Helping Your Team Help You

25 Apr 2022
8 minute read

One of the most often repeated pieces of advice I see for League of Legends players is: be greedy. Always play for yourself, and assume your teammates are incapable of making the correct plays. I think this is a mistake.

This post is Part 4 of a series on Agency and Communion. If you haven’t already, you should read the previous posts in the series.

The thinking behind the “be greedy” advice is that most of your teammates are bad, and if you let your bad teammates get resources (kills, farm, etc), it will only be wasted on them. You can only control your own play, so it makes sense to give priority to the one aspect of the game you can control.

Think of what would happen if everyone perfectly followed this advice. You would be spending most of your time fighting your own teammates for game resources. Instead of working as a team, each player not only be working for themselves, but against their own teammates. That sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Another piece of advice I’ve often seen is to immediately mute your teammates at the start of every game. The reasoning here is similar. Your teammates won’t have any good advice to give you, but they will often flame you. League does have an unfortunately toxic player base, and team chat can be a vector for toxicity. But by muting every game, you are giving up any chance of coordinating play via chat.

Working with your teammates is a communion skill. It not only takes effort to do so, it takes practice and training, like any other skill. Muting all your teammates is kind of like avoiding farming, because you might occasionally miss a minion.

Instead of avoiding your teammates by muting their chat, or assuming they are incapable of helping the team and taking all their resources for yourself, why not instead try to play together with them?

Yes, this will be hard at first. It will be hard just like learning how to last-hit is hard, because like any other skill, learning to do it well will take time and practice. But the payoff is immense. Instead of having to carry every game, you can have four other people helping you to victory.

Communion Skills You Can Work On

Enough generalities. Here are four skills for you to consider. Each of these is a practice you can adopt, starting with your next game. Be clear, these skills are difficult to master. You will be frustrated at first. You will find them challenging when you first start. This is just like any other skill that you need to practice to master

Constructive Criticism

As we have seen before, no one likes being told they are wrong. So what should you do when you see a teammate making a mistake? You can simply stay off the keyboard and not say anything at all, but if you need them to change their gameplay you should use constructice criticism. Constructie criticism means you always phrase your comments positively, not negatively. Tell your teammate what to do, not what they shouldn’t do.

Instead of saying this Try saying this
Don’t keep shoving the wave mindlessly If you freeze the wave at your turret, I can gank for you
Stop chasing and picking fights we can’t win Let’s group and try poking them a bit before we engage
Why are you playing so far back? Try to stay close to me so you can peel their assassins
Your laner has roamed three times for kills. Please ping MIA so I will know to play safe
We have no vision anywhere Let’s ward dragon. I can escort you to place wards safely.
You fed Ekko 9 kills. gg Let’s lane-swap so you can farm safely.

I hope you see the pattern here. In general, don’t seek to place blame. Don’t point out faults. Instead, accept the current situation and give clear, simple instruction on what you would like to accomplish next.

Accept Blame

The flip side of constructive criticism is accepting blame. Point out your own mistakes to your own team. Just as no one like having their own mistakes made clear, it’s reassuring and something of a relief when someone else points out their own mistakes. Try and make a habit of admitting your own mistakes in chat, whenever you make a blunder. This might feel awkward at first, but with practice it can become natural. It can be as simple as typing “mb” (my bad) in chat. Or you can give a more detailed explanation, like “I didn’t expect their top laner to be there”. Explanations like that can give your teammates a better window into what you’re thinking.

Everyone makes mistakes. One piece of advice I see frequently is to tell people in lower Elo that it’s not worth blaming your teammates because everyone on the team is making critical mistakes. Statistically speaking, if you accept blame for every play that turns out badly, you’ll be right more than half the time. So why not accept blame for every error, regardless of whether or not it’s “really” your fault? If something goes wrong, blame yourself in the chat. This can have a beneficial effect, in that it can ward off your teammates blaming each other. And who knows, maybe you really were to blame and you just didn’t see your own error.

Applaud Your Team

When someone makes a good play, tell them! This is somewhat the opposite of the “Accept Blame” skill. Of course, if someone gets a multi- kill you will frequently see congratualtions in the chat. But you don’t have to save your praise for only the flashy plays. You can thank a jungler for a gank, or even just for hovering your lane and preventing a gank. Thank them for backing off at the right time, or rotating in a timely manner. Even something as simple as dodging a skill shot is praiseworthy.

When you praise someone, you’re telling them that you’re watching them. At least they know that you’re moving your camera around the map. But being reminded that someone is watching you can improve performance. Positive reinforcement is more effective than negative reinforcement. When you praise a teammate for doing something right, they are more likely to do it again. Blaming someone is much less effective at stopping negative behavior.

Descriptive Shotcalling

Shotcalling is perhaps the one communion skill that is mentioned more than any other, but you can find precious little advice on how to call shots. Perhaps that’s because it’s seen as an advanced skill, appropriate only to professionals on voice comms. While the tactical decisions involved in shotcalling can be complex, the mechanics of shotcalling are something that can be practiced at any skill level.

With a team of people you’ve never met, shotcalling is a form of persuation. You need to realize that you not only need to identify the proper play, but you also need to convince your teammates to execute it with you. Doing this with skill requires reading your team’s readiness, and making calls that are more than imperitive demands.

When shotcalling, try to explain your reasoning; do not simply make demands. This requires thought, and a little more time, but again this is a skill that can be mastered with practice. It’s easier to follow a call when you know the reasoning behind it. It may be obvious to you, but you don’t know what your teammates are thinking, and likewise they don’t know what you’re thinking unless you tell them.

Do you have any other examples for communion skills? Let me know in the comments below.

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