Some players and teams in sport are able to intimidate their competition and their environment and as a result change their opponents behvaiour. They create a landscape of fear to coin an ecology term (Laundre in Yong, 2013). They create an environment where all they seem to do to win is show up. They are the top predators. They have that eye of invincibility, they are able to intimidate their opponents causing them to change their behaviour.
In Ecology an example of this are wolves and elk. The mere presence of the wolves changes the behaviour of the elk, they spend more time looking out for the wolves than grazing. They are playing not to lose (become a wolves dinner!). In sport the consequences are not that serious but when you become an elk you have shifted your focus away from you and what you can control, you have become the prey, you have become intimidated. In team sports this can be seen when home teams dominate opponents at their home grounds, they intimidate the away team into losing, they change the visiting teams behaviour as they control their environment. The greats mentioned above and the great teams have that much influence that they can change the environment, just like the wolves in the New Scientist research who changed the behaviour of the elk which then had a knock on effects for other animals. These greats, these top predators, change the sport that they compete in. Other athletes have to devise strategies to first survive and then move to become a predator. These strategies change the game, change the sport.