Hello again! for those who are new, welcome to the Weiss and Chill blog. Today I will be speaking about a concept that isn’t necessarily exclusive to MtG, but rather is vital to getting better in 90% of competitive enviroments: the competitive mindset. Just like my last article, I will be referencing Next Level Magic but will do so loosely due to potential copyright issues. Also, if you wouldn’t mind, please visit the competitive WS subbredit. The subreddit is relatively new but it is designed as a hub for competitive players to gather and have discussions.
The competitive mindset in context to card games and competitions in general is always something that players have a basic understanding of, and will make an attempt to have a competitive mindset but fail to get a complete grasp on most of the time. Usually this can occur due to a lack of knowledge or a lack of mental fortitude (which causes people to get salty), and is usually a mixture of both and in rare cases an unwillingness to adapt and accept the truth for what it is.
before I dive any deeper into this, please understand that there will be things that people may not want to hear or will bring up controversial subjects (in the context of WS) that will lead people to disagree with me. I am not a prophet, but just a human being with the intention of deciphering and delivering information to everyone here with my own input; whether you choose to believe me or disagree with me is completely up to you but that doesn’t mean that I am going to be 100% correct.
Anyways without further ado, let’s begin. As I have stated before, the competitive mindset is something that many players have a basic understanding of, but most fail to grasp the competitive mindset in its entirety, and those who do sometimes fall out of the mindset and it deteriorates them as a player until they get back to it. Before we can really dive into the competitive mindset, we have to strip away some of the thoughts and feelings that destroy this mindset.
The most important thing that has to be taken away is the preconceived notion that you are an excellent player. Many players fall into this trap thinking that they are “good enough” and have reached the pinnacle of their learning which causes them to become stagnant. This is one of the reasons why many players fall short of being a “great” player- many of them reach a cap of some sort and assume that once they have reached that they are good players and can do no wrong. This way of thinking is poisonous and will cause you more frustrations than success. In order to become a good player, you have to be willing to break away from this idea, and never settle for “good enough”. Thinking you are “good enough” closes your mind and denies you the opportunity to learn more and master your craft. Now, don’t get me wrong. Experience is not a bad thing. Rather it is a good thing, it is important to understand that you have reached a temporary cap in your skill and that you have to take measures to overcome it. Just remember that game experience is necessary, but not the end-all. It is imperative to produce feedback through honest self-examination, or you can actually become worse at the game in the end.
“A true master is an eternal student” – A Really Annoying champion in League of Legends
Lets take a look back for a second. When you first picked up Weiss Schwarz and began to learn how to play, you quickly picked up bits and bits of information and before you knew it you had learned how to play the game without needing the rules sheet by your side all the time. The same happened again when you decided to improve yourself and learn more about the game- concepts such as compression and game strategies such as climax combos and creating better decks/using better card choices were new concepts to you, but over time you picked them up in a relatively quick manner. Part of this is done because you were exposed to players who knew of these things, but most of it was possible because you learned these concepts with the mentality of a student who was willing to learn and apply yourself. The “student” mentality is something that should never be ignored, as it is the key to learning and improving. It is the core of the “competitive” mindset. In essence, the competitive mentality is just an advanced form of the student mentality- trying to be good at the game without the willingness to learn and apply oneself constantly is a futile endeavor and will only lead you into a spiral of negative emotions and the the conclusion that you are “good enough”.
Now the question is, how to we translate the “student” mentality into a “competitive” one? Well, the “student” mentality is simply a means to an end which will push you forward but without a specific destination whereas the competitive mentality leads you to a specific goal with a specific destination. The student mentality is one that requires us to not only keep an open mind and educate ourselves, but to also apply ourselves with a specific goal. For that goal, we must come to a very specific albeit obvious decision.
Decide to win.
This is the first and final true step to being a competitive Weiss player. The decision to win is mostly done unconsciously by many players, but in order to get into a true competitive mindset, we must make this decision consciously. We must be willing to put 100% of our effort to this end, and this is how we evolve the “student” mindset into the “competitive” mindset. It involves brutally honest and constant evaluation of yourself and the game. It also involves gaining experience with the game which means choosing to play and spectate, and constantly analyzing gameplay patterns and interactions as you do so. This is how you take the “student” mentality (wanting to learn more) and evolving it into the “competitive” mentality (becoming better for the sake of winning). Honest reflection is good reflection- take note of how and why you are winning, and take note of how and why you or your opponent is losing. Do this not just with one game, or even two, but try to do this with almost every game. Watch videos, talk to people, recall your wins and losses and learn from the self-reflection that comes from it. Remember, being “good enough” is not the goal here. Even when you are winning, there is always an area in your play to improve in. Do not ignore your flaws just because you are able to win. This is dangerous in the long run because when you face better opponents, they will see your previously ignored flaws and use them to promptly destroy you.
Finally, I want to close out with what kind of information we should be looking for when we are seeking to improve. Essentially, we are seeking for truth. In the context of competitive card games, Next level Magic defines truth as “what is useful”. If an opinion is useful, then it can be interpreted as “truth”. A good example is the popular phrase “compression is a lie”. It implies that hard compression is a double edged sword and when you pass the threshold of “safe” compression you will inevitably draw and trigger climaxes that can lose you the game. Is this information useful to you? If so, then it can be interpreted as “truth”. Truth, in the context of trading card games is not absolute but rather abstract, and will change constantly with each set release, banlist and meta shift. Remember that with the “student” mentality, we are always seeking truth, and by that extension anyone with the competitive mentality should be actively seeking truth as well whether it be by self-reflection, analysis, information gathering, or all of the above.
Anyways, that’s the end of this segment of “Applying MTG Concepts”. I did want to make it longer with additional content, but I feel that segmenting these segments allows readers and players to hyperfocus on the content at hand rather than being grinded out by long articles without a TL;DR. The next articles moving forward in this series will all tie into this specific article in some form or another, so I highly recommend you take note of some of the things mentioned here and remember it as we move forward. Have a good day!