The Importance Of Communication In Esports
If we waited for another 10,000 years and observed primates evolve, we still wouldn’t see them gain clear and understandable speech. There has been a lot of talk about this over the years, yet the conclusion is the same — primates such as apes and monkeys do not have clearly defined vocal cords.
Humans vastly differ from them in this regard. Take a look at this photo, and I’m sure you’ll see the difference.
Source: Ray D. Kent
As you can see, the area the air passes through is much more complex in humans and allows extreme manipulation. Thanks to this, we have slowly evolved speech and brought it to unimaginable levels. Think about it — if all we could do was produce primitive sounds, how could we manage to build a car? Or an airplane? Or develop complex new technologies like virtual reality and artificial intelligence?
Speech has allowed humans to make expansions deemed impossible for any other creature. And through the ages, our speech, language, expressions, and everything used in communication have improved. We talk to others on a daily basis (hell, some people talk on their phones for hours on end), and our lives would be unimaginable without it. Mute people have a much harder life than others, and they face difficulties along the way. Much respect!
So, with that in mind, how is communication in esports important to the players and teams? In this article, we’ll be talking about how vital esports communication is and why there’s a clear discrepancy in performance between teams on the extreme ends of the communication spectrum. Enough chitchat. Let’s begin!
Why Is Esports Communication Vital in Achieving Success?
During my younger years, I was part of an amateur League of Legends team made up of fourteen- and fifteen-year-old kids. Did we achieve anything? Nope. Did we win? In bronze and silver, yes. The team fell apart quickly after we realized the World Championship was too far from our grasp (who would have thought?). It went something like this:
“THEY ARE ON BARON LETS GO BARON”
“AH DAMN HE’S GANKING”
“YO WTF ARE YOU DOING GO BARON”
And it was all yelled simultaneously. No one knew what the other was doing. Everyone was yelling at the same time and blaming each other.
Granted, we were kids and didn’t know any better, but over the years playing solo, you start realizing that communication plays a big role in helping your team win. I think I vouch for all of us that watching replays of team talk during big teamfights in any game is tremendously interesting and insightful. This is the truth for the opposite side as well; teams that talk less or talk over each other do worse.
So as in any other sport, there must be a captain who leads the team in strategy, motivation, and leadership. But what happens when teams don’t have proper esports communication at big events where the pressure is always on?
The Lack Thereof Can Drastically Reduce the Chance of Victory!
Imagine working in a professional kitchen where no one talks whilst preparing the dish. Everyone has specific jobs to do, and they have a short deadline to procure the dish. The thing is, boiling water for pasta and searing onions take a varying time to complete.
In esports, the lack of communication can derail an entire strategy of a team. No matter what they talk about during pre-match preparation (champion select, map select, etc.), it can all get ruined by silence. Silence is a team’s biggest enemy. You can have a team filled with five superstars, but nothing will go their way if they don’t talk to each other.
Couple this with increased levels of stress and anger if things go wrong, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Teams that don’t talk about an issue or simply don’t follow “orders” usually don’t fare well. Even lesser-skilled teams sometimes manage to pull off an upset!
Now, let’s take a look at some prime examples of bad esports communication.
Examples of Both Sides of the Esports Communication Spectrum
There’s no better way of learning something than learning by example. The truth is, reading about communication in esports and thinking it’s easy is a mistake. Maintaining a chain of command ensures complete control of the situation. The shot-caller is usually the one who talks the most.
Basically, as long as there are no interruptions and the person talking does so in a quick and efficient manner, fighting ability is increased for the team. Picture a volleyball match where the ball is falling; two players go for it, and one says “my ball” and proceeds to get it while the other player backs off.
Esports communication is this but on a grander scale (tight space means that everyone is near each other and can hear each other, plus there are usually five people on a team).
Here’s how teamfights look when esports communication is as efficient as can be for the given team.
C9 Teamfight Esports Communication at Worlds 2017
Watch the video closely. Most of the time in teamfights, Cloud 9 utilizes two main voices. Smoothie talks the most and seems to lead the pack. His mind works fast, and he directs the team to where they should be and what they should do. When he’s talking, you’ll rarely hear anyone else, except when an important call must be made.
