I’ve spoken before about why I think Team 8 is so strong. Their synergy, talent, and teamfighting are among the best in the world. Last night, during a streamed scrim block, another reason was confirmed for me. Today I want to dive a bit deeper into the shotcalling of Glaurung and why I think it’s so special.
For anyone unaware, let’s quickly set the stage. Dyrus, formerly of Team SoloMid’s League of Legends squad, has been streaming HOTS in partnership with Blizzard and the MakeAWish foundation. Through some combination of kismet and chicanery, he will be playing in the HGC as a member of Team 8 this weekend. We could talk plenty about just how crazy that is, and what it means for Heroes, but that’s another topic entirely.
Last night, Dyrus and several members of Team 8 streamed a block of scrims against Tempo Storm. We were able to observe the team’s drafting, planning, and full voice comms game after game. It was an incredible peek behind the curtain, and I’d like to personally say thank you to everyone at Team 8 and Tempo Storm for their willingness to let us see that much of their practice, albeit under special circumstances. The players on Team 8 should also be commended for their willingness to embrace Dyrus, and for someone to give up their roster spot for an official HGC match. It takes a lot of humility and team-first attitude to do that.
Now then, let’s get into it. What was really special for me last night was getting to hear Team 8’s voice comms. We’ve heard before that Glaurung is a primary shotcaller, and has been so on several teams. However, we’ve never really gotten to see him in all his leadership glory like we did last night. I want to break down several things I observed that make him so special, and explain much of Team 8’s success. I genuinely believe, based on what I heard last night, that Team 8 has every potential to be the best team in the world based purely on the ability of their shotcaller.
Volume and Consistency
The first thing I observed last night is just the amount and manner in which Glaurung shotcalls. During a game, there are no prolonged moments of silence. Whether the team loses a fight, gets picked off, or wins an engagement, Glau is constantly talking. He’s discussing macro gameplans before the match starts, he’s identifying win conditions throughout the game, and he is just constantly making calls.
Additionally, Glaurung’s tone of voice is exceptional. He is the loudest member of the team at all times, but he’s never just screaming. He has a strong, commanding voice. None of his calls end in that unsure up-turn of a question. At every moment in the game he is a leader. His voice doesn’t get lost in the mess of comms during team fights. He can clearly be heard leading the troops during the heat of battle.
It cannot be overstated how unique this is. I have coached and interviewed enough teams to know that this doesn’t typically happen. On most teams, there are periods of dead silence, especially after losing a teamfight. If the shotcaller falls behind, they often lose the confidence to call engagements, especially if they lost the early game through their own errors. None of that happens to Glau. This means that no matter the situation, Team 8 is still a threat because they can still make confident engagements and utilize all of their teamfighting prowess. They can continue to make macro plays because their shotcaller is constantly talking and looking for opportunities.
We Go Off Me
Every member of Team 8 is talented. They could all be a breakout star on a lower level team. However, on Team 8, everything runs through Glaurung. no matter what hero he’s playing, he knows to make plays around his own abilities. If he’s on Medivh, they engage off of a portal. If he’s on Lunara, they engage off of him landing solid poke. If he’s on Zeratul, they are looking for a pick or a big Void Prison. Given their style of shotcalling, this puts them in a major position of strength for teamfights.
Let me explain. There is an upper limit on your ability to react to audio cues. No matter how quick your reflexes, there will always be a small delay between your brain receiving the audio message, and then interpreting that into muscle movement. This means that if you are told to engage, there will always be a slight delay between the shotcaller seeing the opening, making the call, the team hearing the call, and then responding.
This is such a big deal that there are many in the amateur HOTS scene who believe that only the warrior player can be a truly effective shotcaller. On some level that makes sense–most often they are the one with the engage tools, they should be calling the engage. Obviously, this still holds true on Team 8 to a certain degree. If Justing sees an opportunity for a clutch Mosh Pit, he will take it. However, that’s not Team 8’s position of strength.
Because Glaurung is such a commanding shotcaller, the team is trained to react to his voice more quickly. He’s the one calling all the shots in the teamfight. It is so much easier for your brain to speak what you are doing than it is to play with perfect mechanics, and also dictate an engagement through other players. This is also what allows Glaurung to maintain such a high level of play as a primary shotcaller.
