CarlTheLlama, #1 SoloQ support main (#53 overall on this month’s Blizz ladder- SoloQ isn’t kind to supports), shares the baits, bluffs, and mental buffs (Sometimes referred to as “game sense”) that can be employed by any player regardless of position or MMR to outplay their opponent.
- When your teammate is in a bush waiting to gank your lane, help him out. Giving up a bad trade, then falling back will sucker your opponent into moving forward to punish you, when in fact you’re about to punish his existence.
- Bosses in SoloQ are more risk than they’re worth (unless you have death timers on the enemy team), but one way you can lessen the risk is to split push on the opposite side of the map to give them something else to focus on, because nothing says “we’re doing boss” like 5 people missing from the map (if you have someone like Rexxar who can solo boss, you can distract even more to bait them away from that side of the map). However, you have to do so with both eyes on your minimap so you don’t get collapsed on; the goal is to make them come to you, not to actually get push, so you want to stay visible and push waves, without being any further up than you have to, and mounting up whenever you suspect a gank.
"If you are far from your enemy, make him believe you are near. -Sun Tzu"
- When you run straight at people, they tend to back up. When they don’t have full vision on your team, you can often use this to bluff your way into getting them to back off when you’re sieging, and other scenarios where you want to buy a second or two. Staying mounted while continuing to run in, and going a couple of steps further than you would in any sort of normal scenario are how you get your opponent to think you know something he doesn’t.The more slippery your character is, the more reliable the tactic, but don’t try it on KT, Tyrande, or other heroes that are free kills. That’s not baiting that’s just feeding.
- When you’re running short on good options, instead of choosing what seems to be least bad, pick whatever is most unexpected. For example, if you’re getting ganked halfway up the lane and you know walking back to tower is just going to end with you being dead, jumping into a bush and mounting/walking the other way will sometimes get you out. Same with going down to the merc camp at the bottom of Dragon Shire, or the side paths on Battlefield. That’s what those are there for, and because they are so rarely used people forget about them, making them more effective than you’d think.
-This principle can be applied many other ways, for example, when you know a spot skillshot (like Tyrande stun) will be coming for you, waiting for the cast animation and having your cursor ready to walk back towards the enemy is most likely to get you out of the hitbox, and possibly survive.
"Even if a man dies in a ditch, he should die falling forward. -Sakamoto Ryoma"
- As you get more experienced, you know the capabilities of your hero, so you know when you aren’t going to get out of certain predicaments, and running merely prolongs the inevitable. When you find yourself caught in those situations don’t die like a coward, get something done. Turning and dealing what damage you can will often allow your team to follow up on your death and get something out of it.
- If you’re in a situation where you got caught out while you’re with your team but were positioned poorly, blowing your heroic typically takes priority because of the likelihood that a fullblown teamfight will break out despite the unfavorable circumstances for you, and getting off as much as possible is your top priority. If you get caught in almost any other scenario however, blowing your heroic will be a waste (depending on the cooldown of the heroic and the death timer). This is particularly noticeable with Leoric, who I often see use March of the Dead King at 10% HP to live an extra second, only to respawn 30 seconds later and not have it when he needs it. Don’t die like a coward, but don’t die like a noob either.
- One of the tightest chokes, yet easiest to sucker people into fighting in, is their own gate. Herd them towards it or bait them out to it, and fight. Your AOE abilities will hit more people because of the cramped space, you’ll be able to get on more of the targets you want because they have less room to position themselves, and they won’t be able to escape as well because they’re blocking each other. There’s a definite balance that has to be struck with the damage of towers in mind, but after level 10 fighting in front of fort gates is increasingly worthwhile, and after 16 the same goes for keep gates. Even if those markers aren’t met, you can prepare a fight at gates by running them out of ammo, or occasionally even having a knight camp push with your wave to soak the damage.
- When a solo kill happens late game, it opens the opportunity for a respawn roulette. Essentially, once you have that edge, getting your team to group together, paired with active map awareness can let you control the win. Pushing 5v4 with the timer is good, but normally an enemy team won’t defend with 4 in that situation, at least one person will be off in another lane. Rounding up the posse to gank them will let you create a respawn roulette where they never have a full team on the field. The longer you keep them short on people, the more impatient people will get and you can keep making picks.
Buffs and Debuffs of the Mind
- Throughout most of history, the chief factor in determining the outcome of battles has been morale, in large part because a group that expects a positive outcome from their efforts is more likely to stick to a plan and be organized, and because they’ll focus more on the task at hand and less on personality clashes. Give your team a morale buff by typing “gj” when something goes right anywhere on the map. When something really big goes right, like a 5-0 team wipe, celebrate with a slightly longer message, like “niceeee.” Short, focused, celebrations make people want to earn those results again.
- An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Every hero has some niche thing about them that your team will forget about. For example, when I’m playing Brightwing I often recall and TP right back, at a break in fighting in the middle of a teamfight/skirmish, so I type “brb tp,” to remind people. Or, I’ll remind them that when I die as Uther, ghost form healing makes me just as effective as a normal hero in a fight. If you do so in a friendly manner ahead of time, you’ll avoid common unforced errors.
- The same goes for interactions between heroes, with a small exception. Instead of a gentle reminder, pose it as a polite question: “stim odin?” “save Dshield for when I go in?” etc. Clarifying one or two “obvious” things politely in advance will take stress out of team games, and put some more MMR on your profile, no matter where you are on the leaderboard.
- Always keep the focus on the next step, not the last one. Talking about what someone else picked, or defending what you picked does nothing productive, and does distract. Leave off any discussion about previous plays that doesn’t directly feed into what to do next.
- Keep in mind when doing so that whatever it may feel like, telling people what to do isn’t going to pay off unless they want to be told- which is almost never the case. At the end of the day SoloQ is to improve you, not anyone else, so you really shouldn’t want to coach your teammates anyways.
AND DON’T FORGET!
At this point in my other Tips & Tricks I usually remind people that one bad plan is better than three good ones- going with the group and not throwing in another opinion/call is best. However, it’s important to remember simultaneously, that a bad plan is better than no plan. Even if people disagree and another plan gets chosen, you’ve started the process of getting everyone on the same page.
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