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Some lessons from the last WCS

As a participant of World 100 (for Ultimate Veterans, world ended in a draw between Ultimate and nVidia), WCS 2015 (for League of Legends, world won by nVidia), WCS 2017 (for High Speed, world won by Mara Schaffa), and WCS 2019 (for Schaffa, won by Schaffa) I would like to share some thoughts for the future:

1. In all of these worlds the main contenders were a German team with a few allies, and against them was a coalition of teams speaking (mostly) several other languages.

2. The coalition sometimes was able to mobilize and sometimes it was not. World 100 was the closest the coalition got to winning: nVidia - was behind on digging, lost home territory and most poi, but a quarrel within the coalition forced a draw (pact between ultimate and nVidia). The second closest competition was WCS 2017 with simultaneous approach to center and months of non-stop lockdown-pvp from both sides. WCS 2019 was a serious level of competition (particularly in numbers), though a little less threatening in the end. On WCS 2015 Ultimate did not go, which left most European UV/UR players without a home, the main competitors were actually other german teams (LoL and Aktenzeichen), so it was a relatively easy win for nVidia.

3. One of the big determinants of success was the individual strength of top players on each side (I do not mean just rank on a particular server, but my subjective evaluation of their strength, based on the fact that now I have played and spoken with a large fraction of players on both sides). Though the coalition always had a lot more people overall, of the top 30 strongest players on the server, invariably more than half was on the side of the German team. The closer this proportion was to balance, the fiercer the competition was on the server. On W100 coalition had a slight advantage (around 13/17 at start, less so later on), it was about even on WCS2017 (16/14 let's say), on WCS 2019 it was a little bit unbalanced (19/11), while on WCS2015 most top-30 players were on German side (25/5).

4. Another big advantage was communication, particularly in pvp. Having participated in coordinating interactions between the coalition members on WCS 2015 and 2017, and being on Schaffa's ts on WCS 2019, there is no doubt in my mind about this as the BIGGEST difference. While German teams have at times more than 100 people on teamspeak simultaneously, and it is always lively and there are a dozen of people you can talk to, different-language coalition members always have different preferred means of communication (teamspeak in each language, discord in each language, whatsap, skype etc). Over the course of the first three servers, I have not seen more than 15 players in a voice channel simultaneously, ever. Overall voice communication is dead the majority of the time. One might say it is natural to some extent, since if you speak different languages you need a translator, and even if you have one lots of nuances are lost in translation. But it gives a huge edge for several reasons:

a) The first edge that a mono-language team has is the speed of reaction. If a member of one language has a problem and nobody with the same language is online, then it takes 10-30 minutes to get somebody online to fix the problem. If pvp starts, then that base as well as many others are long dead by that time. For a mono-language team usually by the time of the second pvp attack people are online in all relevant accounts able to respond. There is also always a core small group with access to all the logins, but it usually speaks different languages in the coalition and has less trust for each other, while in a mono-language team the core group is bigger and trust each other more.

b) The second advantage is how clinical the actions are/how many mistakes are made. If you are in the coalition, there is almost never more than one (if at all) person that you can discuss with what to do. If there is always half a dozen of people that can voice their ideas on what to do, the action is not only faster but also a lot more thought-through and efficient. In pvp where timing and small nuances matter so much, this is crucial for success.

c) Third, constant communication is crucial for morale. When you always have several people that can lift your spirits and draw positive lessons from the current mistakes, you feel that you did everything you could and next time will do better. Also, it is always reassuring that if it was not you, somebody else would have done the same thing. When you win everybody says good job and the positive morale is reinforced. On the other hand, when you are the only one online responding in a delayed and rushed way, you are more likely to lose, but then you also constantly question yourself whether you made a mistake. Later on what you get is blame for **** happening on your watch and you have to explain how this happened, so next time you do not want to be online when stuff happens, because all you get is blame. Morale drops, participation falls, that's a vicious circle.

d) Fourth, experience is not accumulated. There is still a problem on both sides that people who do a lot of night-time pvp, are constantly underappreciated. Nobody sees the amount of work that is done and time that is spent, gratitude is never on par and the blame is always outsized. If the outcome is negative, it can drive you crazy. Not surprisingly, the coalition always ends up in a blame shifting exercise, half of the people (usually the stronger half that carried most of the burden) quit playing, the negative experience is lost and nobody learns from it, the next coalition starts from a clean slate, very few of the problems are addressed by those who stay, the story repeats itself. On the other hand, if you look at the German teams, a bunch of people have 3-4 wcs badges. Experience is there to stay, addictive to a degree: they want to do it again.

5. I think that tactical details are also important, but they are all a consequence of the quality of players, the quality of communication and standing on the shoulders of giants (experience of previous teams). For instance, it was always very important: when to transfer main base, how much rt to accumulate before transfer, how to build up main base, when to stop building credits on cash bases and to start building defenses, the poi path towards center, capturing and holding the center, pvp tactics, etc.

