Competitive Comparison – What’s the Difference?



Fri 6th Apr 2018 - 10:32pm


Now we all play solo queue, and some us play in our local competitive scenes (collegiate or club) but what many people don’t realize is that the difference between the two is huge. In this piece, I hope to explain some of the most important differences between the two.

My Backstory

Now I hear you ask, "But Robster, how do you know the difference? What’s your experience here?" Well, to answer in the past year and a half I have competed in Ireland’s collegiate league making a deep run and currently compete in an Irish club league playing competitive matches weekly. Hopefully, this level of experience shows that I know what I talking about.

 Tempo Play

Solo queue is a complete clown fiesta when compared to competitive play, especially in the role of jungle. I’m sure we have all seen a game where the other jungler is better, but through a series of random encounters, outplays, misplays, and throws, the result doesn’t match the jungler differential. However, in competitive play, this is not the case anywhere near as often as the tempo of the early game (which is determined by the junglers nine times out of ten) dictates so much of the game.

Now, what is tempo play? Tempo play is where the jungler dictates the pace of the game through his pathing and what he gets off his pathing, alongside how it compares (and how the opposing jungler reacts). A great example of this can be seen in the recent Week 3 of the Three Ireland EStars league where Sligo Rovers Jungler Dakin is pathing towards invading the western Jungle but sees his bot lane get four-man ganked (conceding one kill and half a minion wave to push with) so he adjusts his path and ganks mid (getting the kill with a full minion wave to work with after) and as a result not only matches the enemy teams tempo early but actually surpasses it as his team gets the push advantage. This is a great example of how tempo is so much more prevalent in competitive when compared to solo queue.


Win Conditions (Laning)

Now laning in solo queue is very much (once again) a chaotic affair which features most lanes winning or losing hard in a very unpredictable manner depending on the player matchup and champion counters among a whole plethora of other variables. And while the laning phase in competitive still can feature some of these effects, it tends to be a lot less chaotic when compared to solo queue.

This is due to two main effects: the impact of competitive pre-drafting (where a team comes in with a pre-set of defined picks they will prefer to play [as well as pre-defined bans]) and the increased communication between all five members of a team which solo queue definitely does not have. The result of this can be summed in the concept of a laning win condition and typically it is the laner that plays to their own set win condition better will have more positive impact on the game. For example, if a Kalista/Taric duo plays to their win condition of holding the waves till level 6 then going all-in better than a Blitzcrank/Lucian lane, who’s win condition is to shove and get a pick early to shut out their opponents, they will have a bigger impact on the game overall.


Win Condition (Team Fighting and Team Play)

Now, this is the difference that is actually the most replicated in solo queue as in some solo queue cases this principle is very obvious. However, it is still missed more often than not in our regular games, especially if some macro is involved as the lower level of communication between online and competitive shows itself.

Whenever a game gets out of laning phase and progresses towards the latter stages of a match, both teams are looking for their way to win a game. Typically, this is through winning a teamfight or using split pushers to force the opposing team into losing scenarios (which is what I was referring to when I mentioned instances of missed win conditions as it required communication to execute the macro side of the play). When a game gets to this stage, it is usually the team that plays their win condition better will be the team that makes the Nexus explode. For example, a team that runs a little more macro dependent 4-1 split push comp [with a Fiora maybe] and manages to draw the enemy five man group to them before disengaging allowing their split pusher to win the game via objective play will have played to their win condition better and taken the Nexus as result. Those of you with good memory may be thinking of CLG vs Immortals in Season 6 right now.

CLG catches 5 of IMT at Baron allowing Darshan to end before they can return to defend their Nexus.


To conclude, the main difference between online solo and competitive play is in the level of macro control (due to the difference in communication level) and it manifests in the form of the three concepts mentioned. Therefore, I hope you have learned something new here and may it help you out whether it be understanding pro play or improving your play in any competition you are part of.

Like our content? Support us by getting our merchandise in our shop