Tag: Managment

The Draft

Hello! My name is DXI Edge and I’m the current Coach/Analyst for Team Malicious Intent. My role on the team is focusing on optimizing item builds, drafts, macro play adjustments, watching VODs from pro play and seeing how we can translate that into our games, as well as finding possible champion picks that are underrated.

 

One of the major aspects of League of Legends, especially in team play, is the draft. Just to give a brief rundown of what I mean, the draft is the pick and ban phase at the beginning of the game, and how each team approaches this strategy. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter how good a team is. If you do not draft properly, (according to the meta and according to an unwritten set of “rules” which I will get into) your team will lose. It is just that simple. If you can outdraft your opponent, you can set yourself up for success in the game at minute zero, and put yourself at a significant advantage.

 

The set of rules I mentioned earlier assumes a few things:

  1. There is a clear “meta”
  2. Members of the team CAN play almost all of the “power picks” in the meta

 

Very rarely does the first rule ever not happen, since due to pro play and analysts (aka, people like me), clear “best” champions or strategies are identified. Due to League of Legends being as old and popular as it is, it is very easy to watch what works and what doesn’t, and base strategies for teams based on this information.

 

NOW. What are these rules? I’m going to be going over these one by one in articles over the next few months, but we’re going to start with the most important rule in my opinion.

 

Your comp must have wave-clear.

 

Before I go in depth on how to draft wave-clear, what is wave-clear? Wave-clear is the ability for a wave of minions to be killed (or cleared) quickly and effectively. This can be done either by one skill, or a couple of skills with low cooldown/mana costs. I DO NOT CLASSIFY ULTIMATES AS WAVE-CLEAR and this is an important aspect to mention for one of the champions in the “meta” right now.

 

Why is wave-clear so important? Simple: turrets are the single easiest way to collect large sums of gold for your team, and having a turret up effectively says “This area of the map belongs to us”. Keeping your turrets alive while destroying the enemies’ turrets is the basic component of this game, and is the base of which this game was built on. So what does wave-clear have to do with turrets?

 

When you are looking to take turrets, you want your minion wave to get to the tower as fast as possible to remove the Armor/MR buff from towers, as well as have the minions tank the damage while you destroy the tower.

 

When you are looking to defend turrets, you want your opponents’ minion wave to be eliminated as fast as possible to add the Armor/MR buff for your towers, as well as have the enemy champions take damage from your tower.

 

There are two levels of wave-clear for a draft: S tier and A tier. Your composition for a draft should have NO LOWER than two points, but the most optimal number is three points. If you have two points, there needs to be a champion included in your composition that can use an ultimate for wave-clear (ex: Ryze) or has pseudo-wave clear in their kit (ex: Kalista). However, for optimal drafts the number should be three.

 

Now that we know why wave clear is important, let’s take a look at what I believe are the best champions for wave-clear in the meta as of now (Patch 6.6 and 6.7).

 

S Tier (2 points):

Mid: Azir, Lissandra, Lulu, Lux, Varus

ADC: Sivir, Jhin

 

A Tier (1 point):

Top: Gangplank, Ekko, Graves

Jungle: Graves

Mid: Twisted Fate, Zilean, Orianna, Corki

ADC: Lucian, Corki, Caitlyn

 

Lets start with S Tier. Why are these champions in S Tier? These champions can clear waves with two skills typically, on relatively low cooldown. Another major aspect, however, is their role. All champions in S Tier are mid/ADC. Why is this? Very rarely do you have mid laners or ADCs split push. Most of the time you will have your ADC and mid laner together, or be collecting waves with your team to approach a split pusher. Seven champions are the bread and butter of destroying waves quickly, and when it comes to the tier list of power picks in the current meta, these champions are at the top of the “power picks”, due in part to their ability to clear waves.

 

For Azir, it isn’t so much his skills as much as his ability to place soldiers down and attack them from such a distance that he is safe.

 

Lissandra can Q waves on very quick cooldown, or even use her E (although not recommended) to clear waves. Lulu can use 2 quick Qs, Lux can bind the first two melee minions and then throw her E down, and Varus can use Qs or even his E.

