Vainglory Guild Team Decentish Talks MOBAs, e-Sports, and Draft Mode

 An Interview with the Vainglory Guild, Team Decentish

I've written extensively about the game  Vainglory (free) since it first debuted on stage when Apple unveiled unveiled the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus a year ago this very week. You may also recall being introduced to Vainglory thanks to Apple's Gamers commercial, the tech giant's only exclusively gaming commercial to date.

Vainglory is a highly competitive game, one that calls for complete attention and honed skills. In a relatively short period of time, Vainglory has taken the gaming community by storm. For what feels like the first time, serious, core gamers can really sink their teeth into a mobile game. There are few games that require as much attention, study, and team coordination and communication as Vainglory does. And it just keeps getting better with each new update, which the developers, SEMC, have kept coming at a fast and furious pace.

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Recently, Vainglory debuted another highly sought after feature: in-game Guilds. Guilds are where players can assemble to play at varying levels of competitiveness. Many have written applications processes, established by guild administrators; some guilds have strict requirements as to how often you must play; and some even have high-level, minimum-skill tiers. Guilds let players earn glory and fame as part of a larger group (each guild can have as many as 50 members), and it's within a guild that Vainglory players will find the most cohesive training grounds and the greatest potential for high-level game play and competition.

 An Interview with the Vainglory Guild, Team Decentish

One of the most active guilds in the Vainglory community is Team Decentish. I had the pleasure of becoming a member of Team Decentish even before SEMC (the developers of Vainglory) introduced official, Vainglory in-game guilds. Over the course of time, I feel as though I've gotten to know many of my guildmates both from playing together and talking post-game strategies, as well as from being a part of the Team Decentish community on the Band (free), where guild members and teammates can come together in a casual forum to discuss their favorite game.

It was through the forum of a group chat on the Band app that I conducted the following interview with the administrators of Team Decentish. What ensures is a conversation typical of the Team Decentish community that I've come to know and love, filled with both humor and a serious, focused appreciation of the game. Also typical of the Vainglory community—and the gaming community in general—is the use of IGNs, or In Game Names, which are in-game pseudonyms that players use. With that in mind, I'd like to introduce the administrators of Team Decentish: IAmTaka, theory, Sharklegs, Tik93, IAmDeejay, and TweedleDee.

Team Decentish gets its name from the middle level skill tier in vainglory. It's a unique guild that accepts players of all skill levels. Can you tell us a little bit about the TD community and how it's all come together to result in one of the most active and supportive Vainglory guilds around?

IAmTaka: I've always said we aren't the biggest, just one of the most active. In North America we should be one of the most active with about 100 to 120 players playing almost daily, however.

IAmDeejay: It's mostly due to the fact that we mass kick people who aren't active.

IAmTaka: We are also one of the only guilds (that I know of) that has two fully capped, in-game guilds. Sharklegs and I first created the guild because we couldn't find a place that accepted everyone, especially if they just wanted to have fun. Sharklegs came up with the name because we wanted a name that was inviting to everyone regardless of tier. I think the biggest thing we have going for us is in our community, we have set guidelines for everyone to follow. As a result we have almost no toxic behavior, and although we are huge huge in size, we have a very close group of people who love playing Vainglory together.

IAmDeejay: Well, minimal toxic behavior. One thing we also do is talk it out with people and give them several chances to amend their bad habits.

Sharklegs: I would just add that the communities willingness to abide by our rules also adds to the positive atmosphere. I think we as admins do a decent job squashing any conflicts that arise, but other than that it really is the rest of the community that regulates itself . We have a lot of cool people who just want to play with other cool people and so they treat each other with kindness and respect for the most part.

theory: I feel like the best response I can give is a story. When I joined Vainglory it was my first MOBA. I sucked. But on Reddit I saw a post about this guild and thought "why not?" So I joined and it was pretty nice. There are many members here who are skill tier seven and up and they actually teach and help lower-tier people get better. And those members, most notably Taka, sort of set the tone of the whole guild. I slowly got better (though I am still a scrub) and along the way I helped others. It's a very top down mechanic where the culture is to be inclusive and nice and to teach people if they want. So everyone who joins, once they learn, then joins in on the teaching. Look at Tik, he came in at lower tier than I did but now he is a few games away from Pinnacle of Awesome (advanced skill tier in Vainglory) and he still takes the time to explain things to me when I ask, since I have a social life and can't be on 24/7.

Tik93: Oh stop it, you! But for real, the help I got from the more skilled was astronomical! I sucked before I joined TD and then people took the time (note, that the people who did take their time to play with me were admins or future admins) to play with me and give me hints. The first people that took the time to play with me and teach me were Taka, Tweedle, and theory. Because of their help, I got better, but I also learned how to teach myself how to become better. I would never have gotten any of the skills I have today without them and Team Decentish!

theory: Dang! I helped you rise? I need to be more careful who I share my secrets with.

