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The Struggle of a Competitive Gamer: Balancing Ambition and Self-Doubt


Core Concepts
Despite a strong competitive drive, the author struggles to improve at the video game Smash Ultimate, leading to feelings of self-doubt and questioning their place as a competitor.
Abstract
The author shares their personal journey with competitive gaming, particularly in the game Smash Ultimate. They describe themselves as a very competitive person, driven to improve in various skills and hobbies throughout their life. However, Smash Ultimate has proven to be a unique challenge, as the author has consistently struggled to achieve meaningful results or feel a sense of progress, despite their efforts. The author traces their competitive nature back to their childhood, where they were often overlooked in team sports due to a lack of natural talent. This experience shaped their desire to find individual pursuits where they could measure and improve their own skills, such as long-distance running and academic studies. The author's interest in competitive gaming, particularly Smash Ultimate, began during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Initially excited by the prospect of competing, the author soon became frustrated by their lack of improvement and began to question their place in the scene. They describe Smash Ultimate as a "jigsaw where I have the outline worked out but the centre is just scattered pieces everywhere." The author's struggles with Smash Ultimate have led to feelings of imposter syndrome and self-doubt, especially as they see other players rapidly improving and achieving success. They grapple with the idea of being "abjectly talentless," a phrase that resonates deeply with them. This has caused the author to consider stepping away from competitive gaming, despite their strong competitive drive. Throughout the piece, the author reflects on their personal growth in other areas, such as running and cricket, where they have been able to see tangible improvement. This highlights the unique challenge that Smash Ultimate presents and the author's desire to find that same sense of accomplishment in the game. The author concludes by expressing their continued desire to be a competitor, but also their uncertainty about how far they are willing to push themselves, given the persistent feelings of self-doubt and lack of progress.
Stats
Of the 75 offline tournaments I've been to, I carry a 9% win rate and have surpassed my seed at two events. I have never had a result better than 2–2 and have never really felt good as a player. My improvement rate is that of a snail. My career set record is 19–310 and a win rate of 6%.
Quotes
"Smash honestly feels like a jigsaw where I have the outline worked out but the centre is just scattered pieces everywhere" "The phrase 'abjectly talentless' is so vicious but also so relatable." "When there's no tangible results to prove the 4 years I've put into the game, it's hard to avoid the feelings of worthlessness."

Deeper Inquiries

What strategies or approaches could the author explore to find a new perspective on their Smash Ultimate journey and rekindle their passion for the game?

The author could consider taking a break from competitive play to focus on other aspects of the game that they enjoy. This could involve exploring different game modes, trying out new characters, or engaging in casual matches with friends to rediscover the fun in playing Smash Ultimate. Additionally, seeking out a mentor or coach who can provide guidance and support may help the author gain a fresh perspective on their gameplay and identify areas for improvement. Setting specific, achievable goals for their Smash journey, such as mastering a particular technique or reaching a certain rank, can also reignite their passion for the game by giving them a clear sense of direction and progress.

How might the author's experiences with other competitive pursuits inform a different approach to improving at Smash Ultimate, given the unique challenges it presents?

Drawing on their experiences in long-distance running and cricket, the author can apply similar principles of discipline, perseverance, and goal-setting to their Smash Ultimate journey. Just as they worked hard to improve their performance in running and cricket, the author can adopt a structured training regimen for Smash that focuses on consistent practice, skill development, and self-assessment. Embracing a growth mindset, where challenges are viewed as opportunities for learning and growth, can help the author navigate the unique challenges of competitive gaming and stay motivated despite setbacks. By leveraging the lessons learned from their other competitive pursuits, the author can approach Smash Ultimate with a renewed sense of determination and resilience.

Could the author's desire to contribute to the Smash Ultimate community in other ways, such as through content creation or community involvement, help provide a sense of fulfillment and purpose, even if their competitive results do not improve as quickly as they would like?

Engaging with the Smash Ultimate community through content creation, community events, or mentorship roles can offer the author a meaningful way to contribute to the scene and find fulfillment outside of their competitive results. By sharing their knowledge, insights, and experiences with others, the author can establish themselves as a valuable member of the community and make a positive impact on fellow players. This involvement can provide a sense of purpose and satisfaction that transcends individual performance metrics, allowing the author to derive joy and fulfillment from their contributions to the community. Additionally, by immersing themselves in the community, the author may discover new opportunities for growth, collaboration, and personal development that can enrich their overall Smash Ultimate experience.
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