Picking to win in Solo Queue
Ever have a game where there’s a Shaco jungle and so the guy who goes top picks Zed and the guy who goes Mid picks Fizz, and you have no ability to deal with the huge Lee Sin, Cho’Gath, Olaf, Dr. Mundo, or other fatty who is just leading the charge to push your towers down? What happens in those games? One of those guys might get fed, then he takes out one person per teamfight then has to excape, while the rest of the team dies or just has to run while the objectives get lost. There is no AOE!
Me, I hate that. Do you? Well, you have the chance to affect that by your own choice. Many people do not pay attention.
But you…you can pay attention to the tide of the champion select process. You can know what to do.
Building a team composition isn’t easily, but going over a list of questions I’ve got will help give you a better idea of what to think about before making your pick. I’m going on the assumption that you are good with more than one champion. I am not advising you to select a counter based on crowd-sourced wisdom that is a champion you’ve never played in a matchup you know nothing about! I wash my hands of this.
But some of us have three or four possibilities, and if it’s a role you’ve got a lot of experience at, maybe you’ve got half a dozen, or maybe even ten or more.
Questions for you and your pick:
Does your champion fill multiple roles?
What I mean by this is does a champion play more than position, or can that champion take more than one build? LeBlanc is highly narrow. Cho’Gath can go AP, Tank, or AP/Tank, and jungle, top, or even the recently trendy mid. Some Cho’s get Wit’s End, and others don’t. Lee Sin can go top and jungle, and can now go mid. Zyra can go mid or support. Vladimir can go top or mid, as can Pantheon. The more roles a champion fits, the safer they are because when the other team picks, they can’t be sure they’re facing you, you can always ask for a lane switch, or you can simply use a different rune page depending on matchup. If there is a low magic team, I have a movespeed page with ap/lvl glyphs instead of MR. My Singed, Rumble, and Elise all have access to both of those for varying matchups.
Is there anyone on the other team that can’t be dealt with?
Look carefully. Is there a champion that doesn’t have any threats from you guys? Someone slippery that can’t be locked down, someone tanky that no one can engage, someone bursty that can’t be bursted or tanked? Someone with stealth from whom there is no anti-stealth moves? Make sure you have an answer to everyone. If your team doesn’t, it’s on you to do so.
Does your potential choice mix well with your teammates?
This is obvious for bottom lane but too many times I see some mid or top think “oh boy I counter my lane” then they don’t do well when fighting someone from another lane. Sometimes I’ll see a Fizz that counters the other mid but has to stay a mile away from the top and jungler. If that is even slightly risky he should’ve picked someone else.
Do you provide something new to the team, an unaccounted gap?
Does your team have zero poke and you’re going to provide it? What about meat? What about cc? There are all kinds of attributes champions possess. In my first example, going Fizz when there is a Shaco and Zed already means you’re not contributing much that’s new to the team. You’re an assassin that tries to instantly kill one person, then get out. You already have two other of those guys, man.
How will the teamfights go?
Try to imagine how small and large teamfights will go. Do your champions harmonize? What kind of combos does the other team bring to the table, and what combos will your pick bring to the table?
Here are some more specifics about team composition that you can apply in both solo queue and in ranked 5’s.
Area of Effect (AOE) damage
If too many people are single target damage, and they have a good enough front line, you’ll blow everything on one person and have not enough to show for it. Then the team runs you over.
Crowd Control (cc)
This is not just a matter of if you have enough cc abilities. If you have 4 slows and there is a Garen or Vladimir on the team, a slow won’t matter as much as it would on other champions. If there is a Gangplank, he will require more CC should he get fed.
Is there a lot of poke? At objectives, effective poke can give an advantage, or even end a fight before it starts. If a key squishy target on your team got hit by moves like Jayce’s Shock Blast, Orianna’s ball, Nidalee’s spear, Corki’s Missiles, or Ezreal’s Mystic Shot’s and now has 2/3 or less health and your team is at a disadvantage, you’ve been effectively poked.
Sometimes the only way to deal with someone before they get out of control is to kill them right away, or they will wreck your team, even if they suicide. If you stun someone and they get all their moves off before they die, they still might have done more than their weight, and they’ll win the 4v5 afterwards. Heavy burst or burst champions are not always necessary, but it’s nice to have at least one source and some champions or team compositions require you have some to beat them.
I dislike the term “tank” or “tanky” because the role of tank in this game is not the same as it is in MMORPG’s. At any rate you need someone with lasting power. You don’t have to have an Alistar or Rammus or Shen on your team, but you should have someone who can absorb burst, someone who can facecheck, someone that can take the turret damage, someone that can dive, someone that can last.
I once saw a team with Alistar, Taric, Morgana and Singed on it. They lasted a very long time in fights, but they still lost. You need at least one other champion besides the ad carry that will continue to dish out damage. Could be Jax, could be Orianna, could be Kennen, could be Jayce, whatever. Just get someone who can spam some basic attacks and/or abilities so that eventually, if a person is caught, they will die, and eventually, if your team has higher defensive stats, they’ll win.
Some champions, such as Lux, Ziggs, Nidalee, Jayce, or Ezreal, are very hard to get to without taking a lot of damage, and sometimes even impossible. It is important that someone on your team be able to get to them.
Magical and Physical Damage
This is not nearly as important as it used to be, with the Season 3 changes. If you are out of balance, err on the side of physical, but it’s nice to have some magic damage on the team to help with burst and to make the other team either divert money to MR or be punished for not doing so.
Mobility and Disengage
How good is your team at disengaging if they overcommitted? How good are they at escaping? Do you have enough people that are good at getting out? Do you have people that can help others get out, such as Zilean, Nidalee, or Jayce, or Janna?
To peel is to prevent a champion from being able to pursue or attack another champion. A great peeler is Alistar or Janna, who have two or three moves capable of preventing someone from getting in, if not just shoving them out entirely.
Here are a couple of examples of choices I had to make in solo queue. I’ll tell you what I picked and why.
This does not look good for our team. They have tons of dunking, sustained damage, meat, and gap-closing abilities. Furthermore, it’s going to be hard to get to Caitlyn and our CC is not enough to stop them.
My plan? Ask Zyra to trade me so I could be support so that she could be used as an anti-dive teammate. If they kill both Akali and Zyra quickly or fend them off, we can’t do much. But if we got a better cc mid, we would have a better chance to back up our Varus.
This game ended with a dodge, fortunately, so I didn’t have to play it or find out whether the Zyra would trade (which I doubt she would have).
This team has a nice mix of shenanigans, burst, and sustained damage, but theirs looks better at this point. The team doesn’t mix well with Graves at all, and there’s not much options for peeling Nocturne off of any of us. Wukong, Kennen, and Elise are all great initiators, but they have poor disengage.
The champion I picked was Lulu, and this served to be a good choice throughout the game. Graves disconnected and I was someone that was able to actually farm and make some aggressive roam plays before they realized he was gone. He did come back, fortunately. Also fortunate was that everyone on the team was competent, so despite my reservations, we were able to do three nice teamfights in a row. It didn’t matter whether Elise, Wukong, or Kennen initiated—I’d ult whoever got in first or whoever was taking the most damage, and my other cc, worked well. If Riven or Nocturne chased, I slowed them both. If we were chasing or someone needed to get away, I could Cupcake or speed-buff. I had some burst of my own, and with Wraith Collar and Malady (I got somewhat fed) I was able to help with the damage and help us to actually kite more.
May your picks subtly bring your team closer to victory.
This week's eyebrows: