Dom Sacco reports on Riot UK's Clash event, as members of the UK League of Legends community come together to take part in casual 5v5 matches and learn from exceL Esports coaches.
We've won the early game and the shot is called to tower dive the enemy Swain by their tier 2 mid turret, so I flank around it as Evelynn into the enemy jungle.
Our Maokai joins me as we near the brush behind the turret, creeping slowly towards Swain.
Suddenly, the enemy Skarner moves through the brush towards us, surprising us and also himself. He seems alone, so I charm in and Maokai helps me attack him, as do our support and ADC who are beginning to enter the fight.
As I wait for his health to drop a smidgen lower to use my ultimate and finish him off, Skarner grabs me and pulls me into the enemy mid-lane, only for the rest of his team to start joining the fight, including Nami who hits me with her wave too.
I die, and Skarner gets away with a smidgen of health. The enemy Jarvan enters the fray, and my team focus him, only for him to also escape with a smidgen of health. The rest of the enemy team clean us up, and begin their attack towards our base.
In half a minute, the game has turned. This is the moment we lost the game, exceL Esports coaches Josh "Furndog" Furneaux and Jon Ellis tell me.
(See the play in question below, followed by some clips of me killing UK content creator Kiandymundi ).
I'm at London's Server bar for the launch event of League of Legends' new Clash tournament mode, organised by Riot UK.
There are two rows of five PCs set up, and pockets of the UK LoL community have gathered to take part in some 5v5 matches to prepare for Clash - and learn from some top coaches.
My team, Team Ocean (pictured, top-laner Harry Hudson - Maokai, mid-laner RossBoomSocks - Annie, ADC Sarah York - Ashe - and support Chris Shaw - Rakan, plus myself as jungler - Evelynn), a mix of silver to plat players, are sitting listening to a post-match debrief along with the winning side, Team Cloud.
Jon Ellis explains: "Nami is a really good pick here, it denies all the engage in one direction, therefore we need to get a flank round, again that makes the Evelynn pick a really good pick here. That's why this game has been very back and forth, each team has very distinct styles in terms of what they want to do. And it's all about which team can accomplish their style better, and what their comp does and your comp does.
"Team Ocean want fast fights and ideally want to be grouped up first and burst them down. So, is Team Ocean just doing this for a kill? You're not doing it around an objective like Baron, and so it comes down to risk vs reward. It's a risky play.
"You're targeting Skarner, and if you're all near the brush, that's okay. But because you're slightly disjointed, it gets to the point where you're committed and don't really have any disengage. All the CC has been used to try and kill the Skarner, he's still alive and Swain now rips through the whole team. The other thing to consider with Skarner, is getting a QSS (Quicksilver Sash), and none of your team has one at this point."
Learning League of Legends all over again
It's hard to swallow but I'm largely to blame for the above play. Although the tower dive wasn't my call, I shouldn't have gone in to charm Skarner, I should have instead moved back with the rest of my team, pushed for the turret or waited for a better opening.
Though I'm the lowest elo player on the team, I'm still disappointed with myself.
After the game and the session with the teams and the exceL coaches, I start to realise that 5v5 Clash matches are of course completely different to low elo solo queue.
In solo queue I can concentrate on my own game, farm up, make some good ganks, roam, take objectives, and ping to get my team to help me if I need it or if we need to group up.
Here, it's a completely different ball game, and as I'm used to playing solo queue and pinging, it's hard for me to get used to speaking to my teammates instead of pinging! I am not used to grouping up so often or backing and regrouping as a unit in low elo solo queue.
It's like driving on normal roads for years, then suddenly trying a track day - you have to learn to drive in a completely different way.
Also, at home I usually play late at night when my son is asleep, but he's a light sleeper and is in the room next to my PC so I can't talk to my teammates. This makes the 5v5 experience even harder for me to adapt to, and I have a newfound admiration for well-organised League of Legends esports teams.
I also struggle to handle the mix of player skill levels. In solo queue and the Esports News UK Clash team, I know what I'm going up against - silver to gold players. Here, the mix of skill levels is jarring.
In our second game, the enemy jungler is Plat 3 and completely demolishes me, placing deep wards in my jungle so his team can easily jump in and gank me, time and time again. By the time I've figured out his technique, he's snowballed into oblivion and it's too late for me to get back into the game. The better jungler wins.
But hey, we had a brilliant early game in both matches, including a cheesey hide in the bot-lane brush to pick up first blood in game two.
Despite our losses, our team had fun and I learnt a hell of a lot! I've already been using the tips to climb solo queue and improve my Clash team play.
Top 10 tips from exceL
Aside from the specific advice for our team, exceL coaches Josh "Furndog" Furneaux and Jon Ellis offer some great general pointers to take into my game.
These might sound incredibly obvious to higher elo players, but for a casual low elo player like me, they're handy to remember:
- In the draft phase, get higher priority picks picked earlier on
- Avoid banning multiple champs in the same position
- Top teams don’t allow the opposition to get back into the game. Try to predict or prevent the outcomes before they happen
- Ask yourself: Why are we doing this play, what are we trying to accomplish? If you don’t know the answer, don’t do it
- Don’t defend objectives that are already doomed
- Infernal Drake is not worth much early on (a few bonus AD) as it doesn't scale that great early on. Ocean Drake is more valuable early on
- 13cs is equivalent to one kill, and takes around 1min 10seconds roughly
- Don’t defend objectives you can’t defend, you can end up losing them and also getting killed. Wait for death timers and for teammates to come back
- Look back on your replays and learn from your mistakes
- After taking an objective and you're on low health or have some good gold to spend, think about recalling and resetting as a team, instead of hunting for risky kills
Riot on Clash and UK events
Check out our interview with Riot Games UK community manager Riot Bolton from the event here.
In pictures: Riot UK's Clash event
I look forward to seeing which events and activities Riot UK will come up with in the future.