At the Utrecht Grand Championship a friend approached me and asked me to write an article about my winning mentality. I have tried to sit down and write it for a while, but it was not until the Santumonius Invitational – Glorius Few, that I finally understood the missing piece: Losing mentality.
During my experience in competitive keyforge I have matched my expectations coming into an event more often than not. My first vault tour at UKGE ended 4-2 exactly as I expected. At Krakow Sealed Vaul I made day 2 as I improved my gameplay between the two events. My first over performance was at the Krakow Archon Solo, where I expected 4-2 but went 5-1 to make day 2.
Loss of tension
One thing I noticed back in Krakow is that once I made day two, by winning the first 5 rounds, I lost the tension that kept me sharp and on top of my game in the last round. I don’t know for sure that I could have won if I played better, but I suspect it is the case.
I’m sure it is not the same for everyone, but for me, once I know I made day 2 I relax. And when I am relaxed I don’t perform as well. Another thing I discovered around that time is if I am in physical discomfort, for example due to needing to urinate, It keeps me sharper. I don’t let my mind wander. I keep focused on the game.
It is hard to know what might cause loss of tension, but I think matching expectations is one. Once you have gotten what you came to achieve, why put in more effort?
I think one solution to this could be to increase expectations throughout the event. I have not tested this, but I think if I have a sit down with myself after that round 5 and tell myself “OK, so I want to win this next round. I can do it.” It could be what is needed to keep that tension.
People come with all sorts of expectations for their gameplay. Some expect to win, some expect to lose, and some flat out “know” they will lose. I have a local player with a losing mentality. They pick up the cards and concede when there are still outs on the board. This is because they have already lost when they sat down. They need to have stumbled into quite a lead in order to believe in themselves long enough to win the game.
While I have never had that level of losing mentality, during the recent Sanctumonius Invitational, I was expecting to go Loss, Win, Loss or Loss, Win, Win, Loss. When I was in the first game I really wanted to win. I had that tension. I won the first round, and the next two, greatly surpassing my own expectations. On the fourth round, the semifinals, I completely lost my tension. It might have been due to a longer break between my games that allowed me to stop and think about how I have already accomplished more than I set out to (not go 0-2). I started making poor mistakes, like forgetting to start my turn with Glimmer.
Winning mentality is a mix of several factors, and I am sure this too manifests differently with different people. For me it is high expectations and belief in my abilities. These two things together allow me to keep my tension looking forward into the next match. They keep me sharp for the long run, and allow me to go 9-0 in the Belgium Grand Championship that I came to in order to win a flight to Worlds.
But having high expectations can also lead to disappointment, so it is important to set realistic expectations. If like me before my first vault tour, you went 2-1 in most local chainbound, it is likely that you will finish 4-2 in a vault tour as it is the same win percentage. But if you manage to hit a few 3-0s, then a 5-1 is completely achievable. This is of course quite simplistic as the level of your opponents matters a lot. Winning 50% of your games against Alex Slotnick from Sanctumonius (personally have a %40 win rate against him on the tracker) is a far higher achievement than winning 3-0 in an 8 player local chainbound with casual players out to have some light fun.
Contact and afterword
I hope this helps you go into your games with a winning mentality and keep yourself sharp.
I have not posted anything in a while. The lack of premium events has me less motivated to practice high level play. However the Sanctumonius Invitational last weekend and the Shadow Worlds coming upon has rekindled my competitive flame, so I hope to be inspired to write more.
I also started running a double elimination bracket low sas tournament on Thursdays, and might run other events. So join the discord and find the #timeshapers channel to join in on the fun.
We’ve also started the Timeshapers Podcast, so find it on your favourite platform, and if it isn’t there, please leave a comment so we can get it on there.