With the Tournament Realm in full swing and many online Tournaments coming up, many may wonder what separates a good player from a top quality one. One of those things is having excellent communication. Communication is key to success in Arena. Gear matters, skill matters, experience matters, comp matters, but without good communication you are sure to fail. Today I'm going to make a small outline of what makes for successful communication in Arenas.
1.) Gaming Microphones
Buy a microphone! Make sure your microphone isn't horrible. Make sure it doesn't make static noises, and when you talk it's clear. There are plenty of good gaming microphones; Try googling reviews for some and you will bound to find one you're happy with.
I can't tell you how many people I've played with that have horrible microphones! Bad microphones make me never want to play with them again. Don't be lazy, there are decent cheap microphones out there if you're on a budget. It's VERY annoying to play with someone's mic if it's too soft or makes a lot of static noises. Make sure your microphone isn't too close to your keyboard, especially if you've got one of those mechanical keyboards that make loud sounds as you type. You can be a really good player but if you don't have a microphone capable of making you sound clear, most people aren't going to be willing to play with you and your Arena ratings will suffer.
My microphone / headset
2.) VOIP Programs
Unless your partner is nearby or you have the gift of telepathy, you're going to need a VOIP program so you can talk to each other. One of the most common ones for Arenas these days is Skype. People also use Ventrilo and Mumble, but Skype is the popular choice with all top Arena players because it has the right combination of quality, IM capabilities and file sending.
You don't have to be outgoing to communicate during Arena matches. I've met many types of people, and they all communicate differently. Just remember to communicate anything you may deem important, including strategies, debuffs, or communication requests.
Watching high ranking teams play is a good way to get an idea of the level of communication your team should be aiming for. Each team will be a little different, but there are important basics that should be adhered to while your team learns to build its synergy. Calling out your CCs, cooldown usage, and positioning changes are all good things to start practicing. In order to effectively lock down an enemy, your team will need to know when you're using a CC, and in turn, you should expect the same of them.
For example, let's say as a Warlock you Death Coil a Rogue off of yourself to gain a little more room to breathe. You must communicate this with your team. Not only will this indicate that you're unable to fully contribute to a CC combo for another minute thirty, but you may also keep your ally from wasting an ability of their own to save your butt! As your team's synergy builds, your allies will begin to recognize when and how you use your CC defensively, and will preemptively assist you before that becomes necessary. However, it's never bad form to continue calling for assistance, and announcing the use and availability of your CC. Keeping these habits sharp is the key to improving, and communicating the state of your abilities is a great way to ensure that your team factors them into their on-the-fly strategies. There's nothing worse than losing a match due to forgotten cooldowns.
The flip side to this coin is factoring in your enemy's cooldowns as well. Communicating the use of your own abilities is just as vital as doing the same of your enemies. If a Rogue pops Shadow Dance, be sure to inform your healer that you will not only need dedicated healing for a short while, but that the Rogue's damage potential should also be reduced for x number of minutes. These bits of information will not only indicate when it might be safe for your healer to slow down and take a breath, but also when an enemy team may be vulnerable due to a lack of cooldowns.
Here's a video of me and my teammates in arena.
4.) What to Communicate in the Game.
- Call out your CDs (example: Shadow Dance coming up in 5 seconds; Get ready to burst!)
Let people know when your cooldowns are coming up, and when you're going to use them! It's important for your teammates to know in order to line things up to get kills or survive.
- Call out your CCs (example: I got Blind out of that Hex!)
Your teammates need to know when you CC! Calling your CCs out gives them a way to line spells out of it, pop offensive CDs, etc. For example, they should know when a healer is full blinded with no trinket. Knowing that helps them know the other team could be in big trouble especially if you have offensive CDs still up.
- Call out for help, that you're out of CDs (example: I have no Cloak of Shadows here, need help!)
Teammates do not share the same screen as you, it's not always possible for them to know when you are in trouble. Let them know when you're in an iffy situation! Just being able to communicate this well will let you survive a lot more often. Many times when players die in Arena they do so before every defensive CD is used.
- Call out enemy cooldown usage (example: Rogue is Shadow Dancing on me, or Warlock used Spell Lock)
If your teammates don't stack addons it's going to be important for them to be informed of enemy CDs too. Knowing when an opponent uses Spell Lock for example lets your teammate know he can free cast. Similarly, if you see your opponent use a PvP trinket, if you let your teammates know about it a minute later they might be able to set up a really strong CC chain and get the win.
- Positioning Changes (example: I'm running behind the pillar to land the kill, push up with me / I got feared to Mars, watch out!)
One of the biggest mistakes many people make is to not communicate their plans to change positioning. If you see an opponent in a bad situation and you want to go in that's great. However, it's much better if your whole team can camp on that opportunity.
- There's more! Point is, call out any big changes in the game so your teammates and you can know what's happening.
Did you guys win or lose? What caused the outcome of the game?
While comps / gear / all that matters a lot, it's not something you need to communicate too much about. It might be fun to talk about it, but what's more important is to talk about what to do better next game. Even if you win, it's good to review a game and say things like "This strat worked great, but I want to try this next time" or "I think I got out of positioning there when I got low, I'll try to be more careful" etc. Let your teammates know you're trying to improve the team, and they will do the same.
Morale is an extremely big factor to Arena teams doing well or horrible. People and teams who are sinking in despair will tend to lose every game they go into, and teams who are confident in their team will win. What's the lesson in this? Improve your team's morale and win more! Don't be the negative guy who ruins the game for everyone. Play and have fun even if you see mistakes from your teammates. Communicate and improve on it, but don't bash or personally attack someone.
This is the hardest when you lose, especially when you feel like the fault lies with one of your teammates. However, no matter how bad it is don't get into that trap of just blaming others. It's quite plausible you could be right; but there's no chance you played the game "perfectly" as well. No one plays perfectly, there's always room to improve. In most cases your teammates are trying their best to win as well, your goals are the same! Try to keep that in mind no matter how bad an Arena session gets. I've had days where my teams would win 50 games in a row, or go on a completely horrible ratio. Things happen! Bad nights happen. Don't let it get to you. Talk about what you think your teammates did wrong calmly.
What is your goal when you Arena? Usually to have fun or to win. Winning is usually fun. To win you need to improve your team. When you talk to your teammates keep that goal in mind. Use constructive criticism. Talk to improve, not to attack. You're not playing to argue or to bash your teammates (I hope). Criticize what your teammates did, not the teammate him/herself.
Be as positive as you can! No one likes playing with negative people. If you have nothing good to say and it won't improve an issue; don't say it.
Know your enemy, know yourself, know your teammates. To do that you guys need to communicate! Get that microphone, download Skype, use your vocal chords, and most importantly don't be a prick! These simple things are what makes some top Arena players the best. Hopefully it'll help you do the same.