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Beating Tilt in League of Legends: How to Maintain Your Focus When the Game Gets Tough

So, you’re making plays, but your team still doesn't get ahead, you might have been caught off guard in the early game, missed a crucial ultimate, or you’ve been ganked and no one pinged the map, these frustrating situations can lead to a downward spiral of anger and annoyance that affects your performance.


We've all experienced these moments in League of Legends when everything seems to be going wrong, no matter how hard you try. This emotional rollercoaster is of course known as tilt. Now if you can understand and manage tilt whilst your opponent can’t, it can be an absolute game-changer in League of Legends, helping you maintain a clear head and capitalize on opponents' mistakes.


A computer screen and keyboard lit up on a desk.
Stop tilt in LoL with these tips

Defining Tilt in League of Legends:

Tilt, originally a term from the world of Poker, refers to a state of emotional frustration where a player's decision-making becomes less rational and strategic. When this concept is applied to League of Legends, it generally signifies a shift towards negative emotions and impaired decision-making due to mounting frustration.


The Impact of Tilt on Your Gameplay:

When tilt sets in, your gameplay takes a hit. Instead of focusing on team coordination, aiming accurately, and planning ahead, your thoughts shift towards negativity, frustration towards yourself, teammates or the other team, which can make you prone to impulsive decisions. You might charge into battles without thinking, blame your teammates for perceived mistakes, make unnecessary call-outs, or even blame the game itself for being broken, in a bad meta, or poorly made. All these reactions intensify your stress response, pushing you deeper into tilt and further away from peak performance.


The science:

In psychological terms, tilt is the 'curvilinear relationship between arousal and performance.' As stress levels increase, performance improves up to a certain point. Beyond that point, performance starts to decline as stress continues to rise. This relationship, known as the Yerkes-Dodson Law (Cohen, 2011), has significant implications for gaming, where optimal performance hinges on maintaining the right balance of arousal. Too much stress can lead to shaky hands, anger, and frustration, adversely affecting your gameplay.


Recognising and Addressing Tilt in League of Legends: What to look out for

· Increased heart rate

· Shallow breathing

· Tense muscles

· Venting frustrations in chat

· Seeking revenge

· Forgetting your opponents are human players

· Making unnecessary call-outs


Effective Strategies to Counter Tilt: How you can stop tilt?

So, we know what tilt is, how to recognise it, and how it affects our play, but how do we stop it? Longstanding techniques from sport and performance psychology can be useful here, with athletes from more traditional sports using them to help stay on track and remain at the peak of the arousal/performance curve.


Positive Self-Talk and Functional Phrases: Remind yourself of your strengths and avoid dwelling on mistakes. Use empowering phrases like "I've trained for this" or "I've overcome challenges before.", or even ask yourself "will being angry here help me play better?". Employ specific in-game reminders like "check the map" or "focus on positioning" and “check timers” to redirect your attention to productive areas rather than dwelling on errors.


Cognitive Restructuring: Change your perspective on mistakes or unlucky events. Rather than berating yourself or your team, treat them as learning opportunities. Tell yourself that you can control your reactions and learn from your experiences, so they are less likely to happen again. Each mistake is one step closer to not making that mistake again, remind yourself of this.


Breathing Techniques: Another classic technique is to focus on your breathing during a stressful match. As things are heating up use self-talk to remind yourself to keep your breathing calm and focussed, and if you make a mistake rather than verbally lashing out, getting angry and inadvertently holding your breath, inhale deeply. Feel the air enter your lungs as they expand, then focus on the feeling of it escaping as you breathe out. Try and notice how the warm air feels as it hits your top lip and continue to take notice until you’ve returned to a managed emotional state and get back in the game with a clear head.


Taking Breaks: If all else fails, then just take a break. Walk away from the game for a moment, play another less intense game you enjoy or do another activity. Once you are back in control and calm, come back to the game and play some casual matches or grab some mates for strat roulette and have fun again. Too often people forget that at our core, all gamers play to have fun, and reminding yourself of that can help put you back on track to a more positive mindset.


Mastering Your Mental Game in League of Legends:

Mastering the mental aspect of League of Legends is a gradual process. By employing these techniques consistently, you'll be well-equipped to manage frustration and anger during matches. While conquering tilt might not happen overnight, with dedicated practice and conscious effort, you'll notice a positive shift in your reactions to challenges.


If you believe that you or your team could benefit from working with a Sport Psychologist on these aspects, consider reaching out at abbottsportpsy@gmail.com or exploring available packages for personalized support here.


References: 1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tilt_(poker) 2Cohen, R. A. (2011). Yerkes–Dodson Law. In Encyclopedia of clinical neuropsychology (pp. 2737-2738). Springer New York.

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