Nien Reflects on Switching Roles

Heya guys, I am Zach “Nien” Malhas and I’m here with another blog for you guys to absorb/enjoy. This is my third blog that I’ve done so far, with my previous blogs being on ‘My path to being a pro player’, as well as ‘the importance of learning multiple roles.’ For this blog entry I’ve decided to talk about playing multiple roles professionally, as I am one of the few players to have played 3+ roles at a competitive level, I have a bit of insight on the topic.


Originally I was an AD main, my strength’s across all MOBA games have been my farming and my mechanics, so naturally I’d be drawn towards the AD role. Honestly, AD is the easiest role of the three roles I have played competitively. Don’t get me wrong, playing any role professionally, or playing any game professionally for that matter is an incredibly difficult task, though AD has the least depth. The main difficulty in playing AD/bot lane, for me at least, was the fact that you have to find someone that you mesh with and essentially become one with them, being in complete sync or else you are severely limiting your potential as a bot lane. Throughout my whole life I’ve been a more reserved/shy type of person, so it was pretty hard for me to truly mesh with any one support player in particular, even though I liked every support I played with as people, we never truly clicked. I’m slowly but surely working on becoming more outgoing, though, and life is becoming more and more fun. Anyways, the reason why I say the AD role lacks depth is due to the fact that there are so few options to choose from, be it rune page setup, mastery setup, lane matchups, and even item builds. There’s no real variety in the way the AD role is played, compared to the other roles, and as such, the skill ceiling is capped much lower.  Again, playing AD professionally is still no easy task, and a large part of why playing AD was so natural to me was because I played a similar role on HoN (Heroes of Newerth), another MOBA game.

Eventually, I made the swap to mid lane, having Wildturtle fill in my shoes. I decided to swap roles not only because I saw a lot of potential in Turtle, but also because I felt like I needed a change of pace, I didn’t feel like I meshed well at all with Lemon and I wanted to see how I could do in a different role. I did a lot worse than I thought I would. Learning a new role in League is daunting to say the least, especially at a competitive level. There are so many old habits/idea’s that you have to scrap and replace with completely new ones, as well as tons and tons of lane matchups/champions/rune page setups/mastery pages you have to adapt to and absorb. I thought that I could become a world class mid laner in a mere three months, and boy was I wrong. Although I almost always out-cs’d the enemy mid laner, usually by a large margin, I ultimately had little to no game impact, or at least, compared to how much I should have and could have had, I just focused too hard on getting more cs than my enemy and that equaled to me winning lane, instead of actually winning my lane and controlling the game. I had no sense of lane control mid, and got ganked way more often than I should have. Putting an AD player into a solo lane, when the AD player is used to being reliant on a support to hold his hand, can be scary for both the AD player and his team. After playing Mid for a while I started to play AD again, even though I improved a lot Mid, I was still way better as an AD and I ultimately wanted to join a LCS team. After a while I finally got a shot on team MRN, and overall I had a pretty decent split, nothing too spectacular, though. We ended up getting relegated, and after that happened, I got an offer to join CLG as their top laner to replace HotshotGG.

The offer to join CLG was by far the best offer I had gotten, and I didn’t mind swapping roles again to make it work, though this time I was a lot more realistic with myself and understood how difficult it would be to truly learn a new role and be able to compete internationally. Even still, I was again reminded the difficulty of learning and playing a new role at the highest level, and the role I needed to learn being top lane was no help, either. Top lane is in my opinion the hardest role in the game to play, there are so many matchups that you have to learn, so many ways to play each individual matchup, and so many ways that the jungler can gank you, it was and still is really daunting to pick up, compared to both Mid and AD. Although both solo lanes have a lot of matchups that they need to learn, in top lane your mistakes are punished a lot harder, due to the lane being longer and with how easy it is to get ganked, and recovering is a lot more difficult than in mid lane due to how snowbally top lane is. Not to mention half the time you don’t even get to practice the actual lane because you also have to learn how to 1v2, considering you do it 50% of the time. But, despite all of this, I seriously love top lane. I love how high the skill cap is, I love the fact that I have so very much to improve on, and I love the fact that it’s usually just a straight 1v1 matchup with the player that is more skilled coming out victorious. Also, the fact that any champion can be played top lane is very appealing to me, as I prefer to have a more diverse champion pool. Not even going to lie, I am still really bad at top lane, and I have so very much to improve on, but I know for a fact, there is not a doubt in my mind, that I will become one of the best top laners in the world. This is a promise and I will stay true to my promise, so stay tuned.

by Zach Malhas, on November 7, 2013