Broken Myth

Standardizing Skills in Vainglory

How do you win a Vainglory game? What makes a team good or bad? Why are some players better than others? This article breaks down the elements of Vainglory as a game, categorizing the skills of good teams/players into four fundamental points: Drafting, Microplay, Macroplay and Teamwork.

This article proposes a system of how teams should be compared in terms of a theoretical numerical score. It’s also a guide for teams to examine themselves and decide how they can improve.

Drafting

The game begins even before the players enter the Halcyon Fold. Drafting is something that every player of every skill tier participates in, be it single ban draft, double ban draft, or even blind pick. The moment a player enters the hero selection screen, they draft.

Why is drafting important?
Drafting is a powerful part of the game—it decides the hero composition that you walk onto the Halcyon Fold with. Straight off the bat, it determines if you enter the game with an advantage or disadvantage in addition to what your win conditions are. Many games in the professional scene are decided almost purely during the draft phase, where professionals can easily capitalize on any advantage they can get over their opponent.

How easy/difficult is it to draft?
While it is an important skill that teams must have, drafting is also one of the most difficult skills to master. Drafting is like a game of chess, except that each side starts off with different pieces. It’s a game of information, where the better you know your opponent, the better you can outdraft them. Most of all, it’s a game of deep thinking, requiring great amounts mental capacity and tenacity.

Suggested Scoring Criteria

  1. Hero pool. The amount of heroes which a player can play relatively skillfully. There’s no point in being a one-trick Idris (*cough* Dowsey *cough*) when your opponent can ban him every time during draft. A wide hero pool gives a player and their team more options during the draft phase, meaning more room to outdraft your opponent.
  2. Draft history. A team’s history in drafting is a good measure of their drafting capability. It’s reliable enough to be used as a benchmark for how well a team may draft in the future.

Microplay

Microplay, or mechanical abilities, refers to a player’s ability or skill to play heroes well. From teamfight positioning to farming in lane to kiting, microplay is the lifeblood of the game for the individual player. It differentiates good players from mediocre ones.

Why is microplay important?
Good microplay wins teamfights. A player with vastly better microplay than others could potentially wipe out a team even when outnumbered. Microplay is the main skill that distinguishes players among the lower and midrange tiers (from Unranked to Simply Amazing). At the competitive level, it’s almost a requirement for all players to be highly skilled in terms of microplay.

How easy/difficult is it to have good microplay?
Of the four fundamentals of Vainglory, microplay is the easiest to improve on, and is also one that many talented players have from the get-go. From drilling reflex blocks to practicing farming in lane, microplay can be improved by merely playing the game.

Suggested Scoring Criteria

  1. Mechanics. Landing skills perfectly, positioning appropriately to stay out of the enemy’s reach (kiting) and stutterstepping: these are marks of a mechanically skilled player. These make a world of a difference during a teamfight; if a mechanically skilled player is able to dodge most of an enemy’s skills while landing theirs perfectly, they have the advantage.
  2. CS (for carries). An acronym for creep score, CS is a term used in many MOBA games to measure a carries’ wealth in a game, partially affected by mechanical skill. As a numerical score, it is a decent gauge of skill. Professional players can obtain CS exceeding 10 CS/min, while good players tend to have around 8 or 9 CS/min.
  3. Item activation accuracy. Reflex Block and Crucible put your own reflexes to the test, rewarding your fast reactions with the ability to dodge crowd control abilities. Using other items at the correct timing such as Fountain of Renewal or War Treads are also important.

Macroplay

If microplay was the equivalent of tactics (short term maneuvers), macroplay would be the equivalent of strategy (long term plans). “Macro” means large-scale, or overall—the big picture. Players proficient in macroplay have a deep understanding of the game, able to gain advantages in terms of map control. From rotations to vision control to securing objectives, macroplay is all about obtaining advantages for the team, rather than just the player.

