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SteelSeries Academy Part 3: Playing on a Team

Ready to take your gaming skills to the next level this year? In this series, we will explore how to improve your game from the inside out - from attitude to training and how to get the most out of the esports team experience.

In Part One, we covered the importance of mental and physical health for gamers and in Part Two, we went over how to use your gear's settings to your advantage. Today, we're going to cover one of the most important topics for anyone wanting to go pro - tips for playing on a team.

SteelSeries Academy (#AkademiaSteelSeries) was originally written and posted to our Polish Facebook page. Tips have been reordered for readability and adjusted slightly for an English-speaking audience. You can find the original Polish text here.

Table of Contents

  1. Game Attitude FTW
  2. Play Fair
  3. Maintain Respect Across the 'Net
  4. Communicating with the Team
  5. Finding a Sponsor
  6. Punctuality and Reliability
  7. Membership in the Community
  8. Being Understood
  9. Let's Talk TOXICITY
  10. What Esports Teaches Us

Above: Cavs Legion, sponsored by SteelSeries

Game Attitude FTW

We previously mentioned two types of attitude toward gaming: "Closed" and "Growth-oriented." In this section, we're going to review them in more detail.

Closed Attitude

Have you ever come across players that thought it was impossible to win before the match even started? And that success is just luck or that they lost because the other team was cheating, as opposed to any organization or skill they might have had? You might have also heard people claim that the opposing players - because they are so good - must be Challenger- or Elite-level, playing on their younger brother's account.

We've all encountered people like this in matchmaking. In addition to having preconceived notions, these closed attitude players are unresponsive to tips from teammates and go in expecting to be frustrated. If you're reading this and think it sounds like you, it might be time to consider how your attitude is affecting the game. We can't become better players with a closed attitude.

Don't get mad, get learnin.' Source: GIPHY

Open Attitude

On the other side of the spectrum you'll find an open attitude that is focused on growth. A player with with an open atttitude doesn't put him/herself above others in terms of skill, and instead looks for opportunities to learn from others. Having this attitude means looking at each game as a challenge, playing your best, and listening to others with an attitude of learning.

Setting Realistic Goals

Changing your attitude toward the game is the key to success. Set short-term goals for yourself, such as "I want to score 10 headshots in this match," as well as long-term goals for your career, i.e. "This week I want to advance by 100 points." Remember that there is always room for improvement at every level of the game!

While it's important to have a positive attitude, you also need to remember that you can't win every single game. It's just part of the sport. Sometimes you're going to have a troll or someone who quits early - you can't control it. Instead of getting anxious, focus on your own performance, work toward those goals, and give it your best. Only then can you become a better player.

Fnatic, winners of IEM Katowice 2018 Source: Paysafecard

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Play Fair

Esport is a relatively new space and its standards of conduct are still being figured out as we go. One thing is constant, however, and that's a need for fair play.

In short, fair play is simply an honest game, maintaining a sporting competition and maintaining respect for your opponents. It isn't about achieving victory by any means necessary. Take football, for example - players don't foul and take the opportunity to help when possible. Off the pitch, players of one team compliment the their rivals during the press conference. Fair play is respect.

So, how does this apply to esports, which is a completely different animal than football? First of all, do not use programs that give an advantage like wall hacks, aimbots, etc. Fair play also means compliance with tournament regulations and the law. That goes for betting, too - we've seen plenty of scandals over the years involving pro players and either cheating or betting fraud.

Cheating ruins it for everyone. Source: Reddit

Setting a Good Example

Remember that we are the model for future generations of esports players. We must set an example and be smarter than online jerks. Rather than list a frustrating player's mistakes, praise them for their good plays. When an opponent - or teammate - tries to start a fight, don't play into their hands.

Almost every game has a MUTE button. Do not hesitate to use it.

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Maintain Respect Across the 'Net

We've touched on the importance of remaining respectful in-game, but if you're like most people, you spend a lot of time online doing other things, as well. As technology evolved, society has moved a huge part of our lives into the virtual space. We used to meet on the pitch and play football, but now we meet on Discord and play CS, Fortnite, LoL or any other game.

It's important to remember that there is a real person sitting on the other side of the computer, not just an avatar or character. Choose your words (and friends) more carefully and treat the other person with greater respect. How others perceive you reflects on gamers everywhere.

Members of FaZe Clan quietly focus on the game. (While rocking Arctis Pro w/ GameDAC!)

