Part 1 - Introduction
There are hundreds if not thousands of guides out there focused on specific champions, or strategy for Twisted Treeline or Summoners Rift. There are guides for champion builds, team compositions, the Meta-Game, jungling, laning, raising your Elo, avoiding trolls, not dying, and even guides for making guides. Despite the abundance of these guides, I personally feel there is still an important aspect which is missing from the greater League of Legends community. That elusive quality is good teamwork and strategy.
As such, I am writing a guide in hopes to fill that gap. This guide will be aimed at improving everyones overall teamwork, strategy, and chemistry.
I think the various types of LoL players can be split up into three groups:
1. Casuals. Pre-level 30's. "normal" game players. aka "noobs"
2. Ranked solo-queue players. aka "tryhards"
3. Arranged Ranked "Team" players. (5v5) aka "experts"
We will go more into those three specific player types later. I bring them up here to state that the goal of this guide will be to give the Casual and ranked Solo-queue players the tools to become "Team" players.
To do this, I will need input from the community. If you are currently on a Ranked team, and you disagree with or wish to improve upon anything written in this guide, I encourage you to post it in this thread and I will do my best to include your information in this guide. I am NOT the best League player, so if at any point you believe my advice is not sound, I will gladly hear your argument and if your argument is valid, I will update accordingly.
Part 1.a - Why do we want more ranked teams?
Currently, the League of Legends community is predominantly made up of "noobs" and "tryhards". I've found that the percentage of players who actually compete with full teams of 5 friends is in the extreme minority. I do not believe this is because they are inherently better at the game than the "tryhards". I believe they have resources at their disposal which open them up to greater opportunities and thus their skill in the game has increased dramatically over those who are stuck solo-queueing with teams full of randoms.
In short: If you have four friends to queue with and you have the ability to play with those same four people consistantly, you will get much better at this game much faster than if you are solo-queuing with three or four random players.
I am here to encourage more solo-queue players to form groups of five players, and I am here to teach you how to be successful once you have done that.
Part 1.b - What makes you an authority on this topic?!
Let's get a few of the troll questions out of the way:
Am I a pro LoL player? No.
Am I on a top Elo rated LoL team? No.
Do I have a super-high Elo? No. In fact my Elo rather sucks.
Am I an expert at all of the champions? No. I'm decent with them, at best.
Do I carry every game I am in? Absolutely not.
Now.. here's the kicker.
Am I capable of being on a top rated LoL team and going to competative LAN events such as PAX, etc?
Yes. And so are you.
How do I know I'm capable of this? Because I've consistantly done it in other games. That is what makes me an authority on this topic.
My name is Jarrod, I live in Phoenix Arizona, I'm 31 years old at the time I am writing this, and I have been a competative gamer since the age of 14. That's 17 years. Longer than many of you reading this have been alive.
So what are my credentials?
-Mechwarrior 2 in 1994, was part of the best PVP clan on "The Zone"
-Quake 2 Instagib. Ranked #1 on OGL ladders.
-Counter-Strike 1.6 and Beta. Ranked #1 on OGL ladders before CAL. First season in CALeague (Season 3) made it to the finals of CAL-Open, made CAL-Main. In CAL-main defeated the team who won CAL-main in Pre-Season. Clan went on to break up. Reformed many clans many times over, and competed at the highest level of whatever league we were in... Whether it was CAL-open, intermediate, or main. Competed at various LAN events; always finishing in the top 3 and winning money/prizes.
-Counter-Strike: Source. Joined a CAL-open team which was 2/1/1. After coaching them throughout the season our team finished 7/1/1, went on to the Playoffs, and won the playoffs to take the championship.
-Age of Empires III. Started out a total noob to RTS games. Played one of the most underpowered civilizations and my highest personal rating was ~2100-2150. (The highest rated players were ~2400)
-World of Warcraft: Arena/BG's. Lead the largest and most successful PvP guild on my relatively small and unheardof server. Our team(s) won ~95% of the BG matches we played. Our guild produced about a dozen "Gladiators" in Season 3, including myself and my Arena partner who finished the season at 2338 rating (My personal highest was 2424). Transferred to Battleground 9 (Kil'Jeaden realm) for Season 4, picked up a random arena partner, and made 2150 rating within a few weeks. I then quit the game because I felt I accomplished everything I wanted to.
