I’m much more of a scrub than I care to admit.
Most people use “scrub” as a synonym for “noob” or “someone who is bad at the game,” but that’s not how I mean it. There’s a nuance that tends to get missed, and this nuance is what makes it possible for a highly-skilled player to be a scrub. In fact, a lot of good players are scrubs. (Of course, many newbies are scrubs as well.)
Scrubbiness is a mindset. Just as the traits of a stubborn person make him unlikely to admit that he’s actually stubborn, the traits of a scrub make him unable (or unwilling) to admit his own scrubbiness, and a scrubby mindset can hinder you from reaching your full potential.
So here are three key signs that you may want to look for in yourself — the same three signs that I look for in myself every day. To get the most out of this post, it helps to be honest with yourself. The only thing worse than being a scrub is not realizing it (or even denying it).
1. You Whine About X/Y/Z Being OP
There’s a crucial difference between a player who acknowledges that a gameplay element is strong and someone who whines about a gameplay element being strong.
For example, think about how you react when playing versus a “broken” champion. Several months ago, the topic of Jumong balance was so hot that players would complain about it almost every day: insane M1 damage, lots of zoning potential, too many reliable outs, etc. He was too punishing, too unfun to play against, and overshadowed a lot of other champions. He was strong. Period.
There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that a champion is strong. In a game like Battlerite, perfect balance is impossible. There will always be a “strongest” champion and a “weakest” champion. Ideally the gap between the two would be small enough to be insignificant, but the gap will always be there so you have to learn to adapt and figure out how to play around it.
It’s also okay to discuss balance and make arguments for whether an ability, battlerite, or champion should be nerfed. Providing thoughtful analyses or constructive criticisms is not the same thing as whining, despite what some might say.
All of these things are fine.
A scrub, on the other hand, views imbalances as fatalistic. He says things like “Jumong is bullshit” and “Good job being carried by your champion” or the passive-aggressive version “GG Jumong.” He gets matched into a game with a Jumong on the other team, sighs, and disconnects. He looks at a tier list and interprets it in absolute terms: that an A-tier champion will always beat a B-tier champion (and flames you if you ever die as Jumong).
The key to scrubbiness is the fatalistic outlook. He believes that the result of a match is already decided before any rounds have been played simply because a champion is overpowered or underpowered. He doesn’t care to adapt. He doesn’t experiment or change up his own tactics. He doesn’t realize that players, even when they’re playing OP champions, are always making small mistakes that can be exploited.
And yes, you can be a nice person and still be a scrub. For example, I don’t rage at teammates in solo queue or ridicule enemies for playing certain champions, but few things are as frustrating for me as playing against a good Freya, Ashka, or Lucie — and instead of learning to improve, I just give up and blame “poor design” of Hammerspam, Firewall, and Barrier. In my mind, that’s being a scrub.
2. You Always Blame Yourself Last
Everyone makes mistakes, including me and including you. Some mistakes are worse than others, of course, and some mistakes can clearly be labelled as “game-losing mistakes,” such as your teammate missing a crucial M1 attack on an enemy Pearl with 4 HP who manages to heal up and come back to defeat you in an impossible 1v2.
But when you’re sitting there with your jaw hanging in disbelief, you have a choice in how you react to that loss: you can be a scrub or you can not be a scrub.
A scrub thinks back to that missed M1 attack and immediately blames the teammate for losing the round. Or if the scrub dies, he blames his teammate for falling behind in heals, even if the scrub was the one who ran behind a wall and out of the healer’s line-of-sight. And yet if his teammate was the one who died, the scrub blames the teammate for running behind a wall and making it impossible for him to heal.
A scrub assumes that he played to the best of his own ability and ignores the possibility that he could’ve done any better.
One side effect of this mentality is that the scrub believes his teammates should play around him, that he is the center of the Battlerite universe. The scrub is usually bad at communicating, and when his teammates fail to read his mind, he blames them — and if you ask him to communicate, he’ll say that X/Y/Z is “so obvious that it doesn’t need to be communicated.”
Instead of seeking out his own weaknesses and trying to overcome them, the scrub either denies that he has any weaknesses or simply views his weaknesses as unchangeable. He’s unwilling to watch his own replays. He’s unwilling to study what better players do. He’s extremely willing to criticize every little error made by his teammates. Strange, isn’t it?
I think a wise man once said, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Who was that man? Oh yeah… the Son of God. Might want to consider those words, O scrubs.
3. You Refuse to Hear Advice
This kind of goes hand-in-hand with always blaming others because the crux of the issue is the same for both — the scrub doesn’t think he’s the problem — but it’s a big enough sign that it’s worth looking at.
Imagine you die due to some careless mistake you made and your teammate says something like “Please stay within healing range” or “Try not to blow all three of your outs at once” or “You should’ve attacked Lucie when her Roll was down.” What is your first reaction? Do you think about it and agree that that probably would’ve helped? Or are you pissed off because this guy gave you unsolicited advice?
If you said the latter, I totally understand. In fact, I often ignore advice that’s given to me between rounds because it’s hard to admit that we lost because of me. Nobody likes feeling like that, right? Defensiveness is the norm when confronted with unsolicited advice. “Who the hell are you?” and “Who are you to tell me how to play?” are common reactions.
But that’s also how a scrub reacts.
If your goal is to become a better player, then you should always be open to advice. That doesn’t mean you have to do everything everyone says — a lot of the advice you get will probably be wrong — but you should still consider every piece of advice given to you instead of flat-out rejecting it for this or that reason.
Also, be willing to take advice even from someone who’s worse than you. Just because you’re Grand Champion doesn’t mean you have nothing to learn from someone who’s Platinum. If you blow all of your outs and your Platinum teammate tries to bring that to your attention, think of it as an opportunity to fix your mistake next time.
Good advice is good regardless of who it comes from.
OK, I’m a Scrub… So What?
To be clear, being a scrub has nothing to do with being a jerk. You can be a kind person and still be a scrub. Also, being a scrub has nothing to do with your skill level. You can be a Grand Champion yet still be a scrub. On the flipside, you can be in Gold yet not be a scrub.
It comes down to your mindset. Your attitude. Your mentality as a player and how you react to situations. Ultimately, a scrub is someone who thinks they have it all figured out and has no room to grow whereas a non-scrub is someone who knows that they’ll never have it all figured out and wants to keep growing.
Being a scrub will drag you down and hinder you. It’ll prevent you from maximizing your abilities. It’ll prevent you from finding a good team because scrubby behavior tends to rub people the wrong way. And if you do find a team, it can hinder the performance of your teammates because the scrubby mindset is a psychological damper (and it’s also contagious).
I’m working on it. I hope you will too.