The second “loudest” person is Impact. He seems like a vice-captain and follows up on Smoothie’s commands. He has a bit freer reign to jump in during a teamfight or an engagement, but that’s about it. The others are silent and all ears.
And now, when you watch what actually happens on the screen, you’ll see them pulling out teamfight victories on the regular. Of course, they’re not the only team that does this properly, and in some cases, no matter how hard you try and how effectively you communicate, the enemy team is simply better.
However, dissecting footage of bad esports communication examples is important to understanding the full extent of how necessary it is. Watch the entire video to see how communication in esports works when pros do it!
Poor communication in esports often comes when the communication channel was either too noisy or not packed with enough timely information.
The noise mainly comes from panicking. Everyone starts shouting calls, which usually results in things falling apart in a matter of seconds. Not enough timely information is a different pair of shoes, usually based on the team’s inability to control the map and/or global objectives.
How to Improve Communication in Your Matches
Judging by the two “finished products” of talking and not talking enough with your teammates, we can safely say that communication can always be improved. There’s perfection, but none of us can really reach it. Some professional esports teams (such as the Astralis CS:GO team) are trying to get as close to perfection as they can, but they’re still not there. But they are closer than anyone has ever been, so that’s a solid feat on its own.
On the other hand, there are teams that are nicely poised with top-tier talent but just can’t get the results they’re supposed to. FaZe Clan’s CS:GO team is the perfect example. Their individual talent is off the charts, but it seems as though the young Bosnian prodigy NiKo isn’t doing himself justice as far as in-game leading is concerned. Need I remind you, FaZe Clan is in a massive slump, and it seems to me their biggest problem is team communication.
Go figure, some teams are oiled like machinery and unstoppable in almost every aspect while others excel at individual quality but aren’t too good in terms of communicating as a proper team.
But what all the successful teams have in common is good communication. The game you’re playing, as well as the battlefield, changes constantly. You need to devise strategies beforehand, define clear roles within the team, and talk!
Proper esports communication can be tough to figure out; after all, none of the best teams in the world (from any game) managed that overnight.
This is why it’s so hard rising through the ranks of a ranked ladder system — the teammates you play with are usually random people, some of which may not want to talk at all. If you play with your friends, you notice how much easier it gets.
Some teams went from being at the top to falling far down just because there was a communication breakdown within. SK Gaming comes to mind with Araneae and ocelote being very vocal during teamfights, overlapping each other’s voices. This later led to conflict, and the team eventually stopped competing with that roster.
So, what can you do to improve communication in esports if you ever find yourself on a professional team?
Technically speaking, a lot.
Generally speaking, there always needs to be one main guy: the shot-caller. This person controls the flow of his team and in most cases directs their actions. He should be the most responsible person in the team and one capable of leading four other people towards his vision of success.
Others must follow, but of course, they can talk when the need arises. Listen closely to what the team is saying and what the shot-caller is demanding.
If this doesn’t work, then everyone on the team will either dissipate and do their own thing or will just get confused with so many voices coming in at once. So one key way to improve communication in esports is to know your role and stick to it well, whether that be as a shot-caller or a follower.
So, what did we learn about communication in esports? Well, for starters, every professional esports team talks a lot. And I mean, a lot. Open up any replay, and you’ll see everyone is involved, whether they’re listening and doing what the shot-caller says or shot-calling themselves, depending on who you’re looking at.
When teams are equal in terms of esports communication, the only thing setting them apart is sheer individual skill and avoiding mistakes. As soon as you make a mistake, the other team will fiercely take advantage of the opportunity you’ve given them. Whether we’re talking about MOBA titles such as Dota 2 and LoL or shooters such as CS:GO and Rainbow Six: Siege, the results will be identical.
Sometimes, team communication just shuts off for a moment, especially if an unexpected event happens. For example, you’re going for a contact play catwalk as a group, and an enemy Molotov cocktail and HE combo burns three of you to death on Dust II. No one could have expected or predicted that, so everyone’s just numb as to what happened.
Overall, it’s important to remember that you stay calm and collected at all costs. Trust in the shot-caller or captain, and the team will usually do well. After all, you know what they say — communication is the key to success!