Counter-Strike: A Game of Confidence
Whether you are a pro or just an average gold nova, one thing that can improve anyone's game is confidence. What is confidence? A literal definition is, “the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust.” (Merriam Webster Dictionary) But what does confidence mean to the player? It can be winning 5 games in a row or when you hit 3 no scopes in a row and it feels like no one can stop you. You go into a match with friends just to have fun and all of a sudden it’s over, you won 16 rounds to 3 and it feels like the game took little to no effort. Are you really any better of a player than other days when you play? Were the opponents bad at the game and you just happened to get paired against them? To put it simply, no. The people you were playing against probably had just as many, if not more, hours in the game as anyone else on the server and likely tried harder than anyone else on the winning team. This magical thing that is known as confidence can almost carry you to a win.
Why does this happen? Where does this confidence come from? All of this can happen with a simple spark that likely occurs at the beginning of the game. You go into the first pistol round and get an ace, your whole team starts hyping you up and calling you insane, and you think to yourself, “Yeah, I am pretty insane, aren’t I?” That one play can propel you through out the rest of the game. From the start of a match, you already feel like you are better than everyone else on the server, which will result in you going for more risky plays and, more times than not, capitalizing off these moments. On the contrary, the opposite can occur as well. Let’s say you go the first three rounds without getting a kill. We all know that this doesn’t really matter considering that if you lose the pistol and don’t force that it’s unlikely to win the next few rounds regardless against a better equipped opponent. Because of this, for whatever reason, you start to doubt your decision making and aim. Depending on the player, this may affect you for the rest of the game. I believe that if you don’t think you can hit a shot, then, quite simply, you won’t. It’s that lack of confidence that can take a massive hit to your skill ceiling and skill floor, even if you have thousands of hours put into the game.
This is very evident looking into the professional scene as well. The team that I think it is most obvious for is Polish Virtus.pro. There is usually a moment where you can pinpoint when it all started to go wrong, which in the case of VP would be the the ELEAGUE 2017 Major in Atlanta. After their loss to Astralis in the grand finals, you could tell the team was devastated and may never be the same. Now, they did end up winning DreamHack Masters Las Vegas, the first tournament following the major, but after this it just hasn’t been the same. The moment they lost in Atlanta, I’m sure they began to discuss changes. Instead of taking a different route with their roster, they decided to stick together. This decision proved to be a decent one, as they won the aforementioned DreamHack soon after. However, the conversations still happened. That discussion alone caused turmoil in the team and lead to certain players feeling threatened and uncomfortable with the ones surrounding them. Looking at the team now, they look like they are in defeat. Before any match even starts, the players look like they have already lost. There is no motivation to win; no confidence in themselves to show the legends that they once were.
I find that I’m asking myself a very odd question to respond to. How can one improve on their confidence? It seems like it can be as simple as believing in yourself before heading into a match, but that can be hard when you have those games where you have the worst luck with timings or notice yourself consistently missing easy shots or losing aim duels. Taking deep breaths during a game and not letting your mistakes get to you can help you in-game and out of game to become a calmer player, a better teammate, and an under control person. Letting your team or the opponent know that you aren’t feeling your play is the worst thing you can do, exposing your mental weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Stay calm, believe in yourself, and stay confident Counter-Strike players.