I mastered Boops, then wall-riding, then bunnyhopping, and I succeeded at becoming a high-level Lucio! But then I stopped, and merely basked in the high-speed glory of Lucio rather than deepening my hero pool. I went through something similar with Moira, and later Zenyatta, but in each case I took a massive hiatus in the middle to simply enjoy my new proficiency in what I’d already learned. I can imagine this disparity becomes even more pronounced in professional play, when players are (a) hired to play a specific role they already master, and (b) usually at a high-enough level that they can stomp ladder as any hero they like without practice or training. In this manner, coaches are extremely useful for keeping the big picture in mind and providing accountability for each player.

If I were an esports coach, I would definitely follow the article’s advice about keeping goals number-oriented. Don’t say “Your goal is to heal better as Moira” say “I think you’re using too many damage-orbs instead of healing. Let’s firstly try to increase your orb-healing average by 500, and see what needs work after that.” If a player was still struggling,
I’d dial it back even further. “Unbind damage orb, and let’s play some rounds that force you to use heal orbs, so you can learn how they’re used.”

The other thing I’d focus on is creating goals that have clear courses of action to accomplish; I’ve used this in other facets of life to great success; don’t make the goal ‘try to lose weight’ (an abstract goal), instead use ‘quit soda and cut down on sweets’ (a solid goal with clear action.)

Coming in with this strategy, it was nice to see SMART is simply an extenuation of that philosophy; by making your goal Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely, you ensure that it’s bite-sized and simply a step in a much larger bridge to success. The “Timely” bit is the biggest addition to me; esports are such a fast-moving industry that there often isn’t time to spend too long on a single hole in your playbook.

On that note, I’ve always wondered if esports’ reliance on meta will eventually become a problem down the line. Most of the major esports (LoL, Fortnite, Overwatch) are constantly redefining their meta through creating new characters, reworking old content, and hundreds of weekly balance patches. I’ve noticed that all three of these esports suffer from players growing bored unless injections of new content arise to mix things up. This is certainly not a problem with regular sports (Football, chess, baseball, and hockey haven’t had any notable rule changes for generations) and could hurt the longevity of their scenes if the developers either (a) stop delivering new content or (b) deliver new content that pisses everyone off and hurts the game’s reputation. CS:GO is the only esport I consider immune to this, as the gameplay is so simple that the community actively rejects new content (when’s the last time you saw the new revolver or MP5 in professional play?) and seems perfectly happy to witness the same unaltered gameplay loop endlessly.

OWL is suffering from this meta-dependency very hard right now, since the current meta leaves DPS player completely on the sidelines in favor of 3 tank-3 healer comps. DPS players entered the league with very specific skillsets in mind, and it’s disheartening for them (and their fans) to see them perma-benched simply because the meta doesn’t favor them. Repeated instances of this may lead teams to prioritize versatile flex players over specialists, which I fear could lead to less engaging gameplay since the actual best players in each category will lose draft picks over generalists.

Speaking of happiness, the bite-sized goals are also great for motivation; it’s really exciting to accomplish a bunch of little easy things, and they usually add up to the same big gains over time. That’s the main way I’d use mini-goals to set the narrative; when a player feels demotivated, show them all the little goals they’ve accomplished, and remind them of the things they’ve mastered that were undoable when they started out.