Embrace the Grind - Tips on How to Climb Out of Gold and Platinum with Coach Jayne
Mon 14th May 2018 - 6:16pm
Today I get the opportunity to talk with one of Overwatch’s big personalities and a great person to have in the Overwatch community, Jayne. We talk about how he got his start in Overwatch as well as a few tips and tricks you can use to get out of Gold and Platinum.
So Jayne, for those who don't know you yet, tell me a little bit about yourself. How did you first get into Overwatch?
Jayne: So I started playing Overwatch immediately after release - Not based on specifically looking to join the next big FPS but it was more of a coincidental timing. I had been a community manager for a large organization in EVE Online. Now, Eve is a very old [laughs] MMO with a pretty dedicated and active player base, but that game has been... going downhill for the last couple of years and I'd been wanting to do more content creation and community building, but the audience itself was just not there in EVE. Just based on the player base in the two games it would be a better option to be part of a moderately successful community in Overwatch than it would be to be part of the largest or more successful community in EVE Online. So I took the plunge, and I haven't once regretted that decision. The culture in EVE was a much harsher and unwelcoming one. So both the players in Overwatch and the communities that sprung up around Overwatch in the very early days were something that I really found to be quite the breath of fresh air.
In terms of actually playing the game, Overwatch was the first FPS I had ever played. I struggled in the early days with mechanics as I'd only really played strategy games, RTS, and MMOs previously. I tried to apply my knowledge and experience from EVE Online to Overwatch and was moderately successful but my mechanics have always kind of been lagging behind. I was never able to track or flick to a target very well, in fact, I had no concept of what a flick shot was in the first place when I just started out. So those were all things that I had to spend a lot of time learning from other people, and studying up on - It was quite the learning curve.
During my first season, I both placed and finished in the equivalent of Gold. Over the course of the next couple of seasons I worked myself up and improved by playing way more Overwatch than a person probably should. I put in a lot of hours, ground up to Diamond and then Masters not too long after. Finally, after two seasons in Masters I finally took the leap of joining a team. It was through working with that team, playing with them, competing with them, and practicing that eventually took me to Grandmaster and into Top 500 for the first time.
After you started playing Overwatch what made you want to become a coach and analyst?
Jayne: I kinda just fell into it. When I started playing Overwatch, all I wanted to do was keep climbing the ranks. I'm an extremely competitive person, but once I reached Top 500 I kinda stepped back and looked at the amount of skill and effort it would require for me to maintain Top 500 or join a semi-professional team. I just realized straight up that climbing any further was not actually something that interested me… And that might sound like a bit of a weird statement because most people say that it's their dream to go pro but it's simply not been that way for me. I enjoy games, and I enjoy winning games, but I also enjoy the community aspect.
Interacting with other people inside and outside of Overwatch, I've always been an instructor or a teacher at heart. I have my instructors rating for aircraft, I'm a flight instructor. My very first job was as a tutor, and until just recently I was working as a teacher at a municipal library. All of my jobs in the real world have been based on teaching and instruction and that's also something that I just really truly enjoy as a person, so transitioning into a coaching role in Overwatch came naturally.
Now how I actually got started coaching is a bit of a funny story. There's a rather popular event called the "Scrub Cup" where anyone who is underneath the rank of 2500 can sign up. Everyone who signs up is assigned to a team and then they have a mini-tournament over the next few weeks. I had signed up to be a coach for one of these teams just on a whim, as I thought it'd be fun. This was right after I reached Top 500 and had decided that becoming a pro player was not for me. I was content with my ranking, and just kinda wanted to relax and hang out. I joined as a coach for a scrub cup team and had an awesome time with that team. They really enjoyed having me as their coach, and the team did pretty well.
There were some [laughs] extenuating factors, of course, when you're dealing with mostly Bronze and Silver players, and that cause the team to not make it very far in the playoffs, but it went well and the members of the scrub cup team all really really wanted me to start streaming my coaching. Originally, I never really thought anyone would be interested in watching coaching or analysis on Twitch. When you looked at the Twitch section at the time it was almost entirely one tricks, the occasional pro player, or player with the capability of being pro like Calvin or Dafran. There was no one on Twitch who was big just because of coaching or analysis and I thought that was simply because no one had the desire to watch that kind of content.
