Cooperation is the essential component of League of Legends. If you wanted to test your individual skill, there are many other games you could choose in order to play one-on-one. Yet, here you are again, looking to improve your LoL play. In this edition of our Skill Decompilation Series, we’ll be dissecting Teamplay in order to help you become a better teammate and thus, lead you to more overall victories.
The Nature of Teamwork
Think back to your middle/high school biology lessons – do words like “mutualism”, “symbiosis”, and “flocking” ring a bell? Your teacher probably taught you about classic synergistic partnerships like the Nile Crocodile and the Egyptian Plover bird, or the clownfish and sea anemone.
They probably also taught you examples of individual organisms joining together to create a larger entity, such as a school of fish or a flying-V formation of migratory birds. In all of these cases, organisms are working together in order to achieve things they could not do on their own.
Fish form schools in order to protect themselves from predators. Migratory birds create formations in order to conserve energy and fly farther than they could alone. Without the help of other creatures, life would be much harder – they may even struggle to survive. My main point here is, teamwork is natural! It makes life easier.
League of Legends is no different.
Bot lanes partnerships like Ashe + Zyra and Lucian + Braum have kits that are basically made for each other (hellooo Xayah and Rakan) – they combine to augment the abilities of their partners. On a larger scale, full team compositions can often merge multiple individuals into a singular force of destruction. Like their biological counterparts, Summoners will fail to survive the ladder if they cannot learn to cooperate.
What makes a great teammate?
Since ranked League of Legends is inherently a 5 versus 5 competition, it was important for us to take into account a player’s willingness to participate and collaborate in team-related game events. The Teamplay GPI score is broken down into the following sub-skills:
- This score calculates your overall participation in team fights, weighed toward how much you assist
- We use this score to keep track of how well players are contributing to team fights – weighing towards assists to make sure everyone gets credit.
- To improve, simply group with your team more – respond faster to their pings for help.
- Any damage you deal that contributes to a kill, or any heals/shields you give to an ally who kills an enemy, will contribute to this score.
- This score is based on your relative contribution toward taking neutral objectives and destroying enemy structures.
- Kills and assists can influence the game over time by building gold, but taking objectives (such as turrets) can actually change the ebb and flow of the game by opening up the map.
- Remember that the ultimate goal of the game is to destroy the enemy Nexus – it’s often better to prioritize taking a turret than chasing a stray enemy for a less valuable kill.
- This score is based on your relative contribution in Warding and sweeping
- The more you individually contribute for
- For obvious reasons, this sub-skill is closely tied to your Vision score – these tips from our Decompilation will help you improve.
- Healing is based on the amount you heal per game, heavily weighted towards healing your allies
- We include this score to help identify the performances of certain champions, such as measuring Namis against Namis, and Sorakas against Sorakas.
- Note that this score takes into account items such as Redemption, but does not take into account Lifesteal or Health Regeneration.
- This score is based on how often you are getting the killing blow without meaningfully contributing to fights
- We factor in Kill Stealing as a measurement because our intention is to focus on overall team fight contribution.
- If you come at the very tail-end of a fight when your teammates did most of the damage, we want to make sure that it doesn’t skew your score as if you had been there the entire fight.
- A Kill Steal will be counted if you kill an enemy but did not deal the majority of the overall damage to the target.
A Temporary Tribe
When you enter ranked Solo Queue and Champ Select, you and four strangers are forming short-term partnerships for the next 20-60 minutes. Try to think of them as your temporary tribe, family, co-workers – whatever works. The point is, it’s best to get into a mentality where you’re prepared to work with others in order to achieve your goal.
Consider the following real world examples:
- Imagine that you were stranded on a desert island with several random people. Would you start demanding that you’d be the person to collect coconuts, or else you wouldn’t do anything else? Probably not. You’d probably just change your role to whatever role was needed in order to increase your chances of survival.
- Say you were picked from a live audience to participate in a game show challenge where you were matched with people you’ve never met before. Would you insult and criticize them if they made a mistake, even though you were working toward a common goal? If you did, you’d probably fail the challenge.
I think you see what I’m hinting at. We’ve all been in games where someone who wasn’t assigned their desired position takes the Champ Select hostage (“MID OR FEED”). We’ve all seen teammates viciously flamed for an accidental Flash or a whiffed Ultimate. In the big scheme of things, being selfish and lacking empathy will not lead to success, you’re much more likely to tilt your teammates and snowball toward a defeat.
