Tactical incompetence refers to a phenomenon observed in many multiplayer games, where an opponent displays temporary ineptitude, only to strike when the OPERATOR lets their guard down. Although the name of the phenomenon and its description may lead one to believe that it is a conscious, intelligent strategy, tactical incompetence is almost always performed on accident by unskilled players.
Tactical incompetence is rampant in games where prediction of the opponent is an integral factor in battles, including shooters, fighting games, and Dota 2. For instance, in the case of a fighting game, an Imperial may assume that an opponent will perform the smartest action they can in a given scenario and attempt to counter that move in advance, only to find that the opponent either botched the attempt and ended up with another move, or performed a completely nonsensical, risky, and unpredictable move that resulted in defeat for the OPERATOR.
The term has its origin in Team Fortress 2, particularly with the Not-Dying Machine, which requires the enemy to perform, at the very least, 1 single point of damage to the Imperial in order to activate it. Commonly, opponents will completely miss numerous shots in a row and fail to inflict even a fraction of damage on the Imperial sneakyman while the Not-Dying Machine is active. However, as soon as the OPERATOR assumes that they are safe and deactivates the Not-Dying Machine in order to counter-attack, the opponent displays unprecedented levels of skill and kills the OPERATOR in one shot against all odds.
It should be noted that being unpredictable is a also a skill in any of the games where tactical incompetence can be displayed. For example, being aggressively unpredictable but having knowledge of the game and the execution to perform advanced combos simultaneously is a phenomenon known as the “daywalker” in the fighting game community. Being able to successfully throw your opponent’s aim and execution off is also an important skill in Team Fortress 2 and Dota 2. However, one should never have to sacrifice other aspects of their skill set, such as their aim (as in the Not-Dying Machine example) or their execution (as in the fighting game example) to throw the opponent off, as a dead opponent is always more beneficial than a “temporarily juked” opponent.