Notes on The Invisible Game by Zoltan Andrejkovics

Chapter 1 – Goals and Objective

The essence of this chapter is that goals are the birthplace of success. Without “dreaming big,” there is no way to succeed in esports (11, 12). There are two types of goals : short term goals and long term goals (13). Short term goals have very apparent steps to take to accomplish them and long term goals most often start with only the desired outcome (13). Proper goals are honest, well articulated, and will remain, even in the face of disaster (14, 15, 16).

It is important to set lofty goals because they “are never individually about us,” leading to an abstraction of the ego and allowing for a focusing of the mind (25). Just as importantly, after achieving a goal, it is important to set new goals and “find new paths that will take [you] to new endeavors” (26).

Chapter 2 – The Mental Side of Preparing

“There are no shortcuts in preparation” (29)

Good performance comes from good preparation and, until the athlete targets their weaknesses individually, they cannot achieve greatness (29, 30). Players in esports are grouped by their levels of play in terms of time, which usually correlates well with skill (33).

In terms of preparation, there are a few simple guidelines in preparing. Firstly, it takes most people 18 to 25 days to form a new habit (33). Secondly, the number of repetitions required to form new motor skills is usually about 100 (33). Thirdly, the quality of the training depends on the level of energy spent during the time training (34).

Improving skills usually happens in leaps, not gradually, as most people think (36). Real improvement actually happens when the “disjointed parts” of a task come together to form a new realization (36). Additionally, for real improvement, one must know when to take breaks (37). Raising your expectations is paramount to success as well (38). It is important to stress to some degree, or improvement will be limited (38).

There are four steps to learning and mastering a new skill :

  1. Unconscious dabbling – the player doesn’t know their skill level and may even deny that it has any importance to them
  2. Conscious dabbling – the player recognizes the value of a skill set and the path to achieve it, but more time is necessary to acquire the knowledge.
  3. Conscious expertise – the player “can employ their skills, but only significant concentration can achieve the same result every time”
  4. Unconscious expertise – “when repeated practice results in reflex-like skills which do not require any significant mental strain” (41, 42)

The difference between new teams and veteran teams is that veteran teams are able to use their previously collected knowledge to produce a successful result even in the face of defeat (44). The only thing that can keep a team motivated to keep learning after temporary setbacks is positive reinforcement (45). Positive reinforcement or praise should never be diluted with negative comments or expectations (45). Additionally, to avoid overthinking, once a strategy is devised, the player should then begin to stop thinking about the plan and let muscle memory take over (46).

Chapter 3 – Tactic and Strategy

There are two extremes in esports strategy : the team that chooses one single strategy and perfects it for effective use during contests and the team that works out as many strategies as it can manage, but none to a satisfying degree (47). The first variety of team ends up being more successful than the second, but it can still end up losing to a team that does the exact same thing with a counter-strategy (48). The ideal mix is to figure out a few strategies that work well for the team and work on mastering them as much as possible (48).

In esports, the team should always have a contingency plan (50). Named alphabetically, they should have at least 3 plans – A, B, and C (50). Plan A will fit the requirements of the situation about 70% of the time (50). Plan B should suit the needs of the team about 20% of the time, and plan C should be employed about 5% of the time (50). After this, creating additional plans to master only hinders strategic development (51).

While this idea holds true, it is almost just as important to pay attention to your opponents’ strategy and devise a plan to nullify that strategy (58). A failing strategy should not be repeated if selected before the game starts (59).

Chapter 4 – Values and Team

“For an e-Athlete, values provide a solid base of commitment” (64).

Synergy – “the phenomenon where the total effect is greater than the sum of individual effects” (67).

Humility is the only way to move past the ego and on to success (67). In esports, humility is evident through an e-athlete’s desire to develop (68). Humility is mainly demonstrated through the ability to listen to others, meaning the e-athlete who wants to improve is the e-athlete who listens to the coach and to their teammates (68). Along with humility comes a natural segue into the “art form” of flaming (71). Flaming, otherwise known as blaming, happens when a player does not have the humility to accept their own mistakes and instead magnifies the mistakes of others (71). Needless to say, this is counterproductive to everything that is professional esports (71).

As beginners, e-athletes often watch professional matches and dream of becoming just as good, if not better and through this, they internalize much of the strategy at the professional level, allowing them to develop faster (70). As the e-athlete approaches the professional level, they begin to stop watching others’ gameplay and begin to focus solely on their own at the suggestion of their ego, which detracts from the learning process in that this player can no longer learn from the mistakes of others and must instead learn solely from personal experience (70).

As a final note, another important aspect to teamwork is that the team develops a sense of loyalty (73). Sticking together as a team is most often the most effective way of developing said loyalty, as the players become more and more loyal to each other “with each passing match” (73).

