Choking vs Panicking, and Why Matchmaking Is Not Rigged
Hey, guys! Swagger here, otherwise known as eysz on Reddit. I’ve written a unique guide for the Clash Royale community that dives into a subject that we’ve never seen covered before, the psychology of the game. And I am here today to share it with the Clash Royale Strategies community. Let’s dive right in!
It’s your fifth easy win, cruising your way to Legendary Arena. Your new deck is working like a charm, and you find yourself 58 trophies from reaching both your max and a new arena. The sixth game, a quick kill against a noob. Now, you’re almost there. You focus entirely on this game, being extra careful about every placement, counting elixir, and preparing for the opponent’s pushes. Yet, he’s too good, and you watch helplessly as your tower falls and he hits you with the thumbs up. Thinking, certainly, the matchmaking is rigged, you begin to have second thoughts about your deck. Is it good enough? Will it survive Legendary Arena? All of us have heard that the matchmaking will put a direct counter to your deck if you do too well, so you switch to a meta deck that seems to fit your style of play.
You shrug off the last loss and figure if you play even more carefully, you should win. However, you find that you’re overthinking all your moves; you place the Inferno Tower a tile closer to assure a pull from the Hog, you don’t prediction Arrows the Skeleton Army even though you know that’s your opponent’s only counter, and not supporting your pushes enough, because hey, you never know if they have a high damage spell!
Expectedly, you lose, and you begin to tilt. Hard. By the end of the day, you’ve lost 300 trophies and gained nothing except a few coins. The vast majority of players who have faced this predicament are not alone, but blaming this on “rigged” matchmaking is incorrect; the psychology of our brains causes massive tilts at the end of winning streaks.
Explicit Learning and Implicit Learning
When we first begin to learn and begin to make decisions faster, we use explicit learning. Compare this to trying out building plants for the first time after watching OJ’s video some months back. You probably were extra careful with placing it in the correct tile, every single time, and though it was slow at first, you gradually got faster and faster at it. Now, players in the decently higher arenas have the ability to instinctively place defenses and troops in quick response.
The potential to do this without thinking too much is called implicit learning – this is how our plays become as we get better. With implicit learning, it becomes instinct to pull a Mini PEKKA to the center with Skeletons, Tornado a Miner, etc. However, when we choke, we start to overthink, and it’s just like relearning explicitly; you have to assess the situation, making players rethink acceptable risks, slowing reaction times, and overall, dampening the quality of play.
That is the nature of choking, but there is a counterpart to this, panicking. A common example of panic is Elite Barbarians placed at the bridge. As soon as your brain sees it, your subconscious recognizes the card as a card that will destroy your tower without proper countering. Now, in this panic, players revert back to a primary instinct, with one goal in mind: to counter, whatever the cost may be. This is why we will often play a Skarmy, Knight, and Log just to kill one 6-elixir card. This panic factor also directs all our focus onto the one problem, with the brain pushing out less significant risks. As a result, while you were busy countering the Elite Barbarians, a Valkyrie was busy chipping the tower on the opposite lane, which you did not notice because the panic gave you tunnel vision.
Redditor edihau gave some great feedback to the original post on Reddit that is definitely worth reading over.
“I also want to bring up an effect related to your confidence in these matchups–if you think that you’re going to get hard-countered in an important match and you are, overpowering that counter is difficult. But overpowering those hard-counters isn’t as impossible as you think–you’ve just convinced yourself that there’s nothing you can do, so you don’t look for ways to win the way you do against your normal “counters my deck” opponent.
It also doesn’t help players’ mentality when they legitimately run into a string of bad matchups, which I recently did when trying out Night Witch for the first time–running into the highest-level decks I’ve ever seen put me in a bad mood when my normal tricks did not work. I know to not tilt against players with higher level cards, because the ladder is not a fair fight, and there’s no pressure. But a string of unlucky matchups in a row will convince people that matchmaking is rigged against them.”
Wrapping Things Up
In summary, while choking is overthinking and rejecting instinct, panic is the over-reliance on instinct. So, what should an average player do to avoid the tilts that are caused by these two? If you are losing due to overthinking, simply keep playing, but do not promote the game into a certain sense that it is significant than other games for any matter. Doing this prevents your brain from reverting to explicit learning to reduce the risk of losing (though it causes more losses). If you are panicking, such as getting very mad at your games, or your hands are shaking, there is an easy solution. Just quit the game for however long it takes you to calm down.
Thanks for reading! I hope this allows you to overcome massive tilts! Any feedback is appreciated. Hopefully, everyone learned something from reading this and can take a step in the right direction to looking at tilting differently.