After that, I tried to avoid competative games and clans because I am the type of person who becomes addicted to competition. It actually negatively impacts my real life... Until recently, where I met some friends in a game called MineCraft. These guys started playing LoL, and then I started playing with them. Now I'm a League addict.
So, as you can see... I am not the best player at any given game. I am not inherently good at RTS's, or MMORPGS, or DOTA's, or even FPS's. What I have going for me is that I am mature, intelligent, and I am a good leader/teacher/coach. The closest I came to being a "pro" player (making money playing a video game) was playing Counter-strike during CS's prime.
What I have learned through all of these experiences is that anyone who has the right group of players to support them, a lot of practice, and who has the right mindset when approaching the game (whether it be a real game like football, baseball, etc), or a video game like League, is capable of being ranked among the top 1-5% of players in that game. If you look at my history in competative games, and if CS had an Elo rating system, you will see that I was ranked among the "experts" in every game. Most games, anyway, consider an Elo of 2000 or higher "expert" level. I was not an expert because I have some special ability to play video games. I was an expert because video games keep me interested and entertained and I devoted a lot of time to playing them. The more time you do something, the better you become at it.
Part 2 - Crafting a team.
First, why is a team so important? Because LoL is a team game. Solo-queue only measures how well you do on your own. To be a truly good LoL player, you need to have a good team of players.
So, how do you find a good team? Well, that totally depends on you. The best teams I have ever been a part of have been players who played regularily together on public servers and made friends. When you start having 5-10 players who all play together on a regular basis, creating a "clan" is generally the next logical step. After that, those players begin wanting to test their mettle against other clans. Win or lose, that team eventually wants to get better, so they play more, and they do get better, continually testing themselves against better and better teams. Before you know it, you're highly ranked and well respected.
In League of Legends, the closest thing we have to a "public server" is Normal games.
So, as the first step, I encourage you to be friendly to the people you play with in normal games. When you see someone who seems to play very well and has a good attitude (not trolling you constantly), then you should try speaking to them after the game (or during). Try to add them to your friends list.. Then start inviting them to games with you.
But, what makes a good teammate?
There are a couple of very important factors to choosing your team.
Part 2a - Time is everything
This section is about time-management and practice, as well as selecting the right players for your team based upon their ability to practice these standards.
- Time played. More time played = Gets better faster. It's estimated that for anyone to become a true "master" of any activity they must put in 10,000 hours of practice. This goes for everyone in any activity, whether it be Classical Piano, Golf, Football, Computer programming, Stock Investment, or League of Legends. Good news is, LoL and similar games are not very old, so even the top players with the most amount of experience don't have that huge of a gap between the newest players starting now.
- Schedule. Schedules must coincide. A player who plays alot at a completely different time of day from you is useless. Your team should create a schedule of when to play seriously. What they do in their spare time (outside of LoL/gaming) is their business. I have managed to hold down a full time job and a long term girlfriend and to still put in several hours of practice a day. How much your team seriously practices will directly coorelate to how fast you get better and how good you get.
- Lack of distractions or other personal responsibilities. I can't tell you how many otherwise amazing players I've lost from teams because they went off to college and their schedule was too tight. Or they got a new girlfriend. Or they started working 2 jobs. Or their mom grounded them or took their internet away. Real life is important, and I do not begrudge these players for having their real life responsibilities. Thing is, if you want to be a top rated team you simply cannot have tolerance for players on your roster who are inactive. Almost worse then "other responsibilities" is distractions. Do not be watching a TV, or a movie, or trying to entertain your friends while you play. There is a time for TV, a time for friends, a time for gaming. Which leads me to the next point...
