Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Practice Drills 2: Team Play

Drill 1: Sid Gillman’s Drill (Jungler)

Rules: Two Heroes play as a jungler and a laner (three if you want to simulate a pair lane), and Villains represent the enemy laners. The Villains have no jungler. Prepare the Villain by waiting for him to get a few levels, and for him to take some damage. Once the Villains are low enough, the Heroes attempt to successfully dive the Villains under their tower. The drill is a success if the heroes get at least one kill while suffering no casualties. Any casualties, or if the Villain(s) survive, the Villains win.

Background: "The big play comes with the pass. God bless those runners because they get you the first down, give you ball control and keep your defense off the field. But if you want to ring the cash register, you have to pass." - Sid Gillman, San Diego Chargers Head Coach, 1961-1971.

Being a positive laner is one thing, but all that work goes away if the other guy’s able to back and buy items. If you didn’t generate a lead, you left some money on the table. But now, with a team you can trust, you can now make sure you can ring the cash register.

This is a kill drill, and the other guy is not going to stand still while you try and collect his head. The Heroes are going to need to communicate and make sure all of the abilities are used efficiently; namely, no CC stacking, no missed abilities, and no abilities get left unused.


Easy Mode: Instead of diving, turn it into a normal gank, where the Villain is in the middle of the lane, not under their tower.

Spoiler: Give the Villains a jungler, and allow him to show up to wreck your play.

Hard Mode: Make sure the Villains are at full health before you attempt the play.

Drill 2: And the Kitchen Sink…(Laners)

Rules: Both one Hero and one Villain pick meta-expected laners with reasonable runes, masteries, and items. Begin a custom game and have them lane against each other indefinitely, One side wins when a tower falls, first blood is claimed, or either laner gets ahead by 8 creeps.


Showdown was a great game mode, as long as you could get a reasonable matchup. It didn’t happen often. But, when you did, you had a pretty honest game to see who was the better laner. Although, the game was rather slow for my liking, as ranged champs who can farm safely were common, and you can’t play an ADC in every position in a real game. Also, a high creep score required to win could easily become a drag.

In this drill, that’s not a problem. Falling behind by 8 CS means you lose, so you’ll have to fight for EVERY creep. This will train the laners to understand that every creep is a battle, every wave a war. As the drill is quick and easy to lose through passivity, your laners will get used to throwing everything they can at the other guy.


I Hate That Guy: Have the Hero play a champ in his normal pool, and give the Villain a champ that the Hero explicitly dislikes laning against.

Seems a Little Excessive: Some matchups aren’t fair for this game. For example, Riven will have no problem getting 8 CS ahead of a Nasus early. So, you can adjust the creep score lead required to win.

Circling Vultures: Give both players a jungler on their team, clearing camps as needed. If they see a chance to gank and win the drill, they take it.

Drill 3: Omaha Hold’em (Pair Lane)

Rules: Heroes play as an ADC and support, (champs of their choice), two Villains select Jinx and Janna. Take nominal runes and masteries. The duo lane attempts to lane bot taking every creep while the villains do the following:

Jinx uses rockets to quickly clear the waves, but otherwise doesn’t fight.

Janna attempts to harass the heroes with auto, shield, and W.

The Villains score a point whenever Janna lands two attacks (one auto + W counts) without any retaliation, and for every creep the heroes miss. The Heroes score when both the ADC and Support hit Janna. The Hero support isn't supposed to attack until the Villain attacks first.


In Texas Hold’em, each player has two hole cards. In Omaha, the only difference is that each player has four hole cards than two. It looks like a more difficult game because more card combinations are possible, but in fact it’s a simpler game; you just assume that most hands are out against you. Instead of trying to play middling hands, you wait for a chance when you know you have the best of it.

Pair laning is similar. Because there’s a support in the lane with no obligation to CS, a lot of people think that there’s much more going on. Instead, I advise you to take the opposite view and see it differently; instead of a 2v2, you’re looking for small scale 1v1s. When an opponent is too far forward, that means his partner is too far back, and that the guy in front is in a 1v1, and may even be a 2v1, like it or not.

This drill teaches pair laners to keep the formation tight and not strand either of themselves too far forward, and also to defend themselves from poke by retaliating. The only reason there’s a Jinx in the drill is to not give our harassing villain an insurmountable creep wave.


Short Range Heroes: This drill is easy for the Heroes with Caitlyn/Annie, and harder for them as their ranges go down. You can adjust the difficulty this way. It’d be very impressive if they could win at this drill with Urgot/Gnar!

Long Range Harass: Janna’s one of the shortest range pokers. If you want to increase the difficulty this way, try Sona, Nami, Karma, Annie, or Vel’Koz.

AFK Reported!: Make the Hero ADC play without their support (your support would probably play the villain in this scenario). Now, they’ll have a lot of work to do as Jinx is cleaving through their own minions and they’ve got to fend off a harasser in addition to CSing well. In a game situation the ADC will have to back off, but remember that in this drill, Jinx isn’t allowed to fight. So, the Hero will need to hang in there and do all they can.

Drill 4: A Voice with an Internet Connection (Shotcalling)

Rules: The whole team queues up for a ranked game, with a ringer playing in place of the regular shotcaller. The shotcaller instead watches the game in real time and runs the team. If they’re close to a teammate, the Shotcaller can go to their house and play over their shoulder; if not, you can use screencasting software. With no obligation to play directly, they can focus all of their attention on the game, and instruct the players to do what they need to do.


I’m aware that they don’t teach radio discipline in school, but my God, most people are atrocious at it. You’d think in a world where everyone has cell phones, some people would take the effort to make themselves easier to understand over a comm device like a phone or headset. It’s not “S” or “F”, it’s “Sierra” or “Foxtrot”. This way, there’s no ambiguity.

Playing the game itself just makes it worse, as the shotcaller has other things to worry about, and hence less mental resources to devote to communication. Practice makes perfect, so instead of working on both at once, we’re going to work on communication only.

Be sure to understand what information your players need from you, what you need from them, and how to get it. It’s the shotcaller’s responsibility to not only call the right play, but to make sure it works. You ensure this before hand by gathering the right information (your laner told you that Lissandra has no ult), and you relay that information (tell your assassin to bypass Lissandra in this fight, as she’s less of a danger than the ADC).


Actually Play This Time: Lose the ringer and play a game like you normally would. Afterward, go over any communication faults you may have noticed.

1 comment:

  1. These drills are god-tier. I especially love jungler-diving & shot-caller ones! Creative and makes total sense.

    You're the first person I've come across who shares clear, insightful thorough explanations and understandings of how to truly improve at League.

    Are you involved with any pro teams?