We had a major breakthrough last night.
It came after yet another loss to a vastly inferior team. After every match of Halo 2, the Zillionaire platoon lands in the post-game lobby with our opponents, presenting us with an opportunity to review our stats while the other team criticizes us for our horrible play.
For The Captive Lion, this is his favorite part of the match. For him, the outcome of the game is truly irrelevant. As long as he can deal a clever insult to the opposing team in the post-game lobby, that’s all that matters. And the more handily we’ve been beaten, the more The Captive Lion seeks to avenge our loss with witticisms. If one of us leaves the post-game lobby early, The Captive Lion actually becomes upset that we didn’t give him enough time to deliver an insult to the other team. Sadly, this is not an exaggeration.
Solo, on the other hand, spends this lobby time obsessing about our stats. Not our actual wins and losses of course, but rather how many “headshots” he tallied during the game. Once he’s carefully reviewed his own stats, he then examines those of his teammates, taking time to point out their killing deficiencies relative to his score. For good measure, he’ll then urge them to “step it up” in the next round.
Lastly, Krusty generally uses the break in the game to fetch another beer or to make fun of The Captive Lion, as these two seem to spend more time taunting each other than our opponents.
As the other team simply laughs at our dysfunctional display, I’m left in the unfortunate position of being the only one actually bothered by the fact we lost a very winnable game to a very sucky team.
Back to the breakthrough I spoke of earlier… At the start of the next game, I resisted the usual urge to bark orders or attempt to formally organize the team. I simply said the following:
The Centaur: “Alright guys, let’s just stick together here… within reason.”
Solo laughed at how low my expectations of teamwork had sunken. But, by tacking on the “within reason” part to my request, it gave a little latitude to The Captive Lion. He still mocked me for trying to implement any semblance of strategy into this affair, but I think he sensed the compromise I had put forth. He didn’t have to march in lockstep with us… he just had to generally act like he was part of our team. I afforded him some room for creativity, and the option to freelance… all I asked was for him to not wander off like a teenager trying to avoid being seen with his parents. (And yes, that metaphor is entirely appropriate.)
Once The Captive Lion was on board, Krusty and Solo followed suit. Lo and behold, functioning as a team, we won easily.
While a win was nice, it was the next match that served as the inspiration for this post. During the game, Krusty manned the turret, and suppressed the other team’s movement with heavy machine gun fire. Once they were pinned down, Solo easily picked them off with the sniper rifle. I guarded both their positions, preventing any sneak attacks. And The Captive Lion was free to tactically clean up anyone that was left, knowing he was well-covered by his teammates. The final score, 50-19, was easily the most dominating win we’ve ever had. And it was all the product of teamwork.
A funny thing happened once we started winning. Suddenly we found ourselves on the receiving end of praise from the other team. In victory, we now could act as gracious winners, or, as you might expect, insufferable jackasses. (This wasn’t an option before.) We no longer felt the need to single out our weakest player, and berate him for his lackluster performance. The best part though? I don’t think I’ll have to spend future games imploring my teammates to regroup, cover each other and focus their taunts on the other team.