I agreed to start streaming my coaching sessions then the rest is history. You never really know where things are going to end up. I'm definitely behind the power curve with regards to the rest of the coaches in the scene and how much experience they have with actual teams since they've been working their way up the ladder since the very beginning in some cases, but unlike the ladder where I don't have the interest in becoming a professional player myself, working with other professional players and helping them improve and working with teams is something I really truly enjoy more than almost anything I’ve ever done. Coaching for an OWL team is definitely a goal that I have set my sights on and am working to accomplish.
So the main talking point of this interview is going to be about how does one climb out of Gold and Platinum. What is something you've seen across the spectrum of all the Gold and Platinum VODs you seen that players can't seem to get down?
Jayne: So the main thing with Gold and Platinum in general is that's those are the ranks where the vast majority of the player base are. According to Jeff Kaplan, the average SR in the competitive game mode is 2350 SR or somewhere around there. Let's just squeak this up to 2500 so we can talk about people who are above average and people who are below average, as Platinum and Gold respectively. So those are the two main things I like to focus on when talking about Gold or Platinum. If you are Gold, Silver, or Bronze you first have to acknowledge that you are worse than 50 percent of the player base. If you want to get out of these ranks and eventually start touching Platinum or higher you don't need to become some sort of God at Overwatch - you just need to start by being average.
I think that's an important thing to accept. The next thing is that when you are Platinum you're finally getting to the point where you are now above average and you need to start doing things that the average player does not or cannot. So there are two different ways to think about this. I like to treat it in the fact that if you want to make it to Gold or past Gold, you need to stop making the mistakes that inexperienced or casual players would make. Whereas once you're Platinum you're now above average and you need to be contributing more than the average player contributes. Put a different way, in order to make it to Gold or make it out of Gold, you should focus on stop making mistakes - every decision should be a conscious one. It can be difficult for for some players to recognize what is a mistake, but at the very basic level, mistakes come down to two primary things.
The first way you identify a mistake, figuring out what consistently causes you to be eliminated by the opposing team. Usually, you can trace your actions back and find a singular error that caused your death whether it was positioning, being in the wrong place, game sense, being unable to predict something you should have reasonably been able to see coming, as well as your ultimate and mechanical skills. For example, if you get into a raw aim duel with another McCree in the middle of a competitive game, and there are no health packs, perfectly flat field, no teammates helping anyone, and you lose?
It's because your mechanics were bad, or at the very least worse than your opponent’s, and they need to be better. It’s important to note here than I’m not just talking about aim - your movement and your cooldown management are both also part of mechanics that need to be practiced and perfected. Additionally, there are such things as good deaths, such as suiciding to reset earlier, where a mistake would be not killing yourself as early as possible. For the vast majority of mistakes especially in Bronze, Silver, and Gold, they can all be traced back to your own deaths.
The second kind of mistake we'd be looking at in terms of Gold, Silver, and Bronze is going to be missed opportunities. Now, these are a lot harder for inexperienced players to recognize but an opponent making a mistake gives an opportunity for you to punish them for that mistake. So the two things that you'd be wanting to look for as a Bronze, Silver, and Gold player is to stop making mistakes that cause you to get eliminated, and then look for those same mistakes in your opponent so that you can eliminate them by pushing their mistakes.
Once you get into Platinum you need to be above average and once we get into Platinum we're gonna start seeing whispers of how the game is actually played at the highest levels. For most Platinum players, I think the most common issues that players need to get a hold of in order to really truly start climbing the ranks is their ultimates. Now it's not just how you use your ultimate, it's also when you use your ultimate. A Genji popping his blade to get three kills is awesome at the start of a fight, but if his team was already two kills ahead before that, then the Genji blade is wasted even if he does end up getting a really cool Play of the Game.
