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Starcraft II: Improving Through Losing or How I learned to love defeat

Updated on January 5, 2014

Nobody likes losing. That one is a given and Starcraft 2 is no different. It’s aggravated by the fact that the game is absolute. You either win or you either lose. You don’t come in at second place, no third place; the game ends with just winners and losers. Arguably, losing IS the hardest part of the game.

Usually when we lose, we get mad. We get mad at game balance, at our teammates, at our opponents, at our neighbors just because they happen to knock at our doors during the exact time we lose. We release our frustration through pounds and punches and shouts that may or may not result in broken furniture.

Raging and Defeat

Surely I’m merely exaggerating, right? You’d be surprised. And that’s the point too. Getting too emotional actually leads to more losses due to a phenomenon known as ‘tilt’. Tilt is a poker term used to describe situations where losses were avoidable but a player doesn’t see it because he’s too damn frustrated due to a prior defeat. Sounds familiar? Does it remind you of your 15-game losing streak because Protoss is imbalanced and Terran is underpowered but you just need one more win? Losing is frustrating and there is nothing wrong with venting but as you see, getting too emotional is actually detrimental.

The only way to avoid tilting is to avoid letting the losses get to you. That means you have to control your emotions. Now, I don’t mean that you shouldn’t get mad when you lose. We’re humans, not machines, and emotions are a big part of who we are. No, no, you just have to keep it in check. It is NOT easy though. The biggest tip that I can probably give to you is that you should just let it go. If you feel the rage boiling, just breathe and don’t pay attention to it.

There is no one sure-fire way to learn to control your emotions. It's different for every one of us. What it needs is training. Personally, when something pisses me off, I just walk away. The same is true for losing. I stand up and walk around, drink a bit of water, go out to the store. What's important is you don't give in to anger. Once you get that down, you're already well on your way to controlling your emotions.

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Learning and Defeat

Once you start to keep your emotions in check, it’s then you’ll see the real beauty of defeat. You see, while winning is what’s gets us up the ladder, defeat is what actually makes us better. It’s how we improve. Think about it. How do we learn what part of our game we need to improve upon if we don’t lose? How do we realize what’s wrong when everything goes right?

The first thing you need to do is to stop thinking about the defeat itself. This is probably the hardest part to do. We all subconsciously want to wallow in our sadness and hope that the world aligns just to give us the win. Stop thinking about how the game was yours but the Protoss Air Army is just too OP. That’s the wrong mindset. Instead, think about what you could have done to win. Think about at what point you should’ve pushed the attack. Think about what you could’ve done to optimize your build more. Think about how you lost but do not pay mind to the loss itself.

The benefits of controlling your emotions and learning from defeat actually extends beyond the game. Life is not fair and in time we will lose, fail or be defeated. Yet instead of letting it get to us, we should analyze what we did wrong and how we can improve it. What no one really tells you is that losing and defeat is actually the secret to success. What champion is as good as the one who lost the most? What sword has not been forged from but the hottest of fires?

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