A lot of people in Asia (including most of our readers, I think) play Dota 2 or League of Legends. But despite the fact that these are team games, the vast majority of these games’ player bases spend their time in solo queue, playing games with randomly-assigned teammates chosen by the matchmaking system.
Sometimes that can be fun, but forming an actual team and playing with them is way better. Here’s why.
(Note: I’m going to use League of Legends for my examples below because that’s the game I know better personally, but all of this also applies to Dota 2 as well).
1. It’s a totally different game
The mechanics you’ll need to play team matches are the same ones you’ve been honing in solo queue, but aside from that basically everything is different. You can’t just go into a game with five random champions and expect to win, you need to have a drafting strategy. And you can’t just plan to do well in the laning phase and snowball from there, you need to have a grander plan. In addition to mechanics, you’re going to need communication skills and you’re going to need to do a bit of theorycrafting. If you’re the team’s shotcaller, you’re also going to need leadership skills and quick decision making abilities.
All of this stuff comes up from time to time in solo queue, of course, but even the most cooperative random teammates aren’t going to be able to perform on the level of a full team with voice chat, a coordinated draft and game strategy, and experience with each others’ playstyles. Playing with a team forces you to spend a lot more time thinking about the big picture in a game like LOL or Dota, and that’s a good thing.
2. No more afks or ragers
One of the biggest advantages to playing as a team is that you’re no longer subject to the emotions and whims of the random idiots the game’s matchmaking system pairs you up with. There’s no “mid or feed”, there’s no “bot is feeding, I afk gg” after one death in the bot lane, and there’s no “Hey guys, I queued for a ranked match but I have to go in 10 minutes.” You choose the people you play with, and after a while everyone will know what everyone else is capable of.
Of course, this doesn’t give you a leg up on the competition—as long as you do ranked, you’ll only be playing against other proper teams, so they won’t have any random trolls either. But win or lose, you’re going to have a better experience playing with people you know and can get along with. And even if your teammates aren’t very good, at least you’ll be going into champion select knowing what you’ve got to work with.
3. Winning feels way more satisfying
Winning a ranked game in solo queue feels pretty great even if you got carried by someone else, but in my opinion it’s nothing compared to the feeling when you win a game with your team. There’s something incredibly satisfying about succeeding in a cooperative group endeavour, and its doubly satisfying it you went into the game with a plan in mind and ended up being able to execute it.
Plus, you get to bask in the afterglow for a while. After a solo queue game, the postgame chat tends to empty out pretty quickly, but many ranked teams like to spend some time after each game discussing how it went. And when you won the game? That’s fun. The last game my team won was followed by a thirty-minute discussion about why we won: good early ganks, strong decision-making, and for once we were actually good in teamfights! It was helpful to analyze our performance so that we can take those lessons into our next game, but it was also just nice to sit back and enjoy our success together.
4. You’ll improve faster
If you’re looking to make yourself a better player, you’ll probably progress faster when playing with a team. Why? Because even if you’re playing with players of a similar skill level, they’re going to notice mistakes you made, give you tips about champions you may not have tried yet, and offer strategic plans that wouldn’t occur to you.
Moreover, when you’re on a team everyone has a mutual interest in seeing everyone else improve, because they want the team to do better. Your teammates in solo queue, in contrast, probably don’t give a shit about you or whether or not you improve, and they’re just as likely to rage at you as they are to offer any kind of constructive help. Solo queue players will certainly let you know when you’ve made a mistake, but it’s your teammates that’ll actually help you figure out how to fix it.
5. It’s more challenging
Playing ranked teams is more challenging than solo queue, for a couple of reasons. First, as mentioned in my first point above, the team game is deeper, and requires you to think about things like team comps and timed rotations in addition to just how to stomp your lane and teamfight. Additionally, though, ranked teams tend to attract more serious players, and because there are fewer teams, the standards are higher. A Silver or Gold LOL player, for example, could easily find themselves on a Bronze V ranked team. Playing teams forces you to play against more dedicated and more coordinated opponents than you’re likely to come across in the average solo queue game.
That can be frustrating, of course, but the challenge also contributes to points three and four above: wins are more satisfying because the game is more challenging, and you’ll improve faster when playing against more challenging opponents.
6. Imitate the pros (or become one)
Many LOL and Dota players are also fans of the competitive eSports scene, but the strats and team comps you see in eSports are rarely effective in solo queue because they require coordination. When you play with a ranked team, you’ll finally be able to try some of these comps and strats out for yourself. That’s pretty fun, and it makes the time you spend watching pro games a bit more productive. Your Bronze V team probably isn’t going to be able to imitate everything you see SK Telecom T1 K doing, of course, but you really will see things you can actually try to use in games, and that’s fun.
And of course, if you take the game really seriously and are hoping to become a pro, you really should play with a ranked team. If you can find other top-level players, you might be able to take yourselves to the top, but even if your teammates aren’t as good, the experience playing with a team, shot-calling, and developing strategies will be invaluable if/when you do finally end up on a pro team. There’s a reason that pro teams don’t choose their players based purely on the top-ranked players in solo queue: they want skilled players but also team players. Start playing on a team and you could be both!
Of course, finding a team of reliable people to play with is often easier said than done. Even so, though, it’s worth the effort!