The REAL Elo Hell: What It Is, and Why It’s Important!

Hello, all. My name is Spilo, and I'm a retired Contenders Head Coach, and a long-time VOD reviewer of all ranks, Bronze to Top 500.

Today I'm here to discuss a rather…controversial topic, specifically ELO HELL, or *the idea that I'm stuck in a rank I don't belong because of external factors.*I know this post will probably get a % of downvotes- it's personal, and it's holding people responsible. The truth isn't fun when you are the problem. That being said, I'll risk my karma for a few of you who "have ears to hear," and may benefit from this information!

I'm here to confirm that:

Elo Hell in its traditional definition does not exist


Getting stuck in a rank unnecessarily can be a real scenario, as is a complete feeling of helplessness (but not for the reasons you may think)

We're not going to go over some of the commonly blamed issues: you have to play very differently at each rank, you have to learn to carry, bad compositions more common in lower ranks, etc.- these are either a load of horse manure, or vastly overstated in their importance. Instead, we're going to discuss how internal factors can vastly affect your ranked experience.

Before we do that, let's discuss (briefly) why the traditional elo hell idea doesn't make sense.

The typical elo hell definition of "I'm stuck in a rank I don't belong due to external factors" falls apart when held up to simple mathematics. It makes several assumptions:

  1. That you always have more smurfs playing against you than for you
  2. That you always have more leavers on your team than the enemy does
  3. That you always have more throwers on your team than the enemy does
  4. The matchmaker specifically is targetting you to make your games harder

If you are a player that doesn't leave/throw, and you are consistent in your games, then the odds are in your favor. The only factor that holds any mathematical weight is that if you aren't smurfing, you are slightly more likely to face a smurf than benefit from one (5 teammates vs. 6 enemies), but this only matters if you are overwhelmingly unlucky over a period of many, many games- a statistical anomaly, if not flat out impossible!

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Now, I'm not going to go into MMR, loser's queue, rank being sticky, or placements- we all know that Overwatch's ranking system isn't perfect, and bad/good luck is always a factor! This is why I always recommend folks to grind out at least 40-50 games to find out their "true" rank.

As a final "nail in the coffin," let me share some personal experience, Now, personal experience isn't fact, but in large quantities, it can hold some weight:

in my professional coaching experience of over one thousand reviews of all ranks, I have never reviewed someone who looked to be more than 300 SR below or above his/her rank!

I have definitely reviewed people who looked 100-200 SR higher or lower than they ought, but that can be easily explained- even without accounting for good/bad luck! And this is where the real elo hell rears its ugly head…

Even more important than throwers, leavers, smurfs, or simple bad luck, the real threat to improvement and consistency is:

Your Mental

… and ironically, believing in a "traditional" elo hell can be a self-fulfilling prophecy, by causing the same frustration and lack of focus that leads to getting stuck/loss streaks.

The simple unavoidable fact is that nobody plays at the same level on a game to game basis, much less a day to day basis. A bad night's sleep, a tough day at work, or simply eating the wrong foods can set you in a spiral that compounds on itself.

The real danger of mental, is that it has a tendency to compound on itself. One bad game can scare you, causing you to be a little self-critical- maybe you try too hard next game. Now you're playing worse, very self-conscious of your feeding, and you continue to force things harder and harder- thus the downward spiral begins, as does the loss streak.

Even worse is when external factors are blamed. Everyone experiences throwers, leavers, and smurfs, but when that elo hell gets pinned as the sole reason for your lost games, you have surrendered yourself to a mentality of "I cannot take control for my own destiny," and are destined to either never reach your goals, or to get there inefficiently. One bad game with a thrower can put you in a mental state that makes your following games more likely to be lost, and significantly reduces the opportunity to learn and improve as a player in following games.

I can tell you that in my professional team coaching experience and my ranked reviews experience, I have coached players that have played much better and worse on a day to day basis- if that player had been playing on an alt account, I may not have even guessed they were the same player!

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Mental focus has a dramatic impact on the consistency of your games, and is almost always the biggest factor in loss streaks. In addition, belief in the external elo hell compounds the problem by shifting the focus away from the more impactful and accessible problem.

So, what can you do?

My job here is not to go into detail of how to improve mental focus- that unfortunately is too vast a subject for this post, and I am not an expert on (although I highly recommend reading the Inner Game of Tennis/Golf and doing your own research on Mental Focus in esports).

However, I can give you a little guidance with three small points:

Understand that you are the only variable you can control, and that YOU are what's preventing YOU from improving. Similar to Alcoholic's Anonymous famous "I'm an alcoholic" first step, recognizing your own shortcomings and taking responsibility for it will shift your focus onto what's necessary for improvement: your gameplay, your decisions, your mechanics, etc.

– Take your mental focus seriously. Understand that choking, forcing things, trying too hard, getting boomed/tilted/distracted all have impact on how you play, even to a mechanical level. Obviously being in "flow state" is something we all desire, but getting there consistently takes a LOT of work. That being said, small steps towards improving mental focus can have big payoffs- again something I highly recommend you personally research!

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– Lastly, understand that climbing/improving in Overwatch takes a lot of work, and it's not necessary to enjoy the game. It took me 3-4 hours a day of focused practice for one year to climb from Gold to Grandmaster, and a couple VOD reviews along the way! Like any sport, game, or activity, it's not necessary or even admirable to be good at Overwatch. If you enjoy playing casually, play casually, if you are fine with being Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Plat- then enjoy your stay and enjoy your play! Nobody should ever feel inferior or guilty by not wanting to put time into improvement on an activity. Things like family, health, and education are more important.

I hope this guide helped answer some questions and, more importantly, steer some folks in the right direction when it comes to the mindset of being "stuck."

Please ask any additional questions you may have below!—-


My stream (where I do roast reviews/coaching): https://www.twitch.tv/spilo

My Discord (where you can ask questions and get coaching): https://discord.gg/tqvgygx

Source: reddit.com

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