Creating a Team: The Metagame members
Sat 1st Dec 2012 - 3:33pm
Last time we analyzed the creation of a team on a general basis. We looked over the current state of the community and its behavior towards a team and talked a little bit about how it actually all should look and work like. Let us now see what kinds of people we would need for a consistent 5 man group that could call itself a team or a clan. We shall first try to analyze the team by the current meta roles – what personality they should bring along, what they should be thinking throughout a game and how they should react towards map awareness overall.
This role is one of the hardest to play in a team. Don't get me wrong – the idea behind it is easy – you farm your jungle, you gank when it’s possible and try to keep your buffs alive or steal the opponent’s. In the end the most crucial part would be casting a successful smite.
However, that is not the only thing the jungler is doing. The moment the game starts, the jungler is running out of time. While every other lane is trying hard to stay farm wise balanced, capitalizing on mistakes or doing proper calls to get advantage, the jungler has to know in advance what route works best for him against the whole enemy lineup. He has to understand when he can try to do something – the moment he decides this, he is breaking a certain cycle and risking a move.
If I gank now mid, what can happen to my top or bottom lane? If I try to invade their jungle, will I put my mid lane in danger of an enemy gank? There is a lot to think about. The jungler has to understand how the lane pushing is working and get straight and sound ideas about where to be in a few moments. Every wasted minute without doing a certain call or definite decision is a mistake from the jungler. People often forget that the simple act of a jungler showing up to a certain lane brings peace to your team member and lets him farm for some while. Even this has to be calculated by the jungler.
The jungler himself has to have a huge map awareness and good intuition. Communication with his team is very important, but he should have the upper hand in doing calls – in the end he has more time to think and watch over the map than the usual solo lane. In the case of ganking bot lane, it’s all about communication. If he feels it’s alright to waste time by trying to gank it, the main communication should be between him and the support – mostly about the ward whereabouts and possible enemy lane gank situations. To prevent an enemy lane gank, while ganking bot himself, the jungler might have been top or mid and applied there enough pressure to force help from the enemy jungler to that lane.
So in the end, the jungler can do mind games over the course of early and midgame situations. He is playing his own chess game with the enemy jungler while the rest of the team is trying to open situations for him.
What most people forget is that the jungler can be a walking oracle and deliver crucial ward placement, thus keeping the map vision on your advantage. This means, that the jungler doesn’t only have to worry about his route and ganks, but has to keep in mind that losing an oracle is a 400 gold worth mistake.
We can now easily understand what the characteristics of a good jungler are – he has to be very mature in his thinking, clever, self-assured and a good decision maker. The jungler has to know a huge variety of champions and understand even more so how each champion in the game can react to certain ganks and positioning. The jungler should be an optimistic person, realizing that he is trying to get advantage to his team by doing certain movements within a limited amount of time – not succeeding in those moves must not bring him down and he should have a backup plan prepared for every situation. If the jungler cannot do calls, if he is insecure about his movements, or just simply lacks the awareness and mind capabilities to follow the game and map – then he isn't suited for the jungler role. No matter how many champions you think you can play properly that are compatible with the jungle role - if you lack those aspects of the game you won't bring a lot to the team. You will just be a burden that is trying hopelessly to be in the right place at the right time.
Now, in the current meta, the AD carry is champion wise a role that is kind of a similar to HoN and DotA hard supports. The current meta involves a very small number of playable AD carries and therefore needs to be played by a person who is not getting bored by playing the same champion over and over again. In both HoN and DotA I had literally hundreds of games played with the same hard support champion – in a row.
It is not enough to be just good at last hitting or knowing how to react with your champion. The true level of the AD carry comes from having the intuitive feeling of understanding the „right move“. Let me explain this.
The AD carry in overall is a very passive role – you farm, you stay alive, get a kill when your team does something and simply become a beast by repeating this over and over again. Even though you need less map awareness, you still need to understand the opportunities put in front of you. Even though you don't have to do calls, you have to have a feeling when you can get a kill without penalties or without getting your team involved into an enemy killing spree. Even though you farm on range you have to know a lot about positioning. Giving yourself possible openings with proper positioning in both the lane phase and late game can lead to victory.
Let us assume you know that the enemy jungler is ganking top lane. You completely focus on botlane now, and see the enemy support out of position. Having not much time to talk or announce something to your support, you go in knowing that this will end up in a kill without both you and your support dying – that is the intuitive „right move“.
In other words – even though, as said, you need a bit less of everything – in that one moment you have to boost exactly everything and know that your decision is right.
In the lane phase you should understand what it means to trade harassment, what it means to stand in a good position according to your supporting champion and know how to farm, farm – farm. Other than the „right move“, you should let your support handle the calling, overall map awareness and zoning.
Now some AD carries tend to think of themselves too high. Let us see why.
In the end, it is going to be the AD that will do the massive damage output and eventually „carry” the game. However, he is the only character in the game that requires a babysitter and constant support to get useful. Some personalities forget that and grow up a certain amount of ego which renders them useless – no matter how good you are at farming, how well you control your champion – if you act selfish around your team and don’t appreciate the fact that they are trying to maximize your usefulness – then you won’t be able to carry anything.
