The Party of Five
Shaun 'Profeci' Murrell
Esports, in contrast to physical sports, has often struggled to assign value to the roles in its various disciplines. While it is easy enough to mark out the support or the awper or the dps in their respective games, it is much more difficult to correctly identify who is most critical to the success of a team. The hero of the story, or primary protagonist so to speak. In my time watching esports I’ve come to think of teams as a Five-Man Band. This term is originally derived from music, but it has since been used to describe party dynamics in other media (including movies, TV shows, and literature).
What is the Five-Man band? Well it’s the most common setup of a five-piece band from the 1960s and 1970s with a Lead Singer, Lead Guitarist, Drummer, Keyboardist, and Backup Singer. That’s the textbook, though to me its the five person party you most often see in a movie or series. It seemed a fitting analogue to the way teams had built themselves around superstar players in early Dota 2 and League of Legends. The superstar carry or mid-laner was the primary character in a party of five. I’ve since thought of teams as parties of five, each matching some general characteristics. These are not the role a player plays or a position they hold, such as AD Carry. This instead serves as a description of what function they serve in a team and how the team is structured.
The original members of a Five-Man Band are: The Leader (Lead Singer), The Lancer (Lead Guitarist), The Big Guy (Drummer), The Smart Guy (Keyboard), and The Chick (Backup Singer). My version is: The Hero, The Lancer, The Big Guy, The Smart Guy, and The Glue Guy.
The Hero is the primary star on a team. This is the player the team is built around and is designed to maximise the potential of. Examples include Marcelo “coldzera” David, Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi, or Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok. The person who day in, day out, will deliver the performances that carry your team over the line, the person to land the final blow and defeat the enemy. Whether they are the carry or the top-laner, the awper or the tank, they are your best player and the most important part of the team. If this were an anime then we’re talking about Goku.
The dark to The Hero’s light, the yin to their yang, the offence to your defence. The Lancer is the next biggest threat on your team. If The Hero is an aggressive flashy player then The Lancer is the defensive rock on which The Hero stands. If The Hero is the Rock then The Lancer is the loose cannon who goes wild. They tend to be the flashy player that takes over games on occasion, arguably the biggest weapon in your arsenal but not the most reliable one. Examples include Peter “dupreeh” Rothmann, Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora, and Paul “sOAZ” Boyer. In a Star Wars film you’re looking at Han Solo.
The Big Guy
Otherwise known as they who carry the heavy loads. The soldier. The guy who is going to run through a brick wall for your team and keeping doing it until either the enemy is dead or they died trying. They are solid, dependable, and can usually be found in the middle of the pack. They rarely light up the scoreboard but they keep trucking and opening up the space needed for The Hero and The Lancer to work their magic. Current Big Guys in esports include Dan “apEX” Madesclaire, Gustav “s4” Magnusson, and Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong. In a Lord of the Rings movie this is Gimli the Dwarf.
The Smart Guy
The Smart Guy is the reedy, bespeckled genius who comes up with the plan to save the day. He won’t knock anyone out but without him the rest of the crew won’t make it out of the trouble they’re in. They are the primary voice in the team and call the shots which the others follow for good or ill. They’re the leaders whose job it is to fit everyone into the system and find the best way to forge ahead. Examples include Peter “ppd” Dager, Kevin “Ex6TenZ” Droolans, and Hai “Hai” Du Lam. If you’re watching The Simpsons this is Lisa.
The Glue Guy
This is the everyman, the often-forgotten dependable guy who does all of the work to fill the gaps and keep everyone upbeat in the darkest hour. They keep the team together by doing the jobs no one else wants. They’re the jack of all trades, but the master of none (as the old adage goes). This is the player you depend on to help make your heavy hitters hit harder. They throw the flashbang for The Hero or pop healing to keep The Big Guy alive for that vital extra second or two. Classic Glue Guys are Ruben “RUBINO” Villarroel, Lu “Fenrir” Chao, and Bae “Bengi” Seong-woong. Hawkeye from the Avengers is the perfect fit for this spot.
The A Team
So now that the members of the band are identified I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “Why can’t there be two Heroes or no Glue Guy? How do they work together?” The reason you can’t have multiple players who represent The Hero or The Smart Guy is the same reason you can’t have two lead singers in a band. If they both try to sing the same part of a song you get a terrible mess, but if they sing together they create magic as a contrast to one another and also who’s on drums then? Each member works with the others to create a piece of music. Only together can it succeed and become great. Two Heroes would both think that they’re meant to defeat the enemy alone but The Lancer understands that by landing the punch that staggers the opposition, it creates the opening for The Hero to land that knockout punch.
This is how I try to think of teams when I’m modeling them. Agree? Disagree? How do you model your teams?
Images via Google.