Why is macroplay important?
Good microplay wins teamfights, but good macroplay wins games. At the higher tiers where players’ mechanical skill are top-notch, macroplay is what sets the truly brilliant teams apart. At the competitive level, good macroplay allows teams to gain significant advantages in terms of gold and experience as well as positioning and control. While it isn’t as well flashy as microplay, subtle differences in macroplay skill can lead to large advantages in a game. Sometimes, even a couple of seconds gained from a rotation can lead to an entire snowball situation.

How easy/difficult is it to have good macroplay?
Good macroplay is definitely more difficult to learn. This is because in-depth knowledge in Vainglory requires loads of experience in addition to a keen mind to take note of even the most subtle of details. Improving macroplay takes time and effort, including watching VODs and theorycrafting new strategies.

Suggested Scoring Criteria

  1. Rotations. The lifeblood of macroplay. Rotations dictate the opportunities a team has in the game. Clean rotations and fast movement lead to increased ganking or invading opportunities, good map control, as well as more gold and XP gained from more efficient farming.
  2. Objectives. Turrets, the Gold Miner and Crystal Sentries all give significant amounts of gold to your entire team — taking these objectives would help give your team an edge. However, turrets can only be taken with favourable lane conditions. Attempting to capture the gold miner puts your team at risk of having it being stolen by the other team. Eliminating the enemy crystal sentry in enemy territory puts your team in danger due to the sentry’s incredibly high offensive and defensive values. Each objective provides rewards, but can only be taken safely under certain conditions. Teams with good macroplay are able to derive when the appropriate times are able to secure these objectives.
  3. Vision. “Keep your friends close but your enemies closer.” Being able to know the positioning of your enemies gives your team a great advantage in making decisions for rotations. In the early game, this would allow the jungler to invade at opportune moments to steal away camps from the enemy jungle, or provide the carry a warning if he is going to be ganked in lane. In the mid game, it informs your team if the gold mine is being captured, or if the enemy is invading your jungle to steal your mid treant. In the late game, your enemy can be anywhere—capturing Kraken, setting ambushes, or even sneaking in a backdoor to shatter your Vain Crystal—vision is essential to providing information.

Teamwork

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Teamwork is the X factor that separates a truly great competitive team from just a group of three individually talented players. From organized teamfight positioning to clear communication, playing against a team with good synergy is like trying to battle a hydra.

Why is teamwork important?
Different people have different strengths and weaknesses, but a truly brilliant team is able to synergize to amplify their strong points while shoring up their weak points. Vainglory, after all, is a team-based game—teamwork is important. It’s diving into a teamfight knowing that your teammates got your back. It’s the perfect execution of a well-practiced or complex maneuver. It’s the communication that goes deeper than words when the game becomes too fast-paced to relay everything through voice.

How easy/difficult is it to have good teamwork?
Developing teamwork is time-consuming, and especially difficult if your teammates’ schedules don’t coincide with yours. But the requirement for setting the foundational synergy for your team is easy: just play games together. After playing together for a significant amount of time, you gradually understand how your teammates play and how to adjust your own style to compliment theirs. How fast or how easy your teamwork develops generally depends on how well your personalities match. Some players’ character go together like peanut butter and jelly, while others just clash like oil and water. It’s up to you to discuss and make compromises on how your team should work together to advance forward.

Suggested Scoring Criteria

  1. Synergy. From personality to playstyles, this innate criteria determines from the get-go how easily and how fast your teamwork can develop. Pulling off deft maneuvers during teamfights, such as chaining stuns or executing skill combos require good coordination.
  2. Communication. Relaying information to your teammates is key to good decision making. This includes communicating your ability cooldowns, the last known location of enemy heroes and your itemization progression.
  3. Focus. From being able to keep sight on your team’s win condition to avoiding tilting halfway through a game to focusing down a single target in a teamfight, sharp focus allows a team to direct their skills towards their goal.

Drafting, Macroplay, Microplay and Teamwork are the main factors that make up a good team. I believe that this system is a decent method of measure to evaluate and compare teams, as well as understand one’s own team strengths and areas of improvement.

Hope this helps in terms of improving your gameplay, and understanding Vainglory!

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