League of Legends teams need B teams
eSports you're doing it wrong!Where would Jeremy Lin be today if the New York Knicks didn't have a D-League affiliate?
Where would Lionel Messi have ended up if he didn't spend most of his development years in Barcelona, including their B and C teams?
While you're pondering, ask yourself this; how many top League of Legends teams have a B team or a developmental affiliate?
The benching concept as it is being applied currently in League of Legends is so flawed that it's hard to believe there hasn't been a riot (no pun intended). The term benching implies that the benchee will be available as a substitute in future fixtures, but in LoL it’s a death sentence which often results in teams losing valuable assets and suffering significant brand damage.
When Counter Logic Gaming suddenly and surprisingly benched one of their highest profile players, Elementz, there was a swift and scathing public response, splitting the community in half. Irreparable damage and drama followed, culminating in Elementz joining a different team. All professionalism discussions aside, there are countless similar benching examples in LoL competitive history.
So now with League of Legends approaching its third year of existence, a baby when it comes to competitive activities, I propose we start applying some lessons from its distant relatives. After all basketball has been played competitively for over a century and soccer much longer.
But don't add a B team just because that's how it's been done in the past, do it because it makes sense.
Talent comes to youTraditional sports employ feeder teams to backfill their talent pools and develop new generations of promising prospects. Not all players go through these systems but those who do are identified and signed early. This happens almost as a matter of course and avoids many of the pitfalls of competitive scouting and bidding.
Now imagine if your League of Legends team had such a pool of talent; five enthusiastic players coming up through the ranks just waiting to jump at any opportunity. No need to wade through hundreds of applications, no need to anger any other teams, and no need to painstakingly convince them yours is the right organization. Just give them a shot when you think they are ready.
Competition breeds successNo sports analogy would be complete without a sprinkle of Michael Jordan anecdote. Would the greatest player to ever grace a basketball court have achieved so much if he didn't get dropped from his high school team and constantly face crushing defeat at the hands of his taller more athletic brothers?
It's a cold hard fact that if you present only one opportunity to two candidates, the better prospect will win out. More importantly in most cases both candidates will lift their performance in an attempt to win their chance.
So, why not have that competition for all five positions all of the time? How does Team Solo Mid know ReginaId is the best man for the job if his position is never threatened? Moreover, how does the team measure if everyone is applying themselves and maximizing their potential?
Be prepared to be shortPicture the up and coming Team Rock Solid, crushing all the established behemoths and soon to be Team Dignitas. They qualify for one of the biggest tournaments of the year, IPL Atlantic City but soon after receive the heartbreaking news that their mid lane superstar Voyboy can't make it. What do they do?
In reality everything fell in to place. They tapped super-sub
Locicero on the shoulder, he dominated throughout and the team went on to win the tournament. But what of the mere mortals who don't have the world's number one free agent at their fingertips? Having a B team means you always have a ready, prepared, inculturated replacement should lady luck require it.
A path to successIt's easy to overlook the need for vision when everything looks so simple. Win games and reap the rewards right? But what comes before that?
As an industry we need to realize that not everyone has vision and unwavering belief that they will be the next HotshotGG. We need to present people steps to climb to the top and right now the top step is usually unreachable without the right ecosystem of learning and practice.
A few second string teams would add a step in between and put lots of great talent in our field of view. Better yet, they would give tomorrow's superstars clear and attainable goals that aren't limited to super-stardom or mediocrity.
Constant efficient practiceWhen a team scrimmages against an external team they are at the mercy of their opponents. In League of Legends that manifests in constant cancellations, delays, substitutions, and failed objectives. Just watch the next big advertised scrimmage stream and take note of how much time is wasted.
Now flip that scenario on its head and include an internal team instead of an external one. Now tardy players hurt not only themselves but the entire organization. If the fear of losing face is insufficient, you can even discipline them for it.
However, the hidden gem tucked away here is not time management, its efficiency and targeting. With everyone stuck in the same boat, you can practice novel strategies to catch your future opponents off guard. These are the kinds of strategies that require secrecy but because a leak sinks the entire boat, you are free to innovate. You can also focus on specific goals that other teams might not be interested in facilitating just for you.
Eliminate weaknessesJose Bautista has been the best hitter in Major League Baseball for two straight seasons. Yet at the end of 2010 he was struggling with the change up and pitchers were noticing. This evolution is part and parcel of baseball and we are starting to see it in League of Legends too.
As a competitive LoL player you should always be asking yourself how you might resolve your weaknesses like Jose, but how do you do that if you don't know what your weaknesses are? It turns out that playing against the same opponent day in day out is just the solution.
Without structured thought or intention there is an amazing process that occurs between two people in any game. Over time they tend towards exploitative strategies, those strategies that produce good results, the ones that target weaknesses. Conversely as a player's weaknesses are targeted over and over, they subconsciously implement defensive strategies. Playing against a B team repeatedly is like applying adhesive sealer to a bumpy surface, the gunk magically finds the wrinkles and flattens out the surface.
Some challengesHowever not everything is sunshine and rainbows. Running a second team does present some challenges but they may not be as significant as they at first appear.
An additional team means additional money but depending on the budget, it can be run as cost efficiently as required. For example, B team might only participate in online events. With the greater scope for online events, that team might even play events that would otherwise be left off the schedule, increasing the team brand reach and opportunities to fill the trophy cabinet.
Another common objection is that the B team will just waste time training people up to leave a join a competitor. This is a common occurrence in traditional sports so it's a fair point. However just because there are sometimes non ideal outcomes, doesn't mean there aren't ideal ones too. Moreover, all the benefits discussed in this article are still reaped throughout the developmental period. And if the only adverse outcome is one new great eSports ambassador then that's a huge win for the industry as a whole!
And so eSports, get you're act together! Start activating B teams within League of Legends teams or they may find themselves in a competitive disadvantage.
If this made sense to you,
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