Roles in Vainglory: Captains of the Future

EZL is excited to return with the next installment in the Roles in Vainglory series. This article will focus on how the eventual release of 5v5 in Vainglory will affect the position of the Captain. As the public reveal of the new game mode is slated to occur during Worlds in December, changes to the captain role are quickly approaching. Super Evil Mega Corp (SEMC) recently announced that a 5v5 show match will take place during the year-ending event.

SEMC have consistently released information about the progress and construction towards 5v5. The map preview that was recently released showed a design consisting of three lanes and jungle between all of these lanes. When we consider this three-lane map-design, it suggests that a team composition of one captain, one carry for each lane and one jungler is likely, although the positioning of the captain on the map is yet to be finalized. To further explore the future of the captain position, we first need to consider two key earnings in Vainglory: gold and experience.

Source: Vainglory Twitter

Experience and Gold

The allotment of experience and gold between the jungle and the three lanes will significantly impact the placement of the captain on the map. In Vainglory, there is more gold sitting in the lane – 240 gold in each wave of minions – whereas jungle camps provide significantly more experience. In Update 2.8, the experience and ambient gold sharing was changed to be as follows:

“These changes will give captains compelling reasons to roam the jungle instead of babysitting lane all game long.”
— Nivmett
Lane minion ambient gold reduced from 75% to 60%
Jungle ambient gold increased from 75% to 85%
Duo-shared experience has been changed from 65/60% to 75/70%
Triple-shared experience changed from 45%/40%/40% to 51%/47%/47%

Source: Update 2.8 Patchnotes 

In Update 2.9, this was changed once again:

Two heroes: Increased from 75/65% to 85/75%
Three heroes: Increased from 51/47/47% to 60/50/50%

Source: Update 2.9 Patchnotes

The above ratios of sharing gold and experience will greatly affect captain play styles in the future, which will be detailed further in the following section.

Captain Playstyles

If the current allotment of gold and experience remains in place for 5v5, captains will have a choice on how to distribute resources throughout their team. Some captains may decide on roaming throughout the map and working with their jungler, meaning that both themselves and their carries in the lanes should gain a level advantage, with the trade off being that their jungler will likely fall behind in experience compared to the opposing jungler. In this case, the lesser amount of gold available in the jungle would also delay the purchasing of items.

Another option would be to rotate between lanes, gaining as much gold as possible to rush the purchase of key support items such as Fountain of Renewal or Crucible, while minimizing the experience loss for each carry. This would allow the jungler to gain a significant level advantage, however would heavily limit the captain’s own experience gain.

A third possibility, which focuses on a push-centric approach while sacrificing leveling, consists of the captain sitting in one lane, with the aim of taking an early turret and/or “babysitting” their carry. This method would likely be immediately responded to and mirrored by the opposing team, as in most situations a 1v2 match up in lane would be extremely unfavorably in the early game.

Out of the three methods mentioned, the final alternative is probably the most familiar setup given it mimics the play style of League of Legends supports (i.e. captains). However, both Vainglory players and developers have stated a desire to move away from this strategy – described by Nivmett as wanting to “give captains compelling reasons to roam the jungle”. This suggests that the first two approaches in terms of the captain’s play style are most likely favored by SEMC. The imminent implementation of 5v5 will soon allow us to discover and experiment with how the captain will position themselves on the map.

Team Compositions and Captain Viability

Vainglory currently consists of two teams of three heroes each, somewhat limiting the range of heroes that can be picked within a team. The increase from three to five heroes per team will allow for a higher diversity of team compositions, all aimed at achieving a variety of goals. For example, one team composition could be completely centered on engage and diving potential, with the ability to start fights and wipe enemy carries off the map when on the front foot. A different composition might place more value on crowd-control and peel to protect their carries while locking down threats on the enemy team, and another composition might focus on healing, barriers and fortified health in tandem with high-sustain heroes.

In broad terms, this should lead to a larger variety of heroes being played as captain, with more heroes viable in different situations. For example, Flicker’s play rate is currently the lowest of all heroes, with a play rate of less than 1% in every regional server. This is due to the low peel and crowd control in his kit, along with his direct counter being vision across the map. However, Flicker’s ultimate Moon cloak has the potential to have a much higher impact on a larger map (as maintaining vision of the entire 5v5 map will be exceedingly difficult) and when combined with four high-burst heroes, the kill threat of a team during the mid to late game becomes enormous. Additionally, his high mobility across the map when utilizing his perk correctly will be invaluable. This type of specific viability which will be introduced in 5v5 should lead to a more balanced distribution of captain play rates.