IAmDeejay: I think a lot of it too, is having six administrators. We are constantly monitoring chats and Discord (free live conversation app) and we encourage people to report issues. In the admin group we are all equals. It's also very typical to have screenshots of every conversation and most of our team posts or polls are discussed before hand. Each administrator present gives input as to what they think creates a safeguard to protect the members from quick, unplanned decisions and gives the impression that the admins have a unified front.

IAmTaka: Don't tell him all our secrets!

theory: Also, to add; all the joking you see here, it's typical of us admins. We don't harbor any bad feelings or anything. Deejay was getting at that with the "equals" thing. And by doing this we actually have a huge leg up since things are dealt with quickly and neatly with no internal drama in the leadership. Ha ha ha, leadership; as if I should lead anyone!

IAmDeejay: Wow, sorry. theory is a bit of a narcissist. Believe me theory, we are all laughing with you. (We are also the best trolls in North America)

theory: Actually this reminds me of something else. As admins we try to foster actual relationships with the team members. It is online, so nothing deep or anything, but we do try to get to know most members. We really do try to have fun with each other and the members and I think that spirit is reflected in the guild.

IAmDeejay: Very true! At the end of the day I think we are like a band of brothers. We admins have gone through a lot together and found the need to stick together, which makes for very comfortable joking around. Guys you do realize he only asked one question? We've given him at least 500 to 700 words to edit now.

 An Interview with the Vainglory Guild, Team Decentish

Drills, scrimmages, and practices may not be every gamer's favorite aspect of gaming; but as any athlete knows (e-Sports athletes included), they are an essential and indespensible aspect of upping the level of one's game. Another major aspect of improving personal game play is being open to constructive criticism, which is something that's really encouraged in the TD community. Please tell us more about TD as a training ground and a place where gamers can come to practice and improve in a safe environment.

IAmTaka: That's a hard one. We have always from the start encouraged higher players to write, stream, or one-on-one with new or lower-tiered players, sharing the basics and fundamentals. We have an entire section of "Guides" dedicated to written posts from various high-skilled players, talking about hero breakdowns or item mechanics.  We also do guild battles almost daily, the admins rotate one each day and we always have a full house. This is the best way to learn, watching, doing, playing. We always divide the teams, so low- and high-skilled players are mixed. It helps both parties as they have to work together in ways they normally wouldn't do. You'd actually be surprised how often people ask to spectate these games simply because you always come out with a new strategy or build. You get to not only see the game, but hear tips coming live from Discord and post game. I think all together it really is the best way to learn

theory: You referred to TD as a training ground, but I sort of object to that! We are not a training ground. Saying so is disingenuous, especially given our all-inclusive nature. Some people here train, but that's not what makes us great. We do have the hardcore "I want to get better" people. But we also have the casual people who look up to the aforementioned group for tips to just win the next game and maybe rank up. Everything Taka says is true and this comes back to the higher Elo (skill level) people being willing to teach. I mean I would hate it if we had a bunch of tier 5 players like me, all playing, but no one caring to improve. And I think many agree with that. But although I want to get better, I would not say I am training. I'm just having fun and learning a bit along the way.

Sharklegs: For the most part I agree with theory. We don't really have an e-Sports focus and most of our players just want to get better by playing with people who at least have a basic idea of what to do and how to play the game. The only thing in my mind that kind of counts as training would be queuing up with people that are a few tiers higher then you, playing with them, and having them tell you what you were doing wrong or what you can improve or even what you did well.

Excellent explanations and great points. One of the things that is highly recommended is using the Discord app for in-game communication. Can you shed some light on the importance of using Discord and being able to communicate live during gameplay, keeping in mind that many of our readers may not be familiar with MOBA.

IAmTaka: Instant feedback in-game is just amazing.

theory: I do not know what to say. Does the advantage communication gives really need to be explained? Everything from timing ultimates to fountains to going to the same place at the same time. It's all just faster and smoother.

Tweedledee: There are obvious benefits as theory mentioned and we are aware of those. However there are there are also some lesser mentioned benefits. Voice communication allows you to convey tone and meaning better than text/ping. This can create a more positive environment to learn in. We work very hard to make sure each person is respectful and friendly to ensure this happens. Another benefit is that it is a community building tool when used correctly. When you talk to someone and hear their voice, it takes away the anonymity of internet gaming. Just hearing the other person's voice and speaking to them should help people gravitate to a more neutral and teachable position. This builds upon the already strong sense of community in our guild. That said, there are those who are truly toxic and as you may have seen, they are quickly removed from the situation.

IAmDeejay: I was completely against it. I liked my anonymity, but if I had [never participated in Discord], I would never have trusted the admins as I do.

To us, the advantage of in-game communication with such an intense, fast-paced game, where timed actions are critical, may seems self-evident, but many iPhone Life readers won't be familiar with MOBA even if they've heard the term. So I appreciate the thoughtful responses.

IAmDeejay: I really don't know how to define a MOBA either. It's basically a role-playing, online game. Correct?

