This article forms part one of a three part series in which I will be looking at the role of an IGL in competitive play.
This essay will help to provide some tools with which to analyse how well an IGL can coordinate his/her team into beating the setup of defending teams. IGLs play a much more important role on attack, as defending falls more upon individual skill, pre-prepared setups, surprising bombsites, proficiency in plant denial and small tricks (bait setups etc.), whereas attacking is very much determined by how well a team is coordinated. I’ve identified three key areas of the role of an IGL (specified below), which will be explored over the next three weeks. Firstly, however, this article is concerned with exploring Microplays.
What are the IGL roles?
I'm calling these microplays simply because this is the term that Meepey uses. A Microplay is an act that will provide an attacking team with a solution to a problem setup by the defending team. An attacking round is usually punctuated by a series of microplays, be this by a coordinated push on an off-site defence, beating a mira window or an execute for a plant on a bombsite. Next, the idea of Microplays will be explored using examples of Pro League matches.
Canadian - EG vs 1UP
This is the first round of Oregon in the first match between EG and 1UP and it’s also probably my favourite clip of the invitational.
As mentioned before, these problems that defenders can set for a team can consist of a multitude of things but in this case the problem set up by 1UP is an extended roaming setup in Kids and Small dorms with Paraa and Vale. Canadian recognises the prepped window from Paraa and applies pressure to the Ela player after putting down a claymore on the jump out. It’s a nice claymore, and it gets them a pick, however the more interesting microplay is how he sets up the team to deal with Vale in Kids Bedroom.
Yung, playing big tower pressures through the Kids windows, nvK rappels big window and puts pressure through the Kids bedroom wall. After this Canadian and BC double peek Vale. You’ll notice that at no point do they let Vale get into an aim duel with one of their players, instead Canadian organises his team to encompass the roamer from many angles. Yung and nvK’s job here is not necessarily to get a kill onto Vale, it is more to reduce the number of positions that he can play in. nvK stops the Jager from being able to play in between the windows whilst Yung stops the Jager from being able to play close to the windows. This then means that BC and Canadian have fewer angles to clear when peeking him. I feel like this is what every competitive team should strive for when setting up their roam clearing microplays. You might hear some pro players talk about how as long as you have decent aim you can play at a high level in competitive play and I think this clip demonstrates why. For top level siege, dealing with roamers is about an IGL coordinating a pinch on roamers, and by slowly cutting off the angles and positions that the defender can play in.
Slash - Rogue vs Supremacy (now Vitality)
Here, Supremacy are running a pretty standard Armoury defence featuring a Security hold using two Mira windows. (For more information on this sort of hold read this https://www.reddit.com/r/R6ProLeague/comments/78ez31/how_to_counter_the_hallway_mira_in_cctv_on_border/). Supremacy’s hold slightly differs from the norm as they include a Castle. Regardless, Rogue and more specifically the IGL, Slash is tasked with finding the correct microplay to beat the Security hold. He asks Ecl9pse to destroy the castle barricade on the security window. He also assigns Easily the task of watching the run outs from customs, ventilation and the front door so that Slash can rappel on the west balcony in a safe way. The next section of this microplay is the disruption of the defenders’ angles and positions. Slash smokes off the Armoury Mira window so that Brid cannot get an angle onto him as he enters Security. He also tells Ecl9pse to Zofia Zephir at the circle desk, whilst Bryan pressures him from the Security window. From here, Slash can simply entry from the Security door. He picks up the kills on the two defenders who are both disorientated and getting challenged from one or two other angles simultaneously.
I think this also shows the advantages of having your IGL as your entry. It allows your entry to be able to set his team up around him so that he can perform his/her entry in the way that he/she wants to. Not a hugely important point but might be interesting nonetheless.
Canadian - Continuum (now EG) vs Flipside Tactics (now SK)
This is a very famous clip, and you’ve probably all seen it before. However, it perfectly demonstrates an IGL identifying a problem set up by defenders and finding the correct solution to the problem. Canadian Ashes the wall so that HotanCold cannot move away from the Mira window. Then nvK and BC Thatcher and grenade at the same time. There is no chance for any sort of ADS tricking and HotanCold loses his life.
To strengthen the points made above I’ll give some examples of teams playing without these coordinated microplays. These examples show what happens when an IGL cannot find the required solutions to the problems set by defenders.
Secretly - DC vs 1UP
1UP are running a very similar setup to the one that they ran against EG at the invitationals. However, in this situation, DC do not have a high enough quality IGL to beat the problems that the defenders are setting. IGL-ing is understanding the setup or the problems that is put before you and coming up with a solution that particular problem. Here, Secretly does not organise any effective microplays that will bring a solution to the problems that 1UP are setting them. Granted, DC do not manage to get the pick onto Paraa as EG did, which makes their life a little harder, however, their attempt was poor. The team’s solution consists of pushing up white stairs (at a staggered rate), with Renuilz jumping in big window. It’s a staggered and unorganised push. The team aren’t flashing for each other nor are they holding defenders into their positions in the way that EG did. As shown by how EG attacked this setup, there are a number of other options that DC could have employed. Kripps even had Kitchen control and then could have Ashed underneath the normal spot for a defender to sit in Kitchen. None of this was done however, and the team lose the round because of it.
No IGL - Spacestation vs Obey
Here, Obey have set up a Mira window facing into Admin, and placed a Castle barricade on the double door next to it so that MahMan can rotate freely. Spacestation’s solution to this setup is to have Chala waste the ADS whilst ThinkingNade rappels Copy room window to grenade MahMan. However, they fail to trap the defender into a specific position. No-one is assigned the job of holding MahMan into a place on the map from which he can then be dealt with. The simple solution to the problem is for Trippen to Ash the Castle barricade and to then hold him into Copy room whilst he’s being grenaded. Again, however, Spacestation failed to find the solution to the problem.
No IGL - Black Dragons vs Ence
This is a clip of Black Dragons vs ENCE where Black Dragons’ IGL fails to coordinate a proper Microplay on Kanto. In this situation, Black Dragons have so many options. They could have someone hold Kanto in the Pantry whilst they either grenade him or peek him from the hatch. They could also take Meeting control and spray him through the unreinforced wall. They could even use a smoke on him and peek him with Glaz. However, although there were many options, their IGL did not find the correct Microplays to beat the problem that Kanto was providing them with in this situation.
Hopefully this has helped to shed the light on how IGLs help influence the round. Currently, I don’t think the discourse extends much further than people saying that certain IGLs are smart without really understanding why. My intention is that this series will give viewers more tools with which they can analyse an IGL’s performance, rather than repeating tired stereotypes (E.G. Fabian is smart, Canadian is smart). I want people to think about and understand why they are smart IGLs, rather than just copying what they hear from other respected members of the community.
Another point I’ve noticed amongst the community is that people now accept that kills do not matter so much in professional play. However, I feel like most community members, and some casters, do not really understand why. Hopefully, with this series I’ll be able to demonstrate why the positions that players are put in are what matters the most. At this high level, everyone is a good player, and it is more about how a team is organised to beat specific problems rather than individual gun fights. Take the Rogue clip for example, at no point does fragging power or gun skill come into the round win from Rogue. Ecl9pse, Easily and Bryan secure Slash’s kills for him by putting him into the best position possible for him to get his kills. In a well organised team, some players are setup for success and some are setup for failure.
Thanks for reading if you made it this far. Next week I will explore the next job of an IGL: Mid-round adaptations.