Don’t worry about creating a perfect team, you just have to be a better team than your opponents’. In an ideal world, where Riot’s matchmaking system truly does match teams with equal skill levels, the team that is better able to work together will prevail. It’s like a competition to see who’s less dysfunctional.
These are all reasons why we include Teamplay as one of our eight main GPI metrics. If you truly want to improve and climb, you need to embrace being the best teammate you can be. Be selfless, be adaptable. Be willing to take a step back and allow others to shine. Once you emphasize the Teamplay elements of LoL, your temporary tribes will be more cooperative and victorious in the long run.
You’re building a super-entity
As you and your teammates choose your picks & bans, remember that you are joining forces to create a super-entity.
Yup. Think about it. When you add up all your abilities ([4 Skills + 2 Summoner Spells] x 5 champions), your team has 30 abilities at your disposal! And this doesn’t even account for active abilities you receive from your trinkets and items.
Like a school of fish, your team as a whole works together to create and harness this larger beast. From level one onwards, you collectively feed it gold and the blood of your enemies. Like a game of foosball, you have to work together to control its different parts in order to achieve your goals. If your team all does their part, your super-entity will bring you to victory.
Synergies and Team Compositions
In team select, take advantage of the opportunity to show which champion you intend to play as. This is usually used to discourage your teammates from banning your champion, but it’s main purpose should be to plan synergies and team compositions. What is your overall strategy?
Just a few examples of questions your team should be considering:
- Do you have enough Crowd Control?
- How many tanks will you have? Do you have any?
- What is your method of engaging?
- Do you have enough damage? Is it split between AD and AP sources?
- Do your carries lack mobility?
Again, you have a minimum of 30 abilities to build your super-entity with. You should be striving for a cohesive package of synergies between your individual champions, but also have an overall game plan for how your super-entity will thrive.
Check out this recent example of synergy between individual champions:
Step 1. Altec’s Ashe “Enchanted Crystal Arrow” (R) stuns Svenskeren’s Graves.
Step 2. Moon’s Gragas knocks the stunned Graves back toward the rest of the team with “Explosive Cask” (R).
Step 3. Flyquest cleans up the kill with the help of Braum.
Step 4. Balls’s Rumble teleports behind TSM and slows them with a long-range “Equalizer” (R) Ultimate.
Step 5. Ashe finishes off the kill on Wildturtle’s Lucian.
Although TSM’s super-entity ends up winning the match, in just a few seconds, we see how Flyquest acts as one in order to successfully make picks on Graves and Lucian. Their chosen champion synergies are demonstrated with a potent mix of Crowd Control, damage, and follow-up.
Like the Crocodile and Egyptian Plover, which exchange protection and food for teeth cleaning, you should be looking for complimentary combinations that maximize the strengths of your team while minimizing its weaknesses.
Here are a few classic combinations:
- Orianna + Malphite
- Orianna’s “Shockwave” (R) is tough to land alone.
- If you pair it with an awesome engage like Malphite’s “Unstoppable Force” (R), you’ll have a delivery system to set up an AOE wombo combo.
- After the combo is executed, it’s an easy cleanup for the rest of the team.
- Poppy + Anivia
- Against a Poppy, a smart enemy team is likely to avoid standing near terrain walls at all costs.
- Fortunately, Anivia can create her own walls with her “Crystallize” (W), giving Poppy more opportunities to pin enemies with “Heroic Charge “(E).
- In return, the Poppy’s pinning allows Anivia to follow up with more CC or the damage for a kill.
- Lulu + Kog’Maw
- Kog’Maw is inherently immobile and reliant on basic attacks, but can carry the game if properly babysat.
- Lulu’s utility kit provides Kog’Maw with additional mobility from “Whimsy” (W) and tankiness from her shields “Help, Pix!” (E) or ultimate “Wild Growth” (R).
- Lulu’s W can also be used to polymorph assassins or bruisers looking to dive Kog’Maw.
Beyond synergies between individual champions, you should also be planning your team’s overall cohesive strategy. What will be your team’s strengths after laning phase is over? Would it be better to group as five and force teamfights? Or does your team fare better by looking for split push/backdoor opportunities?
Team Composition Archetypes
There are many team comps out there, but here are a few of the most common:
Area of Effect (AoE)
- Involves champions such as Amumu, Kennen, and Karthus. Orianna + Malphite would be be a great fit for an AoE comp.
- Combines AoE CC with AoE burst damage in order to kill multiple enemies at once.
