Esports OGN World Invitational Strategy 16

Pro Strategies: Winning Team Comps

3d Kraken

In the most recent world quarterfinals between Hunters and Tiger-Phobia, we were able to witness the first matchup that lasted a full three games. As these two teams attempted to outmaneuver one another with their hero picks and bans, there were some trends that started to emerge. In particular, we observed which team compositions – a.k.a team comps – were stronger or weaker during different phases of the game and how the teams adapted their strategies based on this knowledge. By learning from these observations, we can be more effective in what heroes we select and how we play them.

First, let’s take a look at which heroes are strongest at each phase of the game:

Hero strength at different phases of the game - white

Please note that this is simply showing which heroes are strongest at each phase of the game. Just because a hero is strong in the early-game, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s weak in the mid- or late-game. Admittedly, some heroes that are strong in the early-game do begin to taper off a bit in comparison to heroes who shine in the late game. Some heroes – such as Ringo – can be strong in all phases of the game.

That being said, most competitive teams have been running with two heroes from the early-game column and supplementing them with a hero from the mid- or late-game columns. This creates a balanced mix of early-game strength and late-game power. In many cases, the early-game strength causes the team to snowball and their “late-game” hero gets fed with gold and experience much earlier in the game, while starving the other team of gold and experience.

Today’s World Invitational matches contained three real-world examples that helped illustrate this theory.

Game 1

Tiger-Phobia: Vox, Koshka, Adagio
Hunters: Glaive, Koshka, Catherine

When the first game started, Tiger-Phobia already knew they had a stronger level one team comp and they capitalized on this advantage by invading early and often. Also, they wanted to use this advantage to starve their opponents from ever reaching their mid-game strength. By seven-and-a-half minutes into the match, Tiger-Phobia’s Koshka was level seven and Adagio was level six, whereas Hunters’ Koshka and Catherine were both level five. Even when Glaive and Catherine hit their mid-game stride, it was already too late to turn the game around.

Game 2

Tiger-Phobia: Vox, Krul, Adagio
Hunters: Ringo, Vox, Fortress

In the second game, Tiger-Phobia tried something different: they went with two late-game heroes. However, upon seeing the early game strength of the opposing team, they accounted for this. First, Adagio was a good jungle companion to the weak early-game of Krul. Second, they started jungling at the very back – they didn’t even bother to try contesting the small camp by the jungle shop. This was a good read on their part.

In spite of Tiger-Phobia’s mindfulness, Hunters still ended up pressing their early-game aggression with Ringo and Fortress, realizing that if they let Vox and Krul reach their mid-late game potential, they would regret it.

Game 3

Tiger-Phobia: Vox, Koshka, Fortress
Hunters: Adagio, Koshka, Fortress

For the final game, Tiger-Phobia opted for a more balanced approach with the early-game strength of Koshka and Fortress and the late-game potential of Vox. Normally, this sort of strategy would be solid; however, Hunters put all their eggs in one basket: the early game. This was a risky move because if Tiger-Phobia was able to successfully keep itself afloat, a late-game Vox might be the death of Hunters. In the end, Hunters managed to capitalize on their first-level advantage,  pushing hard into Tiger-Phobia’s jungle, and starving them into irrelevance.

Now that you’ve seen how the strength of different heroes at different phases of the game play out, use that knowledge in your own games, particularly in hero selection. No matter the team comp, be mindful of your strengths. If you see your team has a strong mid/late-game, play more passively and focus on farming gold and experience as much as possible. If you see the opposing team has a weaker early-game composition, capitalize on it early and often by frequent jungle invades. Doing these things  – thinking like pros – will help you see more success out in the Halcyon Fold.

— Gadianton

If you enjoyed learning about how the professionals are playing Vainglory, you will want check out the previous articles in this series that you may have missed.


  • Reply
    Nov 28, 2015 12:46 am

    Awesome! Tnxs. Looking forward to watching the match with this in mind.

  • Reply
    Jul 29, 2015 9:58 am

    Thank you for this guide.
    I now look at this and try using it to see how aggressive we need to play in the beginning of the game.
    Looks like (around 10 games) if enemy has a late game hero (and my team not having the late game hero) – we can build a nice snowball effect by invading often. I as laner even leave the lane for longer period of time for invades to support my team (and compensate the missed gold in lane by killing the enemy 😉 ).

    By the way, what is the parameter(s) by which you define if the hero is stronger in the early/mid/late game?
    Is it just based on observations and personal experience? Or is there any statistics?

    • Reply
      Jul 30, 2015 9:27 am

      Awesome! That was the effect I was hoping this article would have: empowering people to measure the two teams and decide how passive/aggressive they should be.

      This chart was created mostly based on observations and experience. However, it would be fairly easy to detail out why. In fact, that might be a fantastic follow up article.

      • Reply
        Jul 30, 2015 9:29 am

        That would be great if you went deeper into team compositions! Love your analysis!

  • Reply
    Jul 28, 2015 3:42 pm

    Great observation and assessment. Whenever I play with Ringo or Koshka I always build heavy weapon/crystal power abd right afterwards just defense since they do seem to get less “healthy” later on in the game. I wonder how heroes with added defense would fare on these lists

    • Reply
      Jul 28, 2015 5:32 pm

      Thanks! And happy belated birthday.

  • Reply
    Jul 28, 2015 1:43 pm

    So, looking back on all 7 matches played yet at the VWI, is it the only succeful strategy in high level fights to put the early pressure and snowball the game?

  • Reply
    Jul 27, 2015 10:23 pm

    I was curious about one of the things mentioned during the post-game interview of this match and wondering if anyone knows any more. The interviewer said that Tiger Phobia had picked to play against Hunters because they thought they were the weakest teams. I had assumed the match ups were random, but it sounds like teams picked their opponents. Anyone know how this process worked (seeding? random? other?)…

    Interesting article and good food for thought. I feel like Skaarf used to be one of the strongest early game heroes in an earlier version (1.4? 1.5?). Is that right or am I misremembering?

    • Reply
      Jul 30, 2015 9:24 am

      I don’t recall how the process of selected opponents worked (or if it was mentioned).

      Yes, Skaarf’s passive and attack cooldown was buffed in 1.4 and was a complete nightmare. This was balanced in patch 1.5.

  • Reply
    Jul 27, 2015 8:48 pm

    How did you take that angle screenshot

    • Reply
      Jul 27, 2015 9:10 pm

      It was actually taken around 1:04:19 in the YouTube video pasted below. OGN had access to advanced spectator on a computer that allowed them to change camera angles. Some of the finished results are pretty amazing!

  • Reply
    Jul 27, 2015 6:28 pm

    I would argue that your assessment of early/mid/late heroes is inaccurate.

    Petal: almost entirely useless at lv1 other than her nice poke range, doesn’t hit her stride until she can ult enemies for easy kills. I’d probably say mid game hero (although she is not played at all in SA-POA right now so it’s hard to really assess).

    SAW: a CP saw is going to make most headway in mid-late game because if he makes it that far, it means his team is supporting him correctly and now he can dish out the largest dps the game has to offer (again, there is only one SAW main in SA-POA in NA server so I could be wrong here)

    Rona: sporting the fastest and safest lv1 jungle clear times on the fold as WP, her early game is very strong. She falls off very hard in the mid to late game assuming an even match, as the only thing she ever seems to accomplish is jumping into clumps and ulting with two Serpent Mask for huge sustain. A single stun late game shuts her down so bad it’s basically gg because after that she is practically useless (especially in comparison to her counterpart Glaive who can continue being a monstrosity long after an unlucky stun.

    Glaive: one of the most frightening late game monsters, his huge innate sustain combined with aoe for dayz makes him one of the strongest three late game heroes on the fold

    Krul: while I can see him in the mid game being called strong, I think he shines best in the late game when he can 1v3 an entire enemy team if they ignore him for 5-10 seconds during a big fight.

    Other than these heroes, I agree with your placement. Great article, I hope you guys keep up the nice work here.

    • Reply
      Jul 27, 2015 9:09 pm

      Originally we had Krul in the late-game bracket. I looked away for a split second and he had moved to mid-game! As a Krul main he definitely hits his full stride at level 11, when both basic skills are maxed.

      Does Rona clear faster than Taka? You’re right, Rona hits her powerspike late in the game with double Serpent Mask, like you said. That’s her strongest point, so she was placed in the category that reflects that.

      While Petal is weaker at level one, she still has long range, decent base level one weapon (70), and gets a HUGE spike at level two. I can’t think of a hero that beats Petal in a 1v1 at level two.

      Thanks for the feedback!

      • Reply
        Jul 28, 2015 5:05 pm

        Played Petal extensively in the past. I would still say she is mid-game hero.
        You say that no one could compete with her on level 2. The whole level 1 she is weaker than many other heroes. Moreover, because she is weaker it takes her longer to get to level 2, when the enemy could already be level 2.
        So, Petal is more mid-game hero. And I believe if you build her crystal she is one of the best at level 6.

        • Reply
          Jul 28, 2015 5:36 pm

          A level 6 CP Petal is super scary! You make a strong argument! Maybe she has two powerful stages in the game.

    • Reply
      Jul 29, 2015 5:50 pm

      Dude, I totally agree with your opinion on Krul. I use him almost exclusively, and once I get him to level eleven or twelve, I can pretty consistently 1v2 or even 1v3, depending on the other team comp. But Krul’s problem is definitely early game, when he is pretty squishy without HP items. Good assessment!

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