Esports is awesome because five minutes after watching Froggen carry his team on Ahri, you can log into League of Legends and queue up for mid-lane.
You want to experience the joy of a well-cast charm as the hapless opponent walks right into your follow-up.
That doesn’t end at individual play. After watching how much fun it can be to do organized scrims and training, many players form their own teams to compete on the ranked 5 ladder.
It’s not necessarily in order to make it pro that we do this, but rather to experience the fun of organized competition. For the same reason that many people around the world participate in community sports teams.
All of you who are either on a ranked team or want to join a ranked team, raise your hands.
Hmm, ok that works well in the classroom. Not so much here. But if you want, you can selfie your raised hand and #RankedForFun it on Instagram with me. I’ll go first.
Anyway when we play and train on these teams we all have needs
- We want to have fun
- We want to train like the pros
- We want to experience the joy of victory
- We want pride in pulling of a pre-planned strategy
- We want satisfaction that we fulfilled our role
- (If I didn’t list your need here, add it to your Instagram post)
A few days ago an awesome reader emailed me and asked this:
I wrote a couple replies, and he’s going to try it out and report back. In the meanwhile, I want to share that information with all of you!
1. Treat training and bonding separately
Allow for training; and allow or bonding.
Hardcore learning in a team game involves teamwork. And teamwork is not always clean and friendly. There can be conflicts, commands from leaders, good decisions, bad decisions, etc. It can feel like work a lot of the time, and actually that is a good mindset to have towards it.
On the other hand, bonding is best done in a relaxed atmosphere. It’s crucial for team functioning because closer bonds among teammates means quicker forgiveness, better understanding of their failures, and a better learning environment for your weaker members.
So think about how you can set up your time together so that the two are very strictly separated.
Imagine traditional sport, for a moment. Throughout the day you might hangout with teammates, and even kick a football around for fun, but it’s more like bonding. Then you show up at a specific place at a specific time and everybody is focused. It’s training!! Oh but then, an hour in, you have a water break. It’s not training again. Everybody can relax. Anybody kicking the ball is just for fun. But then 10 minutes later it’s training again, it’s work, and when you kick the ball you have to TRY (not troll).
Because of the clear rules and boundaries with this space, everybody is happy and everybody knows what to do.
All too often in esport teams, the lines between practice and bonding become blurred. @MindGamesWeldon
Make sure that you decide as a group when you are going to be training, versus when you are going to be playing league of legends together for fun. And remember that playing as a team you need to sometimes simply play together with no intention to win or even to do well. But to bond.
2. Make a plan before each match how you will “win” regardless of if you win or lose the game.
So this is like a training goal you go INTO the game with that you can try to accomplish if you are ahead by a lot, or if you are behind by a lot.
Example: “This game we are going to try to get deep wards and catch the jungler or a squishy in transition.”
Scenario 1: the game goes well, you push up to their base wall, your goal becomes to ward OVER the wall (deep vision) and try to force them between 2 turrets so you can catch them out during transition.
Scenario 2: the game goes badly, they are at your inhibitor. Your goal becomes getting wards in your OWN jungle to try to catch them as they pivot towards mid.
You should be able to practice and learn whether you are winning or losing.
If you don’t know much about setting training goals, I have a free goal setting class and you can learn more about it by signing up below
You can also check out my #leaguegoals on Instagram, which is a community movement to try to create fun, gamified goals that help people train in ranked no matter if they are winning or losing. I base them on my work with professional teams, so the goals I post are real ones from League of Legends… legends..
3. Get a coach or analyst (or team mascot) to join your voice-comms during the match in order to remind you of your training goals.
Setting training plans for the team, and personal training goals for each person is REALLY powerful. Each person is able to progress every single game in a measurable way.
HOWEVER. It’s really hard to pull off, because once the match starts you have too much to focus on. You can’t keep on top of your goals very well when you are under performance pressure.
So let’s say you set up some team plans like, “Ok at 5 min we ward their wraith bush. As soon as jungle shows you teleport on him and I come from mid. Then at 5:30 bottom lane backs to buy, returns, and wards the enemy blue buff at 6:15. Push the wave to the turret, and pivot to blue spawn, then immediately to dragon.”
Cool plans! But not going to happen because who is coordinating it?
You guys are all busy learning the game to actually have the bird’s-eye-view. Therefore, you need some coach/supervisor/cheerleader who is
- spectating you live,
- in on your voice comms,
- has the plan written out,
- and is giving everybody orders.
Forget the idea of an in-game shot caller as the ultimate mastermind behind all your training and growth. In research on learning there is this thing called “cognitive overload” as in there is a limit to what you can learn. If you as the shot-caller are spending all your time managing in-game strategy and trying to remember everybody’s goals, you aren’t getting any better at support! or mid!
As a shot-caller you should organize movement, specific timing (ok go NOW!), and “pull the trigger” basically. If you even need that on your team.
But generally it’s better if you have a coach’s voice that you have been listening to for months kind of automatically running inside your head all the time. In practice she should also be saying things like,
- Great job!
- Don’t worry about it you can focus now.
- You’re playing from ahead so just relax, don’t panic.
- Shrug it off you’ll get it next time.
You’ll internalize all those comments and then when you are at a big, live match on LAN the voice will still be there telling you, “Move towards top now and go with jungle to ward the wraith bush,” and “Shake it off. You got this.”
Imagine again traditional sport, on the football pitch. The team is running a drill. What is the coach doing?
He’s standing at the sidelines yelling, “Keep your knee over the ball. Jake pass to alex. PASS TO ALEX. Good. Now pass back. Good. Hey keep your knee over the ball. You’re holding it too long do another wall pass. Jake is open pass to him….”
You will progress very quickly if you have that guy or girl basically feeding you your own plan the whole game and if that person can also adjust it for you.
They should always keep you focused on your training task whether the game is a win or a loss, and help adjust the training task for the exact situation, because you all will be very busy mentally building up your automated skills, instincts, teamwork, and mechanics in the game. Like I said, it’s cognitive overload if you also have to keep on top of your training goals.
Those are the three biggest things that I think are the easiest to implement but will give you the most bang for your buck.
LET ME KNOW!
- Do you do this already in your team?
- What do you think?
- How are you implementing it and how did you tailor it to your specific team?