One of the easiest lessons to learn from League of Legends is the importance of teamwork and reliance on your team. This is seen in the professional workplace, especially multi-disciplinary fields, and is a very important concept. Working as a team between people you don’t know is critical to advancing yourself in life and in your career, and those same concepts are seen on the fields of justice.
On my last blog entry, I mentioned how one of my college professors gave a lecture on teamwork and synergy. While he wasn’t explicitly talking about League of Legends, many of the terms, concepts and ideals paralleled the League. He went over how a team needs to synergize, become greater than the sum of the parts and how there should never be someone carrying the team in order to succeed. After further research into the subject, I have come across this:
This is an image from a book by Patrick Lencioni called “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable.” The story follows a fiction CEO’s battle with organizing and managing a team of individuals. While I have not read the book, I can automatically see how these “dysfunctions” apply to League of Legends and teams.
Inattention to Results
Starting from the top, you have the first segment of inattention to results. This can be people on your team that don’t care about winning, losing or doing well. Many people on your team have their heads somewhere else, or simply don’t mind losing. In a solo queue situation, this happens very often and is construed as “trolling.” While someone who is playing to win is considered a “tryhard,” the concept of tryharding is paying attention to the only result that matters: winning the game.
League of Legends without “tryhards”
When playing on a serious team and trying to gain results, paying attention and focusing on what you’re trying to achieve, specifically, is key. When you are trying to apply this to your games, remember that you have to walk the line and pay attention to your results. Remember that by caring and playing serious yourself, others around you typically try to do the same. I was tripped up on this for a while, harping on my teammates for bad scores when I was doing poorly myself. I always wrote it off as “I initiate a fight and die so we can win it,” which was a bad approach to the situation. While I may have been right in some circumstance, an initiate where death is required doesn’t typically pay off.
Avoidance of Accountability
The second segment, and most popular in League, is avoidance of accountability. People will berate you endlessly for poor performance; however they never hold themselves responsible for loss. It is never the accuser’s fault that the game has gone sour; they have died because mid lane fed! Any negative outcome in a game devolves into finger pointing until eventually the “team” settles on one person to blame. While your bottom lane feeding will certainly hurt your chances, it takes a blatantly obvious situation and intentional feeding to have no hand in why you lost your game. Nobody queues up with the intent of feeding, so maybe you can do more to help them get out of that rut. No win or loss is perfect and free of accountability from the teammates.
When you go about playing your games, think afterwards of what you could have done to help. If you were mid, could you have roamed to top more often? As a jungler, would ganks on that lane more often yielded better results? Was your positioning off as an AD carry or you didn’t ward enough as the support? Did you fail to take teleport or join any teamfights as a top laner? There are almost always things that can be done in a game in order to help your team succeed.
Lack of Commitment
Moving down further, a lack of commitment can be seen in people that don’t play with the team and try as hard as anyone else there. The further you move down this triangle, the less it applies to solo queue. This can be seen in start-up teams with devoted members, not in a solo queue environment. There shouldn’t be a member of the team that does not commit to the team. Maybe it’s your friend from home or your college roommate that plays with you because you know them. If they are not committed to the team, practicing and furthering themselves, they will remain a weak link. This can be seen a lot in the pro team Epik Gaming, who did a lot of individual practice and not as much team practice. The fact that they still place is testament to their skills, however if they were more committed to each other and their efforts, they would be even better.
When playing as a member of a team, remember that you’re just as part of the team as anyone else. The parts of a team need to create something greater than any individual performance, and doing this requires commitment. My team goes over their replays of won and lost games and critique each other through the match. Find ways to be a part of your team and you will start winning more.
Fear of Conflict
The second to last part, a fear of conflict, is always present in teams, especially professional teams. This can be most recently seen with Counter-Logic Gaming’s (CLG) decision to remove Elementz from their roster. While I can’t say that their decision was correct or not, they had felt he was a weak link for a while and did not move him due to fear of conflict. There is sometimes that one person you don’t want to play on a team with because they’re not up to par. If that person is your friend, telling them this information is often very difficult and is fear of conflict.
I’m sure everyone reading this has at least one friend they like, but can’t stand playing with. Because of the friendship, this one is far harder to approach than the others, but must be approached if you are to proceed. Try to find ways to tell the slacking teammate they have to shape up or ship out. You can alternatively stop playing with them a lot and seek out another team in order to not directly step on any toes. But whether you quit a team and find another one or kick out the weak links, hard choices need to be made in order to succeed.
Absence of Trust
Resting at the base of this triangle is the absence of trust. This manifests itself in many ways and is always prevalent in bad teams. When you watch teams like Team SoloMid (TSM), you see that they absolutely trust each other’s abilities. They will build items that work well together, ward for each other and take sacrifices that help the team. TSM is one of the most devoted teams in the scene right now, devoted enough to put their life on pause in order to move into a gaming house together. This shows an absolute trust in each other and their abilities. This trust comes out in their gameplay when they take objectives and risks that require trust in your team.
In a public match, you see the opposite. Mejai’s Soulstealer and other stack items are there because you want to win the game by yourself. You don’t trust your team to help you win, whether subconsciously or not. Risks aren’t typically taken and opportunities that trust offers are not taken advantage of. This impacts character selection as well, you typically can’t trust your AD carry when playing support at lower levels. When with your team, be confident that they can perform and chastise them later if they cannot. Don’t go on the assumption they will fail as that does nothing but undermine your team from the start.
Trust: It pays well.
Through these levels of team building, we are able to see clearly how teamwork applies to real life as well as League of Legends. This person wasn’t writing a book about Summoner’s Rift, but the lessons applied are the same. Through trusting your team, not being afraid of conflict, being committed and accountable and paying attention to your results, you will not only succeed in a professional environment, but in League of Legends as well. Stay tuned for my next post and until then…