- Set time aside for the game. Make sure you have your laundry and other chores done. Make sure you are well rested and well fed, so you do not have to stop in the middle of a gaming session in order to take care of your needs. The world does not revolve around any single person. When you are a part of a team, you have 4 other people depending on you. Try to have all of your personal responsibilities out of the way so you can devote 100% attention to being on your A-game.
- Hardware/software. All players should have quality hardware and software. If they cannot consistantly get a good ping, or if they have constant FPS problems, or their computer constantly crashes or reboots, you are essentially left in a 5v4 situation, or are otherwise at a large disadvantage. When it comes to competative play this is simply unacceptable. If players do not have quality hardware/software, they simply cannot be a part of your starting roster; otherwise they will hold your entire team back.
- Take regular breaks. After every 1 hour of play-time, take a 5-15 minute break. This allows everyone to clear their minds and get away from the computer for a while whether they feel they need to or not. A good way to go about it is to say, "Great game guys. Let's call a break and meet back here in 15 minutes?" Sometimes people can't come back, or sometimes they want to keep going on. It's up to everyone on the team at that point whether they want to forge forward, or call it quits for the day. But either way, the opportunity to have regular breaks should be mandatory.
Part 2.b - Communication
Communication. All of the players on your team must be capable of communicating with one another openly. Communication is a key to teamwork. Navy Seal teams use highly trained, concise communication to prevent the loss of life in high risk situations. Fortune 500 companies have entire training programs dedicated to improving communication among their employees.
Your team must have some kind of VOIP program in order to function at its highest capacity; whether it be Mumble, Teamspeak, Ventrillo, or Skype. Instant communication is key. If someone is not able/capable of getting/using those programs, they will be a weak link on your team, and if you want to be successful you cannot have weak links. Typing takes your hands off keys needed for playing. Pinging the map is too easily misinterpretted. Voice communication is essential.
You cannot have someone on your team who constantly speaks over other people. Likewise, you cannot have someone on your team who does not listen to direction. Nor can you have someone who is completely silent. Your entire team needs to convey accurate and essential information in a concise and consistant way.
Let me give you an example of the type of communication which is good vs the type of communication which is bad.
I'll use an average round of Counter-strike as an example.
*Pre-round buy time*
Team Leader: "Let's do a 2/3 split. Make sure you guys flashbang catwalk at exactly 1:45."
All players: "Roger."
Player 2: "They smoked mid."
Player 3: "Heard some movement lower B halls."
Player 2: "Hold here for a moment."
Player 3: "Holding."
Player 5: "You guys okay?"
Player 2: "Yeah, they just threw a flashbang but we're all right."
Player 3: "They're rushing up mid."
Team Leader: "Okay, abort 2/3, fall back to spawn and loop through upper B halls."
All players: "Got it. Falling back."
Now, notice how all of the communication between players is CLEAR and CONCISE. There is not much room for miscommunication. They are relaying ONLY important information and they are listening and aware of what is going on on the other side of the map. The team leader quickly decides to change up the game plan. He is experiencing a situation which he was not prepared for, and he thinks it's a bad idea to continue on with the original plan, so he changes his mind. Since the other players listen to him and trust his judgement, they will do as he says and they CONFIRM with him that he wants them to fall back by acknowledging, "Holding." and "Got it. Falling back."
Player 2, even though he's not the team leader, has the confidence to make a call on the fly by telling his partner to "Hold for a moment", and his team listens to him rather than ignoring his call. He is careful to not contradict the original strategy which is called, but he realizes that something is not going to go right if he follows the original call blindly.
Now, let's see it from the perspective of a different type of team with poor communication skills:
Player 2: "HAHAHAH.. Yeah, my sister is so stupid man. Her boyfriend is a total chode."
Player 3: "She likes chodes because she's a hoe."
Team leader: "Can you guys listen for a moment?"
Player 4: "Dude, I think my keyboard is messed up, I can't crouch for some reason."
Player 5: "Man, my mom keeps pounding on my door."