The only thing that the AD carry can be „sad“ about is a support that does not – zone, initiate, control the lane and ward. And he should be sad about it, because he understands that he himself will be useless if the rest of the team doesn’t carry him in the early and midgame phase.
In terms of items, the AD carry has to understand which item suits him the best at a given time of the game. This involves the gold balance of both teams and win ratio of the lane phase. Building the wrong item at the wrong moment while being protected by your team to farm, is game breaking and in that case you should understand that you failed at it.
While being a master of certain AD champions, the true skill is shown in certain gap closing fights. These can be 1v1 fights, 2v1 fights or whatever the case – as long as the AD carry understands how to maximize the usefulness of his abilities to outplay the enemy. We all know that feeling – those goose bumps when you see your AD killing 2 guys and surviving to tell the story by using his skillset and summoner spells - perfectly.
We can now easily understand that the AD carry has to be played by a person who does not lose focus in any kind of a situation. He has to trust the other team members and not think low of them. He is not the star of the team - he's just playing a role that will make sure that you win the game. This person needs a high self-discipline, as missing last hits and missing free kills are one of the biggest mistakes he can do. What he can lack in overall map awareness has to be balanced out in „current window awareness“ – in other words knowing what’s going on in the lane and later in team fights. This person has to be able to listen to the other team members – he finally realizes this once he understands that the whole team is trying to get him fat and use him the best way they can. The player should never become too optimistic while playing – it works against his game potential since his role grows with time and requires to be serious at all times. Even though this is an „overall“ attitude required by each player, the AD has to take this as a prior quality.
This role is usually one of the most annoying to play – you start out with no vision and you are an easy target for ganks. Even the slightest mistake can ruin your lane phase and force your jungler to completely change his routine. You have to understand how the creep waves work, when it is alright to push them or to freeze them and how to do so. You have to understand quite a lot about jungling to be able to freely play at top lane – if you think as the enemy jungler, you can predict your own mistakes and your enemy's movements.
The top lane in this case can play mind games by showing an opportunity to get ganked, forcing the enemy jungler to travel to top lane. This opens meanwhile opportunities for your own team to arrange ganks, pushes or get objectives. The mind game successfully ends with you, the top laner, staying meanwhile alive.
Just as the AD carry role, the top laner has to excel with his champions. However, you have quite a bigger variety of champions at your disposal, so it takes a lot more time to master all of them. Besides knowing how to trade harassment and make use of your enemy's mistakes, you have to understand how else (rather than only being top) your champion can influence the game and its outcome. Sometimes a strategic maneuver can bring advantage to your team – maybe you can control the enemy buff? Maybe you can gank mid? Maybe you can call for a quick objective?
Map awareness here is important as well – your whole laning phase mostly depends on the whereabouts of your jungler, the enemy jungler and the enemy mid. Understanding how long it takes for each of them to come to your lane and do something, is very important. This will give you time to decide several things such as recalling, pushing, baiting or simply backing off – on time.
In most cases the top lane is on its own – generally speaking. The team trusts you that you are capable of handling the lane 1v1 and doing respectful decisions on miss calls and enemy movements. Sometimes you can't avoid getting hard counter picked and sometimes you can't even get a good gank from your team. Those situations work heavily upon your morale and capability to keep focused and play on. Most of the times you will have to decide, if it is better to force a long top lane phase, or simply end it sooner to influence other objectives on the map and force team fights to happen at other lanes. This includes your complete understanding of the farming potential of your team and the damage output potential of your team at a certain time of the game.
We can now easier understand that the top lane player has to be fully focused, just as the AD carry player. He has to be sure about all decisions he makes and even if they turn out to be bad, or even if he is getting camped and just denied to breathe – he can't lose morale. The top lane player has to be on one hand, completely phlegmatic about certain lane phase outcomes, yet stay on the other hand serious about his own perspective of the game. He can influence the game with certain calls and should understand their outcome on the current game situation. He can be snowballed to a certain degree, but has then again to understand what his champion can do with this boost. It is highly recommended that this player studies all possibilities of the top lane champion pool in terms of – getting snowballed, being behind, champion skillset and certain game phase potential. The player himself shouldn't be too optimistic since the top lane isn't a happy place to be. He is something like Gandalf the gray becoming Gandalf the white at a certain stage and coming to back up the rest of the team, after he tried to disrupt the enemy on top as much as he could.
Now this is a tricky guy – this player can be attacked practically from all sides and even though his jungler tends to be somewhat around him half the time – he is still the one to worry the most about lane phase positioning in the team. An AP mid that keeps dying by being caught or simply ganked is a bad AP mid.
The player has to understand that he pretty much holds the balancing line on the map between top and bottom. If you keep failing hard mid, you leaving the rest of your team to a possible 4 man gank – because the enemy jungler and mid can now freely roam since there is no danger coming from the mid lane.
