This guide was created out of my experiences playing matches from silver through diamond and watching streamers in a gamut of skill levels from bronze through to master. I believe the "sweet spot" for people for whom this guide is helpful are silver, gold, platinum, and diamond players. As you go lower than silver and into bronze, I believe morale has less of an impact on the game because people are so bad at playing the game that they cannot adjust their playstyle to how they perceive the game is going. As you go above diamond, I believe players play less emotionally and more mechanically – they don't need to feel a certain way about a certain engagement, they can just tell what will happen because they have a high understanding of how situations in the game will play out.
One of the most common things I've seen from people asking for help on this subreddit is people asking for help about how to prevent tilt. Let's be honest. There are people whose tilt is not preventable. There are literal children and mentally ill people who play this game. There are people whose tilt you cannot prevent. But there is definitely a substantial slice of people whose tilt can be prevented, whose tilt can even be reversed. There are definitely people who play this game wondering why the game's so toxic and how people can bear it while other people play this game and wonder what all this toxicity stuff is about because they haven't seen it.
Chapter 1, Human Nature:
Before we discuss the game, let me tell you three stories about human nature.
- I work in a school. At this school, there is a teenager who would get into almost absurd levels of trouble. He would cause such a ruckus that he gets kicked out of class, then he would try to pick a fight with the dean or security who would have to escort him out of class into in-school suspension, then he would once in awhile run out of in-school suspension and yell profanity into rooms where class is in session. There are some teachers who are at their wit's end about how to deal with this kid. Some try all sorts of punishment and discipline, some try to be nice to him in different ways, and it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter because we all found out that his mom is crazy abusive to him, tells him every day that he's stupid and a failure, and that she wish she aborted him. The mom is probably also on drugs. The moral of this story: Sometimes, you don't have control over the tilt.
- I watched a small streamer playing this game, once. The draft doesn't go the way he wanted, leaving his team without a tank or healer or something. The first teamfight doesn't go the way he wants, so he types something along the lines of, "gg, let it end." The game actually ends up being quite close. This streamer's team rallied in the middle, though ultimately lost. The whole time, however, his team (and I, in chat) was ragging on him, calling him a little bitch and snarking him every time they make any small gains, like partially win a teamfight. On stream, this guy's reaction was literally like, "why's everyone so toxic today? Why do they want to flame instead of win?" It was exactly as if he'd forgotten that he declared he wished to throw the game at the beginning of the game. The moral of this story: Some people are socially inept.
- When I was younger and just starting to play LoL and naive to the genre, I was duo queued in League of Legends with my college roommate. My college roommate is not known to be an easy man to get along with, and says something disparaging to a Master Yi player on our team. Master Yi freaks out, and starts to feed, and declares, he's not going to stop feeding until my roommate apologizes. Being stupid, I get mad at my roommate and tell him he needs to apologize to this guy or else we're gonna lose the game (look, man. I said I was naive). Eventually, my roommate relents and apologizes, and Master Yi is just like, "haha, fuck you, I'm still feeding." There are two morals to this story: Trolling is about power. Also, some people will rather throw a game than lose a game legitimately.
Chapter 2, Defining Morale:
Morale is a person's state of mind in relation to the task they are trying to accomplish.
If you play certain video games, like the Total War series, or the Warhammer Dawn of War games, you probably know that morale is how brave your unit feels, and when their morale is broken, they tend to become ineffectual and run away. This isn't quite true in Heroes of the Storm, because your teammates who die in the game do not die in real life, and neither can your teammates flee the game because then they will receive leaver status. Most people do not even want to flame or express negativity in the game because they don't want to be banned.
But morale does exist, it just looks different in this game.
When people have high morale, they feel powerful and effective. They are happier to take responsibility and make efforts in the team. They are more willing to take risk and exert effort. When you remember playing this game and the great moments you had, you are remembering those moments where you had high morale.
When people have low morale, they feel ineffective. They do not want to take responsibility or make efforts in the team – most times, they just want to let other people take charge and see what happens. They are less willing to take risk and less willing to exert effort. You'd think less willingness to take risks would make them play a tighter, better game, but failing to take the correct risks is as bad, if not worse for your chances of winning.
When you see teams that appear stronger on paper, but lose the game because they just sit in lane and farm xp and defend without ever making an offensive play, that is a team that is low on morale. Just because nobody's flaming and nobody's quitting, it doesn't mean there's not something wrong.
Chapter 3, Out-reasoning your tilt.
In this chapter, let's do some logical reasoning to put the power back into your hands and help you to personally maintain a high morale. Consider the following:
There are some games you are never going to win because your teammate is not emotionally mature enough to play a multiplayer competitive game. Sometimes you don't have control over that player's morale. It's alright. This is a free game. Literal children can make an account and play, severely mentally ill people can make an account and play. Nobody has 100% winrate, not every game is winnable, and there are some games you just have to realize are uncarryable. The bright side is, mathematically, unless you are the type who gets fired from your job and then try to play some HOTS games to take your mind off things, the enemy team is 20% more likely to have someone like this than you ever are.
No matter if you are Bronze 5 or GM 1, you begin the game in the same state. Your Jaina does the same damage as any other Jaina, your Stitches has the same HP as any other Stitches, your Giddy Ups give as much a speed boost as any other Raynor's Giddy Ups, and your Flamestrikes do as much damage as any other Flamestrikes. There are two myths that you need to banish from your mind forever if you ever want to get better at this game. The first is the myth of precision. When a high level player is better at hitting skillshots, it is not because he is more precise, it is because he is better at predicting where the enemy player will be when he casts it. The second is the myth of speed. When a high level player is better at dodging skillshots, it is because not because he can react faster, it is only because he is better at predicting where the skillshot will come from and where it will be aimed. The only way that a higher rated player can beat you consistently is because that higher rated player knows more about the game than you. Then, when you realize this, you can realize that game knowledge is the easiest thing to develop – far easier than conditioning for a sport. If you are Bronze 5, you can theoretically wake up tomorrow and play like GM 1.
If all else fails, understand that if your morale's low, you can always fake it. If low morale makes you fail to take risks, then consciously take risks. If low morale makes you not play with the team, realize that by not playing with the team, you will lose anyways. If low morale makes you want to rage at your team, then just consciously not type. You don't have to ping either.
There are also these people who turn off Team Chat and don't engage with anyone. Don't do this. This is coming into the game pre-tilted. If you join a game expecting that your team will be toxic, that they will be dumb, that they will throw, you are already displaying low morale. You might as well not be playing. Besides, your teammates might be reasonable and trying to win at the outset, but then your refusal to listen and cooperate lowers their morale.
Chapter 4, Maintaining your team's morale:
Okay, so you're steady, playing like a rock. How do you keep your opponents playing the same way?
There is a big, nasty misconception about how to maintain your team's morale, and that is that you should be a nice, positive person. That's horse shit. Forcing yourself to be a nice, positive person to four potentially shitty strangers is fake, and that fakeness is taxing, and then that taxing will make you tilt. Of course, you don't have to neg or provoke anyone. For me, when I see something genuinely good happen, like a good Ring of Frost, just mention it in chat. A casual, succinct, "nice ring" or "nice dive on Valla" or a "good peels" goes a long way into making a teammate feel powerful and effective. You don't have to drag it out, you don't have to go over to their house and blow them, you don't even have to respond to however they react to the compliment.
Of the people who are playing with low morale, not all of them can be taken to a high morale state of mind. But of the ones who can, the most effective thing you can do is give your teammates results. You'd be surprised at how many negative assholes suddenly shut up and play when your team is winning. So how do you give your teammates results? The most easy thing is to win an objective. Winning a teamfight is a clear, tangible thing to people and it shows that you can win a teamfight later, if it comes down to it. This is why a lot of people report that playing a macro style or a macro-oriented hero like Zagara or Murky causes teammates to tilt. The problem isn't macro, it's that you didn't show up to a teamfight and even if you not showing up is technically winning you the game, for many players, the results of teamfights tells them how to feel about the game.
Keep your team out of the low morale stupor. If you think about the last paragraph about how a teamfight can raise your team's morale, then one thing you can realize is that if you're losing, the way you pull yourself up is by teamfight. You can't farm xp out of a losing game because the winning team is also farming xp, safer because they are stronger and likely have map control, and at a faster rate because they probably have more forts/keeps down. You can't push or camp your way out of a losing game because the stronger team will push and camp faster. The only thing you can do is teamfight your way out. Unfortunately, what low morale people will tend to do is want to play passively so as to die less and feel the feeling of failure less. This is the low morale stupor. Nobody wants to start another teamfight that loses, so people will just passively let the game slip away. However, the more you teamfight the better, without having to take any teamfights that you will obviously lose, so you should call for them. To maximize your chances of winning these teamfights, you should try only to farm up to talent parity (it's better to fight as level 16 versus level 19 than to fight as level 15 versus level 16), then try to get a good ambush. Creepjacking can be surprisingly dangerous because your team is often tempted to enter the fight through the same route or bunch up around the camp to try to get the mercenary camp, making them vulnerable to being blown up by AoE, but an enemy team that has been caught at a camp with some cooldowns popped is at a disadvantage.
Do not engage with ragers. Trolling is about power. When people start to rage and troll, do not engage. A common thing that happens when a team loses a teamfight is for a player to find someone to blame. The ranged assassin might say, "fkin tank, peel noob." You may feel tempted, if you are the tank, to counter, "I can't peel because _____." And you might even be right. You might be right, you might be reasonable, you might be saying it in a level-headed way. Still, saying anything was your first mistake. Never engage with these people. There is only one thing that can happen. The player is going to persistently and annoyingly argue with you. When you tell him that he is wrong, you are threatening his power, so he is going to fight you tooth and nail to keep his power. Trolling is about power. Anything else that happens is an extension of this power struggle. If that player decides to feed, quit playing, or otherwise sabotage the game, it is a way to exert power over you for not agreeing with him. If that player decides to become toxic to other members of the team, that is a way to find others to exert power over because he cannot exert power over you. Admitting your fault is similarly damaging because you have just given the raging player his reward. The next thing he's going to do is demand more and more because the thing that feels good about you admitting your fault isn't that you will play differently – you may not even want to – it's that his power was affirmed, and he is going to seek more affirmations of his power. Your only play that has the least potential for reducing your chances of winning the game is to not engage. Now, morally speaking, fuck these people. Don't get me wrong. I am not advocating that you let assholes walk all over you. I am just stating that if you want to raise your winrate, this is how you raise your winrate. Don't forget to report egregious people after the game.
"Do not engage with ragers" includes if you are the rager. Remember the story that trolling is about power. Everybody knows that people will resist you when you lash out angrily at them. But all people lash out anyways. Why? You lash out not to get people to do things, but to make yourself feel less stressed. Your displays of anger are inherently parasitic; you are trying to feel better by making others feel worse. So you rage, and then everybody resents you. Okay, so raging in the first place is a terrible idea if you want to win the game, but after you rage, recognize that nobody wants you to be Mr. Nice Supportive Guy thereafter. Nobody wants you to feel superior or nice or good about yourself. People are reluctantly giving you the win if you're in a position to win only because their win and your win is the same thing. Just shut up and play, and if you end up winning, just slink off relieved that you got your win because your teammates were more mature than you were and didn't let you throw.
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