written by Disco
During the Western Conference finals of the NBA 2018 playoffs, the Rockets and the Warriors were in game five of what would be a seven game battle. During a timeout, audio was captured of Steve Kerr giving an poignant anecdote to Kevin Durant:
“When MJ was with the Bulls, they had a playoff game. He kept trying to score and he was scoring, but they weren’t getting anything going. Phil Jackson said, ‘Who’s open?’ He said, ‘John Paxson.’ I want you to trust your teammates early. What you’re doing is you’re getting to the rim and then you’re trying to hit them. I want you to trust the first guy and then move. Still attack, still look to score, but trust these guys, OK?”
While the Warriors would end up losing that game, they ended up winning the series and taking the championship soon after. So it begs the question – does this idea transfer over to Overwatch? The answer, pure and simple, is yes. But, the application of this idea is not as simple.
In coordinated six-stacks or teams, trusting your teammates is paramount. All the plans in the world will fail if your team doesn’t trust each person to do their job. In a dive composition, if you don’t trust your main tank to dive properly and to call targets, instinct might say to pick your own target and to focus them. But against coordinated teams, this will end horrifically. Similarly, if you don’t trust your team to win duels and get the kills they need, you might think it’s a good idea to be overly aggressive to make up for your team’s faults. But players who do that tend to feed significantly against coordinated teams, as the only way this matchup works out is if the aggressive player is significantly more skilled than the other team and luck happens to be on their side. More often than not, this will fail.
Not trusting your teammates also tends to dissolve any morale that the team has. Ignoring what your team is saying or arguing with them during the middle of a match causes people to stop calling information, become caustic when they do talk, and make the entire environment a toxic one. Even just taking the attitude of being more intelligent, more experienced, or simply just better than others can have negative consequences, as your teammates will notice this and be affected. Justification through it being a personality trait or just teasing are equally problematic, as it takes the problem, hides it under the bed, and says that it’s gone – this is not a valid solution.
“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”
– Babe Ruth
Now that the effects of not trusting teammates has been established, it’s time to look at how to prevent it. Simply saying “trust your teammates” is an answer (and a good one at that), but it helps to build an environment in which it’s natural and expected for players to trust each other. By being intentional about trust and respect, the underlying causes of mistrust tend to have a hard time planting roots. While teasing and making fun of players “in jest” might be the norm for your team, it has the potential to escalate and hurt someone, causing players to stop trusting each other. Knowing where the line between humor and hurt is and taking an extra step back from it defines communities that care about their members and their well being.
One way to build this environment is to have a coach that the players trust and respect. By having a direct chain of command instead of the players managing themselves, the result is that the players will trust their teammates because their coach is working with everyone. It also prevents issues of arguing about situations in the middle of scrims and matches, as the coach is the one to be giving the final say regarding those types of issues in vod reviews. Finally, having someone who the players will listen to will provide a way for someone to help remove that lack of trust that players might develop. The aforementioned anecdote of Steve Kerr and Kevin Durant is an example of that.
An emergency measure that may have to be taken is to remove a player from your team. At the end of the day, if the team cannot trust them whatsoever, there is no reason for them to be playing with the team. It’s a waste of time for them and for the team. Though this is a harsh option and should not immediately be jumped to, it may be necessary. Just be ready to deal with the fallout if it occurs.
It can be difficult to trust your solo queue teammates to do well. If it’s proving to be difficult, consider wrapping yourself in a blanket and thinking about cute animals. Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash
One quick note regarding solo queue: this idea does apply as well, just not in the same way. You might not be able to trust that your teammates will follow your plans and strategies to perfection. You might not be able to trust that your teammates will be able to walk out of spawn and shoot in the general direction of the enemy. But they are at the same rank as you, and you have no control over them. You have to trust that they will play at their level and that you can play at yours. If you believe that you deserve to rank up, you have to be capable of playing well individually despite what your team is doing. This doesn’t mean instantly picking a damage character and jumping into the enemy team solo. This does mean that you play what you can play to do well and focus on your gameplay over your teammates. After all, they’re gone after one game; you’re stuck with yourself for all your games. So make the most of your time by focusing on your gameplay and letting them stick with theirs.
Trusting teammates, even just trusting people, can be difficult. However, Overwatch is a game that requires teammates trusting that their peers will get the job done. Failing to do so puts your team at a disadvantage, and every advantage matters in a game that is both fast-paced and team-oriented. You don’t have to be the star of the show, nor the smartest person in the room, to get things done. Instead, follow Steve Kerr’s advice and attack, try to win, and trust your teammates in the process.