On the other hand, the proper usage of your ultimate, if you're a Lucio or a Zenyatta player and you're just using your ultimate any time that the Genji pulls out his Dragonblade. If you are doing so with no extra thought into the situation about whether or not your Sound Barrier or Transcendence was actually required will prevent you from climbing. There are often situations where the opponent pops his Dragonblade (or any other offensive ultimate) and even if you have Transcendence you should just die instead of using it. So recognizing those situations and min-maxing the usage and the timing or your ultimate is probably one of the largest factors that I'd want Platinum players to be looking at in order to improve their own gameplay.
How important is it to be vocal as a player in Gold or Plat?
Jayne: You can definitely climb out of Gold and Platinum without using communication, and I know especially those in the EU region everytime I talk about comms they always say "But oh you know the EU region is so bad and there are so many different languages. Everybody's toxic." Yes, I understand that the EU region has a little bit of a... worse climate for using comms, but there's still merit to using comms. The reason why I always recommend people use comms regardless of their ELO is because I think that communication is a skill that needs to be improved and practiced in the same ways that you need to practice your mechanical aim.
So even if it's a one-way street, even if you're communicating to people and no one is communicating back, as long as that person understands the language that's coming out of your mouth they are gaining benefit from it. If you're making callouts, people on your team are still gaining the benefits of those callouts even if they're not talking back to you. As long as there are other people in voice chat, even if they don't have mics of their own, there is still a benefit to one-way communication in Overwatch. There's always going to be times where you were the only person to see something critical to the success of your team and calling that out could make or break the difference between winning and losing. It's definitely super possible to climb into Gold, out of Gold, out of Platinum, into Diamond, into Masters, you can get to any rank without comms. It's gonna be a lot harder in GM and Top 500 without comms but you can still do it.
In Gold and Plat the reason I would recommend it is simply because it's going to be practice and it's going to benefit you once you get to higher ranks. There's never any downside to using comms, so why wouldn't you?
Is it important to stick to a specific meta comp? Or should players be looking to play whatever they are comfortable with?
Jayne: I know at the lower ranks a lot of people want two DPS, two tanks, two supports, regardless of which tanks, which DPS, and which Support they are... but that's not really the best way to go about it. One of the fun stories that I always like to talk about when this comes up is that we've got a LAN team that likes to compete in various tournaments around Canada and Alberta. Every single time we've been to one of these LAN events, because we do play with a rather high ranked team, is we always try in the finals or the semifinals to play six supports
It's not that one composition beats another composition, it's that a coordinated team will always beat an uncoordinated team. The most important thing is not that you have a very specific composition, because the pro meta is the pro meta, and not the solo queue meta. The pros have practiced communication, teamwork, synergy, set plays, etc. None of those things even exist in ranked. First and foremost it's important to have individual competency on your hero. Next, it's important to have synergy or coordination between at least one other hero on your team, but synergy as an entire composition is so rare that if you're playing heroes that you simply get less value on because you're not experienced with them for the sake of a better composition that you saw the pros play… that's just gonna hurt you.
There have been numerous times where five DPS and a Zenyatta might win against a standard two-two-two comp. So don't be worried about the perfect composition especially if you're in Gold and Plat. Play the heroes that you truly believe you get the most value out of and if you're not getting value out of it then hey maybe try something else that synergizes a little bit better with the rest of your team. Composition until you get into Masters, Grandmaster, Top 500 is not going to be a very large contributing factor to the success or failure of your team in ranked.
I feel like mentality also plays a big part in why people are not climbing. If you're constantly saying that you "shouldn't be in Gold" and that it's the rest of your teams fault it doesn't really have any positive effect. How do you think people should mentally look at their climb?
Jayne: I think people should mentally look at their climb with a little sense of realism. There's always gonna be games that are completely unwinnable. You know the leavers, the throwers, the toxic people, all that, there's always gonna be those games that no matter how good you are you just can't win. Overwatch is a team game. It’s very very difficult to hard carry, not impossible, but very difficult. You are going to find games on your climb that are simply unwinnable and I like to consider a third of all of your games being unwinnable for whatever reason. But there's also a third of your games that are completely unlosable.
