Teamfighting, part one: elements

 “FOCUS THE AD CARRY.”

If I see that in caps or if I see it a second or third time by the same person on my team, I mute that person. They do not know how to teamfight, and what’s more if you try to explain it to them they just get mad.

For all of you who know that it’s not the AD carry’s job to “focus the other AD carry” and that teamfights don’t really work like that, this one’s for you. If anyone you know doesn’t get what they’re supposed to do in a teamfight, refer them to this article and it’s second part.

What teams are supposed to do in a teamfight

If a team is organized and people know what they are doing, what they end up doing is pretty consistent. Even if there are errors or variations in team comps, the rules of engagement are defined. Of course, every team comp or strategy, every 5v5 will vary slightly, and for some champions even there will be different rules. An example is Kha’Zix. Kha’Zix has a Manamune build that is very pokey, where he focuses on W spam. This is usually for top Kha’Zix. Mid Kha’Zix can go Manamune too, but can also go Last Whisper / Blood Thirster and other damage items without having to get Tear, just focusing on going all-in and eliminating one or two of the enemy team quickly.

So realize that positioning can vary depending on build and role. If you went Locket and Warmog’s first on Xin Zhao, you should probably be initiating. If you went glass cannon (and I don’t know why you would), you’ll need to be more careful about your timing.

Elements of teamfighting

Peeling

I don’t know where the term “peeling” came from but the description is very apt, so it stuck. If someone is going for your carry, they want to stick to them, and you want to peel them off.  The way you do this is by using your crowd controls moves to prevent someone from getting there. This is almost always a support’s job, but any other position can do it too, even some AD carries. The issue is whether you have the moves to do so.

If a champion has the ability to save his ally’s life through stopping / removing an enemy champion, he can peel. Some abilities are stronger than others. Silence helps but is usually not sufficient. Stuns, knockups, and knockbacks are supreme. Slows are usually good, but those are easier to mitigate.

A champion like Janna or Alistar is a supreme peeler. If someone jumps on your carry, you have the ability to literally stop an enemy in his tracks, saving/prolonging an ally’s life.

Other roles can do this also. Some champions have to decide between peeling or attacking, such as Orianna or Lulu; champions with more decisions like this thus require more skill and understanding to play well. 

Disruption

Disruption is similar to peeling but is used for a different purpose. Disrupt is when you use a move to disposition or separate entire teams, rather than focusing on protecting someone on your team. Janna’s Whirlwind can do this, but the most obvious examples are Xin Zhao and Gragas’ ult. When you use these, the team splits up and your team immediately has superior positioning.

Other examples include Orianna’s Ult, Janna's Ult, Viktor’s W, Morgana’s ult, Anivia’s wall, and Hecarim’s ult.

Disruption can protect, be crowd control, deal a lot of damage, or be an initiate, but it isn’t about these things, and it doesn’t have to be any of these things, they are incidentally sometimes these things. The core principle of disruption is that it realigns you and your team to being in a better position than the other team.

Diving / Focusing

A popular teamfight action is to try to kill a particular member of the other team. Assassins generally have to do this, such as Akali, Zed, Kha’Zix, or LeBlanc. If you have mostly single-target abilities, that is what you’ll be doing.

Some people make the mistake of doing this when they shouldn’t, or doing it and not knowing when they should switch gears. Think of a bad Olaf. Guy charges non-stop, even when he’s had plenty of notice to find out he won’t survive or get to his target, but he keeps going and being kited to his death.

Some people have to do this. Some people can do this. Do not think everyone is supposed to do this. Do not think you are always supposed to do this with some champions. 

AOE

Area of effect abilities tend to be simple. Land the AOE for maximum damage. When Vladimir was more powerful than he is now, he was a simple champion to play for this reason. Make your ult hit all five, don’t die, pool at the right time, spam the rest of your abilities. Same with Karthus and Ziggs. Conceptually, ability use is simple, just act like an ad carry, but positioning and landing the skillshots is the harder part.

Initiating

Initiating is highly important. Every team needs a good initiate, and every team needs to know what their initiate options are. If people think someone can initiate that shouldn’t or vice-versa, this leads to bad team coordination.

This is why champions with strong initiates tend to be popular and easier to win with in solo queue because the team knows unequivocally that the fight has started and it’s time to follow up. Malphite and Amumu are tanks but they have poor peel. Their strength lies in moves that can cc entire teams and win the fight immediately, and they tend to be great leading abilities because these champs’ teammates know to followup, whereas enemy teams freak out, even if they could survive and then immediately keep the fight up and blow them up.

Some of the best and most obvious initiates tend to come from junglers such as Xin, Malph, Amumu, Hecarim, Nautilus, Vi, Cho’Gath, Jarvan IV, Mao’Kai, Sejuani, Rammus, Nocturne, Skarner, or Volibear, but other types of champions can do this. Sona, Blitzcrank, Ashe, Annie, Lux, Renekton, Singed, and assassins who position effectively can all initiate.

Sometimes, initiation isn’t obvious and the teams simply gradually collide into each other. It’s important to understand some team compositions necessitate working this way, and everyone needs to be disciplined and tightly wound instead of trying to be bossy about how the initiate works.

This is why strong derp-level jungling can carry queue’d games easily, whereas poor-cc / poor initiate junglers lead to team coordination challenges, especially if top or support didn’t go to the effort of adding cc to make up the deficiency.

Positioning

Positioning follows two important principles.

• AD Carries and some champions almost always follow the same rule of positioning.

• For all other roles and for other champions, it depends.

All AD carries follow similar principles. Other rules, it depends on the champion. Some champions almost always do the same thing. Some champions have options depending on build or can and must adapt to who the other nine players picked.

I’ll get more into this on Thursday.

Best,

Old Man Eyebrows 

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