In ‘Practice the Things You Hate’ I mention that you have a lot more control than you might think about your emotional state and the things that can affect you. While this is still true, there are many things that you can’t control in fighting games and you should do your best to learn when to let go and when to take responsibility. Telling the difference between the two will save yourself a lot of grief, and let you focus on better things to work on as a competitive player.
When you go to a tournament people will ask who you lost to. When you go to a regional people will ask if you made it out of pools. These kinds of questions inform us as to what is important about what happened at the tournament! But how much control do you really have about what players you play, what kind of pool you got, and what characters you ran into? Not much at all. If you are lucky enough to be seeded then that can help quite a bit, but other than that its luck.
Rather than focusing on details that aren’t really under your control, ask yourself after each match and each tournament how you did personally. Did you play your best; did you give it your all? Were you prepared for the type of tournament it was? Did you have a game plan for the matchups you encountered? By asking questions in this way, the responsibility of what matters is squarely with you, and the rest is just circumstance.
Now of course skill is a huge factor in any tournament, and making excuses should never become a habit, but you have to know when to take responsibility and when to let go. When I played a player who played a character I didn’t know, yes it was a bit unlucky. He’s the only dude who plays him in all of NorCal! So I can’t get too down on myself for having to play him and losing. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t need to practice that matchup for next time. I’m simply reframing what happened to facilitate my own improvment without focusing on extraneous factors.
The next time you go to a tournament, ask yourself specific questions about your performance. Did you feel prepared? Were you able to relax? (I’ll link to the blog about Dealing With Stress here later) Were you able to execute? Did you play as patient as you needed to? Focus on the parts that are in your control and take each match into consideration on its own, you’ll feel better and will be less inclined to get down on yourself. Stay motivated and keep improving!