Creating a Team: General Analysis
Thu 15th Nov 2012 - 7:09pm: League of Legends
The creation of a team can sometimes be more difficult than the actual training of it. Finding those dedicated and special individuals is a full time job that can take several months depending on your luck. As stated in the solo queue article about the game mindset of players – people are way too busy achieving things in solo queue. This includes ELO ratings, victory ratios, honor and the feeling of stomping someone.
The current state
Let us keep these words in mind for now while we keep talking. Let us say that you are recruiting a 2000 ELO player. Let us assume he is maining the AD carry role. He joins your team as a tryout. There are 3 actual outcomes that can happen :
1) He proves to be completely bad, immature, raging, flaming and a drama queen. You have to kick him.
2) He proves to be completely good and you win several games simply by being better than the enemy team. This usually happens because of solo queue skills – mechanics, map awareness and complete control of the champion someone plays. Your tryout AD joins the team as a star.
3) He proves to be alright. Doesn't talk too much, doesn't flame or rage too much. However after the game he leaves the voice chat, the tryout team and removes you from the friend list.
The first outcome is logical. The player showed bad communication, no sportsmanship and should stay in solo queue forever. Such people join up teams with solo queue prejudices and winning for them – is the only option.
The second outcome seems to be the best – for now. You didn't learn much about the player, you didn't strategize anything, but at least you can rest upon the fact that he seems to know what he is doing. Thing is, you still don't know if this person is dedicated.
The third outcome is the usual mindset of „I’m just trying to find a team that is better than me“. This player, whether he wins or loses will leave the same moment he feels that he might be better than the rest of the team he just applied for. Strangely enough, such people tend to become „faithful players” once they join a certain group. However, be cautious – they are first to come and first to leave.
Nostalgia and Realization
The sad fact is that such an atmosphere has been created by the community. I remember throughout my life whatever game I played and whenever I was joining up a team or creating one myself, things would look different. There was a certain excitement about joining a team. The new recruit would listen to everything being told. He would really follow the rules, get to know the team and show respect.
Once this barrier has been passed, he'd have to show his understanding of the game and his skillset. I guess one factor here is very important - there was never such a huge player base in a game before. The simple act of joining a team was a privilege. Your friends would admire you. You would feel proud and really try to work on staying in the team. The team on the other hand wouldn't judge you on the first few games or by simple ladder numbers.
Sure, it showed dedication to a certain degree, but all team games are based around team play, special team tactics and simply getting to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. You see, the old teams knew that by training together they would outclass every other randomly created team that just grouped several „good, egoistic” players. Those random teams would come and go and never really succeed.
This seems to be the same problem with League of Legends. Ranked teams are created within several seconds, people join up, games are being played and people leave as they will. The even more stupid fact here is that you can join up to 5 ranked teams. Now, imagine you are really serious about being competitive – why on Earth would you be in more than one team? This isn't a big issue, but it’s a flaw that leaves a certain gap for the mind.
You know – who cares about this team, I can join 4 more.
The other issue is that most teams try to find only top rated players. But if those top rated people are only the 1% of the player base how can there ever be a competitive scene? Even BRINK had more actual competitive teams on its release. One has to wonder how LoL with such a huge player base barely manages to have 10-ish well known top teams. I don't even want to imagine what Enemy Territory would look like today if it had that player base 9 years ago. I guess we would have to cancel all TV stations on the planet and turn them into e-sport.
Sure, you can say that there is a certain difference between game genres, but still is it so big that it could influence the whole idea of gaming? I mean the current mindset is – I am not going to ask that beautiful girl out cause she might say no. Group up people! Make your teams.
You will fail, yes. But with time you will grow and understand what it means to learn from it. Once you get that feeling that you are losing not only because you yourself are bad, but because the whole team is – then you will start to grow. If there is enough willpower in you to understand this and enough heart to overcome it, you will get enlightened to the point where you will do everything you can to get better. Solo queue will become your place of training mechanics, last hits, awareness and quick thinking, while ranked teams will be the place where you combine everything you have learned into the creation of a strategic masterpiece.
You know, people forget that. They think it is all about winning, right away. They think that the growth within a game has nothing to do with life. Well, let me tell you one thing – it’s the same, forgive me for the word - shit. The only difference is that here, in the game, it’s easier to give up.
Another big thing is that years ago most teams would actually get together on LAN tournaments, because LAN was the only actual way to be competitive. Or at least people would get to know each other on LANs. There is a huge difference when you have such a connection with a team. That is why most well-known gaming groups existed for so long – they grew up together. In LoL you don’t get this feeling until you become pro with a team – and even then we see how fast team members are being replaced. What I’m trying to say here is that it gets to be far easier to give up a certain team or its members just because of some minor issues since the team itself is taken for granted.
So, what’s the actual problem with LoL? Is it the community? Is it the fact that it’s a moba game? Is it the ELO? Is it the fear of wasting time? Is it the way of life we live? The answer for every question is – yes.
The community has a pretty rotten mindset. Don't get me wrong – there are some bright people out there, but they don't get heard as much as they should. Moba games tend to be a bit harder to synchronize. In other game genres one would try to perform the best he can and when a game was lost the only thing you could do is go over strategies and try to found out what went wrong. In moba games you get to see everyone’s perspective in real-time. That means you get to see every mistake, every bad move, every bad positioning and so on.
This becomes more of a burden than an actual help – but I guess it can be helpful on an early stage of a team – you either work hard to improve those failures or you are out. Even though this method can work sometimes, in most cases it won't. You become obsessed with trying to see if that one guy improved that you completely forget about everything else. And let’s be honest here – you are not watching him with the idea of trying to find out if he improved – you are watching him with the mindset of „is he still failing?“. Yes, there is a huge difference. Setting up a goal is far more useful than just looking at one member’s weakness.
