Losing sucks! There is no point in sugar coating it. Even the most gracious of runners up feels that nagging disappointment after a defeat. That twist in your gut as the final bit of damage gets through and your glorious aspirations are burned away, like Death Star debris falling through Endor’s atmosphere.
I can just imagine you reading this and deflating slightly, bracing yourself for a negative article about gamesmanship, nudged rocks and altered dials. Well fear not! THIS is not that article!
When I first started playing x-wing I was slightly taken aback after losing when my opponents would start telling me where I had messed up. “see? You suck! Just give up!” said my inner anxiety demon. Game after game I would be be wiped off the mat and then be subjected to the blow by blow recap of exactly when and how I had initiated my own demise.
Now I can barely see what my next move will be, which led to my tongue in cheek philosophy “if I don’t know what I’m going to do, then YOU don’t know what I’m going to do”, so after a match when my opponents can not only recall their key moments but mine as well it blew my mind. Just how clever are these guys?
I definitely used to struggle with this, mostly due to my own sense of inadequacy and feeling like an outsider. Slowly though, as these gents became my friends and later squadron mates, I realised that they were not trying to lord their superiority over me, but trying to guide me, trying to help me visualise where I had taken the misstep that led to my eventual defeat. This was also demonstrated on a number of occasions when I overheard my team mates, after suffering a defeat, requesting feedback from their opponents.
I have gone from feeling as if I was being admonished to having the sense of being given a friendly critique, by good folk who just wanted to see me improve and enjoy my experience. Now I look forward to the after battle analysis, and have even taken to requesting advice from opponents at tournaments, I have started to take pride in those times when i know, without prompting, where I messed up and in trying to use it as a learning experience. I have also, on occasion, somewhat cheekily started offering my own advice to my opponents.
This all being said it can backfire slightly, as I found out recently when trying to help a Zombie practice his list for UKTC. I was trying to be helpful and pointing out a couple of mistakes and misunderstandings that had occurred, mainly due to the transition to second edition, but as I was flying particularly well for a change I think I was coming across as being a bit smug and a little condescending. Definitely never my intention, I really must work on my people skills! Luckily, as is the way with the IBUYWARGAMES crowd, it was taken in good humour as my floundering apologies and protestations of innocence were met with amusement and good natured ribbing.
This leads us to the other side of the coin. It is all to easy when you are learning to focus on your mistakes, what you are doing wrong and how you can improve. But it is equally important to recap on what you have done well, to take pride in the areas in which you have improved. As I have mentioned before I have anxiety issues fueled by a sense of inadequacy, so it is a big step for me personally to start seeing the positives instead of chastising myself for making stupid decisions. This is also important when giving an opinion to an opponent, not to just point out where they can improve but to emphasise what impressed you in their gameplay, or perhaps some other positive aspect you have taken away from the match-up.
Losing sucks, but the opportunities it represents do not. The opportunity to learn and progress, The opportunity to likewise help others learn and progress. The opportunity to connect with fellow players and members of our community, old and new. Or at the very least to use it as an opportunity to help your opponent enjoy their moment of triumph and look back on a positive experience playing against you.
So YES losing does suck, but it also makes those wins, when they come, all the more special.
Take care of yourselves, Stay safe and fly casual. PEW PEW.