eSports Teams & Players: How eSports Teams Work

eSports Academy Course 105

All the different positions and functions of each member of an eSports team can seem like a foreign language to those who haven’t played. In traditional sports, each position has a straightforward role to play. They were specifically designed so that kids, the next generation of players, could easily understand them.

The electronic gaming scene is different only in its complication. There are so many mechanics and features to eSports, it’s all very thought-out. These players have roles that involve more than what traditional sports have laid out.

But even still, Lineup’s very own eSports Academy is here to help! If you’d like an introduction to eSports, you can find that here. If you’d like a helpful glossary of terms for beginners, you can find that here.

So what makes an eSports team?

Team Roster Positions for Top eSports

eSport Roster Positions Roster Titles
League of Legends 5 Top Laner
Mid Laner
Jungler
AD Carry
Support
Dota 2 5 Hard Carry
Mid
Offlaner
Position 4 Support
Position 5 Support
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive 5 Entry Fragger
Playmaker
Strat Caller
Lurker
AWPer
Call of Duty 4 Objective
Slayer
Support
Anchor
Overwatch 4 DPS
Support
Tank
Flex
Smite 5 Jungler
Solo Laner
Mid Laner
AD Carry
Support
Rocket League 3 (unofficial) Forward
Mid
Back
Team Fortress 2 6 Medic
Demoman
Roamer
Pocket
Utility 1
Utility 2
Rainbow Six: Siege 4 Anchor
Roamer
Flex
Support

Sponsorship

An eSports team’s story is thought to begin with the meeting of a group of friends. They decide to pursue competitive gaming and form a team. However, the story of an eSports team normally starts with a sponsor. Being a business like any traditional sport, eSports doesn’t just allow any group of friends to be eligible for an official, recognized team. As much as I wish it were true, it’s not.

There are costs for establishing and operating an eSports team. Depending on the league, teams that are self-funded might not get acknowledged as an official team. This is why the eSports team doesn’t really begin till they gain a sponsor. Generally, participating in tournaments and competitions that are small (probably local) can put a player into the eye of sponsors. Victories are almost assured to catch the attention of the video game equivalent of a ‘talent scout.’

Sponsorships are the goal of every upstarting player. Ambition and passion can make a talent stand out, but only funding will get them into the big leagues.

Coaching

eSports Coach

Credit: britishesports.org

After a team has been sponsored, their next goal is leadership. It’s very typical for a team to have a captain, who frequently also coaches, but a bigger sponsorship means bigger budget. Bigger budget means that a team can hire a real coach. The strength of a coach comes from knowledge of the game and experience playing competitively. Coach A could be the most divergent thinker there is, able to pull strategies out of nowhere. Still, Coach B has spent years playing the game at the competitive level and has also studied the game on the side. Who’s the stronger coach? Coach A might have moments of brilliance, but Coach B will be more consistently effective.

On teams with very low budgets, the head coach might also be the manager, owner, and founder of the team. The business aspect of eSports has come a long way. However, managers, owners, and founders are virtually absent during play. Coaches are not. Coaches are present and focused, ready to guide their team through any hardship. And the sub-set of coaches is full of variety. Though they might not go by the name, psychologists hired by the more loaded teams act like coaches during play. They might handle and assuage the stress of players, which can be especially helpful in fast-paced games like CS:GO and Call of Duty.

Of course, more coaches rationally means better guidance, but sprouting eSports teams have to work with the budget their sponsors give.

Players

The number of players on a team depends on the game. The standard is five active players, such as for League of Legends teams. That said, there is pretty much no limit on how many back-ups and non-starters that a team can keep. Back to the point: the structure of an eSports team varies. There is no single layout, just like traditional sports.

Also like traditional sports, eSports teams tend to have similar components. In games that have objectives worth points, there’s going to be a position or two on a team dedicated specifically to that. For example, Call of Duty teams have an Objective role, responsible for planting bombs, capturing flags, and staying in zones, to name a few. Alternatively, in games where the objective is not as crucial to victory, the players are given positions to earn by killing opponents.

Because the games, teams, and therefore players are all of a smaller scale than traditional sports, eSports often has to delegate big responsibilities to each player. It’s an inverted proportion; as the number of spots decreases, the weight of responsibility on each increases. So, roles that otherwise would be shared among everyone (namely support) are given to a single member of the team. This forces division of a game’s mechanics and features. It’s common to see something like: damage-dealer/asserter, healer/supporter, scouter/sneaker, defender/repeller, and specialist/magic user. That’s as simple as the organizations can make with such complex games.

Damage-Dealer/Asserter

eSports Asserter (Weixiao)

Credit: gfinity.net

These are all pretty self-explanatory, and this first general role is the most so. Like the name states, this player’s position is the assertive one. Push this, kill these, weaken that; that sort of thing. Asserters are the opposites of Repellers. There’s friction between these two roles across the board, but their confrontations are anything but boring. Asserters are the players charged with putting dents in the tougher enemies, players or NPCs.

