Efficiency v Mastery:
A gaming perspective
Greetings ET readers 👋🏾
Today’s edition is an answer to our most asked question, “How can I master xxx in x months?”
It should take you approximately 7 minutes to read, and I promise you it’s definitely worth it. 🥺
by Timi Odueso
Lessons from League of Legends
In an October 30 thread, I wrote about how much I love League of Legends—an online multiplayer battle arena game—and how it’s taken me two years to become an efficient player.
League of Legends champs. L-R: Lux, Jinx, Yasuo and Blitzcrank
Let me explain: League of Legends has over 180 million players and 166 champions, most with five abilities. For each of these champions, there are about 63 runes that enhance their abilities, and about 200 items they can buy in-game (all of which will have different effects on the champions).
The main gameplay in League is called Summoner’s Rift where two teams battle to destroy each other’s base across three different lanes—it’s capture the flag. It’s a 5 v 5 game and everyone starts at Level 1 for every game. That means that you, a player who’s attained mastery of one champion, could be paired up with four other players you don’t know who want to try out new champions.
The Summoner’s Rift Map
The result of the above: there no assured wins because winning isn’t just about how good you are.🤷🏾♂️
Not because you’re bad players, but because even though it’s the same map and the same champions, it’s not the same item combinations, nor the same players, the same runes or even the same skins. In fact, the League wiki says that are over 2 million different item combos, and over 51 million different team compositions to play in the game.
There are too many moving parts to learn all at once. When my UX designer friend Boluwatife Oyinloye introduced me to League in November 2021, I felt like absolute crap for the first two weeks because my avatars, the champions I tried to play, died every minute. But the moment I found one champ I could play, a long-range sniper named Caitlyn, I latched on and played her—and only her—for twelve months straight. I played many good games, yes, but this meant that when Cait was banned in certain games or if someone else on my team chose Cait before I could select her, I would suck. A year later, I discovered Senna, a long-range undead champion, who I think is the best thing since small chops, and again, I latched on. I had two champs, but I still wasn’t efficient enough. I was too nervous, too unsure—I sometimes still am.
If you’re thinking, How dis one take consine me? Hold on, you’ll get it soon.
Nine months ago, I started frequently playing another mode called ARAM—All Random, All Middle. In this mode, the game picks one of League’s 166 champs at random for you to play. Everyone is also put on a single lane, instead of the three lanes in the standard Summoner’s Rift mode—which is different because you can pick which champion or lane you want. In ARAM, however, the computer selects a champion for you at random, and the game is played on one lane. I was forced to play champions I would never try over and over again.
I should mention that I didn’t play ARAM because I wanted to learn new champions, I did it because I sucked at Summoner’s Rift and wanted to win well at something.
Now/Today, I have some form of mastery in 15 champions and I can play up to 50. The more important point is that I now know all 166 champions and their abilities. And this means that when I play against Tryndamere, a man who—like many African leaders—refuses to die, I know to keep my distance when his eyes glow red. When I play Chogath—a horned beast of insatiable hunger, like me at 2 AM—in ARAM, I know to buy Warmog’s Armour so I can regenerate my full health in 10 seconds. I also know—by hard lessons—never, ever, ever, to run after Singed even if he has just 1 hit point left; he leaves a noxious gas in his trail that slowly kills you.
More recently, League introduced a new map and I find myself playing any champion on that map and doing fairly well. As I said in this tweet, I’m not a top player yet, but I’m comfortable enough in my champion’s skin because I know what I’m up against—I know who I am fighting.
Simplify with Rowvar
Simplify property investment with Rowvar. Start here.
First, be efficient…
Now, how does this winding story concern you and why should you give a flying rat’s rump?
Well, because by far the most frequent question I’ve been asked on #EnteringTech’s Ask a Techie segment is: “Can I master xxx within a couple of weeks/months?” or some variation of it. Some even add “…and get a dollar-paying job too?”
And each time, it takes every morsel of good judgment I have, and the threat of my manager Muyiwa beating me not to say, “No, the hell you can not! Na play?”
Mastery, or even efficiency, takes a surmountable amount of time and hard work. It’s not enough that you read about something or are good at doing your everyday role, you have to know what’s out there too; what your competition looks like, how you fare against it, and how you can play on the same field.
When I’m not doing the only thing I love 100%—sorry Muyiwa, work is not my passion, I lied on the application form—I work as a Senior Editor at TechCabal where I manage newsletters. I’ve been at TC for almost three years now, and I can confidently say I’m only just understanding digital media products now.
I’ve been good at my job since day 1. For example, when I started, it would take me six or seven hours to code our flagship TC Daily which I wrote for two years straight, and I’d work late nights but my team and I always got TC Daily out on time. Now, it takes me considerably less time to code TC Daily—about two hours on most days, and I hardly have to work late nights. Now, my direct reports always ask how I do it relatively quickly, and I always say the same thing: “I did this every single workday for two years straight, and I’m still learning.”
While I’ve been good at writing or coding TC Daily, I’m only just starting out being good with newsletters because now, I’m not only aware of my job, I’m aware of the jobs of the product, design and engineering teams at Morning Brew, the Skimm, Bloomberg, The Hustle, and all the other international publications that have newsletters I want to compete with. I follow them closely, I have SWOT analysis on every single one—I even stalk their reporters on LinkedIn and X (Twitter).
I’ve worked three years on media products but I’d never describe myself as a master—I’m nowhere close. But I am super efficient with building and managing them.
It’s the same for any role, whether design, software engineering, or marketing, everything takes time to master or be efficient at.
“In fact, I’d say if you’re just starting out, put dreams of mastery in the backseat and focus, first, on being efficient in your role.”
Rome, like the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, wasn’t built in a day—or a year, or a decade in fact. Mastery will come eventually, but efficiency is what you must achieve first when you’re starting out in tech.
*This newsletter is not for geniuses and the “what if” hawkers who think they can use probability to enter the promised land. But if you found something in this edition enlightening, or don’t agree with my thoughts, or just want to gab about League of Legends, shoot me an email at email@example.com
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