One factor often gets overlooked when it comes to building a League of Legends team, and this is team synergy. We have heard this story many times, but it just doesn’t seem to stick.
We start with a tale of two teams:
The first, is an upstart new team, considered one of the worst teams in the Season 3 Summer Split of the LCS. They go on to go 5-0 in week 1 on their way to a record-breaking 25-3 record. That team, of course, is Cloud 9. Analysts have speculated as to what makes them unique, and certainly a lot of it comes down to their playstyle. But what really makes Cloud9 different from many teams is being friends.
And I’m not poking fun either. When you look at teams like Gambit Gaming or Fnatic, you see that they all like each other, and that leads them into all sorts of advantages. First, rarely changing team members means that you build better synergy over time. Second, it makes it easier to trust calls. Let’s say you don’t like somebody on a team. Every bad call they make taints your opinion of them, while every good call they make just makes you think ‘well, they’re not horrible’. It’s the same as solo queue. But if you like somebody and they make a mistake? You pick them up again and carry them until they’re ready.
Now let’s talk about the other team. They are a European dream-team, made up of the hand-picked best players in EU. They went 0-4 in their first week of play; and this is how they celebrated their first victory:
If you can read body language, you can see the awkwardness. You can practically hear the arguments they must have had over the last 4 games.
This is how a team celebrates a victory:
Personally, I’ve been on tons of teams. I’ve been on teams of mostly silver and gold players that have beaten diamond teams. I’ve been on teams of Diamond 1 players who beat Challenger Tier teams. My most recent team, Deadly Waffle Hut, went 4-1 vs Challenger Tier teams, both in scrims and on the ladder. And on every team I’ve been on, you can gauge some element of their success by how well they like each other. The second more than one person starts doubting a team member, the team’s synergy is threatened. The moment 2 or 3 players on a team start having VOiP chats about another player on the team is the moment the team will probably fall apart.
We can see this in the history of LoL with almost every roster swap, and roster swaps only lead to a good situation when they are amicable. Sure, Dexter couldn’t make it for the first few weeks, but CLG hasn’t tanked completely because HotshotGG is a part of the team CLG all like and respect. Bjergsen has filled the shoes of Reginald well, but Reginald left willingly. For an example of a roster swap gone bad, one need merely look at the Seasons 2 and 3 of Curse Gaming or the EG/Alliance split.
If your team can’t stand being in voice chat out of game, your team probably won’t go anywhere. Now, I’m not saying it’s all sunshine and roses. Criticism is extremely important. But for criticism to be valuable, it has to be safe to assume that it comes from a place of respect and camaraderie, not resentment or blame.
Mattias “Gentleman Gustaf” Lehman is a big time nerd-gamer who has been involved in both SC2 and LoL. He has ranked as high as Diamond 1 in solo queue and Diamond 3 in arranged 5s.
You can see his other work here: