Strategy 2

A Comprehensive Guide to Drafting in Ranked Queue

Draft mode is now here! Vainglory is many players’ first experience with the MOBA genre, which also means that this is their first time using draft mode. For others, it may be their first time using draft mode in a 3v3 style MOBA. We at Broken Myth are excited to present a drafting guide to help prepare everyone for this big change! As an added bonus, we’ve also made sure to cover the most common team comp archetypes.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m fedmattisgg. I have been playing different MOBAs competitively over the course of six years and have served as a head analyst/coach in the semi-pro League of Legends scene. Over the course of my gaming career, the draft phase has become one of my specialties. My objective is to impart as much of my knowledge to you as possible, with the remainder being learned through your own firsthand experience.

To help this guide remain relevant and timeless, it has been written to not be specific to any particular meta. Additionally, this guide will be focused on ranked queue – where you do not know the identities of your opponents. Tournament strategy is a different animal and will be covered in a separate guide.

Key Terms and Phrases:

Flex Pick
Comfort Pick
Priority Pick/Ban
Luxury Pick
Vulnerability Ban
Power Spike

If you’re experienced with drafting, you may have noticed that I did not include target bans or steals. For the purposes of this article, we are assuming that our opponents are completely unknown.  If you have the luxury of sniping someone in ranked queue, then it is definitely a strong option to target ban or steal that hero away to prevent that player from getting their best power pick.  

Now that we have some important key phrases down, we can start going over some strategies.

Step 1: Assessing Your Team

The absolute first thing you need to do before even worrying about the draft phase is finding out who and how your teammates play. Getting one of the most overpowered compositions in the game is great, but could be a bad idea if your teammates are playing roles they aren’t used to. While it is not essential that everyone always play the same role, it is important to know your teammates’ capabilities. Make sure that each of you understand each others’ hero pools and preferred roles so that you can draft effectively.

Voice communication is highly encouraged, as it will greatly increase your drafting effectiveness! My best advice if you are not using voice is to talk about these strategies before queuing up, so that you have a generic idea of what your team wants to do. From there, use the “thumbs up” option and role indicator to try to communicate which strategies you are using.

Reminder: don’t forget you can trade heroes once the draft is over, so it’s very possible you may end up picking a hero for one of your teammates and vice versa. 

Step 2: The Bans and First Round Draft

Important drafting principles

While still maintaining a cohesive team comp of your own, attack your opponents’ strategy whenever possible. Your picks should usually be aimed at countering your opponent, even when not explicitly stated.

For the most part, it is nearly impossible to stop your opponent from getting a priority pick, and this is not something to worry about. When that happens, it is your opportunity to manage the situation and turn things back in your favor – competitive teams do this all the time. Priority picks are much stronger when they have a proper composition, and you can try to prevent them from making that happen. Additionally, some priority picks have strong counters which you can draft to shut down a priority pick. One way or another, when your opponent obtains a priority pick, the draft gives you some control over how strong that pick will be.

No strategy is perfect. All of these strategies have pros and cons. They are here to give you some basic ideas and concepts that can be used when drafting. Use the ones you like the best or have the most success with. ANY of them can work. However, it is important to know the strong and weak points of your approach.

Strategies for First Ban/Pick

  • The general strategy is to leverage your tempo, either keeping your opponents guessing and forcing them to react.
  • Flex picks are strongest at this part of the drafting phase
  • This is your best opportunity to guarantee a priority pick.

first pick

Priority Ban (Roam) | Priority Pick (Roam)
Priority Ban | Flex Pick
Vulnerability Ban | Priority Comfort Pick
Priority or Vulnerability Ban | Priority Pick

Strategies for Second Ban/Double-Pick

  • The general strategy is to use your double pick to either counter your opponent or establish a strong foundation for your team comp – maybe both.
  • Do your best to force your opponent to react to your picks rather than having them proceed as planned.
  • If the other team first-picks a hero that is not flexible – i.e. a hero who is always played in a certain role – do not fear another hero of that same role may be taken away. As an example, if your opponent first-picks a roamer, you could safely pick your jungle and lane and save your roam pick for last without worrying that the other team will take it.
  • Flex picks are not as effective because you only have one pick left to flex, which generally does not throw a big curve ball for the other team.

second pick

Priority Ban | Double Luxury Pick
Priority Ban | Roam + Priority Pick
Vulnerability Ban | Double Luxury Pick

Step 3: Rounding Out the Composition

At this point you are now entering the second round of draft. Specific examples cannot realistically be provided because they are dependent on both your picks and your opponents. However, both teams at this point will have the needed information to effectively round out their composition as planned or counter their opponents.

