Win from the Champion Select in League of Legends – Part 1

Archetypes of Team Composition.

Champion Select can sometimes actually determine the result of the game itself. However,it’s more essential on premade 5v5’s, because the environment on solo queue is much more chaotic and disorganized. Nevertheless, bringing some order into the chaos can win you the game, even on solo queue. The battle begins in the champion select and this is where we will focus our attention.

 The meta is ever changing, many variables differ between each patch and might favour different comps, either because of items, tower’s damage output and defenses—and of course champions Tier list.

Let’s first focus on the definitions of the archetypes for the different team comps, and most importantly, their interactions. Any composition can ultimately defeat the others if they meet their requirements and of course outplay the opponent. Please also keep in mind that this article is heavily referencing the 8.23 patch.

Let’s start with the different types of Team Compositions. I divided them into these main Archetypes:

  1. Engages & Pickups
  2. Hard Engage – Wombo Combo
  3. Poke
  4. Early Game
  5. Protect > Funnelling
  6. Split Push

Essential Elements:  Teamfight, Skirmish, Sieging, Trap*, Initiation, Disengage, Crowd Control,  Mobility, Lane Bullying, Freeze lane, Burst damage

*Traps are essential elements only for their representative Engages & Pickup Comp. Traps can be used in any comp but its not essential.

Notes:

There are constant essential elements in every comp. Map vision and rotations are always a big part of the strategies.

There are also common elements that can be used in a variety of comps but are not essential. Global ultimates can enhance your objective control, through superior grouping and rotating. From Galio ultimate to a Wombo Combo, to a nocturne on a Pick up Comp, these can be used interchangeably.

Context is Everything: Team Compositions

It should be noted that more often than not there are Combos of Compositions. Hard Engage, Split Push, Early Game, and Poke are some of the most common combinations. Also consider that during the course of a game, certain comps can divert to create new winning conditions, countering their enemies compositions.

It is common for teams to play their games more aggressively, when they get outscaled or start to split push when they face superior teamfight opponents. Identify each team’s winning conditions and be creative, while adapting your playstyle according your potential winning conditions.

Before we examine the comps in depth, I want to lay down a critical dimension that we need to take into consideration: Time.

Time is on Your Side…or is it?

Time is essentially related to the winning conditions. We can divide that into three basic categories: early, mid, and late. Your team comps’ “expiration date” and/or power spikes are often relative to your enemies.

Let me provide an example: if the enemies are playing an early game combo – which requires them to snowball and finish early – unless you are playing the same composition – you need to keep it together. Maybe lose early, but not too hard; being behind in CS and losing a drake and a few towers is all manageable, especially if your team’s power spikes will start to kick in soon.

Another fundamental that you must understand is the paradigm of risk-reward. The range varies from low to high risk and from low to high reward. We could say that the golden ratio in game is low risk to medium reward. Understanding this concept is essential for making conscious changes to your playstyle according the demands of the given moment.

A typical example would be being behind in everything and knowing that soon the enemies will push for the victory. You absolutely have to go for a high risk – high reward play, but determining the ideal spot for that is essential. Will you fight for the inhibitor or the Nexus tower? Will you fight at your base after they take the baron? Or will you choose to have your potential last fight in the baron pit?

In general, it is important to fight before you lose the objective/tower. But if you lose it, retreat and reassemble to fight in the best possible environment.

I understand that it’s not always easy to identify the enemy’s team composition or any mix they might have during the champion select. Nevertheless, there are occasions that you can pick something either cohesive or complementary to your team or something to directly counter the enemy team.

Most importantly, accept that it takes time to comprehend and master this aspect of the game.

Just playing games is not enough; you need to analyse, before and after the game in order to get a deeper understanding. This will allow you to reach a point of being able to bring that information together when you are drafting your team comp at the champion select.

Start by drafting around your strong picks, to get a sense of what you can do right before beginning to explore new ideas.

Team Comps Interactions in a Glance

Engages & Pickups:

The primary goal of this team composition is to have short engages and pick ups. This team consists of assassins, bruisers, and possibly a tank. You often score CC, and have fast rotating champions, as well as AOE (area of effect) damage. You also have burst damage and can catch a single target and kill him fast. Your 1v1’s and 2v2’s are strong but you should look for 2v1’s and 3v2’s as much as you can.

Winning Conditions: Early – Mid – Late

This comp’s strengths and power spikes are early to mid, but this comp can still put up a fight and potentially score some wins, even if it goes late.

Hard Engage – Wombo Combo:

This has similarities with the engages but has only a few combos—that when played correctly—can dismantle the enemy team. It excels in classic 5v5 scenarios even if it is behind in gold. Hard CC, AOE and potential content for Youtube videos are its strengths!

Winning Conditions: Mid – Late

The comp’s strengths and power spikes starts around the mid game, where the team will be grouped and can force objectives and teamfights.

Poke Composition:

I first want to point out that I consider this one of the most challenging, but at the same time, most rewarding comps. It prioritizes sieging towers and rotating constantly and fast around the map. Patience is the underlying quality of this comp; you should resist the urge of engaging unless you can be 99% sure of its success. Basically you don’t need to teamfight, ever.

When you poke them down, it won’t be easy for them to initiate. If the enemies are respecting your damage and you keep poking them successfully, they will keep retreating while you take one tower after the other. At least that’s the theory.

Winning Conditions: Early – Mid – Late

The composition’s strengths and power spikes are early because of stronger laners, and mid when you start grouping and can set up a siege. You can win late when you already have met most of your objectives.

Early Game Composition:

As the title suggests, this is an early game comp that you always play, not only vs the opponents, but vs time. It appears to be the strongest, judging from the table of interactions, but it is a high risk and high reward composition by nature. So, even a small mistake can cost the game. You need to be proactive and aggressive, but also intelligent in your decision making.

Winning Conditions: Early – Mid

The comp’s strengths and power spikes rely on early dominance.

Protect > Funneling Composition:

This is a glass cannon carry with an army of shields, buffs, and peeling. When you are building a Death Star, you must make sure to watch out for your exhaust ports, because a “design flaw” in a given team fight might cost you the game.

This composition excels in mid or ate game 5v5 team fights, so in general, you approach either defensibly or passively, avoiding taking risks. As the game progresses and your hypercarry has at least three items, you can start grouping and either stabilize or go forward. It can be played with two carries, or one carry with a control/support mage in mid.

Winning Conditions: Mid Late

This Comp’s strengths and power spikes are Mid and Late after you start grouping and sieging.

Split Push Composition:

Diversification is the principle of spreading your investments and your resources. Fundamentally, that’s also the core principle of the split push comp. The deviation starts when you have secured a “profit”; someone is ahead so then you play more and more around your point of strength, systematically advancing through the enemy territory while rotating fast but safe.

You avoid teamfights and pressure here for favourable trades of objectives. Successful variations can include a softer split push focus, with a Shen in top lane for example, and a stronger carry, although the usual is a strong 1-3-1.

Winning Conditions: Early – Mid Late

The comp’s strengths and power spikes are mid to late, but in times can be early too, especially when you have stronger 1v1’s or 2v2’s.

Studying the Archetypes and developing an understanding about their interactions—and moreover their possible mixes and outcomes—will structure your fundamental understanding of the Macro picture of the game. It can help you counter or even innovate.

It might take some time, and it will require effort, but it is rewarding.

Stay tuned for the rest of this 7 part series!