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  • Team Games Don't Require Teamwork

    Original article by @rocketbrainsurgeon


    We hear it all the time:

    • "I can't win with you clowns"
    • "Why do I always get the bad teams?!"

    The people saying these things are typically, but not always, poor players.  Better players do cry out in frustration sometimes, but more often than not they are doing what they do best: carrying the team to victory despite the efforts of their teammates. Let's meet a typical teammate, BOB: Moron BOB works pretty hard at failing and according to his win percentage, he "succeeds" at it most of the time.  Here's just a small list of the ways BOB is going to fail you:

    • Gets single digit frame-rates because his computer is awful
    • 500ms ping because he's torrenting a whole lot of porn in the background
    • Is high or drunk
    • Gets distracted by his wife/kids/job, so he's AFK most of the time
    • Uses the start of the game to go and grab a drink or go to the bathroom, rather than do it between games
    • Has no theoretical knowledge whatsoever of the game, yet believes he's an expert
    • Believes he can't make a difference on his own

    The outrageous caricature of a drunken, porn addicted, hill-billy aside, it's actually the last two that are the most detrimental to BOB being actually good at the game.  These two beliefs are what holds the vast majority of people in mediocrity.  Yes, even you. Remember the statement above:  "Why do I always get the bad teams?".  If you've ever said this statement, you're part of the problem!  You're denying your involvement in the outcome, instead of trying to change the outcome.  Because we all get the same garbage teams, over and over again.  Sure, some of the teams will be better than others.  But over time, the good and bad teams even out for everyone.  Unless you're talking about small sample sizes, luck has absolutely nothing to do with it. Let's look at the myths surrounding team games.

    One person can't make a difference.

    All of recorded history disagrees with this statement, on every level.  Singular people have and continue to change human history on a consistent basis.  Whereas they are struggling against hundreds of thousands or millions or billions of other people to create a difference, someone in a game has to struggle with far fewer: often 5-15 opponents.  How do you make a difference?  By contributing more than the next guy.  Everyone would say the team with more players has an advantage (everything else being equal), so create that advantage!  If the game is 15 vs 15, but you contribute as much as 3 players on your own, the game is actually 17 vs 15 because you contribute as much as three people.  Will you win every time?  No, but you have a very good chance each game.

    I always get the bad teams.

    Flip a coin 10 times.  Theoretically, it'll come up with 5 heads and 5 tails.  Realistically, it'll come out something like 6-4 / 7-3 / 4-6 / etc.  That's just how statistics and variance work.  The more times you flip the coin (this is called "sample size"), the more likely the percentage will move towards 50/50 heads/tails.  This is known as the law of large numbers. Heads is getting a good team, tails is getting a bad team.  Sometimes you will definitely get screwed with the bad teams, sometimes for many games in a row.  Sometimes you'll get rewarded with good teams the same way.  You don't remember the good stretches because humans see losses as twice as powerful psychologically than wins.

    Good teamwork wins over a group of talented individuals.

    Take 5 NBA players and 5 college basketball players.  The college guys can plan beforehand, have a coach, make plays, talk, etc.  They can use everything at their disposal to coordinate.  The NBA players can't talk, gesture, or even meet beforehand. Now have them play a game against each other.  It won't even be a contest: the NBA players will completely annihilate the "team" of college players. What people commonly fail to realize is that there is communication going on all the time: the talented individual is constantly re-evaluating the situation and doesn't need explicit prodding to be productive.  That's a large part of what makes them talented: recognizing the situation at all times and responding accordingly.  Poor players often suffer from a severe lack of game awareness. How to be on the favored team, all the time, every time The first step is to believe that you can make a difference, and the next step is learning how to make that difference.  Study up on the game, ask questions, try different things to see what works.  If the average number of points scored is X, you'd better be putting in 2X or 3X.  Always rate your performance as "Needs Improvement". And whatever you do, don't blame the loss on your team.  There were steps you could have taken to turn that game around.


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