Seeing Red

How to lose without losing it.

You’ve won a late-game team fight and toppled your opponents’ base turrets but several enemies are about to respawn and your team has taken a significant amount of damage in the fray. You’ll all be crushed into Poro-Snax if you don’t secure your victory in the next five seconds.

Get the Nexus, get the Nexus every part of you screams, fingers clicking, unrelenting, unblinking as you watch the health bar drop lower and lower...but it's not enough. Your opponents leap back into the fight with shocking swiftness, demolishing your entire team in seconds. The sound of "An ally has been slain" repeats so many times, it feels like the announcer has resorted to mockery.

Were those 40 minutes a waste of time? We all know the feeling of clicking through the Defeat screen as quickly as possible, surfing a wave of salt right past the Honor vote (not a chance!) and squinting daggers as we compare KDAs in the post-game lobby? It feels as if we put in so much effort for no reward since all of our careful strategies and furious clicking led to nothing.

Keeping a positive mentality can be near impossible when we feel as if we’ve been let down by our teammates or that we could’ve performed better ourselves, but thinking about matches beyond the dichotomy of simple wins or losses can help us improve and ensure that we have the best possible chance of victory when we jump into our next game in search of redemption. We spoke to two summoners – one who’s just starting out, and one who’s been around the Rift a few times – to ask them about their own attitudes to winning, losing and post-game reflection.

HELP WANTED

One way we can help secure victory is by guiding other players, even if at times it can be frustrating to watch them make moves we consider mistakes. Summoner HeiRaven explained to us how she’s still learning the ropes, and appreciates that other players have helped along the way. “Every game I play with someone is special,” she says. “Usually I will mess up since I'm still new to the game…[players] try to show me where I messed up and I learn for the better.” And, as a more experienced player, cthullucori took to the role of teacher in order to pass on her League knowledge to a friend who had never played before: "I got my old friend into League...her face just lit up as I showed her all the champions and how to play."

The willingness to teach and mentor helps us pass on our skills to those who are struggling, and is a mentality that will reap far better rewards than flaming in chat. And, hey, it’s never a bad thing to have a chance to go over the basics yourself, even when you know your Teemo can take down entire teams with a single dart. If you pass along some good advice, though, don’t forget to friend the player so you’re not arming a future enemy with your best-kept jungling secrets!

VOTE OF CONFIDENCE

Celebrating the hard work of our fellow teammates is often the last thing on our minds when we're faced with defeat, but post-game reflection can encompass more than just thinking about our own performance. Honouring players who did a good job, either in their attitude or gameplay, provides one of the easiest ways for us to reflect on our games and our fellow players, explains summoner cthullucori. “I log on to play and to have a good time. I try to honour any person that does something to deserve it in game...I hope others start utilising the system more.”

There are lots of reasons to honour someone – they may have passed along helpful strategic advice, they may have kept calm and collected as another player aggressively flamed them, or they might have just been a source of much-needed comic relief in chat – and the three different Honour categories can help us determine who and what made our experience enjoyable, even in defeat. Did a Sona keep you healed when you accidentally over-extended? Was there a Garen whose Demacian Justice struck fear into the hearts of your enemies? Honour can help let your teammates know that, despite the overall loss, you enjoyed playing with them.

MEMORY LANE

Post-game reflection remains just as important when the game goes your way. No victory comes without effort, and it’s good to think about the positives in all outcomes. You played a vital part in your team’s victory, and you can reflect on the positives that led to the team’s overall success. Each match is what you make of it, and no two people will ever come away from the same match with the same verdict on how everyone played, but KDAs and win/loss ratios aren’t the only thing upon which we have to base our enjoyment or celebration. Striving for success is something we’re all doing as summoners, but losses aren’t always potholes in the road and wins aren’t always spotless crusades of glory: how you played and what you took away from the game will follow you into the next game even though the score line resets and you start fresh at level one.

Whilst seeing red at the end of a match is never something you’re aiming for, when you are faced with defeat there’s usually something positive to take away from it all. And if everything went so badly that you can’t think of one single thing you enjoyed or did well, you’re at least prepared for your next match, and reflection can help you understand where things went wrong, something HeiRaven is learning about as she gains more experience. “Sometimes I know what I messed up on,” she admits. “Other times one of my friends that I'm playing with will tell me where I messed up, and where to be careful next time. So when I go into another game I feel a bit more aware of what I need to work on and do next time...you're only going to get better if you make mistakes.”

Once you’ve taken a deep breath or two (or ten), the next step is simple:

Lock in your main and go get ‘em.

Key art by:

Simone D'armini. Download image here.