Sometimes it’s hard to accept that you’re not the perfect Dota player, who can Blink Dagger a perfect 1200 range, place perfect observer wards, de-ward opponent’s wards on cue, and last hit perfectly. It’s easier, by far, to say your teammate sucks. Welcome to flaming 101, or in other words: how to exempt yourself from blame by blaming others. As a team game, Dota relies on the interplay of each member, each with unique roles and responsibilities, and it’s inevitable that there will be a time with a fair amount of finger pointing. However, there is a better way to go about it than to flame.
In psychology, the concept of “locus of control” refers to what you believe you can control in the events happening around you. Your locus is “internal” if you believe that you can control the event, and it’s “external” if you believe other forces are responsible. Which of these you believe will lead to why you tend to blame yourself or others. In Dota, there’s an interplay of both of these internal and external dimensions, yet the habit is often to drift towards blaming others. Sometimes it’s often validated by the fact that Dota is a team game and it requires the success of others to accomplish a task, such as a gank. Blame, however, comes after the fact, and it’s rarely a productive approach. Maybe that player will remember your words and play better next game. The only constant, however, is you. You’re the one who will be playing with different people from game to game, and finding what you can control, and improving on how you can do that, produces more change than trying to change everything else.
“Furion, Can you TP” was the repeated phrase by EternalEnvy bemoaning his teammate to help him with a gank. He said it over voice chat eight times, before pausing the game and asking again. I would commend Envy here, for being proactive, rather than reactive, in trying to lead his team. He saw the opportunity and put his team in a position to take advantage of it. It also gave his teammate an option. Does he even want to TP top? And does he understand what for? After a late reaction, Envy paused, and he asked “Do you want to lose?” That’s where the conducive conversation stopped.
A valid MMR climbing tactic is to incite your team to internally combust by all chatting, “easy mid.” The urge to scapegoat others is often the first step where team chemistry falls apart. First, it’s unproductive. Take a common hot topic, such as your mid player feeding, and find a more productive approach to the problem, especially one that involves the efforts of others rather than bashing your player for what may be inescapable faults. Is your mid player dying because it’s an unfavorable matchup? Stack the jungle and tell, don’t ask, your player to play safe, be patient, and catch up later. Is he the victim of ganks? Look at what yourself and your teammates can do to fix that. Dota is a team game, a fact often forgotten when it’s easy to point fingers at one person.
To be fair, individual mistakes do occur from time to time. It happens even to the best players. It’s better to learn from those mistakes and move on. The same goes for the teammates. What good would a flame or a sarcastic “Well Played!” from the chat wheel serve, other than being a dick?
The chat wheel is one of the best innovations of Dota to efficiently communicate with others. Typing can be cumbersome and inefficient when trying to move your hero at the same time. Voice chat can be a conduit of emotions and it’s also a familiar avenue for condescending remarks. The chat wheel, however, is universal and just. Words from the chat wheel are automatically translated to everyone’s native language, and there’s no misinterpretation of “Buy a courier please.” (On the other hand, there’s also the chat wheel choice of “Can anyone upgrade the courier?”, which is like a passive aggressive post-it note that’s asking for someone other than yourself to do this, while expressing your dissatisfaction.)
The chat wheel is proactive. It commands with phrases such as “Pull creeps please” or “Get Back!” There’s no option that allows you to whine about how your teammates are feeding. There are needy phrases, often used after a death, such as “We need detection” or “We need wards.” But these words look ahead, rather than ones that look back to say “why didn’t you have dust?”
The chat wheel motivates and improves morale. It rewards teammates with compliments of “Well Played!” and “Nice.” It rallies your teammates with war cries of “Don’t Give Up!” And with phrases such as “My bad” or “I immediately regret my decision” it pre-empts blame in a way that tells your team that you understand what happened.
Though the chat wheel can’t issue complex orders, it’s an instructive tool on how to effectively communicate with others. Words in Dota need to have a strategic purpose instead of a vindictive one.
“It’s only game” is a good reminder to have perspective when playing Dota. That's where useful chat wheel phrases such as "Relax" and "Game is hard" can help. Winning is fun and losing sucks, but you will lose. Losing is inexorable, despite our best efforts to have a 100% win rate on our records. There will be times where not everything falls into place, if by your fault or others. What we can control in the end is whether we can still have fun in the process.