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Reaching your goals: Esports habits

3.. 2.. 1.. HAPPY NEW YEAR! All I want this 2019 is to be able to hit at least top 20 in the rank and make it pro…

I’m sure 2019 will be the year!

How many of you have similar wishes year after year?  Either to hit a specific tier of the server, to play or coach in a team of your dreams or to have a healthy lifestyle.

To achieve your goals, the first step is to dream big. So, if you are a dreamer you are on the right path. However, many people, if not the majority stay on the first step and start failing during the first months of the year.

But why is this? In honesty we all have been there, having really good intentions and making plans to improve to have a better year than the last one. However, nowadays there´re too many distractions around us that translate into obstacles.

The second step, after dreaming of and believing in achieving your goals, is to know how to plan those goals. You can check our previous post on how to develop SMART Goals, which are an ideal strategy for this.

However, you need to understand that the intentions and having goals themselves are not enough to make sure that you will achieve them.

Finally, the third step is executing your plan properly into your daily routine. This may not be easy the first couple of days and in some cases weeks.

The Habit loop

Thus, we need to understand and perceive how our own routines are affecting our behaviour which ultimately facilitates us in achieving our goals. By accurately reflecting on our own routines we will be able to apply the concept of the “habit loop”, mentioned in the book “The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg”.

The habit loop has three parts: a cue/trigger, a routine and a reward. Understanding each of these aspects in relation to your daily behaviour, specifically connected to your goals, will allow you to change bad habits into better ones.

Let’s say that after having thoroughly completed your SMART plan, you decided that one of your 2019 goals are to hit challenger, maintain that rank until the end of the year and adjust at a specific point in time, for instance, when you hit top 100.

First, let’s break down the main goal (Hit challenger and maintain that rank) and let’s take two short-term goals (how to set goals “New Year, Same Me?”).  

One could be that every 5 games you will watch your own replays very carefully. This means that you will systematically and with intention learn from them. The second one would be to stop playing after 3 lost games and instead if you are tilted or too emotionally involved, go for a walk.

The first week, went well!

The second week, there were a few times that you had a poor-quality review of your games.

The third week, maybe you didn’t even stop for reviewing after 5 games, and also after the 3 time losing streak rule, you decided to continue and not go for the walk.  Most likely you started losing a few more games. Then you realised, “Shit!… I’m on a continuous losing streak”.

Most likely, this routine will now be part of your new habits, as you forgot what you were supposed to do to reach your goals. Or simply you decided that the best way was just to continue grinding. Thus, you need to consider what it is that steers you away from your initial goals.

The routine in our example, ‘bad routine’, is pressing ‘next game’ after losing 3 consecutive games.

Here, we need to reflect on what the cue was that brought you to play more games. Either it may be that you got triggered by teammates or opponents in the game chat and you have something to prove, or that you had a bad mistake that was unacceptable for you to make and you feel frustrated.

After, you need to analyse the reward to continue playing. Is it the craving of proving the previous players or yourself that you’re good enough? Or ending with a winning game makes you feel happy and satisfied?

To summarise our current habit loop:

  • Cue: Triggered by in-game chat / unacceptable mistakes
  • Routine: Pressing next game after losing 3 consecutive games
  • Reward: If you win, feeling that you proved something, feeling happy. If you lose, frustration feelings and continue playing or stop playing after too late.  

If you set smart goals, you could notice that you have anticipated this potential obstacle (routine) and the strategy (walking) for this issue doesn’t satisfy that reward that you’re craving for, most of the time this reward is unconscious.

Then, how do we disentangle this situation? When having understood the loop, you need to experiment by applying different positive routines that could give you the same reward. Maybe decide to have sticky notes that remind you to stop after losing 3 games and use a routine like meditation, talking to a friend, watching pro-games’ replays, reading or watching a video about how to understand and accept emotions. Do this until you find a routine that gets you back on track.   

It’s extremely important to learn how to reflect and understand that habits are key to achieve long-term goals. To conclude, building habits that get you to achieve your dreams may not be easy to at the beginning but after you reach the point that they become part of your identity and are executed automatically you will be able to achieve great things.

Keep consistent, be smart!

Ask yourself these two questions every day:

  1. How badly do I want it?
  2. Am I working smart and hard enough every day to achieve my goals?


Credit: Riot Games • * Michal Konkol

Ismael Pedraza

Currently working with esports organization Rogue as their performance coach for the LoL team. He also has 8 years of coaching and performance counseling experience with different high-performance traditional sports like football, swimming, athletics, darts, etc. Best ADC in LoL and Clash Royale player of TMC.

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