Why I Abstain From Ranked

After 5 years of playing League of Legends and the majority of that time, playing ranked I've decided I will never play a video game competitively ever again. I don't say that because I am adverse to competition. If I didn't like to win, I probably wouldn't enjoy video games as much as I do, but I realized something about ranked that makes it impossible for me to continue playing, it wasn't fun and it was making me meaner. Not just in-game but in my life outside of video games as well.

It all started, no shit, with my first ranked game as a fresh level 30 in League with very little experience. I decided I would jump into ranked without knowing much of anything (even though I didn't know that at the time). Unsurprisingly, I ended placing in Bronze. After a while of trying to climb the ranks and many, many people telling me I was a piece of n***er trash, a f***ot among other colorful things,  I realized I wasn't good at League and honestly, I needed more practice. So I dropped out of ranked for over a year and spent time playing in unranked matches, honing my skills and thinking critically about the strategy behind the game. By the time I got back to ranked I could hold my own with any silver player as well as even some gold ranked players and actually, I was having a lot of fun. People were generally relaxed and, aside from the ridiculous amount of trolls, people actually were pretty chill. Everyone was practicing, and it created an environment where you could fuck up once without the four other players jumping down your throat, relative to ranked. And what's more, nothing was really on the line.

And then the fire nation attacked. Or rather, I went back onto the ranked scene and got into my placement matches. My god, I stopped having fun so fast. You see, even if it's an objective fact that teams that play well together do better, emotions run high in ranked. It's no longer about fun but rather, about pride and vanity. You begin to play so others can now how good you are and not because the game is fun. So if someone on team messes up, and it's possible to come back from it if you coordinate and rally, people are far more likely to act like crabs in barrel and tear into each other. And again I did this for at least 3 years. I clawed my way from bronze into silver through sheer force of will and then climbed my way into Silver 1 and went on a massive losing spree. Why? Because people disconnected from the game, or didn't want to do what was best for the team and troll picked their role and because, admittedly I fucked up a few times. But by the end of this experience I had very few matches that ended up in a negative KDA (Kill/Death/Assist Ratio)  and was regularly getting B performances and above. This is the point where it should have occurred to me to take a breather but, ranked had become a compulsion.

Credit: Riot

Credit: Riot

Even though I hated it, even though I began to hate League of Legends itself, and that I was really too busy with school to dedicate time to League, I still played. Because I wanted redemption. I knew I wasn't as bad at game as my rank would suggest. I hated when fellow league players would ask me what my rank was and I'd have to tell them bronze and follow up with some story about elo hell, which is what anybody stuck in bronze says.

By the end of my time with League, I didn't really want to quit but I was a match and I was jungling, someone needed help in their lane, so I came and we took down the enemy champion together, but I took the kill. My ally called me "a nigger mother fucker" for taking one kill and I then realized, I wasn't having fun anymore and it was because League had become too much of a chore. I was playing it only because I wanted to rank up but, it was at the cost of any semblance of joy I could find in the game and after a couple of bad matches and subjecting myself to being called any number of slurs, I noticed myself saying things that normally I wouldn't. And I started saying things that totally contradicted my way of being.

I started being rougher to the people around me and even sometimes slipping into the vernacular I used online. I realized right then, I was never going to play a video game competitively again. Ranked is a pit. And really, there's no need for a video game to be taken that seriously. You end up losing the core reason of playing any game, to have fun, in favor of some sort of status symbol. That doesn't count for shit and doesn't indicate dick. So when people ask me what rank I am in Overwatch my answer is, unranked and they can decide how good I am when we square up.