In games like Call of Duty, the role of Slayer is the Asserter. They are the player with the biggest bite, unleashed to tear up, as described here, “anything that moves.” Kills upon kills upon kills. That’s similar to the Attack-Damage Carry (ADC) of League of Legends. That player has the biggest bite, but often needs to be supported in fights.

Roster Titles: Top Laner, Mid Laner, Bot Laner, AD Carry; Hard Carry, Mid; Entry Fragger, Playmaker; Objective, Slayer; DPS; Solo Laner, Mid Laner, AD Carry; Forward; Demoman; Flex.

 

Healer/Supporter

eSports Supporter (Mata)

Credit: gfinity.net

The police have back-up. The military has reinforcements. Gamers have supports. Almost all teams have a position set aside for this. Esports don’t reward full-aggression, especially when there are wildcards like a Sneaker lurking somewhere. Most games don’t have a ‘heal on the fly’ mechanic, so it’s up to the Supporters to stay by their teammates and heal them. The Healer/Supporter of the team is the reason that engagements with the enemy aren’t over in three seconds.

“I need help!” is a phrase often thrown out by a player when chaos breaks out. And when chaos breaks out, it’s imperative to keep orderly and calm. So when a player calls out, not every teammate scrambles to stop what they’re doing and help. They rely on the Supporter to do their job. It’s common to see Healers constantly moving between teammates, keeping near them for short durations of time before moving on. This is strategic, this is useful; this is the duty of a player in the Healer/Supporter position.

Roster Titles: Support; Position 4 Support, Position 5 Support; Strat Caller; Support; Support; Support; Mid; Medic, Pocket; Support.

Scouter/Sneaker

eSports Jungler (Dandy)

Credit: gfinity.net

This is a position unique to eSports. How many traditional sports have players tasked with remaining off the grid? This role comes from the difference in medium. As opposed to cameras filming an entire field, there are monitors each focusing on a player. When advancing and retreating causes a match to stagnate, advantage comes from the shadows. Players in positions of reconnaissance, Scouters, are extremely useful. They provide information on enemy movements and positions to their teammates.

What makes the Sneaker so dangerous is their ability to hide. They can conceal themselves, stay out of the main action, so the agenda of the team can be more than just ‘rush [location].’ Depending on the game, they can go seek kills elsewhere, make progress on other objectives while the team is occupied, or even circle behind the enemies that their teammates are engaging. Not all games have roles like this, but the one most popular is Jungler for League of Legends.

Roster Titles: Jungler; Offlaner; Lurker; Jungler; Roamer, Utility 1, Utility 2; Roamer.

Defender/Repeller

eSports Defender

Credit: liquipedia.net

Once a location has been conquered by the Asserters, how will an eSports team keep their opponents from re-capturing it? A Defender. These players tend to have a high resistance to damage, able to take a whole lot before going down. In exchange for that (in order to keep things balanced), Defenders don’t deal all that much damage. They might also be slower. As said earlier, Defenders hold the line against Asserters. They repel the opposing players to solidify their teams’ progress.

An eSports team might have a position leaning more towards a protector, but that is usually a combination of the roles of Supporter and Defender. In any case, the defensive strength of a team can add value to their accomplishments. In other words, the team can advance forward without having to retreat. This keeps them out of a cycle that would not make for great entertainment, or it might, who am I to judge?

Roster Titles: Anchor; Tank; Back; Anchor.

Specialist/Magic User

Credit: venuesnow.com

This is another position unique to eSports. This position is also unique to each game. For example, in CS:GO, this role is dedicated to a weapon: the AWP. If there is a particular feature of the game that has a lot of promise or weight in terms of advantage, then it’s plausible that an eSports team will make a position for it. Magic Users, in the games they appear in, deal a different kind of damage. It might be that a Repeller is strong against Asserters but weak against Specialists. Teams want to capitalize on as many advantages as possible, but only the most practical are given to Specialists.

This position isn’t limited to items, weapons, or mechanics. If there is a certain location that is crucial to winning a match, an eSports team might make it the job of the Specialist to control that location to the best of their ability. All of these roles assume that the player will be working to the best of their ability. Everyone has to pull their weight. The effectiveness of a team is largely contingent on its communication. If the team members communicate well, then there’s a great chance that they’ll do well. This isn’t a universal law, but it’s an underlying part of all eSports.

Roster Titles: AWPer; Flex; Flex.

Hungry to learn more? Check out our other articles such as the best eSports players of all time, the biggest eSports events in all of its short history, and the highest paid eSports players in the world. You can enjoy all these and more right here on Lineups!

  
I'm a Creative Writing-Psychology double major at Butler University, Class of 2021. My closest friends are the leaders of Butler's eSports Team, so I've become very interested in the subject and I'm excited to get involved in it myself. A lover of video games and writing, working with Lineups is the perfect opportunity for me to coalesce these two passions of mine and gain experience writing professionally.

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