I'm primarily a QM player, but with the changes this season to Team League allowing solo queue players to play, I decided to start playing this game mode more seriously. In previous seasons I had only completed a handful of games to help friends complete placements for a mount. I placed Bronze 3 (7-3), and since then have reached to Silver 2 in 97 games (66% winrate); I'm still climbing. I frequently solo queue'd in Bronze, but as time went on I found more friends to party with, including people I met playing TL. I don't normally solo queue any more, as I find playing in a party of 2-5 much more rewarding.
Why I love Team League
The answer in a nutshell is that I can try-hard with friends. More specifically, though, the average game (at least at average team level gold and above) seems to be better quality than either QM or UD, in terms of player communication and understanding of hero roles and strategy. This isn't to say that I haven't encountered some poor players or even throwers, but more of my games – including losses – are enjoyable and teams try to cooperate well. (Bronze/low Silver games seem to be much more random in terms of skill level.) Moreover, flexible draft order means players can lock sought-after heroes they're good with who get through the bans, unlike the inflexible draft order in UD. People usually do communicate during draft and often join voice chat, sometimes with a little bit of encouragment (even if just to listen). I've had nearly all positive experience using voice chat in HotS, even though I'm female. In TL so far all my voice chat experience has been positive.
Why I think mixed ranked teams are a good thing, and I hope Blizzard does not create overly restrictive rules for rank differences next season
The people I play with most frequently range from Bronze to Platinum, but friends of friends whom I've been able to team up with fairly regularly include Diamond, Masters and GM players. Being the only silver player in a much higher ranked team is a fantastic learning experience. One of the biggest differences I noticed between higher and lower skilled players is that the higher skill players accomplish much more in a given amount of time and can quickly capitalize on any advantage. To keep up, I have to be more careful with mana management, and alert to any opportunity that might present itself. These skills are helping me hone my shot-calling abilities when I play with my lower ranked friends.
I don't know how common rank boosting actually is (where high skilled players tank an account to party up with and artificially increase the winrate of their friends). As far as I know, I've only encountered such players once, and that was playing solo queue in a Bronze game, where two players on the enemy team deliberately threw, but in a subtle way (they secured numerous kills, but died before objectives and neglected to deal with a pushing boss). I became suspicious of their behaviour, so I looked at their profiles on a third-party statistics website. They had a pattern of losing low mmr games, but playing with high mmr players and usually winning. Since then I've checked the profiles of any suspicious players I've encountered but I haven't seen that particular pattern again.
I hope that with the upcoming changes to ranked play next season Blizzard finds a way to curb TL rank exploitation without restricting genuine up-and-coming players who party with higher ranked friends. Thanks to the current TL system, this season has been the most enjoyable season for me since I started playing HotS in summer 2017. Regardless of any upcoming changes, I suspect I will look back at Season 4 2018 as a golden age of fun and learning.
TL:DR Team League is a fantastic game mode for serious players wanting the play with friends. Mixed ranked teams can provide excellent learning opportunities for lower ranked players and aren't necessarily all composed of players trying to exploit the system.
© Post "TL has become my favourite game mode – the perspective of a Silver player" for game Heroes of the Storm.
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