An online role-playing game where live, real-time interaction, synchronization, prediction, and communication are key, and way more significant than many might imagine.

IAmDeejay: OK, well, vainglory has been sparse with its communication. And with good reason. Overloading a mobile game with features is never a good idea. But to extend the experience of Vainglory to the next level, VoIP (voice over internet protocol) is necessary. Discord provides that link for free and with relatively no issues.

 An Interview with the Vainglory Guild, Team Decentish

Where do you see Vainglory evolving over the next five years or so? I've spoken previously to the folks at SEMC about their 5-to-10 year plan, but I'd be interested in your perspectives.

IAmTaka: Vainglory in five years? It's hard to say. Last year I made the prediction that we would see draft mode by this Christmas. I also said only then would Vainglory be considered a real e-Sport. However everything progresses slower than you expect. I still stand by it, Vainglory will be huge, but it won't happen until draft mode [is introduced]. They have incredibly talented DEVS at SEMC and have minimal issues for such an early stage game, which is why I think we all love it so much. The dedication we see from the DEVS makes us love it even more.

Can you explain draft mode in a nutshell? And how would you envision draft mode working in a mobile game?

IAmTaka: With MOBAs, the whole game is primarily based around counter-building. Farming and raw talent are key, but sometimes games are so closely matched that the team comp (heroes) greatly determines who wins. This is what Vainglory lacks, because a huge chunk of the game is based on luck. You can't see who the enemy team picks so you are stuck guessing. In draft mode, a virtual coin is flipped and one team is selected to pick a hero first. When that hero is picked no one else from either team can pick that same hero. Then the other team gets to counter-build with one hero. The amount of strategy that goes into just the hero selection is what makes MOBAs so great. It's the equivalent of setting up your baseball team lineup. Player rolls, bans, counter-builds are everything and the team that can counter-build best usually has a huge lead. And by "counter-build," I should say counter-pick heroes. The issues Vainglory is having is removing that "luck" from its Vainglory leagues. They actually introduced draft mode to solve this issue in the upcoming Vainglory league. Basically what seems like such a small change in picking heroes is actually completely game changing, one I'm incredibly excited for! I hope that sums up draft mode.

Aha! So that's draft mode! I have always thought about that, how the hero selection was so important and that as things stand currently, hero selection is very much a guessing game and luck of the draw. I could see how this draft mode feature would be a huge asset to Vainglory moving forward. Great observation Taka!

IAmDeejay: You can look at everything they have accomplished in their first year. They have paid a great deal of attention to how people play Vainglory. They have a clear vision and they are not shy in enforcing that vision. Look at Warhorn. Three months or so of that and they dramatically changed turrets. This last update was all about enforcing the correct build paths for heroes. They also listen to players. And they are one of the only completely free games I know of. Vainglory doesn't make money by forcing people to spend to play (which accounts for 95 percent of "free" games) but by earning the respect and appreciation of their players. They also guilt you into giving them money because of the amount of effort they put into Vainglory is so overwhelming. So five years? They will be one of the most respected and active MOBAs out there! It may even trump League of Legends. They will have a huge hero selection and millions of dedicated fans. They will continue to streamline their system, and be completely awesome!

IAmTaka: I honestly believe Vainglory will take MOBAs by storm only a few patches after draft mode [is introduced]. However only time will tell, once they release it to everyone.

You know, Deejay, that's what I've been saying too. Look out DOTA, and LoL. It's an amazing game and a game changing game as well.

IAmDeejay: Yep, I've never stayed with any game for so long. Or joined a guild. Vainglory is a first for me in many other ways, but I'm a dedicated fan.

Tweedledee: Another reason I feel Vainglory will be huge is the hardware aspect. There are many more iPhones and iPads than gaming PCs. This is been a barrier to entry for me for a while. I couldn't justify a fully decked out PC just for gaming, and I am on the go all the time. I don't believe I am alone regarding these two barriers. So a full mobile on the mobile platform really fits me.

I really want to thank you folks for taking the time to talk with iPhone Life. Much appreciated. This will be an informative article and one that I think will open a lot of people's eyes to the potential of serious, core gaming on iOS.

 An Interview with the Vainglory Guild, Team Decentish

You can learn more about Vainglory's Team Decentish by clicking HERE.
 

 

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As Senior Gear Editor at iPhone Life, Dig reports on the latest and greatest accessories built for the iOS ecosystem. From rugged gear and Bluetooth speakers, to headphones, unique iDevice cases, and iOS remote controlled vehicles, Dig's articles cover a wide range of great gear for the iPhone and iPad. A core gamer for over three decades, Dig also writes iPhone Life's Game Centered column, which focuses on the best iOS games and game related news. Additionally, Dig's company, iDoc Tech Support, offers web design and administration services as well as iPhone and iPad repairs. When not at his work desk, Dig loves spending time with family and enjoying the wonders of nature. You can follow him on Twitter @idoctech