How exactly do you work this mental toughness?
I practice meditation and physiotherapy. All of this helps me to stay focused, to ease the pressure. As a pro player I loved it because I am someone who thinks too much. I am hyperactive. So it quickly becomes helter-skelter in my head and with the LCS close by you have a lot of stress and pressure. When you lose games, you immediately see the media fallout and the people who insult you. You have to stay strong mentally, it’s hard. You also have to face defeat with the team, and support each other.
If I was in a game that was going well I would be at my maximum potential. Whereas when I was in a bad game it was disaster. And I would even make things worse and be a burden to my team, which I realized too late. And I think that’s probably why Vitality did not want me this new season. Because I was a 50/50 jungler.
In the end I think I was mentally weak. Because I was too anxious, it was my first year at the LCS. So I was amazed to land in this world and I think it completely engulfed me. I thought I was mentally strong, but I realized that I had a lot to learn, and that’s what’s wonderful. That’s what allows me to evolve as a pro player, as a competitor.
I changed this mental state, this mindset with the month and a half that has just passed. I changed my way of thinking, of seeing things. I am in a period of change. I’m still 20 years old, that’s normal, I’m also maturing. And I know that as a jungler and a player I was way too aggressive. I wanted to show everyone that I belonged at the LCS and in the end I wanted to do too much. And as a result, I made ridiculous mistakes that even a beginner would not do. I realized it.
And since I did some tests with my new GIANTS team at the LCS, I changed that aspect. Now I take my time. I breathe. I do not let my heart run wild. I keep a cool head and it works like a charm! I feel that my level is increasing. I’m seizing better opportunities, and I’m performing beautiful moves. But you must always keep this little aggressive spirit and execute 2-3 moves as well. I’m learning from the mistakes from my first year at the LCS, and now I’m coming well prepared, with more rage, more desire to win for the next season. I think my mind is 10 times stronger than before. At the same time, it was not very hard seeing where I was.
What makes you obtain a level higher than another?
The hardest thing is to keep your composure despite the adrenaline, all the stress, and all that you have in your head. When you manage to keep your cool, you are much more lucid. And you just have to trust your fingers, and let the magic do the rest. You do not ask yourself any more questions
Its quintessential you acquire this composure, because otherwise you get wrapped up, you get carried away by the emotion and you begin to feel your heart beat faster and faster, and make mistakes.
There is a study that was done, and that was presented to us: RIOT. A well-known psychologist in Europe, especially in gaming, because she had coached a team and made them win the world championships. She explained that she had done a study with the heartbeat. It turns out that you become less specific about how to cast your spells, how to play, when your heart is racing. The end of this story is that if your heartbeat is in a normal rhythm, soothed as if you were at home, you will be able to play at your maximum, at your highest potential, your highest level. On the contrary, the more you get carried away by the emotion, the more you will feel your heart racing, and that is when you start having your hands shaking, such that you lose control and you might really make mistakes. It’s really one of the keys to keep your cool.
So what you’re telling me is a study that has shown that the faster the heartbeat, the more mistakes the player makes. In the mental preparation that I suggest, I am working precisely on the lowering of the heart rate and the management of stress. What do you think about the importance of knowing the game to help a player mentally?
It’s huge because just when you’re in a sort of environment where you feel like home, and you feel really comfortable, this is where you play best. It is this situation that we should try to recreate.
You can extensively prepare someone mentally without knowing the game thoroughly and have a huge impact on a player, such as managing stress. Anyway, that kind of thing is really interesting because that’s what people are looking for. Because a guy who does that is a good guy. And you do not have many in mind. We need people like you.
Steeelback had friends in another team, the one he was with before joining Vitality. And who had just hired a psychologist and suddenly the guys blew the league apart, it was crazy. The guys were beating the best in the league. You’d ask yourself, but how did they do it? And what is the difference with the other teams? Well, it was this psychologist. And in the end what did they talk about, they talked about how to live in the house, how they felt, and not 24H/24H about the game. Because living in a community, every day, it’s difficult, you are not necessarily used to it. So it’s very important to have someone who takes care of the players’ mindset. That’s what can make the difference and win a tournament.
How does team communication take place?
Communication is well conducted when all players have a specific communication to their role. And if any part of this engine does not work as it should be, everything begins to tumble, to fall apart.
When there is a match and you are led 1-0, you have players who are going to be very emotional. And suddenly they will not communicate enough, or even not at all. And that’s what destroys this engine. League of legends is a game about communication, information. You see where the jungler is in front, you play and act accordingly and it’s that way all the time. It’s information that runs constantly.
But neither should people become excited. There are situations where you will perform 4 kills, and then the guys will be in super excited mode! On the contrary, you have to keep calm. And that’s how you recognize a professional player or not. Those are people who can temper their behavior. Communication is very important in a team, and without that it heads straight for failure. You cannot win without communication. In any case not on League of legends.
The latter must remain healthy and precise. You have to know what to say at the right time, and how to act on it. On the contrary, it is necessary that there isn’t a fall of very sensitive and important information. It must be clear and precise. Otherwise, people risk getting lost and not understanding each other.
What often happens is that one person tells you to do A and the other to do B. What happens is that you have half of the team going to do A and the other half doing B. And in the end you lose quickly. That’s to tell you how important communication is. You have to listen to each other.
I know that Steeelback and you are very close. Do you play better with him?
It’s a very good question you ask because this has changed. At first it was difficult to play with Steeelback because we were on a meta that is played more around the top. And I always played with the top player when I was with Millenium. I more or less started doing this when I arrived at Vitality. Especially since Cabochard, the toplanner (specific role of a player of League of Legends) was a Frenchman whom I really liked. Like Steeelback, I’m not saying otherwise but I had my way of playing which was almost constantly around the top.
And Steeelback was just telling me that it was extremely weird and frustrating for him to play with me. We were really good friends outside the games. During a game, we were not necessarily enemies, but we did not get along very well. It was hard at first.
But later, when Vitality ended, we both did tests at Giants. And since we had spent a year together, he knew me well about the way I played. He guided me a little. And since we knew each other very well, we knew exactly what to say, we understood each other perfectly. And we immediately understood what the other wanted to do during a game. And that helped us a lot in the tests. I think it will immensely ease things for us in the coming season.
A word to conclude?
I am very happy to be part of the adventure with the Vodafone Giants team. You can follow me on twitter: https://twitter.com/GIA_Djoko
I am available from time to time for coaching on: http://school.egg-one.com/en/course-league-of-legends/338801