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August 19, 2016

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5 Easy Tips to Control and Prevent Tilting

TILT! One word, four letters, yet it is one of the worst mental conditions that you can subject yourself to, and one that is quite common with Magic players. We’re all guilty of it and it took me a long time to prevent myself from tilting. Despite that, I sometimes I catch myself going down that dangerous path. Being able to control and prevent tilt is something that only a small percentage of players have been able to do. Once you learn how to get in control of this, you will notice that your win rate will go up.

If I was to ask you what causes tilt, your first responses are probably “losing to a scrub”, “losing the win-and-in”, “getting mana screwed in a tournament you were locked to win”, “your opponent not bricking that last crucial turn so you lost.” Do you notice a pattern? Tilt is actually the result of entitlement.

Now it’s normal that whenever you play a game, there will always be a favourite, and if you perceive that you are the better player then you are due to be on the receiving ends of some upsets. Of course, this is the nature of Magic and any another game that includes an element of variance. Since we cannot do anything to prevent upsets, provided that you are playing at the best of your ability, we will now focus on what you can do to prevent tilting:

Stop Telling Bad Beat Stories

Dwelling on the negativity only contributes to this miserable state. I remember when I first started playing competitively, someone would ask me “how did you do this this round?” and I would get into a rendition of how everything that could go wrong, went wrong. This did nothing to make me feel better, and as much as you think your friends want to hear your stories, they don’t!

Whenever I am asked about my rounds now, I just tell whether or not I won or lost. I find that this makes you much more pleasant to be around and lets you stop focusing on how bad your beat was.

Let It Go…

…And focus on doing everything you can to maximize your win percentage. This ties into the previous advice. Doing whatever you can to forget about any mistakes or bad beats that you made in the previous round goes a long way in helping your mind stay focused on the current task at hand. Magic is a game of incremental advantages and you are doing yourself a disservice by allowing previous rounds to distract you. This is of course easier said than done, when you feel like everything is going wrong.

At Grand Prix New York a few months ago, I had whiffed on a few Collected Companys to lose a very tight match. The next round, I whiffed on my Collected Company in game three and started to tilt which resulted in an incorrect block that allowed my opponent to lethal me out of nowhere with a topdecked Westvale Abbey the turn after. Remember, you cannot control variance but you can control your response to it.

Reduce Entitlement

You must accept that even though you may be the best player in the room, that doesn’t automatically make you deserve to win every event or even top 8 every event. In fact, this belief usually leads to a lot of toxic behaviour that should not be welcome in any tournament setting. I understand that it can be frustrating to see someone who you perceive to be worse achieve better results, but if this is truly the case then in the long run you will outdo them. Jon Finkel is one of the best players in the world, and he top 8s Pro Tours like it’s no one’s business, but he hasn’t top 8’d a Grand Prix in over 10 years. If he was truly entitled, this fact alone would upset him, but he understands that variance is part of the game and he is putting up the results on the Pro Tour circuit.

Realize You Are Putting Bad Beats on Some of Your Opponents

Since variance happens to everyone, then you are having upset victories just as often as your opponents are. The worst thing you can do is make your opponent feel bad just because you missed a few land drops or that you had to mulligan to five. All this fosters is negativity and also bad blood between the two of you.

Take a Break and Remove Yourself From the Situation

I know that it can be the most comforting thing to sit with your friends after a bad round and sit there and complain. But instead, try leaving the venue to get some fresh air, some quick snacks, and a drink. Use this away time to look at your phone, text your friends (no bad beat stories!), or check social media. This will help you get your mind off things and get you refocused.

I hope that the next time you encounter a tilting situation that you will remember these tips and with any luck it will help you get back on the winning path. Until next time!