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Teamfight Philosophy

By Eph2.8-9 - 8th March 2012 - 18:48 PM

Understanding your team's preferred teamfight philosophy is an important part of gauging when to start a teamfight. Understanding your enemy's preferred teamfight philosophy is also valuable in deciphering the mysteries of teamfights, those few seconds that decide which way the game will swing for the next few minutes. This knowledge becomes even more useful when playing draft mode and trying to counterpick or compose a properly synergistic team.

Note that teamfight philosophy is completely different from team composition. It is possible to create two Double-AP, Protect-the-Carry, Heal-Poke, or Tanky-DPS team compositions that have completely different teamfight philosophies. While some team compositions may lend themselves more readily to a particular philosophy, many team compositions can be adjusted to synergize better with a particular teamfight philosophy. Team composition will determine how to approach a teamfight. Teamfight philosophy will dictate when and to a lesser extent where that critical second of initiation or counter-initiation should occur. Looking at your team's strengths should tell you what formation you want the enemy team in before you engage. There are three main teamfight philosophies that this guide will discuss.

Grouped


"We want to fight the enemy team 5v5 all at once"
This team wants their enemies grouped up to destroy them with AoE burst damage. Picking champions with strong AoE spells creates a more synergistic team composition. Picking champions with strictly single-target damage or tremendous steroids is not as synergistic. The initiator on a team with a dominant grouped philosophy should initiate at the moment when enemy champions are close together and most likely to take damage from the power of simultaneously unleashed burst damage.

Picking an AoE initiator has extremely strong synergy with this composition, so champions like Amumu, Galio, Leona, Sejuani, and Malphite contribute strongly to a grouped teamfight philosophy. AoE burst mages also contribute heavily in a grouped teamfight strategy. Examples of such picks include Kennen, Annie, Morgana, Vladimir, Nunu, Brand, Cassiopeia, and Orianna. The goal of a grouped teamfight philosophy is to win such a decisive victory in the opening seconds of the teamfight that the relative dependence on abilities with very long cooldowns is not a weakness.

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A grouped teamfight philosophy benefits heavily from AOE CC initiation, particularly the forced clumping of Idol of Durand or Command: Dissonance


That is exactly the weakness of a grouped teamfight philosophy--it is most effective when all 5 enemy champions are very close together. The longer the fight goes on, the more AoE nukes are on cooldown and the greater the likelihood that the enemy team will spread out. Also, since burst damage tends to fall off lategame due to farmed carries doing the most damage, a team dependent on the grouped teamfight philosophy wants to either win in the midgame or build such an advantage that they can steamroll their opponent in the lategame--or at least pick off their carry quickly.

Grouped teamfight philosophy is fairly simple to learn and execute. Wait until most or all of the enemy team is clustered together at an objective then initiate. Smart teams will recognize that your teamfight philosophy is best served by them grouping, so there are two options here. The first is to have the aforementioned AoE initiator. The second is to force fights at places where teams naturally tend to clump up, like while the enemy is fighting a neutral buff or under a turret.

As an initiator, remember that diving under a tower to catch multiple champions clumped together in your CC can be very effective as long as your team follows through and wipes out the targets with their nukes, even if you die. As anyone else, follow the initiator's lead if they are at all competent and engage quickly. If a teamfight goes poorly and the enemy team does not wilt in the first few seconds of stacking AoE damage, or if they are suddenly split, disengage. Patience needs to be exercised so as to not start a teamfight until enough of the enemy team's champions (particularly their mage and carry) will be affected.

Split


"We want to fight the enemy team 5v5 by splitting them up"
This teamfight philosophy aims to catch opponents out of position and quickly isolate and remove valuable targets. Picking high mobility champions that can quickly reach high-priority targets and then disengage, or champions with artificial terrain like Anivia are synergistic with a split teamfight philosophy. Whereas the grouped philosophy wants to engage the enemy all at once, the split philosophy prefers to divide and conquer. The initiator should wait to catch an opposing champion out of position and then engage.

The split philosophy works by separating one or two enemies, killing them, and then dealing with the rest. Either mobility or sheer tankiness can help survive the counter-assault of an enemy team. Champions with the ability to lock down a valuable target like Rammus or Maokai or a jungling Alistar with a tank build are excellent initiators. More mobile champions like Akali, Kassadin, and Ahri excel at picking off lone targets and flanking an enemy formation from multiple angles, while a carry with strong steroids like Vayne or Tristana prefers to engage targets one at a time rather than engage the entire enemy team at once. Another valuable tool in the hands of a team wanting to use the split teamfight philosopy is knockback. Among others, Gragas, Alistar, Lee Sin, and Tristana can help split up the enemy team with their knockback. Since a split teamfight philosophy generally takes longer to develop in a given teamfight, dependence on AoE and long cooldowns is a detriment.