That is because those toxic people, those throwers, and just the really imbalanced matchmaker is in your favor because the throwers and the toxic people are on the other team. So really about two-thirds of your games are outside of your control entirely and that's something that you just have to accept. Unless you're smurfing by a significant margin, your win rate is probably never going to go much above 60 percent or much below 40 percent. It's only that last third of games where your actions truly make or break the difference.
One singular mistake of yours caused the game to be a loss or one singular action of yours caused the game to be a win, where these games are so close that they have the potential to influence the outcome, and you have to play for these games. Don’t get tilted for the games that are completely unwinnable. Don’t take credit for the games that were completely unlosable, and then play for the games where you’re evenly matched, but your actions can make the difference.
The other thing is that there is a large component to Overwatch that is grinding. Ranked is a grind and I think a lot of people don't recognize this. If you are ranked 2000 right now, so you just made it Gold for the very first time but your actual skill level is let's say, Diamond. Let's say that right now you're 2000 but your true skill level is 3000. How long do you think it would take for the system to actually calibrate you up that 1000 SR? Well I actually did a test after placing an account in Silver and then I climbed by playing support only all the way to Grandmaster.
I did the math on this afterwards and I had averaged 60 SR per hour the entire way. So if you're doing the math on how long it would take you climb the 1000 SR, it's going to take you 17 hours of play to climb up that 1000 SR. If you believe yourself to be 500 SR higher than your actual SR is then that's fine. But the climb is going to take time. I lost a couple of games in Platinum even though I'm a Grandmaster player - it happens. Most of them happen on 2CP, but [laughs] it happens. No one has a 100 percent win rate, it's impossible. There's always going to be unwinnable games. Sometimes you're just unlucky and you get quite a few of those in a row. But you just gotta tough it out because climbing in Overwatch is a grind and I think a lot of people get discouraged when they have minor loses because they're viewing things with such a narrow focus.
Just because you had 3 losses in a row, for those three games you had a 0 percent win rate, but three games is not a large enough sample size of games to actually matter or indicate an overall rate of success. So stick it out, embrace the grind, recognize that it is going to take a while to climb even if you are truly above the skill that you are at currently.
Do you believe that ELO or SR hell exists in Overwatch? I know it's a hot topic but I'm interested to hear your thoughts on it.
Jayne: [Laughs] This is a fun statement that I always kinda use in the description of ELO hell. "The hardest rank for you to climb out of is the rank that you belong at." It is completely true right? Your win rate is 50 percent but 50 percent doesn't mean you're never gonna climb and you're never gonna fall. Everyone kinda sits in a band of probably 200 SR based on the randomness of winning games and losing games. So you can streak easily 200, 300, or 400 SR in any one direction at any point in time depending on how lucky or unlucky you are. But the hardest rank for people to climb out of is the rank that they belong at, because their win rate is gonna be close to 50 percent.
Then whatever specific rank they're at day to day is gonna be based on the randomness of whether or not they got better teammates or if the opponent got better teammates. So no, I don't think ELO hell exists. Even if it did, if you thought that you belonged in Diamond, why not work to the point where you think you belong in Master by improving your play? A lot of people play for wins instead of playing for improve and get too hung up on this completely arbitrary number that is their SR. So if you're in Silver, thinking you belong in Gold and you're playing for wins so that you can get that Gold icon. Instead, completely ignore your SR, nobody cares - it's an arbitrary number - just play to improve.
If by playing to improve you reach the point where you now possess the skill of a Platinum player then your grind has suddenly become that much easier.
I know when we talked before the interview you mentioned that there was some bad information going around on Reddit about how to climb out of Gold or Plat. Is there one thing that you have seen that made you say, "Wow, this is really not at all how do this."?