Anyone who’s ever been a primary shotcaller can explain this. You cannot focus perfectly on your own play and command a team the way Glaurung is doing for Team 8. It’s scientifically impossible. Look at Hai from Cloud 9’s League of Legends team. He’s likely one of the most talented players to ever play the game. However, he was always a middle of the pack mid laner at the pro level because his focus was constantly pulled elsewhere by needing to shotcall for his whole team during the laning phase.
It’s also happened to my teams enough that I learned my lesson. I used to always make my most talented player the primary shotcaller for the team. They had the most game knowledge and best mechanics, so they should be leading the team. However, every time I made this move, that player would suddenly start to struggle. They would get caught more in the early game, get out of position before big fights, and generally just play worse. Inevitably, I would take the shotcalling burden off of them, and their play would skyrocket back to where it had been. Glaurung is able to circumvent this by calling the fights from his own position, and building the game plan around his hero.
We won’t even waste time on Glau’s game knowledge. He’s exceptional, and has been since his days with Tempo Storm. Obviously that is important for a shotcaller, and Glaurung has it in spades. However, the last point I want to discuss is something so subtle, most people likely missed it while watching last night. However, this one thing is why I genuinely believe that Glaurung is not only the best shotcaller in the league, but will one day also be the best coach that Heroes has ever seen.
Last night, Dyrus played poorly. That’s obviously to be expected. While he was one of the best to ever play League of Legends, he’s been playing HOTS for two weeks. He simply doesn’t have the game knowledge to play perfectly in every situation. He still doesn’t know all the small interactions, or the optimal way his hero fits into each team comp. Last night, you would be perfectly reasonable if you blamed every Team 8 loss on Dyrus. He certainly gave the team plenty of opportunity. He identified his big mistakes each game and apologized. Any reasonable person would have said “hey dude, it’s cool, you’re new to the game” and moved on. But, if you listen close, that’s not what Glaurung did.
Every time Dyrus offered himself up as a free excuse for the loss, Glaurung stepped up. Go back and listen closely and you’ll here something like this:
Dyrus: Man, I really sucked that game, I still don’t know who to shield with Zarya.
Glaurung: Nah dude, I played like garbage that game. You were awesome, we would have had it if I hadn’t gotten caught.
Dyrus: I didn’t do anything that game, I just died instantly every fight.
Glaurung: Don’t sweat it man, that map is so hard when you get behind, we put you in a tough spot by dying early.
Obviously those aren’t direct quotes, but the point remains valid. Every time Dyrus opened the door for blame, Glaurung immediately put it back on himself. He never even called out another player directly. It was never “hey, it’s all good, Justing had a bad game, he couldn’t keep you alive.” This is the most amazing way to create a healthy team culture. Glaurung never has to tell his players to be critical of themselves, because he’s already living it. The team doesn’t devolve into playing the blame game, because their leader is the first to blame himself during a loss.This is something that NFL coaches preach constantly. Many teams have rules in place where you cannot criticize another player without first identifying a way that you messed up. If the team buys into this culture, there is no limit to what they can do.
As a former coach, I nearly cried hearing these reactions from Glau. So many times my teams would just fall apart because the skilled players never wanted to criticize their own play. They only wanted to talk about how they were being held back by the weakest member of the team. Last night the team had every excuse to not focus, not try their hardest, and put all of the free blame on Dyrus. Instead, they still examined their own play for wholes, and used the night to improve and prepare. That level of professionalism and team-first culture deserves to be commended. You cannot possibly know just how rare it is in esports. Every member of Team 8 deserves praise for their attitude, and it starts with their leader.
If you think I’m being hyperbolic, go back and watch last night’s stream. Watch the game where Dyrus is observing on Dragon Shire. Listen to how amazed he is by Glau’s shotcalling. He recognizes how special it is, and this is from a player who has been on one of the most storied teams in esports history. Team 8 is genuinely amazing. I also believe that this team culture will make them benefit even more from having a top notch coach. If a strong organization were to give them resources, this team more than any other would be able to use those resources to their fullest. The sky is the limit for Team 8, and I cannot wait to see what’s next.