To group, or not to group? Calling for team fights is something most people do at one point or another, but sometimes there are better alternatives. What’s more, once you have all 5 people together, how do you make the most of your team composition to ensure that your 5v5 is better than theirs? This article goes through everything you need to know about team composition to succeed in Solo Queue.
As you read this article, remember to play what you are good at, don’t change your champion to something you aren’t comfortable with simply to fit your team comp (although there are other reasons that are good to play things you aren’t comfortable with). But, if you CAN play a champion that fits better into your team’s comp, try to do so. Some champions (e.g. Sona) fit comfortably into any comp.
If you don’t know much about team compositions, there are 5 basic types: Poke, Peel, AOE (Area of Effect), Dive, and Splitpush. That being said, no team comp is one-dimensional. For example, Amumu is easily recognized as having strong AOE, but he is also a very strong diver, and can peel well, if needed. That being said, I wouldn’t expect him to be splitpushing, and he doesn’t have any poke to speak of (which is not to say he couldn’t work with certain poke champions). He would probably fit best into a dive-AOE comp with Karthus, Graves, Sona, and Jarvan, who are also strong in both AOE and dive potential.
As I go through this, I will mention “signature champions” that aren’t part of the example list. If you are familiar with these champions and how they work, you should understand why they represent the criteria they do. If you don’t understand why they represent their criteria, play them in normal games when you have a chance, or pay attention to how other people play them, and you will come to understand.
Poke: champions with long range abilities designed to harass the opponent into submission are pokers. The key to making a poke comp work is being able to disengage. Nidalee is a signature poke champion because she can throw her spears from unreachable distances, and run away easily with her cougar form. Heals/shields are often key component of poke compositions in order to correct for any poke that is traded back/misteps taken while poking, which Nidalee also has. I tend to group hooks ( from Nautilus, Thresh, and Blitz… not so much Darius because of it’s range) into poking abilities, because they work very similarly (minus disengability, but that’s not often something that’s needed). Wave clearing is another very handy thing to have with poke compositions, since it lends itself to postponing fights (giving more time to poke) as well as clearing obstacles for skillshots. Good Poking Champions are:
- Top: Elise, Rumble, Jayce
- Mid: Lux, Xerath, Syndra
- Jungle: Trundle (his pillar makes skillshots easy to land), Cho’gath, Mundo
- Support: Zyra, Soraka, Sona
- ADC: Caitlyn, Sivir, Corki
Peel: Peel (a term coming from they idea that divers want to “stick” to a target, while their opponents want to “peel them off”) compositions are used to protect hypercarries, usually by CCing enemies or by buffing the ADC. What differentiates a hypercarry from a carry? As long as they can put out a consistent stream of damage that is significantly higher than a typical carry late game when max item builds are being reached, the champion can be considered a hypercarry. Because the damage output needs to be consistent, aut0-attacks are usually the vehicle for the damage (so, of course, they are usually an ADC), making champions with strong auto-attack modifiers, such as Vayne, more likely to be a hypercarry. Good champions for hypercarry/peel comps are:
- Top: Kayle, Shen, Yorick
- Mid (HyperCarry): Orianna, Ryze, Cassiopeia
- Mid (peeling carry): Morgana, Zilean, Galio
- Jungle: Nunu, Nautilus, Maokai
- Support: Lulu, Janna, Alistar
- ADC: Tristana, Twitch, Kog’Maw
AOE: Area of Effect abilities are pretty self-explanatory, they are multi-target abilities designed to hit 3+targets at a time. Champions with resets can usually be grouped into this category, because they work similarly to AOE abilities, and work well with them (Katarina is an excellent example of this, think of her as a signature reset/AOE champ). Signature AOE champions are Karthus, Miss Fortune, and Amumu (Curse of the Sad Bullet Requiem). Good Champions for AOE comps are:
- Top: Vlad, Darius, Kennen
- Mid: Kha’Zix, Evelyn, Annie
- Jungle: Sejuani, Jarvan, Volibear
- Support: Sona, Nami, Fiddlesticks
- ADC: Varus, Graves, Ashe
Dive: Dive compositions are generally typified by champions with immediate gapclosers, as well as the ability to come out on top of a fight once that gap is closed. If they can avoid being kited, and are strong enough to come out on top of some risky tower dives, dive comps can be very scary indeed. There are a lot of people that I think of as signature divers, but intimidation is a huge strength in dive comps, so I will give the award to Hecarim, because he gets a terrify. Also, melee carries such as Yi and Riven often find themselves most comfortable in these compositions.