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Communicating with the Team

All team games are based on communication with teammates, and this is especially true of esports. During the match, concentration and focus on the game are key - so it's best to keep conversations to a minimum and only communicate regarding key elements of the game. This way, we do not distract teammates, especially your team captain. This is really important! The higher the level of gameplay, the more crucial communication is!

It's best to save your opinions, feedback, comments, or ordinary chats for after the game, when you analyze the results together or just relax. Keep it light - nothing spoils the atmosphere more than screaming, profanity, and lack of control over your emotions. Obviously, yelling in victory is an exception to this rule!

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Finding a Sponsor

Above: Sander "Vo0" Kaasjager

In this section, we're going to talk about the holy grail of gaming - making money! Here are some tips on how to attract a potential team sponsor.

The two most important things you can offer to the companies you want to work with are reach and image. Of course, it's best to have a combination of these two things, because every brand wants to reach the largest possible group of people. However, there's something called "brand safety" you should know about. It becomes a nightmare for brands when one of their partners starts saying offensive things online or conducting themselves in an unprofessional way.

Again - make sure you are conducting yourself appropriately across the internet! Trust us, before anyone signs a contract, they will look at your online presence!

When you start planning your career, you'll need to consider a few things that can help or hinder you later:

  • Username/gamertag - is it memorable? Non-offensive?
  • Which game will you specialize in? The bigger the title, the bigger the audience, coverage, and in general, ease of building a contact network and fan base.
  • Language - if English isn't your first language, keep practicing and consider streaming in English to gain a larger international audience.

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Punctuality and Reliability

Be the player everyone can rely on. Source: GTPLANET

Whenever you decide to play on a team, you'll need to adjust your time management. Running a team is always a bit of an uphill climb, because the coordination of a few or a dozen or so people can prove difficult.

That is why we should help our clan leaders/team captains a little and plan their time well. Be punctual and respect the time of other players. There is nothing more depressing than waiting for that one player who is always late.

Mutual reliability is the foundation of every good team. Take this into account when you arrange games - in other words, take other players' time and yours seriously.

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Membership in the Community

Interacting with other gamers helps to build your personal esports brand. Source: Red Bull

Esports always involves participating in a community - you can't effectively train while being cut off from the latest game trends. The meta is changing, the tactics are changing, and the players at the top are changing.

It's important not only for building your personal brand, but your personal wellbeing that you find a comfortable place in a given group, and enjoy being part of the community. After all, no one understands our passion like other players!

Check out forums, gaming websites, and channels on Discord to keep up on the latest tournaments or community initiatives. As always, respect the rules for whatever site you're on.

Training and skill are extremely important for establishing yourself in the gaming community, but so is being an expert in your field. That's why it's important to join in discussions, orient yourself in current trends, and help new players join the community.

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Being Understood

Esports became a $1B industry in 2019. Source: Dot Esports

For many gamers, we are surrounded by loved ones who don't understand esports or why we are so passionate about gaming. This can be parents, partners, roommates, friends, or colleagues. If someone asks you questions about gaming - or questions your career/hobby choice in a negative way - approach the situation in a calm, conversational way.

These days, gaming is a bit more mainstream but for older players, let's take a minute to appreciate the obstacles they have faced. It wasn't that long ago when the idea of video games was not only considered unhealthy, but unnecessary.

The first step to being understood by those around you should be to try to explain esports - what kind of games are fun to play, what esports are, and what lessons it teaches you. Computer games are (less) considered to be empty entertainment and have become a billion dollar industry. In fact, esports is now considered a viable, lucrative career option. Many Dota 2 players are millionaires! Aside from professional players, there are many other positions to fill, from administrative to graphic design.

Here are a few tips for explaining esports to others and earning their respect:

  1. Explain that esports is also a professional opportunity. This is one of the most promising industries in the world.
  2. Show how many people are building an esports ecosystem - 453.8 million in 2019.
  3. Plan your day. Allocate time for a game, time for work or school, but also time for loved ones.
  4. Plan breaks and physical activity. So that playing on the computer is not at the expense of your health.
  5. Plan your week as well. And during it - going out with friends, time for sport or a walk with the family.
  6. Keep order around your playing position. Clutter badly affects your game, but also badly for your family/roommates.

If the people around you understand your goals, it will be much easier for you to focus on them.

And finally, esports is a people-centric community. You may find that you will encounter many of your fellow players throughout your professional life. In Poland, for example, several players from the original Quake 3 competitive scene found their way into marketing and are now pillars of the country's industry.

