It doesn’t matter what game, what platform or what region you play on, breaking into the top ranks of the competitive ladder is an achievement to be proud of. For me, landing in the top 500 of Overwatch’s EU Xbox leaderboard, be it for a very small time, is still something that will resonate with me for the longest time.
Anyone who has ever tried the ranked mode in Blizzard’s hero-based shooter will be aware of the mental adversity that is necessary to conquer it. Especially when you play as a solo queueing, flex-support, the challenge of powering through the many high and lows of the ladder is much more than a mechanical challenge.
The trials and tribulations begin with honing the skill set necessary to compete with the best your platform has to offer. For me, that meant sinking hours and hours into the few healers the game offers. If you’ve never felt the crushing oppression of feeling worthless, try playing as Zenyatta against a coordinated team playing dive where your team refuse to communicate with you, that’ll put things into perspective.
Unfortunately, that’s just the start of the mechanical journey that is required to smash through the metaphorical barrier that separates the ‘plats’ and diamonds from each other on the ladder. The next part involved me having to learn characters I had no interest in playing, simply to fill the roles in the team when it came up. As an example, I managed to end up with a mean pocket Winston pick that I could whip out at the most sudden moment.
Once I’d finally nailed the skills and mechanics that I needed to push me to the threshold of around 3100SR (low diamond), all was going to plan. I thought I was well on my way to greatness. Then the challenge of being a competent and formidable communicator hit me like a truck. This is by far the hardest part of Overwatch as trying to effectively bring a team together, especially when things aren’t going to plan, is as enjoyable as bashing your head against a brick wall. In hindsight, and for anyone who fancies taking the challenge themselves, I highly recommend you try figuring this part out as you’re honing your skills in the lower ranks.
Fortunately, for anyone who’s made it this far in the competitive ladder, will surely know that once you’ve managed to train yourself to bring a team together winning is much easier. However, now is about when we hit the final hurdle of our journey: “tilt”. It’s easy to say right now, just stay calm, take a minute and breath but that’s really ineffective when you’ve got 15 deaths in the first round of a map and your team are telling you to swap instead of helping you out. All I can say is if you feel the tilt coming, finish that game and take at least an hour break and reset; not much else can be done.
Anyway, for me February 18 was the big day. I came in with a mind of steel, refusing to be cracked by the tilt beast that lurks within every game and after a win streak that spanned around five games of pure mechanical prowess. I had achieved greatness, that gorgeous, glowing symbol of hope and success accompanied with my name on that global leaderboard, at least until it was erased from existence a week later. Still, that short period easily marks the greatest gaming moment of my life and nothing will ever replace it.