The answer is no.
The best training in any area of life always follows the key principles of training*, we will call this the Esports trainer approach:
- Overload – a skill can only be improved by training more than you normally do. You must work hard.
- Specificity – training must be matched to the needs of the gaming activity to improve ability in the skills the game requires.
- Progression – start slowly and gradually increase the difficulty and keep overloading.
- Reversibility – any progress made as a result of training will be reversed when you stop training. If you take a long break from training or don’t train often enough you will lose what you gained.
- Moderation – it is important to have rest periods which allow the body to adapt. Too much training (overtraining) can lead to fatigue or burnout.
*The language has been adapted to link the topic to elite gaming.
On top of those principles a well thought out training plan will also follow FITT:
- Frequency – how often to train.
- Intensity – how hard to train.
- Time – for how long to train.
- Type – what methods of training to use.
What does this have to do with gaming, Esports or Vainglory?
Let’s take the following Vainglory specific scenario:
My team was in the semi-finals of a big tournament. We were up against the top seeded team and held our own for the majority of the match. However, our roamer had trouble reflex blocking the enemy Phinn’s ult. It was 25mins and both teams were at a stand-off in the lane, the enemy Phinn hooks the laner and we lose the team fight, which leads to a match loss. The team understand that they need to help the roamer improve on reflex blocking Phinn’s ult and ults in general.
We will now apply both approaches to this scenario.
Scrim and ranked approach:
Using rank matches to improve a player’s reflex blocking skill (specifically Phinn’s ult) would be a great waste of their time and highly inefficient as you would be leaving it up to chance for Phinn being picked by the enemy. However, ranked matches do have the benefit of not needing to find teams or players to play against in advance.
Scrims may or may not give you more control over who is picked, however that greatly depends on the generosity of your scrim partner*. The advantage of scrims is that you can hand pick your opponents. Teams can also create partnerships with teams to agree on scrimming frequently.
Esports trainer approach:
For this approach I will show you how you can apply all of the training principles to create an effective training regime.
No. of players required: 3
Heroes required: Phinn
Setup: have the roamer and the laner on a team and the Phinn player on the other. Each buy one damage item at the beginning to help with farming. Phinn* must buy all Chronograph into Contraptions. The roamer must buy a Reflex Block, Crucible and Aegis.
*Phinn can be swapped out for any other hero that you want to use a reflex block against.
Overload – For a month train for 30-60 minutes a day 2-3 days in the week reflex blocking Phinn’s ult. After a month train it for 30-60 minutes once a week.
Progression – (1) block his ult when standing 6m from Phinn (his ult has a range of 12m), (2) block his ult when standing 12m from Phinn, (3) block his ult when Phinn is standing in a bush, stand 6m and then 12m from that bush, (4) block his ult when Phinn is standing in the Kraken pit and you’re standing in the mustache bush, (6) do all that was mentioned with your eyes closed.
Specificity and moderation are not mentioned as the training plan is in nature is specific and uses moderation with the skill you are training. Reversibility is also prevented by the natural processes of the plan.
Which method is better?
Ask any elite athlete and they will tell you that the Esports trainer method is better. It should be the same for Esports pros. Training is training, the principles do not change. If your gaming team is not making use of these well established and proven principles then you’re missing out the competitive edge. Scrims and ranked matches should be a place where a team tests out what they have learned, but if they haven’t been learning outside of this method, what are they testing?
The Esports trainer method clearly provides a wider opportunity and a more individualised training ground to improve a skill.
Vainglory Specific Skills:
1v0: Stutter stepping
2v0: Jungle clear speeds, rotations and stutter stepping.
1v1: Lane aggression, jungle invades and mechanical skills.
2v1: Lane ganking, overextending and lane pressure.
3v1: Lane ganking and mechanical skills.
2v2: Lane ganking, mechanical skills, lane pressure, jungle invades, jungle skirmishes, jungle clear speeds and rotations.
3v2: Lane ganking, mechanical skills, jungle invades, jungle skirmishes, jungle clear speeds and rotations.
Build optimization: Different builds should be discussed among the team and then tested throughout different scenarios.
Drafting: drafts can be discussed among the team (BrokenMyth’s draft simulator).
3v3: Late game team fights, jungle clear speeds, rotations, lane ganking, jungle invades, kraken and gold mine steals, objectives, lane pressure, draft testing, early game team fights and mechanical skills.
Finally…Scrims and ranked matches.
All practices that need 1 or more players on each team have an offensive and defensive aspect to the skill. Offensive meaning that you are the player performing that skill against an opponent. Defensive meaning that the skill is performed against you. For example, with lane ganking the offensive team would be attempting the gank, whereas the defensive team would be preventing the gank.
Practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent. Bad training will not help you get better no matter how hard you train. If your team wants to have the competitive edge over your opponents, you should be using the training principles mentioned in this article. Scrims and ranked matches should be used as a proving ground, where your team tests if your training has been effective. They should not be use as your primary source of training.
Anyone who reads this article but needs some advice on how their team might implement these principles, hit me up on my twitter.