Thursday, January 11, 2018

Thursday Night Pity Party

I'm on a devastating losing streak right now. I've lost hundreds of SR. Hundreds of hours of climbing is in danger of being completely laughed away.

This is not the first time things have looked this bleak. It will not be the last. But it sucks. It's a lonely, painful experience. You win with your team, but you lose alone. And as the losses add up, the insecurities follow. It gets harder and harder to logic your way out of the simple fact that you suck. 

Eventually, the streak will end. If nothing else, the Matchmaking Gods will eventually stop picking on you and put you on the other team. And the spiritual nourishment of a good win will erase the lonely, soul-sucking experience you just went through, and you'll all too eagerly re-queue. Thus another shift begins at the Win Factory.

The Matchmaking Gods of Overwatch are mighty, and real, though some would say otherwise. The Matchmaking Gods know the secret Number of Fun. That number is 50/50. The best games in the world have 50:50 odds of winning, if all other factors are balanced. When you queue up for an Overwatch match, whether ranked or unranked, The Matchmaking Gods look at your skills as a player, and matches you with other players of skills averaging out so that any six of the eleven other players you matched with will have a 50 percent chance to win the match.

In theory, this is a perfect system, and it does work well, often. But when the system is working, that means someone's gotta be in that losing 50 percent. And the Matchmaking Gods do not care who is in that bottom 50. They don't care if you keep ending up on the wrong side of that coin. It's all 50/50. The chances of your own personal hell happening to you are just as equal as they are to anyone else.
The problem is internal: Winning streaks feel like I'm getting away with something, but losing streaks? Losing streaks feel personal. Even when they're anything but.

(Side note: this is why the ten placement matches at the beginning of every season are so vital. With the Matchmaking Gods trying to keep games 50/50 at all times, movement from one league to the next can be very difficult, once you've been placed.)

The losing streak isn't all at the feet of the Matchmaking Gods, of course. I am stoned. I am tired. It is late. I've been playing some heroes I don't normally play, in desperate attempts to cover down on missing team components. It's times like this that I wish the answers were obvious. Like if the Matchmaking Gods were actually real, and whispered in my ear "Dude, we're not picking on you; you're just tired. Play something else for awhile." And then I'd go do that.

But what if that's not it? What if I've just been on the wrong side of a few plays, and the real answer is to play through it? Burn off the cold streak? I mean, as long as I'm having fun, right? I feel like this is one of those competitor's instincts that are left un-honed in me, weak from light use over the past 30 years or so I've been gaming. Knowing when to push, and when to back off. It's a vital skill in Overwatch matches, that I could probably use some work on.

I've mentioned this before, but I'll mention again that unranked play is seldom an option. I'd rather just play something else. The majority of the fun for me in Overwatch is the skin in the game. This losing drought I go through right now...and all the shit it brings with, fundamentally, a choice I have made for myself. That doesn't make it suck much less, but I do get a little stability from the realization that I am in ultimate control of my feelings.

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