This is a continuation of The Rain War Doctrine. For Part 1 & 2 click here.
Intelligence is the ability to enhance and maintain the situational awareness of your forces through the fog and friction of battle. On the field, it is important for every individual to keep apprised of their adversary’s circumstances, intentions, whereabouts, and actions. Off the field, it is equally important to keep your forces continuously learning about their opponents, and about tools and techniques to improve themselves. Intelligence takes three main forms in competitive play: draft analysis during the start of a match, real-time analysis of the game in progress, and out of game analysis.
When a team begins the draft phase of a game, this is their best chance to learn about their opponent’s strategy and intentions. Each decision made in the draft is a message from one side to the other about how the game will be played. In an ideal draft, you will learn your adversaries intentions, simultaneously, they will learn only what you want them to know. This is difficult and complex: the order of your draft must be dictated by what your opponents may learn from a pick or ban. A balance must be struck between the priority you assign a pick and the need to keep you adversaries guessing. Similarly, there is a need to carefully read the messages your opponent sends back. What win conditions have they left open? What win conditions do they have? What game pace will they require to fight effectively? These are the types of questions you should have about each pick, and it is a requirement for a team to be able to answer them.
“Players must be able to continuously evaluate what they know about their surroundings and their adversaries, and must be in the habit of reevaluating this information regularly.”
In game, most will assume that primary Intelligence function is correctly placing vision. This is not the case, Intelligence tasks in game revolve only around the interpretation of known states and expected values. Players must be able to continuously evaluate what they know about their surroundings and their adversaries, and must be in the habit of reevaluating this information regularly. This means they must be able to correctly interpret both what they can and cannot see, and be able to understand its impact on the game. Paradoxically, you can usually learn the most from assessing what an opponent isn’t doing. This will show you what objectives and advantages they are willing to neglect, which at the same time narrows down the list of objectives and advantages they intend to prioritize. This in turn allows you to identify what objectives you need to contest to disrupt your opponents strategy and what objectives your team can take with little resistance. Continuously analysing the game and feeding your findings back to your team will keep you ahead of your adversaries and help establish Intelligence superiority.
Finally, Intelligence has a substantial out of game component. In the most literal sense of the word, Intelligence is the ability to gather and apply knowledge. The concept extends to far more than your ability to read and analyze your opponent. It’s equally critical that players are willing to continuously learn and better themselves. Ideally, a team will have analysts and researchers working for them. Professional players will not have the time to conduct this research and continuous education on their own, as their time must be devoted to keeping their skills sharp. It is critical that players are open-minded and receptive to learning and improving with tactics, techniques, and procedures developed by their analytical staff. A team that neglects this aspect of Intelligence will be outclassed by any competitors that are embracing innovation.
“If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril.” -Sun Tzu
Command refers to the need to have cohesion on both the strategic and tactical level. Strategically, it is critical to commit the team to executing the same strategies and same techniques. Tactically, it is critical for a team to be able to execute both synchronous tactics, as well as asynchronous tactics. Furthermore, it is necessary to be able to switch between these modes of Command and control in real time as situations change and evolve. In LOL this takes two forms: the plan a team goes into the game with, and the adjustments a team must make on the fly.
Before a match begins, a team must have a coherent strategy and all players must be equally committed to it. This has three requirements: First, it requires a concrete plan to be established prior to entering the draft phase. A team must know the tools and win conditions they are targeting before they sit down to compete. Second, it requires that the entire team be on the same page. There is no room for reservations or miscommunication on the strategic level. It is imperative that coaches, analysts, and players discuss their plans, reasoning, and decisions prior to competing. It is a requirement that teams are unified in strategy. Divisions undermine the entire game. Third, Semper Gumby. Flexibility is critical to a team’s success. Going into a draft with only one planned win condition and one method of execution makes you predictable and exploitable. A good adversary will not allow you to get away with having single points of failure or singular win conditions. In competitive play, you must always consider your adversary as capable as yourself. Thus, it is imperative that you enter the draft phase of the game with multiple strategies, win conditions, and team compositions in mind. It is crucial that these strategies are all considered equally viable.
“No plan survives contact with the enemy, this is as constant as the speed of light in a vacuum.”
Once the game begins, the Command function shifts to directing tasks at the tactical level. No plan survives contact with the enemy, this is as constant as the speed of light in a vacuum. Adjustments are required in real time from players in order to keep the balance of the match in their favor. To accomplish this, players must understand and know how to execute synchronous and asynchronous tactics. Synchronous tactics are directed by single commanders, and the LOL community will know this role as that of the shot caller. As the name implies, the defining feature of synchronous tactics is to utilize most or all of your available resources simultaneously. These situations are common in LOL, pushing across multiple fronts, sieging infrastructure, and taking certain neutral objectives all lend themselves synchronous tactics. The objective of fighting synchronously is to strike with enough resources to overwhelm the assets your opponent can deploy in defense. The end result is overrunning your opponent, or keeping them busy while an undefended objective falls. Synchronous tactics can also be used to defend, but the goal is the same: rout, conquer, and bury.
In contrast, asynchronous tactics do not require the coordination of most or all of a team’s forces. Instead, asynchronous tactics are executed by subordinate or isolated commanders, to accomplish missions on their own initiative. This requires players to have the freedom to adapt and exploit openings independent of their team. This is a hallmark of solo queue play, where communication and coordination are degraded relative to an organized team. However, asynchronous tactics are still critical in a team setting. They are excellent for exploiting openings and mistakes made by enemy forces, but they are also useful for mitigating damage when you have lost a battle. For example, in situations where you have been outmaneuvered, and have lost objectives to a coordinated enemy attack, a team can and should use forces that are not already engaged to take undefended objectives. In this example, the team’s synchronous commander, while busy with the defensive fight, is unable to conduct a counterattack. It is required for other asynchronous commanders to independently take Command of those operations in isolated AORs.
“Risk is impossible to fully quantify, and it is difficult to qualify.”
Finally, the Command function requires players to understand both collateral damage and acceptable losses. For any given action in a game, a player must be able to understand these concepts. Collateral damage refers to the expected losses if an action doesn’t go according to plan, and acceptable losses are the maximum amount a team is willing to lose in the execution of an action. Though unintuitive, in both cases, these concepts must be thought of in terms of failure. When a player or team takes a risk, they should do so in consideration of the following question: what is most likely happen if we fail? If the expected answer to that question is advantages the team can afford to lose, then the expected losses are considered acceptable, and the risk is worthwhile. Invariably, this leads to the question of how one quantifies risk. Unfortunately, this does not have simple answers. Risk is impossible to fully quantify, and it is difficult to qualify. Nevertheless, it is required for teams to have systems for assessing collateral damage and acceptable losses. It is likely a team will develop two systems, one for assessing risk in real-time, and one for assessing risk when time is not a constraint.
“Leadership is intangible, and therefore no weapon ever designed can replace it.” -Omar Bradley
Incorporating the six warfighting functions to LOL will result in a drastic shift in overall player and team performance. Supplanting current training methods with methods derived from RainWar will improve the sport, elevate approaches to the game, and begin a new era of competitive play. War is an old game, but it can teach LOL new lessons.
“The will to conquer is the first condition of victory.” -Ferdinand Foch
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