Chapter 5 – Motivation

As a trend, motivation is shaped during childhood (76). The motivation exemplified by parents is often the motivation that is later expressed in the children (76). As the child develops into an adult, the only thing that can add motivation to their base levels of motivation is a passion for an activity (78).

Motivation affects both persistence and quality (81). External motivators can be used to affect motivational persistence in terms of time spent trying to improve (81). External motivators are factors such as fear or reward (81). Motivational quality is affected by internal motivators (82). Internal motivators can be anything that stems from a personal need to improve or become better in some way (82). Generally, past experiments have yielded the impression that external motivators are less effective than internal motivators at producing a positive result (see The Candle Problem on page 82) (84).

Chapter 6 – The Self

The one thing that all e-athletes share is the need for attention and recognition within a team (93). Whether that comes from fans, teammates, or the coach, that attention and recognition is vital (94). When athletes gain the recognition of fans, years of training has prepared their egos to stay the same and not become inflated, but in cases of children who were not properly given attention during childhood, success can become a detriment (95).

“The ego only becomes overpowering if it’s allowed to be the sole decision maker” (99).

Each experience one has is filtered through their ego (regarded as the outer self) and later is perceived by the inner self (100). In order to experience harmony, the ego must me silenced (101). Being able to accept and evaluate our own mistakes leads to improvement and, without that, success can never be attained, thus the ego must be silenced (103).

Chapter 7 – Sensing

Humans are barely ever in the present (107). The state of being in the present is contingent on “all of our senses and thoughts focus[ing] on our momentary situation and surrounding environment” (107). Being in the present is psychologically known as “flow” (110).

In most instances, thoughtful action takes time, but in the heat of the moment, intuition must step forward and lead the actions of a player (116). Professionals tend to limit their numbers of strategic choices down to two, rather than stating “In this situation, I will do this next time,” which eliminates the intuition of the player (116). Accordingly, over-complication of tactics usually reduces the effectiveness of a team (121).

Chapter 8 – Emotions

Generally, strong emotions can overwhelm athletes and are most often counter-productive (123). “When feeling threatened, most of the time we get angry, which shuts down the path toward creativity and logical thinking” (124). The first step in controlling one’s emotions is to state them in the middle of your experience of them (125). Repressing emotions, however can also be counterproductive because these feelings will repeatedly return and surface in similar situations (127).

As a mechanism of handling emotions, five to ten minute breaks between matches are recommended (128). Within these few minutes, the only way to ensure a positive outcome in the following matches is to refocus and accept your emotions from the previous game, whatever they may be (128, 129).

Generally, the ego goes hand in hand with our emotions, an effective measure for stepping back from one’s ego is to change one’s perspective, emphasizing conscious acceptance (132, 133). Without this conscious acceptance, it is easy to slip into a negative attitude, which can cause players to feel threatened or disappointed, thus removing the ability to be optimally creative (140).

Chapter 9 – Thoughts

Thoughts can come from either the inner self or the ego (143). The ego makes slower, more considered decisions often resulting in more predictability, but sacrificing the speed of the inner self (144). Internally, these thoughts should be positive and should be made in a positive direction, that is enjoying a positive aspect of one’s character without denying a negative aspect and instead solely embracing the positive (147).

These positive inner thoughts can be encouraged by making a conscious effort to replace them when they are noticed (148). Just as with other attributes of the mental e-athlete, thoughts from the ego can and will be detrimental in surplus as it tends to overvalue the opinions of others (150).

Chapter 10 – Waking up as a Winner

Before each competition, the last afternoon should be spent resting (155). Additionally, regularly sleeping 7-8 hours is also vital to performance in competitions (155). A few pre-match routines regularly executed by the best e-athletes include :

  1. Tightly gripping a hand warmer before an important game
  2. Saying a prayer or a mantra before the game as a team
  3. Doing a signature move with a character as the match starts
  4. Reading a self-penned reminder one last time before the match
  5. Quickly mumbling the plan once before starting (158)

“Don’t believe in beating your opponent, believe in your own abilities” (161).

Some e-athletes hum before their games, which calms the nerves and others prefer to rely on their leader for a motivational speech before the game starts (162).

Chapter 11 – Connecting with Fans /Not relevant to the topic of study/

Chapter 12 – Leaders and Captains

The secret to being a good leader is setting a good example (176). Attributes of good leaders include, but are not limited to :

  • always being prepared
  • being consistently stable
  • giving strict, but honest feedback
  • saying thanks when a member of the team does well
  • listening to and caring about the team
  • unfolding their own vision
  • assigning tasks together with the underlying reasons
  • being together with the team
  • always remaining calm, which is to say, never angry
  • being non-judgemental
  • being able to make decisions in all situations
  • guiding into paths instead of building barriers around what is allowed and not allowed
  • not following the crowd (176-178).

Citation : Andrejkovics, Zoltan. The Invisible Game: Mindset of a Winning Team: the Mental Side of Esports. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017.

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