Team Leader: "Guys, stop going that way, we're doing a 2/3 split."
Player 5: "What?! I'm half-way to B already and NOW you tell me to do a 2/3 split?!"
Team Leader: "Well you weren't list..."
*cut off by player 2*
Player 4: "I can't see anything through all of this smoke."
Team Leader: "You can't see anything because your video card sucks. I keep telling you to get a new computer."
Player 2: "Hahaha these noobs are trying to rush up mid, I'm gonna own these kids!"
Player 3: "OMG that flashbang just blinded the $*$@ out of me."
*entire team dies or gets picked off to the enemy rush*.
Notice the difference? Excessive chatter. Everyone is talking but nobody is listening to pertinent facts. Nothing is really being conveyed. Half of the players on the team are distracted by real-life problems like their mom pounding on the door or their keyboard not working. Which team do you think is going to be more effective in a competative situation? I believe the answer is obvious.
When selecting the players on your "Team", make sure you pick people who are capable of being the #1 example, rather than #2. Here you have 2 examples of the same exact team with completely different standards of communication. It doesn't matter whether the team who communicates very seriously is a categorically "good" group of players or not. The fact is, they are doing something right. They may win the round, or lose the round. That isn't what matters. The team in example #2 has already lost before the round even started, and even if they are the best players in the world (which I assure you, they are not), they are setting themselves up for failure by not having high standards with which they communicate with one another.
Things to avoid in communication:
- Excessive chatter, including personal discussions, off-topic discussions, etc. Mid-game is not the time to discuss your weekend or your personal life or what new games are coming out for the XBox.
- Excessive silence. If you do not communicate, you are depriving your team of valuable information that only you can see/interpret.
- Poor mic quality or too low/high sound. If you're too loud, you break others focus. Too low and others strain to hear you.
- Yelling, screaming, **** talk, insults or criticism. (Save criticism for AFTER the game.)
Important points for good communication:
- Clear, resonate voice. Proper mic adjustments to put your voice at a comprehensible level. Speak evenly and calmly. Do not raise your voice excessively or mumble incoherently.
- When calling strats/commands, try to use short, concise phrases, such as "Let's do dragon.", "Defend mid.", "Attack inhibitor.", "Focus Ashe.", "Clear our jungle.", "Ward their jungle.", "Fall back.", "Recall.", "Stay together.", etc, etc, etc. The more long winded your speech becomes the more likely it is for people to get cut off and lose potentially pertinent information.
- Update your team as to your situation whenever possible, but not so often that it becomes mundane. An example, from the laning phase would be something like: "Akali is playing very aggressively." *long pause*, "I am out of Pots." *long pause*, "Akali is low, and overextended. Going to have to recall soon.".
Notice how I am painting a picture of how my laning experience is going and how my opponent is playing without going too indepth? I have essentially told my team that there is an aggressive laner in mid who has low health and is over-extending her lane. This should be of interest to my jungler, and I simultaneously inform my jungler that there is about to be free XP/Last hits in my lane while I am recalled, if he wishes to come soak it up. During this entire scenerio, I am giving my team the information required to take opportunities assuming they are capable of capitalizing on them. They may, or may not. I am not telling them what to do; I am just giving them guidance.
This is important, as most people do not like being told what to do, or how to play. Also notice how I give my team fair warning BEFORE I recall. This allows them to make the proper adjustments to compensate for my absense and warns them that if they do not cover my lane, a tower will be vulnerable. Teams with good "chemistry" (I'll touch more on that later) will automatically understand the points I am attempting to convey and do what is needed for the team to win. A lot of people would approach this situation by simply saying, "I'm recalling. Jungler, come cover my lane.". This gives the jungler no forewarning and doesn't give my team any information as to why my recall is required or what led to it. The warning also allows your team to evaluate whether you may need a lane switch or not and time to make it happen without rushing.