What about the ELO then? How high can you value the amount of ELO one has acquired? Well, there are different approaches. You might have gained a lot of ELO by abusing broken champions – that doesn't make you a good player. You might as well have gained a lot of ELO by being lucky all the time – sometimes the roulette just seems to land where you want it to. Some can't get out of a certain ELO range because they have no luck. Some again, can't get out of a certain ELO range because they are simply bad.
Of course, there are those players who deserve their high ELO, but still lack team play. As you can see, there is a lot to think about when trying to determine someone’s actual skill just by looking at the ELO. In the end, ELO can be considered as grades – there are those students who excel in the mechanics of the school system, have high grades but are dumb to the depths of hell. There are those who don't care about grades but are masters of the trade.
And yet again you have those who are completely bad and those who are simply not only having good grades but are really intelligent – sadly, they as well usually lack social skills and team play. It is no wonder then, that most high ELO players have smurf accounts. Forget the stomp-fun fact about it. It’s the learning curve we somehow intuitively care about.
So, what about fear and wasting time? Well, we can connect that pretty much to the way life is right now on this planet. There seems to be no time. You are being pushed all over the place all the time. Go to school, college, university, get a job, get married, blablabla. It seems like the metagame of life needs a big patch. It is no wonder then why solo queue is such a cursed place. It is no wonder why there are so little teams out there.
Who has time to find the real team? And what if I'm wasting time with this team and people? Why don't I just play more solo queue – guess things will get better. And that is exactly what we do in real life as well. Instead of doing actual things we tend to „run away“ and „hide“ from them by doing trivial stuff, unimportant stuff, repetitive stuff, boring stuff. But when the evening sky is full of stars we love to dream of a different world, don’t we?
Let us return to the actual question of creating a team again, otherwise we'll end up at quantum theory.
Both the team leader and his members want to be included into doing strategies and team orientated things. It is the most important job of the leader to keep that motion alive. If the team consists of good players – it is rarely an individual’s fault for suddenly performing less good. It is the lack of organization and motivation. It is the lack of teamwork.
And if the team consists of players with various skill ranges – it is again the leader’s job to make sure they follow up, make them all aware of their own mistakes, or simply to replace them. Replacing people gets to be the hardest part of the job, but this happens only when dedication is missing – either in the leader, or the member.
Teams should set up certain stages of goals they wish to achieve. It might be getting a certain number of creep kills per lane. It might be having good ward coverage on the map and learning more about map awareness. Set up any kind of goal that makes not only you play better, but the whole team. Getting objectives not only because you can, but timing them – forcing the enemy to play the way you want the game to be played – that is the art of competitive gaming. And this can only be achieved with a team.
So, to force your enemy to adjust to your game, you and your team will both have to be in complete sync. This includes of course possible problems that might happen in the execution of a certain team composition or strategy. Know, when and how to react to these problems and how to balance them out. You have to trust your team and yourself in order to get to this level of thinking and playing.
It may be one of the most difficult things to achieve, but the rewards are more than precious. Instead of looking criticism as flaming, you will realize how much you improved through it. Instead of analyzing everyone’s mistake, the whole team will search for ways to make everything work better. This is the most important thing – the team lost. Not one player.
Getting over this fan boy ideology is pretty hard. You get deluded to a very high degree. Same as with watching too many TV series – rather than watching them, live your own life. Of course, there is a certain difference in watching live streams of pro players playing – but, their value highly depends on the players attitude towards the stream and his fans watching him.
In overall, the best thing you can do is get to that point when you realize that even pro players make mistakes. That should give you enough morale boosts to begin your own journey. Trying to form a team with the fan boy attitude will get you nowhere – you will just be a pain in the ass. Think of it – you want to get pro yourself – get your own fans.
Talk to people, learn their ambitions, their desires and see how much they truly value the game. Don’t let conformity ruin you opportunity to become one of the best players. Sure, there are pro teams already out there – but they took their chances while everyone else was sitting around and doing nothing. Now is your chance to constructively achieve the same thing and grow even stronger than anyone before.
Gaming is an art in many ways. Don’t let numbers direct your imagination and strengths. Numbers have done enough bad things to this world. The only number you should worry about is your damage output at a certain level in the game. What? You don’t think that’s important to know? Oh my, you got some calculating and learning ahead of you.
O Leader, where art thou?
It is really all about the mindset. Only people who are aware of themselves being awesome should be getting competitive, should get a team and should dedicate to the game. But there seem to be so many lost souls and ideologies wandering around and just poisoning every team they join. Some are parasites to such a degree that they destroy whole teams on their passing. Some just don't know what to do and want to waste time. And some are just too young to understand.
Some players are team players by their nature and may have troubles growing in solo queue and should not be afraid to join up several teams on their path to becoming a good gamer. This of course isn’t a selfish act – every one of us wants to get to that place where we feel like at home. Just don't let your ego outgrow your professionalism. You may have walked amongst more people, but if you don't appreciate what you have learned along the way, then you are more stupid than what you were on the beginning of your journey.
The main problem I guess is that there seems to be a lack of people who have leadership written on their head. However I couldn't think of a better time for more of these guys to arise. I'll try to give a better overview on each role and its personality in the next articles – it should help in the creation of a team as well. Till then guys – I hope this created some questions for your minds and maybe motivated you to act along some lines. I know the article may seem to lack actual facts and answers but creating a team is a term that requires more sessions to analyze.