Within the world of esports, we have become accustomed to players constantly switching out and moving to other teams in order to pursue the coveted Summoner’s Cup, Aegis or Reinhardt’s helmet. The common theme amongst these esports is the trend of swapping out their roster after a season’s loss or even being victorious. Players feel complacent, managers want more and everyone is looking to trade up in the world, but as esports continues to grow, I don’t believe this is the only way to function as an organization.
A particular difficulty within esports is our effective way of communication within teams. Since so many teams are multi-cultural and come from many different places around the world, developing a system of communications is difficult. First, one has to choose which language will be the primary one for communicating, but then the players which must speak this language that isn’t their mother tongue must practice not only the game which they are a professional in, but a form of communication to help themselves and their team succeed against the ever-evolving climb to become the best within their region.
I have always said that a Korean will never perform 100% on a western team. To further elaborate, a Korean will have incredible difficulty within their first year on a western team because they must learn to speak English to converse with the rest of their teammates, along with trying to mesh with the western style of play.
League of Legends is becoming more and more a team game as Riot continues to take individual advantage away from players and focus more on team cohesion. As such, teams with clearer comms and more structured plans end up succeeding since the higher ranked teams of the world are often equal in terms of individual skill (because of how the game limits expression of skill). We have seen teams like Royal Never Give Up go with a full Chinese roster, as they seem to value the ease of communicating in Mandarin. Korean teams have consistently fielded Korean players, both because of their wide berth of players within solo queue to choose from and their limitation of monetary compensation compared to western organizations. I’m sure by now we would have seen a Doublelift, Rekkles, or Bjergsen in the LCK if not for the want of superior communication and a lack of salary.
The greatest upside I see with keeping a roster together is the ability to practice and perfect multiple styles. Often times we will only see one particular style from a team, because that is the most success they’ve seen throughout the season. Teams become stagnant in their style of play and one large reason is due to time constraints. Team Liquid is one such team in the 2018 season which has primarily functioned around their bot lane superstar Doublelift, but they have no other styles. If you were to keep this lineup together, they could possibly develop further styles to incorporate into their playbook, making them a much more diverse and deadly team. This extra amount of synergy together also allows for teams to develop nuances strategies revolving around particular champion picks.
Niche picks often require a team effort. We can always look back to Huhi’s Aurelion Sol on Counter Logic Gaming. A champion such as this requires massive effort to coordinate with your team and also requires precious scrim time to perfect. Aurelion Sol is such a champion that cannot fully be practiced within solo queue, so the team must divest time to learn around the pick, but if Huhi were to move to another team, suddenly he must teach them all over again how to play around the champion.
One advantage which will satisfy organizations themselves is the ability to sell sponsorship deals easier. Since you can lock-in players to longer contracts (thanks to franchising), you have the ability to sell the brand of the players on your specific roster. Sponsors like a guaranteed sell, something which is difficult to provide if you constantly swap players out, which usually dictates both your standings and popularity as a team. It’s no wonder that G2 signed Perkz until 2020, as he is a valuable asset to market towards sponsors. Along with this, it adds value to the organization themselves, as currently, players hold the most value when it comes to brand recognition, and until the market is able to monetize their own team branding, organizations must rely upon the players to propel this image.
There are several pitfalls about keeping the same lineup, such as a meta shift, which could largely affect a player’s ability within the game. We’ve seen the likes of Impact on carries, Peanut on tanks or Reignover on carries, so there is that inherent risk associated with keeping a particular lineup, but as long as you know the weakness of your players beforehand, you can change your lineup accordingly.
There is also the problem that Riot changes their game before the Spring split even begins, so no team really knows what the meta will be before signing players to their roster. Taking into account the deficiencies of players and their historical play, I’m sure you can develop a roster which can survive multiple types of meta, which can also be bolstered by an adequate sub roster.
I see a world in which LoL develops into long-standing rosters which span more than just a split. Where are the teams which follow in the footsteps of KT Rolster and their second chance? Where are the Gen.G’s? Once you’re able to get a roster which is fully capable and exudes historical adaptability, there’s no reason to disseminate. Teams have yet to fully take advantage of a storied roster and I hope to see organizations look for this unique advantage.
Izento has been a writer for the LoL scene since Season 7, and has been playing the game since Season 1. Follow him on Twitter at @ggIzento for more League content.
Images courtesy of Lolesports Flickr.