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Splitting up the enemy team is conducive to single-target damage-dealers like Vayne


Split teamfight philosophy requires more discipline to use and having strong poke on your team can help soften up an enemy team so they can be dealt with piece by piece. Split teamfight philosophy dictates engaging as an enemy team is not together, often moving towards an objective, not already there unless some kind of powerful dispersal tool like Explosive Cask, Crystallize, Gravity Trap, or Cataclysm is available. Even being a few hundred units apart is enough for a split teamfight philosophy to quickly capitalize and take down the isolated opponents.

Avoidance


"We don't want to fight the enemy team 5v5"
Avoidance teamfight philosophy takes the essential underpinnings of the split teamfight philosophy to a whole new level. Instead of relying on teamfights, Avoidance seeks to overwhelm an enemy team by attacking multiple objectives at once, and then forcing a sharply uneven teamfight. The most common variations of this teamfight philosophy involve champions with a global movement ability (Twisted Fate, Pantheon) or that are extremely elusive and can push rapidly (Singed, Nidalee, Teemo, Master Yi, Shaco, Sivir), and/or the Summoner Teleport spell.

An avoidance teamfight philosophy has two main tactics. The first is sending its pusher/teleporter off to force a reaction from the enemy team while the remaining four champions take an objective. A classic example of this is sending someone like Singed with Teleport to push top tower while the remaining champions take Dragon. If the enemy team decides to engage Singed, they will likely waste their time and take damage chasing Singed, who is very hard to catch and does damage to enemies the longer they chase him. If the enemy team decides to engage at Dragon, the remainder of Singed's team can likely force a stalemate or disengage until Singed either Teleports in or destroys the tower.

The second tactic involves using four champions to hold the enemy team in place while the pusher/teleporter takes an objective. In this case, it is the main body of the team which is providing a distraction, instead of the pusher/teleporter distracting. It is imperative that the main body of the team not be engaged en masse by the enemy team in a 4v5 unless the 4 are fed enough to beat the entire enemy team. In particular, the use of Shurelya's Reverie can be crucial in avoiding and/or forcing uneven teamfights.

The avoidance teamfight philosophy dictates that a team should almost never fight unless the numerical odds are in their favor. For example, Twisted Fate attacks the top inner tower while his team distracts at the enemy's mid inner tower. When the opponents inevitably send someone top to deal with Twisted Fate, he uses Destiny and ports in just as his team starts a fight at mid tower. The resulting 5v4 should be an easy win assuming Twisted Fate's team is not way behind and commits to the fight properly.

Avoidance teamfight philosophy is probably the hardest to execute, particularly in solo queue. It requires map awareness and the understanding that the best way to fight is to constantly apply pressure on the enemy team and force them to deal with multiple attacks on objectives like towers while not committing to a 4v5 teamfight without the pusher/teleporter. The most important part of avoidance teamfight philosophy is being willing to commit to it, to accept that a conventional 5v5 teamfight is not your teams' best choice, and then craft your teamfight philosophy around it. The #1 rule for avoidance is to avoid 5v5s. This approach is most likely to be used when the enemy team's teamfights are much stronger.

For example, a team that has Shaco jungling, Singed top, Sivir and Soraka bottom lane, and Twisted Fate mid is not a strong teamfighting team. All of their champions except Singed are squishy and have short-ranged auto-attacks. Against a team composed of jungling Malphite, Vayne and Alistar bottom, Kennen top, and Annie mid, they are likely to be destroyed very quickly in teamfights due to relative lack of CC. Their natural movespeed advantage won't help them against multiple knock-ups, knock-backs, and slows. What they can do is move around the map quickly and push waves into turrets, forcing Team Crowd Control to decide which objective they want to protect.

Conclusion


Teamfight philosophy shouldn't necessarily dictate your champion choices. It, along with counterpicking, personal skill with a given champion, and team composition, should be a factor in champion selection, but not by itself. If you are much better with Sona then you are with Taric and/or if Sona is just generally stronger than Taric, it's generally better to pick Sona even if your team's dominant philosophy is split. Yes, it helps not to pick Janna or Gragas when your team is dominant grouped, so you don't troll their attempts to burst down the enemy in 2 seconds. Yes, there are better choices than Brand when your team has no desire to fight the entire clustered opposing team just so you can watch Pyroclasm bounce. However, teamfight philosophy is not the only consideration in selecting a champion or building a team. What understanding teamfight philosophy should primarily influence is when your team should engage.

A team with dominant grouped teamfight philosophy should attack when the enemy team is already together at an objective. A team with dominant split teamfight philosophy should look to quickly attack while the enemy team is out of position, either individually or collectively, often when they are moving to an objective. A team with dominant avoidance teamfight philosophy should avoid 5v5s altogether in favor of threatening multiple objectives and using distractions and teleports to create numerically uneven teamfights.