- Top: Aatrox, Poppy, Irelia
- Mid: Diana, Lissandra, Akali
- Jungle: Warwick, Zac, Nocturne
- Support: Thresh, Leona, Taric
- ADC: Urgot, Graves, Quinn
Splitpush: Splitpushing can be done a couple of ways, depending on the champion type. Good splitpushing characteristics are: strong dueling potential, swift wave clearing abilities, and high mobility-usually in the form of a global/semi-global ultimate that can be used to aid the team after pulling away one of the members of the enemy team. A good splitpusher will have 2-3 of these characteristics. For example, Twisted Fate is a signature splitpusher because he can waveclear quickly, and rejoin his team in time for a fight, while also providing vision of the enemy team even if he isn’t able to rejoin (including stealthed champions like Rengar, Vayne, and Kha’Zix). Zed is an exceptional splitpusher because he can clear waves rapidly, and out-duel almost anything sent to deal with him. Because anyone can carry teleport as a summoner spell, virtually any champion can splitpush fairly well, but here are some champions that can splitpush well without it:
- Top: Singed, Pantheon, Tryndamere
- Mid: Malzahar, Ziggs, Kassadin
- Jungle: Shaco, Udyr, Lee Sin
- Support: Taric, Blitzcrank, Karma
- ADC: Quinn, Draven, Ezreal
Every composition will be able to poke, peel, etc. to some degree (Ezreal doesn’t have much AOE, but it is there), so what I like to do is rate each team on a scale of 1-5 in each category (poke, peel, etc.), so that I don’t overlook anything. Understanding where they are strong compared to where we are will dictate the types of situations and engages I try to create/avoid, and if you do so, you should reach the same result. There are, of course, many other variables to assess when looking at team comps, bit in Solo Queue, with very little time to coordinate with the strangers you are with, these are the simplest ways that you can create synergy.
Okay, with the preliminaries out of the way, let’s get into the meat of the matter: Composition Analysis. When I’m in the loadscreen, I look at their comp, and then our comp. Usually their is some sort of unity to it (if they have an Amumu, they probably have MF, Karthus, Sona or other strong AOE champs).
The first step is to determine what class of comp each team has 1:unified 2:functional 3: disorganized. A unified comp would be one where everyone is trying to do the same thing (like the dive-AOE dive comp listed above). A functional comp might have 3-4 people doing the same thing, with 1-2 others that don’t stack with the rest of the team, but can be used in tandem with the rest of the team. For example, take Jarvan out of the example comp and substitue in Shen. Shen can splitpush and ult back to create the 4v5s he is know for, and can plausibly get off his taunt on several people, so he still works very well with the comp. The same could be done with TF in place of Karthus, also splitpushing, and using his semi-AOE in teamfights he can quickly rejoin.
A disorganized comp could be Janna, Graves, Vlad, Elise, and Talon, which at best could be used for a tri-lane splitpush (but would run into multiple problems doing so), since their is no AOE CC to work with Vlad’s ult, Janna has the only real peel, but since Graves likes to be up in the enemy’s face a lot of her ult’s utility goes to waste, and Elise’s poke probably wouldn’t do much ahead of time to get the fight rolling in the right direction.
If a team does not have an organized comp, you have the advantage of being able to run your comp however you feel like given it’s strengths (e.g. if you have strong AOE, you can mostly focus on getting the wombo combo off, it will be stronger than their response, so you don’t have to focus on their rebuttal as much). If they do however, you have to take into consideration their strengths and avoid them, while still playing your comp as strongly as possible. I made the following “counters” guide for myself when considering team comps (as with lane counters, you still have to play the matchup correctly to come out on top):
- AOE> Dive, Peel (divers all go at a target, so if you clump, they clump, making is easy to get the AOE off on everyone. In order to peel for a hyper carry, you have to be close to them, which makes it easy to get AOEs off on everyone, including the hyper carry.)
- Splitpush> AOE, Peel (If you are splitpushing, dividing their team up, they can’t chain off their AOE abilities, nor can the hyper carry get the peel they need).
- Dive> Poke, Splitpush ( How do you kill a Nidalee? Dodge one spear and then dive on her. The same generally holds true of other strong poke champions; if they have very powerful poke, then odds are you can destroy them in a 1v1 fist fight if you avoid the poke first. Divers are usually strong 1v1ers, and so if a team is divided by their splitpush, the divers can force 1v1/2v2 fights that they will muscle their way through.
- Poke> AOE, Splitpush (Pokers don’t need to clump up, which allows them to delay an engage indefinitely, giving them more and more time to get poke off. Splitpushing takes time to get towers, giving more time to get poke off, just keep waveclearing and again, you can poke indefinitely)
- Peel> Poke, Dive (As long as the hypercarry doesn’t get hit by poke, the poke doesn’t matter (much). What’s more, shields/heals can mitigate poke substantially. Peelers are good at pulling off divers, mitigating their damage, CCing them when they dive, etc… it’s kind of what they are designed to do, as the name implies)
Finally, no comp is going to fit into just one of these categories, a unified comp will usually fit into 2-3 (this point is important enough to merit it’s repetition), but could theoretically fit all 5 (e.g. Sona, Morgana, Nautilus, Vlad, Caitlyn), there are a lot of variables to consider when analyzing comps. For Composition Analysis to yield results, you need to take into account as many variables as possible and compare them to see what advantages you can take. For example, let’s say one team has a Dive-AOE team, while the other has a Peel-Poke comp. AOE will have an edge against peeling, but peeling can deal well with the dive component. Dive should beat the poke should beat out the poke component, but will be thwarted by the peel. Mid-game analyze what exactly you are having troubles with. Are your divers getting kited down? If so, they are peeling well, and you should probably be trying to focus more on comboing AOEs off on the peelers and then focusing them down (this, of course, is not true in all circumstances, you must use your judgement). If you’re getting poked down while trying to set up a wombo combo, odds are you should dive in there and start brawling, possibly using your AOE on them if the clump up to save the person dived on, otherwise just finishing them off.
As always, I encourage you to add, argue, etc. in the comments. Thanks for reading!