Jayne: Yeah, [laughs] I see this all the time and it's advice where people say things like "if you just wanna get to Gold, just play Roadhog." Or certain playstyles that exist for McCree, people with McCree in lower elos will flank around the enemy team and then High Noon from behind and get two kills or sometimes more. Any kind of advice that is Elo specific drives me crazy! If you're telling me "Oh, the secret to getting out of Platinum is Mei," or "Just spam Moira," or something like that. Especially if you're abusing overpowered characters or characters that can't easily be countered it's not the right answer at all. The problem with these sort of tactics, advice, or anything like that is that it will work but that's the problem right?
If you're Silver and you do something like spam Roadhog then yeah you might make it to Gold. Or if you're a Gold player on McCree and every single time you get High Noon you flank and High Noon from behind people yeah you'll probably get two kills and climb to Platinum. But then if you have gotten to the rank that you've reached based off these really cheesy playstyles that are very specific to Gold or low Platinum that's where you're gonna stay, because in order to climb higher than that you're gonna have to unlearn those habits or learn different cheesy habits. If you do find another cheesy strat which takes you to the next rank then you're going to be at a rank you just don't belong in. You don't have the knowledge, the skillset, the experience, or the mechanical skill for the rank you’re at and it's just going to feel extremely frustrating.
Now there are a couple different mantras that I use for this style of education and the first one is that every time I say something like this where "Yeah this worked but you shouldn't do this," and then people say "I do that because it works in Gold," or "I do that because it works in Bronze." But let me be perfectly clear here, if you're doing it because it works in Gold, that's exactly why you're in Gold. If you’re pulling off any tactics even though you know that it won't work at a high rank, but it'll work for the rank you’re at currently, then that is exactly the reason you're at the rank you're at. Straight up.
I always talk about playing for the Elo you want not the Elo you have. Just like how you want to dress for the job you want, not the job you have. You want to play for the Elo you want not the Elo you have, so when you get there, you're comfortable, you know what's going on, you know how to play the game, and you don't have to unlearn bad habits which carried you higher than you belong.
If there's one thing that you wish you could get into a Gold or Platinum players' head if you could sit them all down and tell them one at a time "Please just do this all the time!" What would it be?
Jayne: Think about how and when you're going to use your ultimate before it's even available. Think about the specific situations in which you are going to use it. If you're a Zenyatta, even before your Transcendence gets to 100 percent charge, ask yourself what you’re going to use it for, and in what situations? “I'm going to use it for Genji's Dragonblade, but if he blades in 1v6, or if he Dragonblades after I'm the last one alive then I'm not going to use it so that he’ll have just wasted his ultimate. I die, and then I'll be able to Transcendence for free to win the next fight.
So before your ultimate even comes online, think about how and when you're going to use it.
Any final tips before I let you go?
Jayne: Yeah, and this one is a bit of a controversial statement, but [laughs] a lot of people have ranked anxiety where they practice a lot in Quickplay or Arcade or Training Mode or Custom Games or something like that, but then they go and they play ranked, but ranked is so unfamiliar to them because they don't play. They get nervous, they get anxious, they get panicked, overwhelmed, and they perform way worse on the ladder than they do in practice. I'm just gonna say this straight up: ranked mode is a practice mode. It's practice for actual tournament play. So a lot of people practice for ranked, but I feel like you should practice in ranked.
It will get you more familiar with it. You’ll get you less stressed if you just play more. It will seem less spooky or unfamiliar. Just practice in ranked. Arcade is not practice for Competitive, Quickplay is not practice for Competitive. Arcade and Quickplay teach you bad habits so if you do want to be a competitive player, play Competitive and if you want to get even better practice than playing Competitive; join a team, start scrimming, find PUGs, get a coach, or do VOD reviews to improve faster and more efficiently.
Jayne: Thanks for the interview, I had fun answering these.
Embrace the grind. Start the climb. Let's go everyone!
I’d like to thank Jayne for talking to me and answering these questions. Hopefully, you all found it educational because I know I did listening to him. If you’d like to continue learning about Overwatch like I do everytime I watch Jayne, make sure to check him out at https://www.twitch.tv/jayne and also @AskJayne on twitter. Be sure to also check out his YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/c/JayneOW.
Until next time!
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