The past few PuG nights have seen their fair share of controversies. A bit of salt has also been present, and a lot of it has to do with the lack of captains or bad decisions by captains. There's probably a good 5 or 6 of us willing to captain, and with as many as 24 players showing up recently, it can be tough. This isn't a post to grill anyone. I simply want to write something up that both new and veteran captains can benefit from.
- Pre-picks. (Pre-volunteering)
This might not seem like a big deal, but if you're going to captain, be aware of every player in the channel. I can't tell you how many times I've screwed up my pick order because I didn't see a pick still open. Make sure you read through the names and eliminate any questions you might have about who a player is before you volunteer. For example, the little bear face name in TeamSpeak that shows up from time to time is Unexistent, a solid 2nd or even 1st pick depending on who showed up that particular night.
Be aware of the rules! There's often controversy as to what is legal and what isn't. It's helpful to have a general knowledge of the rules and have the Official Rules on hand.
Be a confident leader. You have to be able to tell someone to shut up while at the same time encouraging everyone to talk. Remember that while you don't have absolute power as a captain, people do generally have to listen to you. If you need some tips, Nept wrote a great guide on leadership.
Most importantly, don't be afraid to lose. I got 10-0'd the first time I volunteered to captain. Learn from your mistakes and correct them.
Rule 1 when volunteering is to be confident in your ability as a captain. Chances are if you aren't already a regular captain you might not know all of the players, what position they play, and how skilled they are. However, if you're a regular player (which most of you are let's be honest) then your knowledge of the players in PuGs should be pretty good.
Don't feel pressured. If you seriously aren't comfortable with captaining, don't do it. Someone else will eventually step up.
- Coin toss.
A 50/50 deal. Call your side and have a third party flip.
- First pick or map/side.
It's rare for someone to win the toss and not take first pick, but if you have the itch to play a particular map then exercise your rights. Be reasonable with this. Don't be that guy and pick Frostbyte with 20 players in the channel. Also don't pick Stygian.
If you decide to go with first pick, you have some options. There isn't an up-to-date player tier list, perhaps I'll compose one of those soon. Anyway, it really comes down to two or three players that you should first pick. Right now chasing is probably the most important position in the game, and you should pick accordingly. Darklord, Homingun, and, if present, Shaska are all players that can justifiably be taken #1. Each player has their pros and cons; I've listed them in no particular order.
A. Darklord. A bit of a one trick pony, if you pick him, he will be chasing. DL is pretty serious. He plays to win, and doesn't much like it when people make stupid plays. He will at times get salty. Arguably the best chaser in the game.
B. Homingun. One of the most versatile players in the game. Very competent chaser. Willing to play whatever position you put him in, and offers ideas if things aren't going well or if your positions list seems a little off to him. If you're a new captain and want some guidance along with skill, he is an even better pick. Still a serious player most of the time; not using your mic can make Homie a little sad.
C. Shaska. Versatile, but if you pick him he should probably be chasing. This guy is a straight up troll a lot of the time. Point-whoring sometimes overtakes his better judgement, and you'll need to reign him in from time to time.
- After first pick.
Again, this is tough if you don't know the players. That new tier list might be a good idea. If you're a new captain and have picked Homingun or Darklord to your team, it's acceptable to open a chat with them and ask for advice if you're not sure about a pick. However, don't rely on them. You are the captain, and having someone else do your picks and positions defeats the purpose.
Pick by position. Don't pick too many cappers or too many duelers. If you have a steaming hot squad of LO but nobody to grab the flag, chances are you'll lose. Now, this doesn't mean you shouldn't pick according to skill. If the other captain makes a picking mistake and leaves a very skilled player on the board that should have been picked, it's okay to make that pick.
Consider the map. Frostbyte is a chaser's paradise. Zenith Cauldron and The Core offer some high-speed cap routes. While you still want a good chaser on a big map, it's not as important as having a balanced offense with 2 or 3 solid cappers. Remember that an all-star caliber LO can dominate a small map like Frostbyte or Whiteout, and just as much get shut down on big maps. You won't always need a HoF, but if you don't pick one make sure you have some great defenders to make up the difference.
Make sure the players you're going to pick aren't advertising an unwillingness to play a position. If someone has made known that they don't want to play a certain positions, it's a good idea not to pick them for that position.