6. Many of these details might vary depending on the world setup, on the patches that are implemented, on the events etc. But those are the conditions that everybody faces and they are the same for everybody. The team with stronger players and better communication will adapt to those faster, use them in a smarter way and little by little, step by step get ahead. So these details do not really matter in the end, although they always get blamed as reasons for defeat.

In order to win next time (and to some extent to win any world), I think those that come after us need to address these issues first:
1. how to gather under a common banner as many of the strongest players as possible
2. how to organize the motivational and command structure
3. who will be taking a vacation and has a flexible schedule to spend time on pvp
4. how to organize communications and the positive feedback loops (learning from mistakes, morale etc)
5. how to bring as many people as possible into a common voice channel

I hope these thoughts help those that play the next WCS! Good luck!

p.s. I would like to thank the leadership of Schaffa for the invitation and trust: without that I would have never been able to see both perspectives


  • That was a thoughtful analysis!
  • забавно что тебе пох на всех тех с кем ты играл раньше это печально
  • WarriorXG
    13 posts Member
    edited September 2019
    Nice analysis. Thank you for sharing.

    It blew my mind when you said there were over 100 people in voice chat at the same times. I knew Schaffa had great communication, but would never have thought that was even possible.

    Many of the things you mention are the same on all servers, but as you observed with increased competitive levels in the WCS, they are not just extra effort, they are critical aspects.

    One big factor that you could add to your analysis: that success attracts talent.

    Nobody wants to lose because it is painful and a big waste of time. So top players want to be in a team with other strong players where their chances of success are higher. Schaffa core players are recognized as the strongest team in the game, so they can recruit talent like yourself and other top players without much effort, while other teams have to persuade and put a lot of effort into attracting talent. For WCS, it usually requires developing that talent (rather than recruiting it) in a group that has loyalty as its foundation. Takes years and with each big loss, the game gets to not being fun, accusations of leaders and teammates (negative, downward spiral of feedback you mentioned) gets top players to feel they were victimized by the team and loyalty breaks down, players you have developed leave in disappointment, and starting over seems like a monumental effort that is unlikely to pay off. In my opinion, this is one of the main reasons why Schaffa is the undisputed leader in the game.

    The team to defeat Schaffa has to do a better job than Schaffa can do recruiting talent, by having a large group of top talent actively developing additional top talent and concentrating 30 or 40 unknown but true top players into one alliance that blindsides Schaffa so they do not see it coming (along with your insights of pvp, organization, acquiring and adapting to new information, and communication). It will be a huge amount of work for the team that manages to do it. But when Schaffa loses, the same negative spirals will probably happen in Schaffa. Top players will likely start to say the leaders are content and not putting in the effort, or are responsible for bad decisions from the top player's perspective (hindsight type things). Top guys will fall out because they lose sight of victory, making things worse. Many who fall out will be bitter, which brings down morale. Other top players are positive people and are unwilling to put up with the negativity that builds up in the alliance. With the increase in complaints and criticizm and decrease in positive input, the alliance chat becomes more and more negative and players log in less due to it. The score difference to the top alliance gets bigger and the feeling that the loss is imminent keeps building up. There are many petitions and demands from leaders for the players to work harder, but they stop trying to inspire the team to believe in victory, because they do not believe it themselves and are unwilling to lie to their team. Then all you hear are some of the good players (not extreme top) trying to save face by exposing their theories of why them being an awesome player are losing a server. It is always someone else's fault. Blame, blame, blame. That will probably not change in any team. In my opinion it is simply how some people deal with the grieving process of losing.
  • LMAO!!!
  • I don't know the worlds before the WCS 2019 because I didn't play them but I can answer you with two statements.
    Before Wcs shaffa lost many server against russian, against TTD and against both (Tib 32 Tib 37 etc..)

    It is not true that they always win, simply in WCS 2019 they won for 3 reasons:

    1) Patch to favor their style of play (I don't want to reopen the controversy but it is so and everyone who has played knows it)

    2) Because there are players who like you and lviv try at all costs to play with them while belonging to other teams that have allowed them to learn the game over time (it's called loyalty).

    3) For mistakes made very evident by the coalition, but, in my opinion, they are certainly not the strongest, and they would have lost even with one of the factors highlighted in less.

    But we'll try again, don't worry, even if we talk 10 different languages, in fact it's even more fun believe me, last thing, TTD from your friends shaffa has been at the center of insults because they use the alts, what are your friends doing now in 41?

    (Enemy forever of shaffa on any server whether I win or lose)
  • The biggest impact on the result of the last championship was affected by insufficient time to study the features of the new patch. You can’t change the rules before starting the game. Of course, language problems create additional difficulties, more experienced players quickly adapt to changes, and if they get clarifications in their native language, how the patch works, it helps them a lot.
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