 

For ADCs, Sivir is the queen of wave-clear. Turn on bouncing blade, throw a Q, and the wave disappears. For Jhin, using his traps, his W, or his Q can clear waves effectively as well. Although he is not as effective as Sivir, he gets the job done.

 

In my opinion, one S tier champion is the same as having two A tier champions. If you have one S tier champion and one A tier champion in your comp, your draft has the appropriate amount of wave-clear.

 

Now let;s look at A tier. A tier differs immediately from S tier due to the inclusion of tops and junglers. Although tops and junglers may have as strong wave clear as those in S tier (Graves, for example), due to junglers having to roam/flank and top laners needing to use teleport appropriately, these champions cannot be S tier and cannot be the fundamental wave clear of a team comp.

 

Gangplank, Ekko, and Graves all want to teamfight and split push, so they can use TP on cooldown. They can push waves very quickly (Gangplank barrels, Graves/Ekko Qs) and are good duelists and teamfighters. Gangplank is also very proficient in that he can use his ultimate anywhere on the map to help clear a wave.

 

Graves as a jungler is, in my opinion, the best jungler in the game right now. Although Kindred/Nidalee/Graves are the top three, Graves gets the edge as number one for me due to his flexibility and his spot in A tier for waveclear. His Q and autos are both AoE and can clear waves quickly.

 

Zilean, Orianna, and Corki are all good wave clearers, however they aren’t AS strong as S tier champions. Zilean wants to use his bombs for stuns and as such it’s not optimal to use them as waveclear. Orianna needs to be a little bit closer and wants to place her ball in specific positions due to her ultimate, so she loses a point. Corki cannot insta-clear waves and has to use a lot of his rockets for clearing waves, so he cannot be in S-tier.

 

Twisted Fate, although has the wave clear of an S tier champion, wants to use his ultimate for flanking and wants to split push. So although the wave-clear is S tier status, the champion wants to be played as a split pusher, so he loses a point.

 

Lastly, Lucian has very short range. Although his Q and double-tap can clear waves effectively, his ultimate is what his “defining” wave-clear skill is, and as such cannot be placed in S tier.

 

 

Now that we know the defining champions in the current meta, let’s take a look at some example drafts from both pro play and SKL, and see if we can predict the result of the game based purely on wave-clear. We are going to examine drafts done where one team drafts less than three points of wave-clear based on my scoring system compared to one team that does, and see if the wave-clear team won.

 

 

 

 

 

H2K vs Fnatic  – 3rd place match

Games 1 / 2 (same drafts)

H2K:                            Fnatic:

Maokai                        Ekko

Kindred                      Graves

Ryze                            Azir

Kalista                         Ezreal

Thresh                        Trundle

0 points                      4 points

Predicted winner: Fnatic

Actual winner: Fnatic

 

Although this draft from H2K was called “very strong”, in my opinion this draft was horrible. They rely completely on snowballing and picks, with no way to out-siege/defend against Fnatic’s team comp.

 

H2K vs Fnatic  – 3rd place match

Game 3

H2K:                            Fnatic:

Maokai                        Gragas

Kindred                      Graves

Lissandra                   Kassadin

Corki                           Ezreal

Alistar                         Braum

3 points                      1 point

Predicted winner: H2K

Actual winner: H2K

 

This was just an overall bad draft by Fnatic for a few reasons, but this article is solely looking at waveclear.

 

Jin Air vs SKT – Korean Playoffs

Game 3

JAG:                             SKT:

Gangplank                  Maokai

Graves                                    Kindred

Ryze                            Cassiopeia

Kalista                         Sivir

Alistar                         Tahm Kench

2 point                        2 points

Predicted winner: JAG

Actual winner: SKT

 

Here is where my system becomes not so foolproof, and I wanted to include this decision for a very specific reason.

 

Although the point system is tied, I have JAG as predicted winner. Why? The inclusions of Kalista and Ryze. These two champions, although not on either of my tier lists, are “tie-tippers”. These champions are just below A tier and as such, if I were to analyze this comp based purely on wave clear, I would predict JAG to win. However, Faker is a god and SKT pulled out the old school Ryze counter and won a perfect game.

