Team Ranked in SWTOR: Part 4 – Team Ranked Communication: What not to do

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This is part fourth of my “Team Ranked in SWTOR: Player Perspective and Insights” series of articles. The content of this series is divided into four parts which will be released successively over the next few weeks leading up to the start of season 7. Thank you to all of the players interviewed (full list in the link above) and to all of the streamers who have unknowingly helped me write this article.

Team Ranked Communication:
What not to do

This article will be using terminology explained in part 3 of this series. If you haven’t read it yet and find yourself lost follow the link above.

 

What not to say in a ranked arena match:

Example 2: The Team With the Many Target Callers
A team unused to playing together are trying out new setups. From time to time there is a lot of noise in the channel consisting of several people calling out tactics and plans of actions simultaneously (mistake no. 1). Mass taunts are being overlapped (mistake no. 2) and no one is interrupting the healer (mistake no. 3). At a crucial moment when the slinger of the team is very low on health the tank is distracted by communicating tactics with the other DPS. When the healer tries to call the tanks attention to the slinger needing a guard there is noise in the channel and the tank doesn’t hear him (mistake no. 4). By the time the slinger finally receives a guard it is too late and the enemy team kill him through the guard.

Mistake no. 1 – Agree on general tactics before going into the arena. Don’t change tactics mid game. If your team exists of a lot of personalities who like calling targets then decide on a target caller before queuing. All of the above is to avoid clogging up the communication channel with noise which is guaranteed to result in misunderstandings.
Mistake no. 2 – Always communicate and rotate mass taunts in order to maximise the damage reduction your taunts offer.
Mistake no. 3 – Don’t make it easy for the enemy healer to keep his team alive this way. Communicate interrupts. Agree on who will interrupt the healer in what order.
Mistake no. 4 – Reduce the noise in the channel!

 

What to avoid
Both Molra and Terrikus point out the importance of having an articulated plan before going into an arena. Don’t disrupt your focus by starting to question your strategy in the middle of the arena, you can do that after. Play it through and learn from your mistakes. In my interview with Vara he also cautions new teams against giving up on any one strategy too quickly. Just because it didn’t work the first time doesn’t mean that it’s an invalid strategy.

On the topic of what not to say during a ranked arena match, Gladias tells me:

“There’s a lot of stuff. I know this because I’ve done it myself. You should never yell at your team for an example. It demoralises them. It depends what kind of personalities you have on your team of course, some are fine but others it will really dishearten them. When you do that the player will just start playing worse so just speak calmly and maintain it – which is where I have to take a leaf out of my own book.” – Gladias

State of mind
Our state of mind going into a ranked game has a lot to do with our win/loss ratio of the evening. If you’ve had a bad day or are just in a bad mood then it can be advisable to simply not play. If you’re playing against teams where you will easily win you might get away with being in a bad mood. If however you’re up against an equally good or a better team then odds are that, since you won’t be playing or communicating at your best, you’ll lose and your mood will spiral further downwards.

“If you’re in a bad mood you’re obviously negative and negative energy can spread, you want to try to be positive as much as possible. There’s a risk that the negative energy can spread to your team members  and an arena loss can make the atmosphere worse.” – Morvin

Larsson tells me that he really feels a bad mood can break the whole team. However he also points out that a positive attitude from a team member is as contagious. Zherio is a perfect example of this. His positive attitude, patience and lack of arrogance make people trust him more easily. Others are more open minded to criticism when it comes from someone with a personality like Zherio’s. This is why a skilled player with a positive outlook can give so much more to a team in regards to the win/loss ratio than someone who is just a skilled player can.

Example 3: The Raging Noise-Maker
A team is trying out a new setup with a hard switching component to it’s planned strategy. The target caller has a more dominant role in the group than the rest and he is taking up most of the space in the communication channel. The team is doing well offensively, partly because their tank is maybe a little too focused on dealing damage with the DPS. In a moment where the target caller sees an opportunity to switch target and potentially get a kill he loudly calls out “SHADOW, SHADOW SHADOW!” then quickly changes his mind as the shadow receives a guard and instead  repeatedly calls “HEALER, HEALER, HEALER!” (mistake no. 1). What no one noticed in the midst of this chaotic target calling was the healer trying to caution the team to pay attention to their health. One of their DPS dies without having received a guard or even used all of his own defensive cooldowns. The target caller gets furious with his team and gives them a long scolding for the mistakes they made (mistake no. 2). The tank should’ve paid attention to his teammates low health and the other DPS should’ve at least used his cooldowns better. Though this is true, what the target caller is ignoring to notice is that if his own communication would’ve been better then their healer might have been able to fix the others mistake by calling attention to what they were missing. After the loss of this round, the night continues going badly for the team with the angry noise-maker. Everyone is defensive in regards to the role they played in the losses they experienced.

Mistake no. 1 – Reduce the noise in the channel by improving the team’s communication habits
Mistake no. 2 – Never yell at your team or criticise aggressively in this manner or your members will listen to you less and start playing and communicating with each other worse.

Effective criticism
People who play team ranked are often competitive by nature. When competitive people let their emotions get triggered by the outcome of a game they tend to give criticism to alleviate pressure from themselves. This can be very counter productive. Effective criticism is criticism expressed to reap results, not to make yourself feel better. Criticism  should be specific, objective and constructive. This is  to avoid the criticism coming off as an accusation. Effective communication requires the object of the criticism to stay open minded to your criticism. Therefore, getting emotionally involved and accusing one person for the failure of the group (even if that was the case) in an aggressive manner is counterproductive to your own motivations since it will cause the other person to become defensive and less perceptive to what you have to say. If you don’t want to criticise people correctly because of the empathy you feel for the other person then do it because it’s the rational thing to do in order to become better and more competitive as a team. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed by your emotions and rage at the people on your team. You will become as much responsible, if not more, for the continued struggle of your team as the person you’re upset with for making a mistake.

It’s also worth noting that studies show that people are more perceptive to criticism if they’ve also received positive feedback from the person who is criticising them. The ideal ratio is as high as six positive comments for every negative one. Just saying! I’m not expecting you to go out there complimenting each other on every correct move a member of your team makes. Nonetheless it can be good to know that the best performing groups, virtual or real life, received both criticism and praise – but more off the latter than the former.

Effective criticism is always:

  • Appropriately motivated and positively intended
  • Objective and not judgmental
  • Specific, relevant, and precise
  • Constructive, with the goal of improving a situation – not alleviating your own sense of tension and frustration.

If you have any questions, suggestions or tips feel free to express them below. Next up we will be looking at the forth and last part of this series: “I want to try to make a ranked team but I have no experience. Where should I start?”

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