- Relies on coordination to stagger CC (using in quick succession instead of simultaneously), and to avoiding prolonged teamfights/skirmishes.
Protect the Hyper Carry
- Involves champions such as Vayne, Janna, Tristana, and Kayle. Lulu + Kog’Maw are would be part of a Hyper Carry comp.
- Focuses on protecting a late game threat with shields/babysitting/buffs so they can hard carry with scaling.
- Relies on keeping the Hyper Carry alive. Try to get them ahead in the early-mid game to expedite the process.
- Involves champions such as Leblanc, Ahri, and Thresh. The Poppy + Anivia combo would most likely be part of a Pick comp.
- Uses hard CC and burst in order to pick off individual opponents in order to create favorable team fights (such as a 5 v 4 situation).
- Relies on vision control, map awareness, and game sense to know where enemies will be going (e.g. predicting that they’ll be collecting a big minion wave).
- Involves champions such as Jayce, Nidalee, Caitlyn, Corki, Varus and Xerath.
- Excels at long-range combat, sieging structures, and keeping the enemy team at a safe distance.
- Relies on safe positioning and knowing when to disengage or kite.
- Involves champions such as Kassadin, Twisted Fate, Shaco, Fiora, and Tryndamere.
- Utilizes one or two split pushers on the side lanes while the rest of the team pressures other parts of the map.
- Relies on mobility of split pushers, and the rest of the team’s ability to recognize when to avoid teamfights.
Most champion’s have hints built into their kit for who would work well with them. Yasuo’s Ultimate, “Last Breath” (R), can only be activated by a knock-up as a result he works well with an Alistar or Vi. Tahm Kench, Kallista, and Bard have utility abilities that are quite weak as solo champions, they’re meant to compliment and collaborate with others. Overall, mix and match to find which champions work well together – take note of the combinations that you find are successful for your wins, and the enemy synergies that give you a tough time during your losses.
General Teamplay Advice
In every Decompilation, we include advice from our in-house Mobalytics coaches and analysts. Here are some Teamplay tips from our analyst, Hewitt “prohibit” Benson.
Recognize your carries
- At Champ Select, do your best to understand which champions on your team snowball the hardest when ahead in levels. Use this information to allocate attention and resources to ensure their success.
- If you’re team is all AD except for your AP Mid-lane Ahri, it might be a good idea to get her ahead since the enemy team will likely be stacking armor.
- Many things can go wrong when trying to take Baron/dragon/towers. It’s important to back your team up in securing the objective even when you think it’s free for the taking.
Choose the right lanes to help
- Occasionally, allied lanes can get so far behind that the enemy can actually 1 v 2 the both of you if you try to come and help.
- Don’t fall into a trap by helping lanes that are begging but cannot be saved. Instead look to play around your lanes that are winning.
Chip in for Vision
- We learned in our Vision Decompilation that the game becomes much easier when everyone is doing their part to Ward and fight for map control.
- Remember that your super-entity has a total of 5 trinkets and a maximum of 5 Control Wards.
- Coordinate to get the most value from your gold investments and cooldowns.
Know when to take a backseat
- When you’re behind, consider playing around the players that are doing well.
- If you feel like you’re outmatched, simply not dying and keeping up with your lane opponent’s experience is doing a service to your team.
- Don’t worry if you’re slightly behind in gold, you’ll still be useful in team fights if you are close in experience levels.
If you aren’t carrying, build tankier
- Take pride in building a tanky item (such as Deadman’s Plate or Randuin’s) when your team has enough damage, you’ll be helping your carries to survive longer by peeling and soaking damage.
- Defensive items are better as standalone components in comparison to their Offensive counterparts. (Deadman’s Plate’s solo efficiency versus Infinity Edge on its own)
Adapt to your team
- Forcing aggressive plays when your team is scared and passive, or being passive when your team is blood thirsty, will result in split calls.
- Teams on the same page have better success even if the call may be sub optimal
- Try to judge what page your team is on and take that into consideration before making plays.
The Bottom Line
The essence of Teamplay is to leave your ego behind and embrace the big picture. Your choices and actions should be contributing to the overall success of the team. Is what you’re doing helping the team? Are you in a close enough position that you’d be able to come to your allies aid? Remember that you’re all there for the same reason – to get that glorious LP. So get out there, be a better teammate. Be the Summoner who brings your team together instead of flaming them. Be the summoner who adapts your champion choice according to synergies and team compositions. Your selflessness will be rewarded.
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