So, tryhard.

I've seen the word used in many contexts, with seemingly different meanings.

In some places, it seems to qualify a type of game or game element (specific characters or subsystems) that requires immense amounts of training to master.

Other times, I've seen it used to describe a kind of self imposed challenge, voluntarily making the game harder to win.

And finally, it seems to sometimes refer to certain players, persistently failing at playing a game.

Question is, is there a generally accepted/canon definition for the word ?

  • 1
    UrbanDictionary entry for Try-hard. This term may describe anything: the game, its parts or the player. – user1306322 Nov 26 '15 at 10:13
  • 6
    If you win, you are a tryhard. If you lose, you are a noob. You can never win. – Teifi Nov 27 '15 at 16:41
  • 6
    Not really related to the question, but: I find it endlessly amusing that both "tryhard" and "casual" are considered insults. – Daniel Wagner Nov 28 '15 at 0:51
  • It is also defined in Wiktionary. – CyberSkull Dec 2 '15 at 11:15
  • Indeed. You'll note that said definition does not exactly match those given hereunder. – Nigralbus Dec 2 '15 at 11:23
up vote 36 down vote accepted

Well, when I've used the term tryhard I usually referenced players which are taking the game way too seriously and act like their life depends on it. That is a completely opinion based thing though, as I am playing games like DotA entirely for fun. If I meet a player in a public, unranked queue that wants to try out advanced tactics he has seen watching pro matches, I tend to think "what a tryhard", while others who take the game more serious than I do would appreciate that motivation the player is showing.

To summarize: tryhards are players who take the game more serious than I (or someone else) do. Obviously that is opinion based and I'd count it as an insult, therefore I am not using the term tryhard in general.

  • True, that's why there are normal queues and ranked queues. Normals for trying things out and just having fun, ranked queues for trying hard. So calling someone in ranked tryhard is ridiculous while in a normal its legit in some cases. To give an example for League of Legends: playing with friends e.g. in aram but never finishing until the enemy got 1 attempt and finishes it directly: Then the enemy definitely tryharded. – h0ch5tr4355 Nov 26 '15 at 10:25
  • Well in your example it would not be the enemy that tryharded, but your team that failed to take your advantage and finish the game. All what the enemy does is turning your mistake into a win. Giving examples for tryhards is hard, because it is as I said opinion based and depends on the person who calls someone else a tryhard. – Marv Nov 26 '15 at 10:26
  • it actually substantiates your post, you can't talk about failing when noone intended to finish the game. So there was no mistake done. – h0ch5tr4355 Nov 26 '15 at 10:30
  • Well when you are aiming for winning when you play, then it is a mistake not to end the game. Even when I am playing for fun I want to win the game, as nothing is more fun than winning :) – Marv Nov 26 '15 at 10:31
  • 1
    Try hard is also a term used by losers to justify their lose... – dyesdyes Nov 27 '15 at 2:34

A Tryhard is a person who puts too much effort into winning a game - he is "trying too hard".

Of cource that term is highly subjective, but here are some ideas of where the concept comes from:

  1. People usually play games for recreation
  2. People enjoy games they either are winning, or at least have a chance of winning
  3. Effort is usually not conductive to recreation

=> If a player puts forth unusual ammount of effort, he "forces" other players to keep up with him if they want to have a chance of winning, thus reducing their enjoyment of the game.

The highly subjective measure of how much effort exactly is too much, makes this term unsuitable to actually describe behavior in gaming.

This pattern isn't exclusive to Video Gaming either, and I think most people will have expirienced something similiar during their playground days at least once ("Hey! Hiding indoors doesn't count!").

The big difference is, that in the real world you have to communicate through such a problem if you want to continue playing. Online Video games have a large enough player pool that you can just "rage quit" until you find an agreeable matchup.

It should also be mentioned, that this term is often "abused" to mitigate the pain of loosing a match.

e.g. "I only lost this match because the other player was tryharding so much!"

  • 2
    Sometimes used by normal players against "theorycrafters" or "min-maxers"... ie people who spend hours and hours optimising their character, ship etc to be perfect. While this is fine, it sometimes means skewed game balance, or that "regular" casual players can't keep up. It can be quite annoying in certain games as the rest of the population just doesn't have the time to keep up and end up against content skewed by their higher DPS numbers etc – Jon Story Nov 27 '15 at 11:14

For me I have only heard it inside of the toxic world that is League of Legends. For me tryhard means that the person they are against or team are trying harder than them to win. Now they can mean this in many ways as you have rightfully asked. "So you have to tryhard to win?" "Why so tryhard." "You only beat me because you tryhard."

For me every single time I have seen it used it means "HAH you only beat me because you tryhard". People seem to use it so you feel bad because you are trying to win the game, when you should be having fun. I think alot of people like to say it on league of legends because they hope their opponent will let down their guard and try to have fun, but then the enemy will get a kill and simply say easy gg... For me tryhard is a toxic term. But in the gaming world it can have many meanings depending on the situation.

