You probably have a preference when it comes to 1v1 games vs. team games.
There’s different pleasure points to either style of game, but it’s no secret that the modern gamer prefers the latter.
In 1v1 games, it’s the validation from outskilling your opponent and knowing every bit of the victory was earned by you and you alone. In team games, the reasons are quite varied. Maybe you like outplaying the opposition at your role, but still enjoy being just one crucial piece of a complete entity. Maybe the gratification of commanding and shotcalling a team to victory and micromanaging entices you more than a simple face-to-face triumph over your opponent.
It could be the social element, and the compounding effect allowing you to make more friends by virtue of team game popularity. You might just enjoy the element of randomness that comes with having randomly assigned teammates. Finally, you might enjoy protecting your ego by shifting the blame.
For most people (yes, maybe even you
), the latter two apply most. The kicker is that they are both also perfectly valid reasons. Heck, we all have stressful days of work and/or real life responsibilities; sometimes it’s best to enjoy that dopamine kick from victories that aren’t quite all ours, and shrug off losses a little easier that aren’t our fault.
One thing that fans of both formats have in common? Everyone would benefit from embracing a 1v1 game.
If you look at many of the top pros and personalities today in team esports, they’ve come from a background of 1v1 games, or have at least entertained the idea of practicing them on the side. This was very prominently visible in the League of Legends scene in its earlier iterations. Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng, for instance, enjoyed practicing and improving in Street Fighter
When I interviewed Alex Ich in his prime
, he mentioned that he played StarCraft 2 in his down time. In fact, this was a common occurrence then, and it’s only a natural bridge, being that Wings of Liberty was the big esports phenomenon right before competitive League of Legends catapulted into popularity during the Season 2 circuit.
There are, of course, players who excel in games like Dota 2, League of Legends and Overwatch without practicing what I describe in this article, but I’ll explain why I think it’s great for growth. First and foremost, disregarding the mental benefits, there’s a lot of transferable skills from the experience of those games for professional players.
This isn’t to say that practicing the game you’re trying to excel at isn’t
the best way to improve at said game, but the time spent is a lot more productive due to crossover than, say, playing single player games or MMORPGs in leisure time. The true beneficiary here, though, is your mind.
My perspective is this: getting your hands dirty in the arena of 1v1 battles brings about a certain fortitude and maturity that you simply will not
acquire spamming ladder queues in team games. As it directly affects how you interpret feedback from gameplay and responsibility of outcome, it is therefore a training efficiency multiplier.
To elaborate, playing 1v1 games opens cognitive pathways that are otherwise projected or shrugged off. When everything
is your fault to some degree, you learn to not only manage how you respond to your own mistakes, but learn to forgive yourself for those and acknowledge that it’s your fault and that is okay.
When you lose in a fighting game or an RTS against your opponent, there are far less variables to blame. Sure, balance still plays a part, but to not stagnate in skill at these types of games, you must accept that your opponent was better than you, and adjust what you do next time to increase the odds of a positive outcome. This isn’t to say that you don’t need to do this in team games, but gathering the awareness and introspection doesn’t come easy when you can queue up again, roll the dice for a better team and achieve victory that way.
Undoing bad habits is much tougher when they go unpunished.
I would also like to mention an alternative that isn’t explored as much as it should be. While not as effective as playing a game strictly designed for 1v1 gameplay, drills specifically against an opponent in their respective role in MOBAs can be helpful.
You can drill laning phase against a friend and race to 100 CS, or whoever gets the first kill, explain where your opponent went wrong, rinse and repeat. The caveat to this is that you must practice with the understanding that in a real game, all external circumstances such as jungle pressure and the possibility of roaming from other lanes will exist.
As long as you understand those consequences in a real setting and play with an understanding of mastering the mechanical and responsibility aspects of your role, however, it’s a solid option.
Finally, playing a truly challenging and in-depth game pitted against one other tough opponent develops outcome independence. While this admittedly takes tons of grinding to develop, the mental well being that comes from indifference to winning or losing is irreplaceable.
This develops much more quickly in head-to-head titles because as we established earlier, there are less variables at play when it comes to how the end result of a match is conceived. This provides a dual benefit - acceptance of defeat and less emotional attachment to results in team games for the exact reasons we described are so important to your success in 1v1 games.
If you internalize that circumstances outside of your control can dramatically shift the outcome, you develop a mental framework where you exclusively focus on what you can
control and easily dismiss what you can’t.
Obviously, there are a lot of other practices that are equally or more efficient than the methods I described above at creating a healthy mental fortitude in team games. Meditation, a proper diet, less stress and discipline will also help.
However, if I had it my way, 1v1 in esports would still be the most popular format. Since this isn’t the case, the least I can do is promote the artform that it is and encourage others to do so not just for fun, but for the numerous benefits that can be obtained far more quickly from this style of competition.
Now go out there and get your ass kicked. The bitter taste of defeat upfront will pay dividends for both your results and your experience elsewhere. Let’s call it a “whiny bitch bootcamp”, and trust me, it’s the best one there is.
Michale 'Drexxin' Lalor is Editor-in-Chief at Esports Heaven. Follow him on Twitter at @ESHDrexxin.