Particular aspects which will be prized in captains in the new game mode and will enable the viability of different heroes in the role include:

  • Mobility: the ability to rotate between lanes and jungle quickly to support and protect their carries will be important in the early game. During the late game, the mobility of the captain will also affect the team-fighting and objective decisions made by the team – it will be advantageous if the captain can quickly engage a team fight or move to start capturing an objective immediately after a kill on an enemy carry.
  • Tankiness: as the increase in number of heroes in Vainglory will mean there will be more damage, innate tankiness will be highly sought. The ability to absorb an extreme amount of damage will be key in 10-man team fights.
  • Utility: speed boosts, attack buffs and stealth aid in the potential to engage, dive under turrets or ambush enemies who overextend (while also allowing favorable team fights to occur). Any extra damage or debuffs in a captain’s kit can also be counted as utility.
  • Healing, Barriers, Fortified Health or Damage Reduction: these mechanics all reduce or offset the squishiness of carries, allowing allies to opt for high-damage build paths and to be more aggressive, knowing that the kill potential of the enemy team is lowered.
  • Crowd Control, Zoning or Peel: any form of crowd control allows a captain to protect their carries by peeling away threats, as well as locking down key enemy targets. Correct usage of such abilities can swing team fights in a team’s favor, or secure unlikely kills.

While the above attributes are currently important and valued in 3v3, more consideration is likely to be given to these areas when constructing team compositions in 5v5. The choice of captain may well dictate the direction and goal of your whole team, as a cohesive team composition with excellent synergy will be able to compensate for the limitations of a captain that is extremely strong in one area while lacking in other areas. Instead of avoiding captains that have exploitable weaknesses (as is the case now), the likelihood of picking a captain for their specific qualities and playing directly to their strengths is extremely high in the future.

Source: Vainglory 

Individual Heroes

Each captain is likely to perform differently in the upcoming game mode. When forming team compositions, the individual strengths and weaknesses of each captain (as detailed below) should be taken into account, allowing you to form the strongest composition possible.

Captain Predictions
Adagio Lack of mobility and reliable crowd control will continue to limit the play of Adagio as a captain, however he may fit into compositions centered on a weapon carry due to his damage buff combined with a single-target heal.
Ardan Will fit into a variety of team compositions, with the potential to provide engage/dive options as well as utility and crowd control in team fights. Innate tankiness due to perk is advantageous.
Baptiste Has inbuilt sustain/tankiness in his kit, and provides heavy zoning/crowd control which will be strong in 5v5 team fights. Extra damage due to perk can be extremely useful in securing kills.
Catherine Tankiness combined with reliable crowd control and the strongest silence in the game should make Catherine a priority pick in 5v5. Possesses high mobility with her Merciless Pursuit, and damage from her bubble is a bonus.
Churnwalker Remains a high-risk, high-reward captain with the potential to dominate. While lacking consistent crowd control, his tankiness and possible utility (damage sharing between the whole enemy team) is second to none.
Flicker Ultimate’s engage potential will be increased in effectiveness in 5v5. High mobility due to speed boost from perk will allow for quick rotations, while his relative tankiness and soft crowd control is also beneficial.
Fortress Tankiness from ultimate will be useful in close team fights. His engage potential is also one of the strongest out of all captains: providing a speed boost paired with an application of mortal wounds will be key in dive comps. 
Glaive Suffered recently from a nerf to tankiness, however mobility across the map is one of the highest due to his Afterburn, which also provides crowd control. May experience a resurgence in popularity due to engage potential.
Grace Grace’s kit is extremely stacked. Possessing the strongest heal in the game, damage reduction and constant crowd control as well as being innately tanky means that her pick priority should remain high in 5v5.
Lance Lance is both mobile and tanky, which will be key in 5v5. However, the peel and heavy crowd control he provides is the biggest part of his kit, and should be prioritized in a number of compositions.
Lorelai Lorelai provides utility, zoning, crowd control and powerful protection in the form of a high-strength barrier. Combined with her mobility and low cool downs, this Naga will continue to be powerful in 5v5 with careful positioning and predictive usage of abilities.
Lyra Lyra’s AOE heal is unmatched in utility, providing a speed boost along with a burst heal when activated early. Combined with Bright Bulwark’s zoning and her ultimate’s engage potential, Lyra will be high priority, provided she can itemize to reduce her squishiness.
Phinn Phinn’s mobility is extremely low – he may have to upgrade boots early. However, the fortified health and heavy crowd control that he provides will lend itself to teamfighting, combined with high tankiness from his perk.

The release of Vainglory 5v5 has the potential to completely shake up the role of the captain. At EZL, we’re definitely looking forward to trying the new mode, from figuring out the best playstyles to playing a larger variety of heroes as captain than ever before. What are your predictions for captains of the future?

Stay tuned for the next article in our Roles in Vainglory series!

Written by hoIIand with editing from InfinityRift and Painkllr
Original concept by DarkRaider27