Playing selfishly is sometimes the team play

There is a belief that team play is when every player on the team helps and coordinates together to become a greater whole. That a player must sacrifice some level of his own play for the team identity or strategy and that the result will be better for everyone.

That is to an extent true. Sometimes though a superstar player needs to go the opposite direction. There was an interview that Skip Bayless did with an NFL player (I forget which since I don’t follow the NFL) and the two of them argue about team play. Bayless said the player shouldn’t be in the hall of fame despite the incredible stats because he was playing selfishly and having the game revolve around him.

The player in return said that was the team play. His selfish play was exactly what made his team so successful and sacrificing his own play would have been the opposite of team play since the greater whole becomes worse if he doesn’t play that selfishly.

And while I haven’t watched this player’s games, the argument itself does hold some truth. Sometimes the best team play is to play selfishly. Febiven from Fnatic realized this too late. On his stream he admitted that “I sacrificed my own picks for the team. It should have been the other way around.” I don’t know if this is true (I’m not a LoL analyst, but from a theoretical standpoint. If Febiven was the player that could maximize the advantages their team had to win, then he should have played selfishly.

In the same sense, this is what happened with tarik in CLG. He had the raw firepower of a star player, but had a problem with playing for the team too much when the team needed him to try to go crazy and take over the game.

Winning is all that matters and you can only win as a team. But sometimes to win as a team means you have to play for yourself.

Slingshot senior columnist. StarCraft and CS:GO expert who pushes narratives over numbers. You can reach him at

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