How To Captain - A Guide for Rookies and Pros


Private Tester
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.

  1. 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.

  2. Volunteering.

    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.

  3. Coin toss.

    A 50/50 deal. Call your side and have a third party flip.

  4. 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.
  5. 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.
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Private Tester
  1. Positions. (Post-picks)

    Now that you've picked your team and wished the other captain good luck, join your team in the proper channel and craft your lineup. I always type out the positions before announcing them. This means when I announce positions that it will be quick and without confusion. Trying to call who is playing what player by player doesn't go quickly and can be interrupted by pregame chit-chat. For example, say I've picked a team consisting of the following players: Homingun, Sin, Mabel, Jello, Tyler, Fixious, Application-1(Vandergrift). In the chat bar I would type out positions like so: Homie chase, Sin HoF, Tyler Stay D, Jello LO, Mabel LO, Fixi cap, App cap. I would then send that message to the channel chat so everyone has it for reference and read off the positions. Now you may be asking how I decided on 3 defense and 4 offense.

    Choosing how you setup your team is going to depend a lot on the players you've picked. If you've picked a player that is very much dueling oriented such as Mabel, you probably should put him on LO. If you have a capper, have them cap. If you have players that are known for something, it's a good idea to have them in that role. If you picked defensive players early, then it might be easier for them to hold down the defense with less players than it is for your offense to bring home the flag. In a 7v7 or 9v9 this is something you'll have to worry about. In even numbered match-ups it's usually smart to have an even number of players on each side of the map. However, in a game as large as a 10v10, 4 defense and 6 offense isn't insane, and it might be smart if the players you picked first are exceptional defenders.

  2. Game start.

    Once you have your picks sorted out and an admin starts the countdown, it comes down to communication and coordination. As a captain you have to lead the team. This doesn't mean you have to be first on the scoreboard. You can be last as long as you do your job. Your job in-game carries a few responsibilities.

    Organize standoffs. Sometimes people get confused when trying to figure out who is staying home with the enemy flag and who is going on return, so you need to have this figured out. A popular setup is to have the HoF, Stay D, and capper who brought it home stay with the enemy flag. If you're running a dual-chaser defense, it might be smart to have both of the cappers stay home. Dedicate main passers. This should be the HoF and whoever he would like to be passing with. Synergy between the HoF and passer is very important in a standoff, and allowing the HoF to pick who he wants to pass with can strengthen your standoffs. If he has no preference, ask those who will be playing defense during a standoff. If standoffs are going poorly be ready to switch up how they're structured. If the defense is getting mowed down you might want to send back a dueler that can deal with the enemy offense.

    Make sure everyone knows their position at game start! Sometimes people are AFK when you announce positions and will just assume they're playing a position that they're usually assigned to. Upon making sure all your players are present and ready for the game to start, ask if everyone knows what they're doing and if not, read off positions again. As a sidenote for this, make sure your players are all on the correct side. Restarting games because someone was accidentally playing for the other team or not in the server yet is super lame.

  3. In game.

    Be vocal. Use your mic damnit. Talk to your team. As a captain you have to make sure to check in with both sides of the map. If you're playing defense you can't only be talking with your defense. You have to keep up with how stuff is going at the enemy base. Is the flag stand getting cleared? Are cappers calling out their times? Is the LO coordinating and escorting? Stay active on your comms. It can be hard to figure out what's going wrong in the middle of a game, especially if you're focusing on playing your position. Make sure your team knows what's expected of them as far as communication goes, and encourage players to speak up if they have suggestions.
    If things aren't going well, try to find out from the offense or defense what needs a change. Is the LO getting chewed up by enemy defenders? Is the defense getting overrun? If so, it might be time to change up positions. It may be as simple as pulling someone back to play defense, or as complicated as a 3 or 4 player change-up. If your channel isn't as vocal as you want it to be, try to fire your team up.

    Conflict is common in a competitive environment. Players sometimes get into arguments, and it's your job as the captain to be mature and resolve things. Get control of your comms and, if there's a legitimate point being made, listen to both sides. If it's pointless yelling or arguing get the players focused on the game again. You can't fix a missed pass or teamkill. You can make recommendations for the next time a similar situation occurs. If being reasonable doesn't work a stern voice telling the channel to "shut the *dance* up and play" usually does the trick. If even that doesn't calm things down, it may be time to seek help. If there is a channel admin or higher power on your team ask them to take control. If not, talk to the highest power on either team.

    NEVER berate your players. It's fine to take fun jabs at your friends if they make a mistake, but make sure you know the player well enough to have fun with them before you make any remarks. Putting down your teammates while in the middle of a game is only going to stir up controversy and make people play worse. Encouragement on the other hand can motivate a player to play better and give them the confidence to get your team back in the game.

  4. Post game.

    Be humble in victory, gracious in defeat. Don't talk *chocolate cookies* on players from either team unless everyone will know it's all in good fun. If the game was a blowout in your favor, good job. If you got blown out, try to figure out why. Message some more experienced captains and get their opinion or think about what went wrong. Chances are that if it was a close game you did a good job.
This is all I have for now, I'll probably be adding some stuff here and there as I get input from more people.
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World Leader of The 21st Century
V. good post. 5/7.

I'll also add, that if you are captaining, it is totally fine to say "Hey ____, what position do you play?" before making your pick. Asking questions is encouraged and knowing peoples strengths/weaknesses helps cut down on imbalanced teams.


One thing I do is make sure that the team that i pick gets along with eachother fairly well. I also pick people first that i get along with and that i've generally spent a good amount of time playing with in the past whether they're the best pick or not. This helps to avoid the whole "resolving conflicts" issue that may arise as i'm generally a more quiet person. It also helps with teamwork and communication between them as well as myself. I also ensure that most of my picks play positions they enjoy and that they are competent in performing. Usually my picks/positions end up being pretty spot on for the specific map/opponents to the point where positions don't need to change. I personally let my team run itself once things get started... if something is going wrong i've found that someone will bring it up and basically ask me for approval if they feel they need to change positions.

PS: i'm not sure if this makes sense to anyone but myself i'm pretty out of it right now and my mind is scattered...maybe i'll reread it later and try to make it more understandable


Lead Developer
Two people who do the constant communication thing on standoffs/keep the flag moving is 1/3 the battle imo.