I'm a fan of Immortals, but I want them to lose.
It may seem a little idiosyncratic, but bear with me. I've been following the Immortals journey longer than most and consider Noah, CEO of Immortals, a good friend. Also happy my former teammate Eugene "Pobelter" Park found a team that he is really happy to be on and is going to help unlock the potential we all knew he has had for years.
In case you've been out of the loop, Immortals is a newly formed organization with players that bring a wide range of professional experience. They have stormed the opening three weeks of the North American League Championship Series, going 6-0. Not only have they won all of their games, it has been in a very convincing fashion -- by recording the fastest win in NA LCS (18:16).
They have a real shot at being the top team at the end of spring split, and without getting too far ahead of ourselves, being a strong representation for North America on the international circuit. However, being a new organization with a new roster means they have much to learn as a team. Even though some of them individually are no strangers to losing, it can be one of the most valuable lessons for a championship winning team.
Only one team has had a perfect split or season in the history of competitive League of Legends, and that is the reigning world champions, SK Telecom T1, during OGN Winter 2013-14. A perfect split or season includes regular games and playoff games, which makes Fnatic not eligible for this accolade, despite going 18-0 in the regular season, they dropped two games against Origen in the playoffs.
I've competed in sports or gaming since I was a kid and had the opportunity to play on some of the biggest stages internationally for League of Legends. I hate losing. It sucks. I'll never forget us being in the finals of the most prestigious Korean tournament (OGN) in 2012 and being 2-0 up in a best of five against the favorites. We were sure to win. Those watching at 4 a.m. on the other side of the world went to bed and woke up to find we lost the next three games. We got complacent, we got cocky, and that bit us.
No winner should ever have the mindset of losing. However, every player will face it at some point. Every time I have lost, from that moment on, whether it was on the court or off the court (or on the Rift, off the Rift), I have seen it as an opportunity to learn and grow. That is the opportunity I want Immortals to have before playoffs. Sooner rather than later.
To draw an analogy to traditional sports, since the first Super Bowl in 1967, there has been only one NFL team to have a perfect season: the 72' Miami Dolphins. There have been other teams that had undefeated regular seasons but lost in the playoffs, not clinching the coveted perfect season. An example would be the 2007 New England Patriots.
In looking at other sports, besides the outliers like the Dolphins, almost all champions have faced defeat. When you lose, especially as a team, the cracks will reveal weaknesses. When you are winning, it is easier to turn a blind eye to your weaknesses.
"One of the signs of Michael [Jordan's] greatness is that he turned his weaknesses into strengths." -- Phil Jackson
In my experience, one weakness that can be discovered through losing is ego. The competitive environment, especially in team sports, breeds egos, and ego is one of the most poisonous attributes any team member can have. It is important to not mistake ego for confidence. Every player should believe they are or can be the best and that they will win, but shouldn't be blinded by it.
"There are plenty of teams in every sport that have great players and never win titles. Most of the time, those players aren't willing to sacrifice for the greater good of the team." -- Michael Jordan
There are obvious benefits to being on a winning streak. Morale is high and momentum is on your side. However, in the case of Immortals, I believe they have the potential to be a championship winning team, and as a fan, I would like them to face the adversity of losing earlier in the season rather than closer to playoffs, where losing can impact morale and momentum more negatively.
No one is truly immortal, although how ironic would that be?
These principles don't just apply to competition. I've faced degrees of adversity in my life, as has everyone. It's important to use it as vehicle that will help you learn and grow. I've still got much to learn and I'm far from wise, however, one thing I've learned is that your actions on the court are just as important as those off the court. Sometimes fans and even players don't realize this, and a large part of winning is done outside of those two games that are broadcast every week.
Check your ego, be a better friend, a better colleague and a better teammate and you'll find yourself being more successful individually and as a team. Now go win that championship, Immortals.
Stephen "Snoopeh" Ellis has been part of the esports scene for over a decade, as a player, analyst, and advocate for players rights. He is a special contributor to ESPN.com. You can follow him on Twitter by clicking here.