- Do not cut each other off, speak over one another, or contradict one another unless the situation is absolutely dire and it's necessary for you to do so. Player 1: "Rammus, can you recall and buy a ward? Put it at their Blue." Rammus: "Alone? And I have no gold.", Player 1: "You're right. Annie, go with him please?" Annie: "Sure, and I have gold for the ward, Rammus."
Or, "Let's go do dragon, hurry!", Lee Sin speaks up, "Their Warwick just warded it, and there are 5 of them alive. Are you sure?", "Okay, let's go ward stomping and put a sight ward up. We'll steal it from them when they go."
- When responding to a "command", try to repeat back the "essence of the command". This is a safety measure to avoid confusion or misunderstandings. If someone asks you to do something, it helps to keep lines of communication clear if you repeat back part of it. "Put a ward at their blue." could be responded to by saying, "Warding blue." or something similar. This acknowledges the command and confirms you understood it properly. If you didn't, it gives them the opportunity to correct you. The US Military and other fast paced businesses (such as very busy restuarants or construction sites) often use this technique to avoid potentially costly misunderstandings.
- Never make potentially false assumptions. Just because someone went MIA from their lane with relatively low HP does NOT automatically mean that they are recalling. Just because you saw someone go through river, does NOT mean they are going to the adjacent lane. Just because you just saw a jungler in top lane, does not mean he cannot appear in bottom lane shortly-there-after. Our sense of time can be distorted when your mind is exceptionally active. Rather than saying, "Warwick is coming mid.", say "Warwick went through river." This conveys the same point without the added assumption that he is going mid. It has the added advantage of making your team aware of EXACTLY where went to and the possible routes he could be going from there. Rather than saying, "MIA mid, I think he's recalling.", try "Annie was low HP, now she's MIA." This is a very common mistake people make and while it doesn't often result in negative consequences, the potential is still there for a misunderstanding. How mad would you be if you were bottom lane and Annie went MIA, health potted while she was walking through the jungle, then dropped a tibbers stun on you and your lane partner, picking up a double kill? Bottom line: Stick only to the facts.
Part 2.c - Chemistry
This is possibly one of the most important and often overlooked factors of teamplay. Some people, for whatever reason, have an affinity for one another. Others, for whatever reason, do not get along. Sometimes, these things can get better or worse, or change over time. For any teammates to
develope chemistry with one another they need to bond, and form a relationship based on trust and common goals. If your goal is to win, and a player you are playing with seems to be doing things which are at odds with your desire to win, it's only human to start to dislike playing with that person. This would be called negative affinity/bad chemistry.
If, however, the player you are playing with seems to know how to read your mind and automatically be there for you whenever you need them, or fills in the gaps in your gameplay with his or her own strengths and weaknesses, then that player is said to have "good chemistry" or positive affinity with you. It's very important for a team (of any size) to have this elusive quality in spades. A lot of highly competative teams (and likewise, highly competative business partners) have been friends for years, if not decades. That said, you should not allow the competition to come between your friendship.
The good news is, even if you do not have this elusive quality right off the bat, it can be encouraged, fostered, and developed... And over time it will become stronger. Truly good players on truly good teams almost don't need to communicate. They've gotten to the point where their strategies and strengths and weaknesses are taken for granted and they just go about their business. They know what to expect out of their teammates and their teammates know what to expect out of them.
A few things you can do to encourage chemistry between players (and overall, the team), is to overall treat them with respect, honesty, loyalty. Trust them and their decisions. Lead by example. Never ask them to do something that you are not willing to do. Do not contradict them. Do not take your hostility/frustration out on them. Really, any way that you would normally treat a friend in the real world, is the way you should treat your teammates.
But, there are ways within the confines of the competative environment, and the team itself, in which you can take advantage of chemistry.
An example would be to recognize the type of players your teammates are and what types of roles they are best at. Assign them specific roles to jobs that they feel rewarded by. Some people absolutely despise tanking. Others enjoy it. If you know one of your teammates gets off on getting high K/D ratios, try to assign them to play characters which are capable of getting high K/D ratios such as assassins or AP Carrys. If you know someone on your team is very bad at last hitting, but would throw themselves infront of a train in order to save their teammate, maybe they are best assigned to play support characters? If one of your teammates is very stubborn and independent, maybe they would do best in the jungle? If you know one of your players often charges head-long into the enemy team, maybe they're best suited to be a tank or tanky dps?
