Struggling to get good in your competitive game of choice? Mute match chat, silence the noise, and get better, faster.
There's a misnomer in esports that communication is the key to victory. After all, you see it present all the time in the highest echelons of our industry. LAN chats between coordinated, highly honed players battling it out for glory. And who doesn't love a good team chat compilation video? That said, I'm begging all ya'll to do yourself a favor: Mute match chat, save yourself the scorn, and play better in the process.
And if you think you're placing yourself at some kind of disadvantage by turning off the cactus-weasel shouting at you to play better, trust me that you aren't. Take the advice of a writer that's been working his craft for over a decade.
You're just better off not reading the comments. That goes double for the psychotic public we expose ourselves to while gaming.
Mute match chat, save a brain cell
You know what is the greatest modern gaming improvement? The ping. Pings are fantastic in that they allow a shorthand between players. To the point, direct, and infinitely (usually) spammable, every competitive game should have a ping system. Especially since it's apparent to me that a game with a ping system is giving me an open invite to hit mute on match chat and ignore all of you people and your stupid thoughts.
Kind? Maybe not. However, as the great poets once sang, you've gotta be cruel to be kind. And I see no better way to continue being a good, supportive teammate than not knowing which Gamer Word my tank especially loves.
Copypasta? Over it. Homophobic and racist comments? I don't need it, nor should inviting that into my home and brain be some kind of requirement for the simple act of playing a video game. Let's be honest, I'm almost 40 and with that comes a certain level of tolerance for the annoying quirks of others.
I live with the one person whose foibles and idiosyncrasies I'm willing to tolerate. By no means does that translate into needing to deal with my solo lane pusher in Heroes of the Storm stopping to write a novel-length response as to why he couldn't deign to join the last team fight.
"Dearest Martha, these lanes are lonely without your warm embrace, but the thought of seeing my fellow soldiers get pwned harder than a piece of stainless steel is too much for my gentle heart to bear."
It's entirely possible that by hitting mute on match chat you'll feel a pang of guilt. "Am I being the bad teammate? After all, each and everyone one of us reacts differently to losing." But that doesn't mean the liars and the dirty, dirty cheats of the world get a reserved parking space in your well-being.
The way I look at it, more and more games are offering the ability to mute chat as a default these days. And why not? I've yet to play a game where the online team experience is hindered by a lack of 1:1 chat. VALORANT, Overwatch, HOTS, and anything else are all perfectly playable thanks to in-game communications options.
I think Overwatch 2 especially gets this right. Its ping system, in tandem with things such as the ability to show your Ultimate percentage with a single key, is a godsend. Anecdotally, since the launch of OW2 it is more and more rare to even have anyone use voice chat, even in Competitive.
And this isn't just because the ping system is so good. This has to do with the levels of competitive skill at work.
The skill ceiling
There are two skill levels at which team communications are a meaningless endeavor. The first are our low skill heroes. Those knights in shining armor for which getting out of Bronze rank is yet a dream--a twinkling in the eyes of a baby on some far off shore. After all, why do they need to talk? What do they possibly have to offer? Leave them be to their wonderful misery. The outside world will just scare them.
And then you have the omega-brained scions of our reality. The almost-a-pros who make those annoying "I WENT FROM UNRANKED TO GRAND MASTER IN TWO DAYS" videos. Not only do these people not need to communicate their gaming intent, we're probably all better off if they don't. Just let them do their thing, as they clearly don't need a babysitter.
That leaves us a third person. The nasty middle child of your team. The same one who spends five minutes flanking the enemy team alone so that they can get three kills with Soldier 76's Ultimate and then gloat about it in match chat. All the while, your team is dead.
We all know that guy. Nobody needs to talk to that guy because he'll be plenty busy talking enough for everyone. The point is, unless you're in a group of your friends there just isn't a point to team chat. It's an option for bringing out the absolute worst in all of us, and no part of that behooves the spirit of competition.
Do yourself a favor. Mute match chat now, save yourself some time, and get those other voices out of your head. Not only have I found that, when playing solo and muting chat, I am happier, I also play better. It's purely anecdotal, but the last thing I need is letting some person sharing the same digital space as me for 20 minutes to dictate how I live and play.
You'll thank me later.
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