 

KT vs SKT – Korean Playoffs

Game 2:

KT:                              SKT:

Maokai                        Trundle

Nidalee                       Elise

Corki                           Zilean

Kalista                         Sivir

Alistar                         Tahm Kench

1 point                        3 points

Predicted winner: SKT

Actual winner: SKT

 

 

Very strong picks from KT’s side, however they did not include enough wave-clear in their comp compared to SKT’s. I will say this though: Kalista does have some amounts of wave clear, however not enough to compensate for a one point draft. As I said earlier, a two point draft can be mitigated with a Kalista, not a one point draft.

 

FOTN vs TMI – SKLeague Week 6

Game 2:

FOTN:                         TMI:

Nautilus                      Trundle

Zac                              Gragas

Ahri                             Azir

Sivir                            Jhin

Alistar                         Morgana

2 points                      4 points

Predicted winner: TMI

Actual winner: TMI

 

Hey, this is one of my drafts! Our early pick included an S tier wave clear right off the bat in Jhin, setting us up for flexibility in the draft and only needing one more point. We follow it up with another S tier pick, while our opponents picked only two points of wave-clear.

 

 

 

 

 

RDS vs A53 – SKLeague Week 6

Game 2:

RDS:                            A53:

Irelia                           Malphite

Hecarim                      Gragas

Lulu                            Varus

Ezreal                         Corki

Alistar                         Braum

2 points                      3 points

Predicted winner: A53

Actual winner: A53

 

This game was looking to break my rule for a little while! However, the wave-clear allowed A53 to sit back, farm up, and catch up slowly while RDS could not push through.

 

Well, that’s it for today. I hope this helps the drafts of SKL and your dynamic queue games in the future! I’ll be back soon for the next rule: Engage.

The Business of Team Management

So, you want to make a competitive eSports team. Where do you start? How do you run it? Why should you care? These are just some of the questions I would like to try and answer.

Professional eSports teams are ran very similarly to professional sports teams. For the sake of this article, I will be looking at hockey teams as an example because we are in Canada, and that’s what we do. Sports teams are businesses, plain and simple. Their main purpose is to make money. They do that by providing a service, which is entertainment. This means that a successful team is first and foremost, entertaining. In hockey, the most entertaining things to watch are big complex plays, executed by skilled players who can almost dance with the puck. But teams can be successful even if they aren’t the most skilled. This is why the position of enforcer exists, or why butterfly is the most popular goalie stance. People enjoy watching players hurl themselves at other players, creating drama and conflict. It’s entertaining. So how does this translate to your eSports team?

If you treat your team like a business, it’ll help set you up for success later. As you approach the different areas of your team, it needs to be thought of as a business owner. Let’s start with players. Who will they be? If you want to be successful within a league, you need to think skill and entertainment. So you will hold tryouts, treating each tryout as if it’s an interview. What can this person bring to the team? Are they extremely skilled? Do they perform in an entertaining way, perhaps choosing champions or cards that aren’t particularly strong in the meta, but seem to be effective within their playstyle? Are they a team player, someone who can communicate well, compromise and adapt? Do they show leadership or strategic understanding? Do they display creativity, something extremely useful when trying to think “outside the meta” and catching people off guard? All of these attributes come into play for a skilled and entertaining team. Lastly, and arguably the most important attribute you will be looking for, is commitment. Just like any business, your players need to dedicate their time if they want to get hired. What use is an extremely skilled player if they never show up?

This leads us to practices. They need to be scheduled, and regular. Remember, your team is a business, and if you don’t put the work in, the business cannot produce its services. If no one shows up to make the pizza, there is no pizza to be sold. How much your team puts in is what it will get out. Practices are what your team does. Think of practice as the Monday to Friday, with games being the weekly inspection. Your job isn’t to work only the day of the weekly inspection. Your job is to work every day. A hockey team is good, not because of the players, but because of the team as a whole. They gel, they encourage, and they help each other improve. Even single player teams do this. Starcraft teams will share their strats among the team and help point out weaknesses. The idea is that every team member is just as good as the rest, so when a competition comes, if one player hits an unlucky streak, there are still three or four who can keep going. So practice, and practice more. While practicing, experiment. This leads to the next business concept. Meetings.