The AP's cooperation with the jungler is similar to the Top lane's cooperation with him. Well timed ganks, passings or even slight pushes can ensure your advantage or simply keep you balanced in game. There is a certain strategic approach where your jungler can make sure that you get all the wraiths on the map – including yours and the enemy's. This requires well timed actions and well-timed pushing strategies.
The obvious state of mind of the AP mid is – do I want to put pressure on mid and gank, or am I just going to try to farm the hell out of mid (including only pushing this lane)? As you can imagine this opens a lot of strategic ideas and involves objective routines and several mechanics of gameplay.
The AP includes a big variety of champions which require to be mastered. Mind games on mid lane are mostly played around pretending to be getting assistance from your jungler or simply overextending harassment levels to a degree which leaves your opponent without a clue about what’s going on.
Same as the AD carry, the AP mid has to have that intuitive thinking and feeling of the „right move“. This includes knowing a lot about your current damage output and how much you can actually overextend for it in terms of flashing, tower diving and so on.
Keeping your lane warded requires a lot of gold input and is usually being supported by your jungler. However, there will be certain points in the game where you will be walking blind around the lane – so understanding the opponent’s jungle route and champion helps a lot in preventing your death. This includes having good map awareness – a certain degree lower than your junglers. You are practically watching all lanes and the jungler movements, as you are trying to not only win or keep balance in your lane, but maybe influence the rest of the map with a good called move or objective.
However, there are certain situations where having an AP mid just doesn't work. In that case your team would like to send a bruiser type champion to mid, hoping to achieve early game victory in the lane phase and bring great map pressure with an early farm advantage. Even though this is a rare case, it usually involves a simple role swap of the top and mid lane play style.
But, such swaps and decisions involve well organized team tactics and I wouldn’t define them as “the current” meta play style.
As we can see the AP mid is a player who understands certain limits that can happen throughout a game. This player is cautious by nature but confident on his own choices. He masters a big variety of champions and excels in using his skillset to outplay opponents. Basically, his whole play style tends to be risky, involving a lot of predefined math. Numbers are most important to this role as he can influence the mid game the most by doing everything just right at the early game stage. Communication is highly required of this role and his sense of map awareness has to be on a top level. This guy should be an optimistic character as everything he does is a gamble. However, his jungler has priority on doing calls throughout the early and midgame phase.
The backbone of the party, the best friend and leader of the AD carry. This role gets overlooked most of the time, however influences the game on a very high scale. This player keeps map awareness on a constant high priority – all his moves depend on the current situation of the map, as he is thinking about getting advantage for his AD while being sure that his next decision won't get him killed.
Besides the obvious warding issue, the Support has to understand what zoning and good positioning means. They both open up lane presence and can lead to creep denies, just as if you played HoN or DotA. People rarely understand that the Support is actually doing most of the job at the bot lane, having not only to think about his own movements, but watch his AD carry movements as well, and understand how he can react to certain decisions.
You never want to endanger your AD and have to keep constant communication with him – announcing certain call situations as in „if X happens I go in, where you have to do Y right away“. Opening harassment or giving at least a trade opportunity is a high priority here as well.
The Support has a medium variety of champions to choose from and while having to naturally excel in their skillset, should worry more about the overall play style of a bot lane situation. Sometimes, being aggressive just isn't the right answer. Sometimes, being passive just won't bring it. It's an overall combination of all mentioned above, but with the constant mindset of – „I have to get my AD fed“.
The Support has to have an excellent understanding of AD carries and junglers. The player has to understand all possible damage output of the chosen bot lane combination. Even though most of the times you would want to get a kill by forcing a fight, it can prove to be wise to just chase the enemy away from the lane, thus giving your AD free farm and yourself time to get a new set of wards or items.
Since you have a limited amount of gold available at your disposal, you have to understand which item will suit your team the best. Rushing a standard build makes no sense – you have to choose the right item according to the current game situation. Doing calls is very important to this role and having an eye on the map at all times proves to be a game breaking element. Good calls early game can win the bot lane battle.
Properly announcing tower objectives or drake and baron should be enforced by this role in the mid game phase, however this falls off as the game progresses to late game where your „calls“ turn into mass warding and map vision. Depending on your type of support, you can still act as the leading factor, but should most of the time focus on keeping your AD alive or at least focus on disabling the right enemy at the right time.
This player is a mixture of everything. He understands and plays as if he, himself, is playing the AD carry role. He understands his jungler route and capabilities and has great map awareness and knows what is going on. This player is certain of doing calls and has to be focused and understand possible damage outputs at all times. The player himself should be less optimistic, but highly confident – his mistake is killing 2 people, not only one and losing a lot of farm. The player keeps count not only on his own wards, but times the enemy's and is intuitive about incoming ganks and possible openings. His communication with the AD has to be superb to a degree where they won't even require verbal communication anymore, but simply feel and understand the opportunity. Good money management is important here as well – buying too many wards can be a mistake, while having too little can be game breaking. Leading with vision is one of the most important things this role has to think about.
There you go Summoners – this should help you understand the attitude of each role in the current meta and what kind of players you should be looking for to represent them in your team. As I said last time, analyzing team creation is a big process, so expect more detailed articles. Until next time!