How to Build a Successful 5s Team

Which sounds more fun?

  1. Solo Queue
    • You might not get a role you're good at or like
    • You might get raged at
    • You might get trolled
    • New strategies will be seen as trolling
  2. Arranged 5s
    • Everybody probably has a fixed role; no role of chance
    • If somebody consistently rages, you don't play with them
    • If somebody is bad or trolls, you don't play with them
    • You can experiment with everybody onboard

But how do you get a good, organized 5s team?

Who am I? My name is Gentleman Gustaf, and I've played on three 5s teams, and coached one sponsored team; currently, I jungle for Funk Overload. Are we the best team out there? Definitely not. Are we Challenger Tier material? Maybe with some fine-tuning. Recently, we've started to play against some pretty big-name players and teams, and most recently we beat a team pretty solidly, and after recognizing some of the names from EV (an old team we'd played against in tournaments in Season 2), realized we'd just beaten 4 of the 5 members of the same, #6 ranked Challenger team:

Does this make us better than Challenger Project? Most definitely not. But did it make us feel good? Definitely! More importantly, I hope it establishes me as knowing at least a little bit about 5s. So if you want a 5s team, what should you do?

1 - Find the right players

First things first, you shouldn't just grab your 4 Bronze friends and suddenly expect to be Gold in 5s. In fact, until you get coordination down, expect your team to be a league lower than the average league of your players. There are fewer 5s teams than there are solo queue players, and the ladder is a bit more competitive. Now, this doesn't mean everybody on your team has to be Diamond 1, but they should all be committed to improvement. The most important thing here is synergy, both in-game and out.

First, you need to be able to be friendly to each other. You don't have to be friends, but you should be able to sit in Skype for 30 minutes without yelling, and you certainly don't want long gaps of silence. If your natural communication styles sync well, your playstyles can only benefit.

Second, your playstyles need to suit each other. If your ADC likes to farm until late game, but your support wants to make plays every 15 seconds, you're going to have some trouble with communication! If your ADC mains Kog'Maw and nobody on your team plays anybody with peel? Probably going to be rough.

Finally, make sure your goals are the same. If 2 of your players just want to avoid the stress of solo queue, 1 of your player wants to make Diamond, and 2 of your players want to be in the LCS within 12 months, you're going to have issues from the get-go.

2 - Define Your Team

There's an old joke in philosophy:

Q: How many philosophers does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Define your terms!

You don't need to pin everything down from the get go (that's the punchline of the joke), but you should have a basic idea of how everybody plays. Just like philosophers need to know what a lightbulb is (and have one) to change it, you don't want to run a protect the carry comp if your mid mains assassins and your ADC mains Ezreal.

Don't just go out and pluck a strategy from mid-air. Start off with something established; something that's seen high-level success. And don't go too broad, either. It may be easy to say 'we play AoE comps' or 'We play protect the carry comps', but what type of AoE? Are you going for late-game AoE champs, like Karthus or Vladimir? Or are you going for strong mid-game teamfight AoE, like Kennen or Rumble? Is your engage coming from the AoE, or do you want a strong engage jungler? Is your ADC part of the AoE, or using it as a screen to get free damage from behind?

What's the easiest way to do this? Well, you can try to think up all of the variables much like I did above, but I can guarantee that (at least while you're new to team play), you'll miss some. So what do I suggest? Pick a pro team whose style fits your players.

How do you know if it fits? Basically, the strategy should center around your strongest players (Doublelift's Vayne/Caitlyn come to mind), but it should accommodate your least flexible players. What do I mean by that? You want the intersection between your team comp and your least flexible players to be at least a few champions. Don't run hyper-carry if the only one your ADC runs is Vayne; if she's picked or banned, you end up running a protection comp with nothing worth protecting. Basically, your strategy should give your least flexible players TONS of options, while showcasing your strongest players' skills.

For example, our top plays Rumble. As in, 680 games with Rumble, and 90 games on his next two champions. Are his other champions bad? By no means. But if he gets Rumble, we're going to have a good game. His next best champion? Zac. Our mid loves to play AD mids. I play Zac, Nasus was one of my top champions in S2, and Lee Sin was one of the first junglers I really got in Season 3. Seems like a no-brainer that if we run a similar strategy to Cloud 9, we already have good champion overlap. Given that their bot lanes have varied wildly (from Draven Thresh to Ashe Zyra), we can assume that their strategy is relatively unrelated to what bot lane they run, so long as it offers some initiation and peel. This gives us bot lane flexibility.

3 - Be Flexible

Ok, so you probably can't just straight up copy a strategy, because the odds of having all of the same top champs aren't great, and you probably shouldn't just straight up copy a strategy, because you won't improve as quickly as if you slightly tweaked the strategy, forcing you to better understand the strategy, as opposed to just running it. Cloud 9 likes to first pick top lane a lot. They do this because they know they can swap Elise to the jungle, or Kennen mid. We don't run that much Elise or Kennen, so we have to find that flexibility elsewhere. Luckily, our mid and I love to run Jarvan, and our top and I both run a ton of Zac. So if we first pick Zac, there's our flexibility; if we pick J4 and Zac on purple side, we retain that flexibility.

The same applies when you eventually branch away from your 'main' style. Don't just adopt a new style; take what works about your current style and try to use it elsewhere. Let's say you like to run a push/objective control strategy using Nasus; try Fiddlesticks for dragon control and build an AoE comp around it. You'll still be playing for objectives, but your comp is slightly different, and you'll find branching into other AoE comps easier.

4 - Leave it on the Field

Learn to critique. Too many teams fall apart because some players start pointing out other players' mistakes behind their backs. Every time the ADC tries to duel and loses, the whole team groans, and types to each other 'this is why we throw games!', but since the ADC doesn't know, he keeps making that mistake (presumably remembering the times he's won the duel and gotten something out of it. Eventually, when it does get brought up, everybody is way more upset than they should be, because they're not criticizing him for the mistake he just made, but for all previous ones as well!

So learn the right way to bring concerns up. Either talk to the player privately, or bring up (everybody's) mistakes publicly after each game. But don't gang up on one player, especially not privately, because their mistakes are going to come up eventually, and if it isn't addressed gracefully, they might leave the team or have their confidence and motivation shaken.

5 - Be Consistent, but Have Fun

Try to get games in as often as possible; you won't develop synergy from 1 game a week, but you might ruin your friendships if you lose every game painfully due to poor synergy. You know how you feel in solo queue when somebody feeds? You don't want to feel that towards a friend of yours.

If you're not having fun, take a break, maybe for the day, maybe for longer. After all, unless you're trying to go pro, you're playing 5s because it's more fun than solo queue, right?

If your players are being forced into champions they don't like, you should look into that. Are the champions just not fitting the comp? Maybe your comp could use changes. Are the champions just not strong? Maybe you need to swap roles. Does the player only play cheese champions? Maybe he's just not cut out for reasonable team comps.

Constantly re-evaluate the team to see where it's heading, and make changes before they become big problems, not after a big confrontation.


  1. Get 5 people who like each other enough to hang out for a little while and all play different roles
  2. Find a team comp, using pro play for inspiration.
  3. Play that team comp endlessly to build synergy
  4. Branch out into related team comps.
  5. Criticize constructively and gracefully
  6. Play consistently
  7. Have fun

Chapter 1 of a novel I'm writing: Memories

 For more of my work:

-- Follow me on Facebook or Youtube or Twitter for updates on all of my new articles, videos, and streaming.
-- Find my personal writing project here!
-- Find old posts @ the RoG forums and new posts every Wednesday (3 PM) and Sunday (9 AM).




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