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Toxicity in team games is the biggest enemy of winning, and it starts with ourselves. Source: BizWomen

We've talked a lot about behavior in this series because it is so crutial for both the development of your esports career and for simply enjoying the game itself.

Everything we do online leaves an impression, whether that be in games, esports, or participating in a community. It is incredibly important to be mindful of what we write, what we say, and how we treat others, especially when building a reputation. Remember that the higher ranked you are, the more recognizable you are and the more people will form opinions about you.

Toxicity can exists on multiple levels, even if you're not pursuing esports as a career. Toxicity in team games is the biggest enemy of winning. Through cooperation you earn points, frags, towers, etc. leading you to victory. The more you win, the more fun you have playing. Rinse and repeat. Even if you lost, but everyone gave 100%, you still feel the satisfaction from a good match.

On the other hand, if we are toxic, i.e. we use profanity, call names, shout at others, imply that we know their mother better than they do (ahemm), we are standing in our own way. This is for one simple reason - toxicity isolates others and kills any team spirit. Without a common goal, the team cannot win. Good behavior means acting like a prudent leader, playing the game, sharing your observations with others, but above all, maintaining the atmosphere in the team and resolving potential conflicts.

Anything beyond friendly smack talk can be detrimental to everyone, including yourself. Source: Plarium

Toxicity is also noticeable at a much higher level. Entire organizations are watching what is happening online, as well as which people are representing each individual game. This is happening at a much larger scale, as esports has become a global phenomenon. Almost everyone knows at least something about it, and that includes their own opinions. Each of us, though our behaviors, impacts how esports are perceived.

So how does toxicity affect your esports career? You're going to see a lot of the same people in the game, so toxicity just doesn't pay off. In addition, organizations carefully look at each player before considering any kind of partnership. Nobody wants to be associated with a hot head or with someone whose values do not reflect their own. In this case, everything counts - what you say on the stream, what you write on forums, what you write in the game chat, what you write on Discord, TS, IRC, steam chat...absolutely everywhere.

Once you enter into a partnership, this code of conduct should continue to be upheld. After all, nobody wants to be put into the position of apologizing for the behavior of their player!

Look at this way, as well - toxicity affects whether we get fans or not. And the larger the audience, the bigger the sponsors, the more money, the better training conditions, and then - better results, earnings and career.

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What Esports Teaches Us

Esports teaches a lot beyond how to git gud. Source: Player.One

In this lesson, we want to highlight the benefits that esports bring to the table. As you've probably already figured out, not all of us will become an international esports star. But fear not, your time is never wasted - in addition to the fun of gaming, training for esports offers a number of benefits.

πŸ‘‰English Communication: This post was originally shared on our Polish Facebook page, but still applies if English is not your first language. All major esports media outlets write and speak in this language, and a basic knowledge of English is required to communicate freely in games. Playing games gives us the opportunity to test our skills while staying in touch through a new language. If you already know English, esports allows you to learn the principles of communication itself, such as how to talk to one person or a larger group, or which message is most appropriate in your situation. These are skills that prepare us for professional life.

πŸ‘‰Teamwork: Games teach us how rewarding it is to achieve a goal together or how much better you work with people with similar goals and complementary skills. We learn to support colleagues and rely on others - we learn to trust.

πŸ‘‰ Stress resistance: Games often put us in situations that are outside of our comfort zone. This is good preparation for dealing with problems outside the game. Thanks to this training, we can thinkclearly even when there's a lot going on in our heads.

πŸ‘‰ Decision making: During every match, we have to make quick decisions and analyze the situation in the blink of an eye. Players adapt to difficult situations faster because they are used to them.

πŸ‘‰ Maintaining focus and dividing attention: Gamers play and talk at the same time. We run and gun, reload and reassess our situations, all while checking the map. We perform all these activities simultaneously, with full focus.

πŸ‘‰Spatial orientation: Games allow us to understand where we are in space and what will happen if we hear someone's footsteps in the corridor above us. Knowing where our team is in relation to us, as well as the ability to read maps are both helpful skills in the real world, too.

πŸ‘‰Self improvement:Understanding that work (training) is necessary to improve skills. This is one of the most valuable lessons we get from playing.

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We hope you found this useful! In the SteelSeries Academy Part 4, we dig deeper into how to improve your skills. Stay tuned!

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