Yes, you should have meetings. These are your review sessions, where you look at your past games and performances and brainstorm how you and your team can improve. This is also where you talk about upcoming games and teams you may be facing, what research needs to be done, and possible strategies to overcome them. You then take everything you talked about in your meetings, and apply that to your practices. Communication is key in every business. Talk about what you think is working as a team, and what can be worked on. These meetings are also where the business concept of Research and Development comes in. Talk about upcoming patches, how they might affect the meta. What are other teams doing and how is it working for them? Come up with some crazy ideas. Brainstorm about champion comps, item builds, and strategies. Then take all of that and bring it into your practices. Write down the things you want to test, and schedule a practice to do so. This guarantees that you will be trying new things and shaking it up. If it didn’t work, you now carry that knowledge with you. Meetings and communication as a team are just as important as any other aspect. How can a ship sail without an understanding of its surroundings and a plan to overcome them? So, what do you do now that you have this all figured out?

Now that you are confident that you can deliver your product (entertainment) to the masses, how do you go about marketing yourself? A business’s success is based off of three pillars: quality of product, who knows about the product, and how you treat those people. At this point, you should already have quality down by virtue of your practice and players. Marketing can help with the rest. As such, you need to start worrying about branding and image. How the public views you is just as important as the product you are selling. You need to advertise yourself. In sports, the way to do that is similar to any other business. Websites, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Twitch is obviously a great medium for eSports teams. You want to cultivate a following. This advertising is strengthened by a well-designed brand. A professional logo and website will go a long way to legitimizing your team in the eyes of the masses. Marketing advertises your product to fans. That product is entertainment. These advertising mediums are great, because they also allow you to interact with your fans/customers. Your brand is what customers will attach to. It’s not really the team, it’s the brand. That’s why hockey teams can switch up rosters, coaches, and GMs so much, because people attach to brands. If you take the time to create a strong brand for yourself, your business will have longevity. People will stay loyal to the brand even when the product might start to waver. This also leads us to diversification.

Now that your team and brand are established, and you are delivering your product well, it might be time to expand and diversify your product offering. Look at starting up teams for other games, under the same brand. Coke has Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Vanilla Coke, Cherry Coke etc. Esports teams do the same. TSM has a Heroes of the Storm team, a Counter Strike team, Super Smash Bros. players, and their original LCS team. Not only that, but they also have teams in different leagues. By this point you might be discovering that your business is no longer a team, it’s a brand. Once you have a brand, you can start making the switch from amateur to professional. I’m not talking about skill level, I’m talking about monetization. People want to support the brand by showing people who they root for. Merchandising and other services are now open to you as a brand, which in turn allows you to start paying your players, which will encourage better performances, which will increase the quality of your product, which will help strengthen your brand, which will help you sell more merchandise… I think you see where this is going. Since you treated your team like a business from the get go, the transition from amateur to professional will be relatively smooth. You have been thinking professionally the whole time. From hiring, and possibly having to fire employees. To managing the day to day of your employees, and ensuring your product is delivering. To research and development, meetings, and marketing.

Does this mean that running a team is boring? Absolutely not! Just because the concepts translate appropriately, doesn’t mean it’s not fun. But it does take hard work. Success takes work, dedication, and commitment. Don’t go into it expecting much, unless you and your players are willing to put in the time and effort it takes to be successful. I would absolutely say that you shouldn’t go into it unless you have the passion and drive to push you forward. Passion means you will have fun in your work. And really, isn’t that what this is all about anyways? Having fun?

 

Kadins (@MrRousseaux) owns the marketing and production firm Wide Mouth Media. He is also the current President of SKL. More importantly, he has been gaming since he was old enough to hold a NES controller. Professionally, he has produced and directed hundreds of WHL live broadcasts, contracted marketing services for provincial health districts, and consulted on branding for many companies in South West Saskatchewan. He’s also a total feeder.

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