31 August 2016 - 20:55

The Concept of Worth

Discussing the idea of 'Worth' in gaming and how just because a play worked out doesn't mean it was the correct play.
Overwatch Analyst

It Worked!

We’ve all had that player on our team. Even worse at times we have all been that player. You go for the big silly play. The kind of move that puts you at unnecessary risk for little reward. You risk losing any edge you have for that one moment of glory.

And you almost pull it off. Instead of the awesome one versus three outplay you get a one for one trade. Maybe you’re just having fun, or maybe you’re foolish enough to think it was a good idea. Either way you open up chat and type to simple word ‘Worth’.

This is a concept that transcends any one esport and is applicable to almost every life situation. The concept being that if a decision worked out then it was the right call to make, and you would be foolish to select the other choice.

Far too often fans use this logical fallacy to justify their favorite team or player’s actions so I’m going to break down why this is a poor way to think about a game.

It Worked, so Obviously it was Right

The simplest example is to simply present you with two options; A and B. If you select option A you have a 90% chance to being gifted a million dollars and a 10% chance of being arrested. However, option B offers a 90% chance of being arrested, and a 10% chance of gaining a million dollars.

It seems obvious in this simple scenario that you would always pick option A because it affords you the highest odds of a positive outcome. However, often times fans ignore this simple premise when viewing their favorite teams.

The best example of this is when a popular team uses a cheese strategy. A non-meta tactic that is generally regarded as a bad idea, but can occasionally work simply because it catches your enemies off guard.

The meta is there for a reason, as it provides the most consistent way to win a game and eliminates as much risk as possible. So playing the meta is similar to picking option A in our previous example. However, it is not impossible to win with cheese strategies, as in our previous example option B still had a chance of winning money.

So logically, for a professional team charged with the job of winning games, it makes sense to play the meta as it leaves you with the highest chance of winning. However, when we look at the reactions to popular teams cheese plays they are often positive.

My favorite example of this was Unicorns of Love in the 2015 EU LCS Spring quarterfinals versus Gambit Gaming in game four. In case you forgot, this was the infamous game where UoL’s jungler Kikis picked Shaco, a notorious cheese pick. Shaco is a champion that was not in meta and has not been in the meta since. This pick was heralded by fans as a creative innovation, but in reality it was an attempt by UoL to cheese out a free win to close the series.

Many fans looked just at the result and saw the Shaco win, then turned around and used just that fact to justify the pick. However, when you watch the game you can see how ineffective it was. Kikis had the lowest kill contribution on his team and forced his team to alter their playstyle to allow for a jungler splitpush.

This game was a perfect example of the concept of "it worked, so obviously it was right" being false. Yes Shaco won a competitive game, but you can see Kikis’s game impact declined massively.

It Failed, so Obviously the Choice was Wrong

Conversely, fans are equally willing to pounce on any team that lost a game and claim they were in the wrong when they make the theoretically correct play. The clearest examples are from Hearthstone.

Hearthstone is different from many esports because mechanics are not a factor. It comes down to evaluating risk and, because of some Random Number Generation (RNG) elements in the game, it can come down to making the statistically correct play.

For example if you know you will lose the game next turn, your opponent has one health with a full board of seven minions, and you have Avenging Wrath which does eight damage against random targets you always play it. Statistically it averages out to one damage per target which means you hit one damage on your opponent and win.

However, there are still decent odds that you don’t hit your opponent, and just damage their minions to subsequently lose the game. Situations like this often end up with fans of the winning player unfairly criticizing aspects of the losing competitor's play.

Stop and Think!

It’s important for us to remember that even when choosing the option with the highest likelihood of winning, there is still a chance of losing. As such we should avoid praising teams and players who repeatedly and intentionally chose the least likely option, especially in competitive games where the goal is winning. We should also refrain from criticizing players and teams who do take the best option but still fail, as they did select the correct option.

This is all in an effort to acknowledge players who play well despite their losses and also to better understand when teams luck their way into wins instead of decisively winning. If we look harder at the gameplay itself as opposed to only the result, then we can better understand if it was truly worth or not.



Are cheese picks and plays 'worth'? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting us @GAMURScom.

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