The Importance of Communication and “Shot Calling”

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CLG has been doing pretty well in LCS despite all the unfortunate events that transpired in the past couple of weeks. We are 8-6 (4-1 with Dexter) as of this week. Not everything has to do with the addition of Dexter. When you see a team improve it is not because individuals got more mechanically skilled at the game, but rather because an individual or team as a whole got better at communicating.

So what changed? We got better in terms of communication. The old rosters of CLG have been plagued by communication. It dawned on me recently when I realized what that major problems were people not being active in their calls and not being decisive. What CLG needed wasn’t “better players” to carry the team 1v5, but rather players that communicated more effectively.

When people/teams say they need a “shot caller,” it’s the wrong mentality to have. I realized this when CLG underwent multiple roster swaps. To say we need to kick someone and to get a shot caller is basically saying, “Us four people suck and we need someone to carry us.” The correct mentality should be, “Well, we four need to communicate better and maybe the person we pick up should be more decisive than us.” Take a look at the old CLG where Saintvicious was replaced. Saint was probably one of the more decisive junglers in the game, but what happened was he was a toxic player in terms of the team (but a good player in certain aspects). It was in a sense what CLG needed. When Saint left however there was no more “shot caller.” The other four players (Chauster/Double/jiji/HotshotGG) are all passive in some ways and indecisive in other ways. This isn’t a bad thing because it’s hard to improve in this aspect. For example, some people are just more outgoing and sociable, while some are introverts. Some people talk a lot but are indecisive. Some people speak and make calls while being decisive.

Some examples are:

Hai/Meteos: outgoing/decisive

Reginald: decisive/aggressive

Chauster: outgoing/indecisive

Aphromoo: introvert/decisive

Me: introvert/indecisive

Dexter: outgoing/decisive

Basically, these characteristics don’t necessarily mean much about your strengths in the game. You could be good and knowledgeable about the game, but might not be able to translate your knowledge to your teammates. In this instance, you are a good individual player but potentially not a great teammate because you are bad at telling your teammates your advantages.

This is a characteristic that a lot of people don’t have or have trouble developing. It’s something every team has problems with and each addresses it in different ways. Whether it’s trying to find a “shot caller” or replacing people who they think is the weakest, people try to fix their problems. What I’ve realized and why I think CLG is doing well and much better than before is this specific problem. With the addition of Dexter and Aphromoo (both who are extremely knowledgeable about the game), it brings a nice team synergy. Dexter is able to create the decisive calls in the early game and coordinates with everyone in the lane. We provide the information for him to decide what he wants. I usually have a good idea about the game and what to do, but I have trouble communicating it. But with Aphromoo and Dexter to aid me, it helps me discuss and figure out what we need to do next in order to win or come back from the game. Aphromoo is decisive with his calls almost all the time and whether we lose or win, everyone trusts him. This role obviously is a big burden, and it is a role that is unseen in the game as it is purely based off of communication.

Finding a “shot caller” doesn’t win you matches. It’s also the duty of the teammates to provide good and useful information for the shot caller to figure out what to do with the information provided. In fact, many players are able to shot call, but are unable to do so if the team doesn’t provide him the necessary information. Something else that affects teams that a lot of people might not realize is team morale and performance. If you are doing well you will naturally just speak and talk more. If you are losing and on a downswing, people can tilt and just start talking less. This happens to most teams and affects even sometimes, the best teams (it definitely affects us).

Communication is what holds back most teams and communication is what makes the top teams the top. Look at the top NA LCS teams. TSM/C9 both have strong team coordination. They have people who I see as leaders of their team. CLG is on its way to the top and it’ll happen when we can improve our communication enough, though it is a long and hard process.

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by Austin Shin, on February 28, 2014