Weaknesses such as the ones described can be overcome by assigning people to roles which reward their natural tendancies. If someone does not like tanking, do not try to make them tank simply because you do not have one. Yes, tanks are pretty much necessary in this game; and yes, every player should know how to play one. But you should have (or try to find) at least one or two players who enjoy playing tanks, just like you should have at least a few players who are good at and enjoy playing carries, or a support. If you are the leader of the team, as explained above; lead by example. Your job as leader is to be the jack of all trades. You are there to fill in where your team is weak at the moment. If nobody wants to tank: You should. For the better of the team.
Furthermore, try to pair people up who thrive off of proximity to one another. Some people have a natural ability to work well together. Aggressive players should be placed with other players who know how to capitalize on their partners aggressive style. This kind of accord between teammates should be taken advantage of whenever possible, and forcing people who do not have such chemistry together to play along side one another should be avoided.
Part 3 - Team Management
You now have a team of 5 or more players who are willing and able to play. They all have microphones. They have downloaded the appropriate software for VOIP. They are all active during the same days/times as you are. They are all learning to communicate the ways I have described to minimize mistakes and misunderstandings. So where do you go from here?
Here's a checklist of some priorities you should have:
- Create a practice schedule. Whether it's 4pm to 6pm, or 4pm until whenever, have everyone on your team agree to a time when they can be online together and play.
- Before practice and matches, make sure your team has taken care of all of their other responsibilities. Convey the importance of this to them and ensure there are no distractions, as described above.
- When everyone has arrived, go over your "plan" for the days practice. Your plan may have nothing to do with winning games. Inform your players of what exactly you will be practicing. Perhaps it will be specific tactics? Perhaps everyone will be assigned to try different characters, or different lane setups? Perhaps you will be making a team of purely tanks and supports and trying an unconventional approach to winning? All of these things will provide valuable learning experiences. Some of them may be fun, some may be less than fun. But you never know what works and what doesn't until you've tried it. If something seems to work, try it a few more times before you add it to your repetoire. If something doesn't work, go back to the drawing board and adjust it a little bit, and try it again.
- Record your practice sessions and review them. After all of your games, or your practices, talk to your players about what worked and what didn't. Ask them for their input. See if they have ideas to improve the team and your strategies. I cannot stress how important it is for teams to discuss what the team did well and did not do well during practice. If someone did something wrong, you should address it after practice has taken place. Any disagreements or criticisms should be handled after the game, not during. You want all potential misunderstandings, mistakes, and disagreements to be ironed out before you play ranked matches. Once you are playing "For keeps", you want all obstacles to be removed to make the experience as stress free as possible. That is why pre-practice, practice, and post-practice are so important.
[More updates later... Stay tuned.]
Thanks guys. I am glad you guys like it and I appreciate the responses. I will be fleshing it out more and trying to make it a truly comprehensive guide to creating and leading a successful team. I also want everyone to understand that I am by no means a "great" LoL player. I am mediocre at best. I am intentionally trying to avoid telling anyone how to play the game, in this guide. This applies to all games (and in fact, all competition in general, including successful business practice.)
I feel that the time was right (before season 2 begins) to post this so that it may inspire some people to create competative 5v5 teams. That is what I am most looking forward to doing in the new season.
Keep an eye on this thread as I still have TONS to say on this topic.
I haven't read it all but I already like it. The part about the chit-chat vs communication reminded me of too many games. Love the chemistry section as well. Ahhh... playing on a premade team no matter what the skill level shows you how fun LOL is. Solo que is a joke.
© 2014 Riot Games, Inc. All rights reserved. Riot Games, League of Legends and PvP.net are trademarks, services marks, or registered trademarks of Riot Games, Inc.