Firstly, a disclaimer: I know not all “Unicums”/elite players are like this but I would dare say a majority are of similar levels of toxic. Removed his name ’cause.
I was playing World of Tanks tonight just like most nights when I got a decent game in my Borat. It was your typical 15-4 stomp where the last guy knew it was over but would at least attempt to get as much damage as he could out of the end of the game as possible. As the first one reaching him, I do a drive by in my nearly full health Borat and shotgun my clip into him at 55 km/h with nearly no time for him to react. He, of course, wanted to get some damage, but I just kited him around the blimp on Redshire while he tried to get his fast T9 stationary medium up to speed to get some extra damage into me. I didn’t kite him out of spite but rather because my monkey brain said “Gun empty? Me go hide.” I thought literally nothing of it, until I got a message after the game.
I usually love getting messages like these ’cause I can make a low-effort snarky remark in return and get a chuckle out of it. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve received much worse than this but wanted to use it as a talking point. He noticed his insult didn’t hit yet so he went harder.
Now, I don’t always call myself a “Unicum” since its pretty rare for me to consistently not ape out each game out of boredom, BUT (and oh man is that a big but) when I do recognize myself as an elite player it can really get to my head sometimes. Do I ever initiate a message to players after battle? Never. Do I ever flame someone who never asked for it? Never. However, I do enjoy putting people back in their places. Maybe it’s wrong or doesn’t follow the “be the bigger person” behavior. IDGAF. It feels right. All this is to say that I know the effort people will go through to belittle someone.
The go to is stat/rank shaming. He had already looked at my stats and saw I was of an equal skill as him. He couldn’t call me out on my stats since he would be shitting on himself. He dug deeper and saw I had 800 games on the ELC (T5) and about 600 each on the M4A1 (T5 Tech Tree) and KV-85. There was his chance to shame me for my obvious stat padding. He threw in the SA server for a little spice too. My ego felt the sting. I couldn’t let him get the last say. He had brought a solid argument to the table, didn’t he? Well, not really. Any actual look at those tanks stats average out to worse than my recents.
He didn’t understand and I felt like it was my job to make him. The M4 was literally my first T5 back in 2011. Middle school me was not all that good at tanks and it still shows on record. About 600 of those games in the M4 were purely for grinding credits as there was no way in hell my parents would ever buy me premium time or a premium tank. For the KV-85, I never actually touched it but rather the KV-1S back in its prime. Did I intend it as a stat pad machine? The stats clearly show no, but it sure was a lot of fun and actually made decent credits. The ELC is a different beast to argue against for stat padding as my stats on it are actually better than my average. It has the most battles of any tank I have owned so it stands out like a sore thumb. There is no outright way to prove that I only played it once since the nerf in 2017 or that I mostly saw tier 9s in it. It was simply a fun tank with a unique playstyle that to this day I can’t replicate.
(Nostalgia Trip Warning!) The feeling of getting a juicy 240 damage into a T9 heavies rear, the dopamine rush of hugging a tall tank and hoping you don’t die to the small shunts as you wiggle for a possible shot into the side, and most importantly the jousts, not just with enemy ELCs but with the physics breaking turns as you weave to the side of shells that would literally one shot you while shot-gunning your own, praying that pineapple aim still leads the shot true even at 5 meters. GIVE ME BACK MY DAMN ELC!
I laid out that last paragraph in my head and then I realized it. He had won. He had rented a place in my head but I was not even charging him for it. I gave him the typical half-assed remark with a little excuse so as to not to concede to him directly.
Then I caved anyways…
The short story ends here but the lesson begins. Ego runs deep among elite players (of really any competitive game) and I am not an exception. I know several “Super Unicums” and the ego doesn’t stop with the amateur elites. We know the insults, the jabs at character or slander of stats, that will piss you off. They are the same ones we get from our own fellow “Unicums”. They hurt us and we pass it on. The only way to deal with this toxicity is to completely ignore it (or if it’s seriously bad, report). I constantly have to catch myself from mentally judging worse players. This is a lesson for myself as much as anyone else. There are very few real life rewards for playing this game. It’s not worth draining your mental for some equal loser on the other end of the computer. Didn’t I just drain my mental writing this whole thing out? Yea… but I was bored and couldn’t sleep anyways.
TL;DR: Competition and friendly banter is healthy when there is a worthwhile prize at the end. If the only prize is pride, expect the prideful to compete.