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Note: This article was originally posted to SplitPush.Net in October 2016.  Outdated information is marked as such.

Solo Queue needs to die……………. as the primary training method to prepare players for competitive play, and to grow League of Legends as an esport.

Put the pitchforks down guys, and hear me out.

I love solo queueing. Here is proof; my mark of honor.

But. (There’s a but. And it’s a big but.)

In the last twelve months, high-level League of Legends has required levels of team synergy and macro play the likes of which the game has never seen.

With that in mind, how is it that we still fail to develop players for the professional competitive scene so badly?

It’s great that University tournaments exist, and the various Challenger Series* around the world are proof that the system works. But the system isn’t working nearly as well as it could.

There’s a saying in traditional sports that ‘a team of great players will be beaten by a great team’. With League’s snowball mechanics, this is often de-emphasized.

“You’re welcome for the carry.”

When you start out playing basketball, the first two things you’re taught are passing and shooting. What stands out there for me is the fact that the very first thing you learn about the game is how to interact with other teammates.

The first thing you’re taught in League when you decide to seriously climb is ‘mute all your teammates and don’t type to them’. From the moment someone makes the conscious choice to get out of Bronze and rank up, they stand the best chance of winning by ignoring the people they could coordinate with, trying to get fed and carry the game.

REMEMBER …THE MAIN PURPOSE OF SOLO QUEUE ISN’T ACTUALLY TO RECRUIT PLAYERS INTO A MORE COMPETITIVE SCENE”

– An “Minkywhale” Trinh, Coach for Legacy Esports

While this is undoubtedly the best method of climbing in Solo Queue, the only thing it qualifies you is for being good in lane in a situation where the enemy jungler is probably not communicating with your lane opponent.

Would Michael Jordan have ever become Michael Jordan if he’d only ever played pick-up games before college? Of course not.

DEVELOPING IN A SOLO ENVIRONMENT HANDICAPS DEVELOPMENT.
BAD HABITS MAY TAKE YEARS TO GRIND OUT, EVEN WITH THE
BACKING OF COACHES AND ANALYSTS.

– Callum Matthews, Analyst/Coach for Nuovo Gaming

So why are we surprised when Diamond, Masters or Challenger players routinely fail to make the transition to competitive play, when they’ve spent the entire learning phase of their League experience in Solo Queue? They don’t know how to communicate effectively and work together, because they’ve never had to, because League has no built-in voice chat*.

Whenever scrim VODs are leaked, the one thing we consistently see is ineffective communication. Irrelevant information, no information, vague turns of phrase, and worst of all, complex english. In a game where international players are common, this makes no sense.

Ironically enough, players on teams with multiple languages sometimes communicate better, because they realize the redundancy of complex communications, and have to develop tools in order to be able to stay on the same page.

This leads to two inescapable conclusions.

  1. We need to teach players to communicate,  so they can join any team and instantly know how to call what they see.
  2. We need to start teaching this to players earlier. As soon as they hit Level 30. Literally pre-Bronze.

The Reddit standard is to look down on Bronze players and think they don’t matter, but players Gold and below make up the nearly three-quarters of the League player-base. Even some analysts who understand the fundamental complexities of the game on a level most of us never will, can’t get themselves to Plat. Their mechanics aren’t necessarily bad either; they just straight-up do not know how to share the information and knowledge they have, and they’re so used to a lack of communication that their biggest macro strengths are completely wasted, even in a 5-person Dynamic Queue.

SOLO QUEUE DEVELOPS MECHANICAL SKILL, TEACHES YOU HOW TO PUSH YOUR ADVANTAGE AND YOUR LEAD, BUT NINE TIMES OUT OF TEN, YOU’RE PLAYING AGAINST PEOPLE WHO FUNDAMENTALLY DON’T UNDERSTAND THE GAME.

– Brandon “Juves” Defina, Jungler for SIN Gaming

Solo Queue needs to die as the primary method for preparing players for competitive League of Legends.

I’ve played competitive traditional sports at a some of the highest levels that exist, and one thing that was constantly repeated was ‘you’ll play like you practise’. We need to provide people a training ground that is as close to identical to the competitive environment as is possible.

If communicationless solo queuing stops being go-to queue option for the majority of the player base, we also eliminate the vast majority of toxic experiences (something which literally scares people out of starting to play the game, and causes fresh Level 30’s to leave). We need voice communication. We just need them.

Fixing communication and fixing team play are the same goal. You can’t have one without the other. Emergency services and radio operators around the world transition between departments by using NATO phonetic codes. A communications standard is a must if we want to improve team play and grow new players into people who truly understand the game.

THE BIGGEST THING WITH CHALLENGER SUBS IS THAT THEY DON’T COMMUNICATE ENOUGH. COOLDOWNS, WHERE THE LANER’S GOING, LEFT SIDE OF MID, RIGHT SIDE OF MID. THEY DON’T TALK IN TEAM FIGHTS. YOU HAVE NO INFORMATION, AND THE GAME IS ALL ABOUT INFORMATION.

– Brandon “Juves” Defina, Jungler for SIN Gaming

Standard commands for returning to the fountain to heal and buy. Standard message formats. Agreed-upon verbs for when and how to engage, peel, disengage, focus, rotate. A culture of voice communications. When we develop these, gameplay at all levels will increase in quality. If this standard existed, and the social expectation was that you would join a voice channel with strangers when solo-queueing, solo-queue may not even need to die.

Secondarily, the competitive environment MUST begin earlier. Esports Organizations must transition from pushing only professional teams to including the entire spectrum of players. This means club-level bronze/silver/gold leagues and school-based competitions. It is a responsibility that each of us must weigh up for ourselves how we can best contribute, because if the scene as a whole does not grow, we rob ourselves of many who have the potential to be great players, but never get the opportunity to see it realized.

I’m not saying that low-ELO players should be professionals. I’m saying one thing, and one thing only:

If we train our new low-ELO brethren properly when they begin, we will produce better challengers.

Org owners, this is a message for you. Be the change the scene needs. Engage the community. Create new competitions, like the flagship Razer store in San Francisco is doing. Create groups for 5-person premade dynamos, reward mid and high-tier players for coaching lower-level players. Make it almost a given that everyone has competitive experience.

Our world championship gets more viewers than the NBA grand final, but there are zero basketball players that have never played in a team. We may outwatch them, but it would be pure arrogance to assume that we have nothing to learn from the multi-century success of traditional sports.

We are the future; it’s about time we started acting like it by learning from the past.

— — Œ

Special thanks to Callum Matthews, Brandon “Juves” Defina, Indiana “Froskurinn” Black and An “Minkywhale” Trinh for their input on this article.

About The Author

Editor-in-Chief

Writer, Editor, Photographer, Video Guy, Audio Engineer, Broadcast Producer. Esports Veteran. I play Gnar, AMA.

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