The challenge is simple: look at a screenshot that shows one team’s perspective on the game, and use the available information to recommend their next move. It’s a technique for testing and training analysts, and it’s a good discipline for improving game knowledge.
Let’s give it a try.
I posted this example to Twitter and got a lot of responses, with a variety of rationales. Responses to the tweet included different ideas in various levels of detail, but I also received many DMs, including some experienced professionals. Some of their answers are below, as well as the video and a breakdown of what actually happened.
Teekhay, an analyst with Team Liquid, gave this rundown:
You have all 3 waves pushing so you could [set up to take] Herald, but you have a comp that has pretty decent siege so I think Herald is in general less valuable than Infernal or Mountain in this situation. In addition you’ve lost control of your bot side in a comp where red buff is going to be important, so regaining control of bot side is also super important. You kill 2 birds with one stone, and if they waste Rumble TP to try to fight Drake, you should be able to split them [up] easily with Taliyah wall and punish the TP anyway. So in my mind you can potentially take three objectives (Drake, bot vision, Rumble TP) without having to use too many resources.
Invert, an experienced collegiate coach with the University of Toronto and News Editor with theScore esports, wrote:
You can’t really teamfight with levels down and key ultimates down. Bot is pushing and you have mid prio so you probably use Cho’Gath and get a quicker Rift Herald while the red team sets up for dragon, then you get a buy reset and abuse your top side info advantage to get Herald either at T1 mid or T2 top. Your reset timing works well with the following:
1. After dragon a non-TP user is likely to collect bot
2. You have Taliyah wall up for a siege at either key tower
3. You have better pick but way worse teamfight so you want to spread the map more and abuse your global advantage
Locodoco chimed in:
Start dragon and force enemy team in and fight in chokes with Braum + Taliyah.
— loco (@Locodoco) November 6, 2017
And of course, the ever-helpful senior editor of ESPN Esports offered:
Ask for a remake because the game is bugged with black bars and a totally black fog of war
— Darin @ ESPN Esports (@darinjk2) November 5, 2017
What happened in the actual game? Let’s take a look at 15:33 into game 2 of Team WE vs Invictus Gaming, from the 2017 LPL Regional Qualifer.
- Team WE moves Ezreal and Braum into the river to secure dragon vision, while Taliyah pushes out another wave in the bottom lane to ensure bot priority. Xayah remains mid to maintain mid priority against Twitch, while Cho’Gath catches his farm in the top lane and recalls to complete his Righteous Glory.
- WE can’t enter the enemy jungle for deep vision due to lack of information about enemy positioning. Therefore, they can’t fully secure control of the dragon area, since they need to respect the threat of Gragas’s engage, even without Flash, as well as the massive power spikes on Lucian and Rumble.
- iG gain control of the pit and start the dragon. Cho’Gath has joined WE’s main group to approach through the river from mid lane, while Taliyah is looking for a way to use her ultimate from the other flank to split the fight.
- Rumble easily zones back the WE 4-man group with Equalizer, while Taliyah’s ultimate comes in through the pit but has no real effect.
- Both team reset, with iG holding more map control due to their health advantage. WE retained their ultimates, but they have neither the health nor the vision control to attempt a play on the Herald. They need to respect the possibility of iG contesting the Herald, and even with Rumble and Lucian ults down, that’s too scary.
In the end, Team WE surrendered the infernal drake for free.
There are two possible takeaways from how this played out. You can make either of those two claims:
- Team WE should have executed their attempt at dragon control better, or
- Team WE should have given up the dragon and played to the top side of map, hopefully taking Rift Herald in trade.
And the discussion continues!