Written By: Zach McGinnis
Communication in any team sport is essential for success. Communication is one of, if not the most important factor in a team performing greater as a group than as a sum of its parts. Fnatic’s new in-game leader Richard “Xizt” Landström recently said in an interview that he believes the reason that Astralis are a dominant force right now comes down to their core teamplay that’s based around good communication from all five members of the team. The amount of quality information that Astralis gains without too much risk due to their teamwork is essential in how they approach rounds. Unfortunately at lower levels of play, communication seems to slip in importance behind things like mechanics and fragging ability. As such, players too often focus on those tangible facets of the game when training and neglect the importance of information and communication.
Imagine having a dollar for every time you’ve heard a teammate call “It’s B! It’s B!” – only to rotate into a quiet bombsite wondering why you listened in the first place. Yes, this is an extreme example but one that many should be familiar with, as it illustrates the importance in calling not only what you see and hear but also giving your sense of what’s actually going on to your team. Assume you’re positioned playing B-site as a CT on de_mirage. The van player may be tasked with jump-spotting for rushing attackers, while the catwalk player would listen for a stampede in either apartments or underpass. Both of those jobs seem easy enough, but let’s say the van player sees someone peek in apartments and calls out that he’s spotted someone or seen some utility usage and falls off to a safer position. If the van and catwalk players do not communicate that it’s maybe only one or two players and that this isn’t a full execute, the other three defenders now have to guess and gamble unnecessarily on their own positions or risk having to hard save if the B-site defenses are overrun. All it takes is someone looking the wrong way for a split second due to this lack of communication and an entire CT-setup can fall apart. This is why it’s very important not only to call out what you do sense, but also what you don’t.
This sort of communication can be a big difference maker on the T-side as well. Consider an anti-eco round where the CT-side is just not budging or giving anything up for the T-side default. It can be surprisingly easy to accidentally walk into a stack, or get caught by yourself without strong communication in these rounds. Of course the simple remedy to this is to send a Mac-10 out into a site and hope for the best; however, this in itself is a 50/50 gamble play on a round you’re supposed to win nine out of ten times. Beating an anti-eco with solid communication-based map control will always be better than taking a risk that may do nothing more for you than leave you a man down early in the round with little to no information gained. Constantly feeding your IGL solid information about what’s happening around the map helps them paint a mental picture of the CTs setup and situation, and can therefore make better mid-round calls for their team.
Naturally communication has slightly different nuances for different roles in a team. The in-game leader for example needs to be clear, concise, and cool-headed at all times when communicating. The IGL has to take all the information being given to them by their teammates and use it to give direction. Making sure that your team understand what they need to be doing, or in many cases not doing, at any given point in the game is part of what makes IGLing so hard yet so important – and little miscommunications can be costly as such. Of course, one can’t hold the IGL accountable for things like overextensions, missed timings, etc; however, having clear and concise communication habits as the leader can certainly do a lot in mitigating mistakes for the whole team.
The next two most important roles communication wise would be your entry fragger and lurker. The former needs to be clear just like the IGL, but also needs to rapidly be able to call out the positions they’ve spotted enemies after getting into a bombsite. By that same token, the entry fragger needs to have a good stream of communication specifically with players that are supporting them in their efforts. Calling the right timing for a flash, or using information previously gained to smoke or molotov off certain positions can make entry fragging more consistent and clean. The lurker on the other hand needs to be listening for calls given by the rest of the team while using that information to try and work out where defenders may be hidden on the other side of the map, or where enemies may attempt to make rotations when the firefights get going. At the same time, lurkers need to know when to give information about what they don’t see somewhere else on the map to give their IGL both more options and a better understanding of the round.
In team’s that are having trouble with basic communication, the first step is always to encourage everyone to simply talk more. Getting better at communicating doesn’t happen overnight, so it’s good to remember while practicing that talking too much is always a better problem to have than not talking enough. On the other hand, it can be quite easy to get carried away and flood communication lines for the rest of your team with repeated information or confusing calls. Practicing communication will always be harder and yield far less tangible results than something like aim-training, deathmatch, etc; however, working on being a good communicator will make a player more valuable to their team team and will undoubtedly allow them to perform better at higher levels of play.