P.S. if an enemy states you are tryhard and you lose they will rub it in your face to feel better about themselves... Not sure why

  • 5
    Turn off chat if the game allows you to. The game gets 10x better. – Ave Nov 26 '15 at 9:55
  • I sometimes get called a tryhard when playing some champs(Rengar mostly) and dive their carries 24/7. Thing is that im not doing this to win, im doing it because I like it. There is nothing more satisfying then a raging enemy player after you killed him for over 10 times. – Bl00dylicious Nov 26 '15 at 12:27
  • 1
    @Gnarly404 all I can say is welcome to internet gaming :). Best thing I do is only say something nice or word something so it is at least constructive, I prefer not to just say something negative. – Canvas Nov 26 '15 at 12:28
  • @Bl00dylicious - as the player who got dived like 30 times in a single LAN party and got frustrated and sent all other DotA players home in order to go doing something else... well, have fun with your satisfaction, because CENSORED you! :p – Zachiel Jun 13 '16 at 10:14

The term is a criticism both in and outside of gaming.

In terms of gaming, I hear the term "tryhard" or "try-hard" most commonly in the following context:

When playing in a non-ranked online game mode where one player is accused of playing competitively (as if in a ranked game). Such actions may be frowned upon or not expected for games that offer ranked and more relaxed non-ranked game modes.

It is often a parting-shot or excuse for a loss. For example, player A beats player B, so player B responds by calling player A a "try-hard".

Of course, accusations are easy to make when one player simply loses to another. However, there can be truth in the matter when, for example, a player always uses the "best" loadout, guns, team, strategies, perks, character etc (depending on the game) in non-ranked games.

I don't really hear it in ranked games, but I guess the same principles could still apply. In ranked games, it can also mean that the player can only win with the best loadout/setup, and is therefore more of a taunt (in the hope that loadout/setup is changed).

I have heard the term in several Street Fighter titles, Call of Duty (of course) and Dota. I haven't heard it in FIFA, surprisingly. Regardless, the meaning seems pretty universal across different games.

I would suggest the following definitions, but these are based on my own experiences:

someone who is perceived to doing all they can to win
"you won because you are a tryhard"
"what a tryhard!"

perceived to only want to win
"he is a tryhard player"
"that is such a tryhard loadout"

In gaming the term doesn't appear to be used in the same manner as the general term. Outside gaming it is used to describe someone who tries harder than required.

This definition is found in the English Wiktionary:

(derogatory) A person usually of little talent who tries hard, especially through imitation, to succeed, usually to gain fame or popularity.

Additional sources:

League of Legends discussion
Call of Duty Black Ops Gamefaq

The original definition of 'a tryhard' was someone who does everything they do with the same amount of effort that would be used at the highest possible level of play.

An example of a tryhard in an MMORPG would be someone who's doing a low level dungeon using the same expensive consumeables and high-maintenance skill rotations as the top raiding content requires.

In inherently competitive games like MOBAs (like DotA and LoL) or shooters, the term is a lot harder to apply since there is much less difference in effort between Ranked play and casual play. The only thing that comes to mind is that one might take more risk in a casual match than in a Ranked match. There, the term "tryharding" generally means 'trying to win at any cost' and it is also sometimes used with a more positive intention ("let's tryhard" to mean "let's try to make a comeback" or "let's maximise our advantage" if winning).

It can have many meanings based upon the setting, the environment and the community culture developed.

However there are 2 most prominent uses which I believe are the most wide spread, one aimed at what you consider the opposing party (which might sometimes actually be the party which is inherently allied to you) or one aimed at what you consider your allied party or yourself.

The first usage is intended to be derogatory while the latter is intended to have an encouraging undertone to it.

When used towards an opposing party it carries a connotation of "Stop trying so hard, it's just a game." Which also carries an undertone of "If I would actually try, I would beat you, but I can't be bothered." It is primarily used to lessen one's own "salt" (or bitterness if you will) after an unfavorable outcome (i.e. your character got killed by the opposing party).

When used towards yourself or an ally party it carries a connotation of "Let's put in more effort that usual." or "Let's do this 110%!" or even "Let's start playing serious.". Comical phrase examples include: "Ok guys, let's get our tryhard pants on."

I refer to people as try hards that enter non-ranked or below level cap PvP games (mostly in MMO's) with perfectly formed group compositions and employ tactics usually seen in ranked or organized play against PUG groups. When a 4-man, tank, 2 DPS , healer group is in non-ranked and starts calling hard swaps and chaining CC's against people who are still learning to play the game that's being a try hard.

A real life counterpart would be if you went down to your local park for a pick up game of flag football and the a college team showed up and started calling plays and running routes. A situation where one side is already more talented than the other but then further pushes their advantage by using comms, advanced tactics (usually impossible to counter without organization) and cherry picked group comp to win in a game mdoe that is intended for casual play.

ok lets give an example in tf2: there's a fun server (like trading servers) , agroup of players are having fun by dancing and taunting in a corner suddenly a dude shows up and kill them all with no reason example 2:while playing a game again for fun taking things casually and relaxing when some dude decides to use his mic and start commanding everyone to a specific strategic kind of thing proclaiming himslef as leader

in these 2 case we call that dude a tryhard basically someone who cant relax in game and do it just for fun

I will admit that I am most of the time a tryhard because my mindset in any PvP multiplayer game is generally this...

Use anything(legal) to get an edge

No mercy. If you are an enemy, even if you are a noob or a "friendly" enemy, I will send you to the ground.

Teamates who are not trying to accomplish the objective or play their role in a waste of a team member and if my team loses I blame them.

Get the job done, no more no less.

If its an official game server, this is my mindset. But if it is a private game or a player server intentionally created for goofing around, then I will join in on the fun an goof off too.

Your Answer


By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.