First Pick – Round Two

first pick round two

If you were first pick and choose an option that revolved around strong neutral picks or flex picks, now is the time to consider the best way to counter the opponents’ team with what you know. Try to be proactive and predict what you think your opponents might pick. Weigh each option quickly and determine what additional heroes best suit that particular situation.

Remember: make sure your team is balanced! It is not enough to JUST pick counters! Ensure that your team still has a main theme and complementary power spikes. If you picked a strategy which revolves around a certain hero or player, make sure that your next picks compliment that player. As stated before, strong heroes become even stronger when they have a synergistic composition around them.

Second Pick – Round Two

second pick round two

Second pick isn’t all that different from first pick, with the exception that by this point you have seen the entire enemy team. If your last pick is a roamer, make sure that you pick a roam hero that specifically has synergy with either your laner or your jungler. Try your best to construct that common theme between your heroes. Don’t just pick a certain roam hero because it the only “conventional” pick left! There are tons of heroes out there that don’t “normally” roam, but make great roam heroes for certain compositions (think Koshka).

If you chose to pick your roamer and either your laner or jungler, make a pick that you guys are most comfortable with as a team. If you are uncomfortable sending Vox against a Celeste, try picking a different laner or flex as necessary.

Remember: you know their entire team! Nothing will change for them. Counter them as necessary!

Once again, do not forget that when the draft is over you can trade picks (and roles) with your teammates.

hero swap

Team Comp Archetypes

Now that you are familiar with drafting strategies, it is now time to get a little bit more advanced. We’ve assembled the Sinister Seven, or the seven most common and effective team composition styles in Vainglory. Each has a clear theme and is independent of the heroes in the meta. Use this list as a resource to help carve out your team comps given the pick and ban strategies you are using. We will not be going over in-game strategies on how to use these comps, but rather provide you with a simple description. These are not the only team composition styles that exist, but are simply the ones that are most prevalent throughout the game. Feel free to experiment with your team!

These styles will likely persist throughout the existence of Vainglory and can be formed using many different combinations of heroes. Utilizing these compositions directly in the draft phase is much more advanced and can take practice mastering; however, it drastically improves your drafting strengths when implemented. Also, many of these styles might involve the same or similar heroes, allowing these compositions to be flexed around during the draft phase. In fact, some hero combinations can even fall under more than one style of play. 

Wombo Combo
Death Ball
One Man Army
Double Damage Threat
Focus Comp
Poke Comp
Kite Comp

That wraps up our guide to drafting strategies. Keep in mind that these are simply guidelines. They are not meant to be set in stone. Feel free to tweak and experiment with them. Hopefully, this guide will help prepare those newer to draft mode and stimulate the minds of those who have experienced it. We hope to see all of you out there wreaking havoc in the Fold with the new draft mode!

Have any questions, comments or concerns? Leave your comments below.

— I’m Matt and when I’m fed, it’s GG.


Analyst at Team Decentish
I am the shotcaller for Team Decentish's competitive VGL team: Team Protector. I have been playing MOBAs for nearly six years and was formally both a coach and player in the semi-pro League of Legends scene.I dabble with ranked from time to time, with my peak rank being Vainglorious. Over the years, I have gained a lot of knowledge with MOBAs and have dedicated myself to helping both the Vainglory community and game grow by functions as an analyst.

Latest posts by Fedmattisgg (see all)


  • Reply
    Feb 08, 2016 8:31 am

    Really great article! It’s so difficult to get draft pick though. And what about the poop strat? (Push comp)

    • Reply
      Feb 08, 2016 9:02 am

      I supposed that would be the “Death Ball” and/or “One Man Army” type comp.

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