Today I’m writing about one of the trickiest roles in Heroes, Shot-calling. A very useful thing to have in a team, a Shot-caller is the person on the team who will make the ultimate decisions in-game. If your team is grouped and not sure where to go, the Shot-caller is usually the one deciding the plan. Some teams will elect one prior to the game, sometimes they emerge naturally through a game, and sometimes people work together well enough one isn’t formally needed. No matter how your team is structured, some form of leadership is likely to be needed at some point during the game, so for the purpose of this guide we’ll assume every team has/needs a Shot-caller.
What is a Shot-caller’s job?
As previously mentioned, a shot caller’s job is to make ultimate decisions during the game. Things like “Should we go for the Tribute a level down or soak for XP and just poke to delay them?” or “Is now a good time to go after the Boss?” are common decisions for a Shot-caller. The general rule of thumb I go by is that a Shot-caller should determine Strategy, while allowing teammates to focus on Execution. If you get too caught up on every little detail, you’re going to spend too much time typing, talking, etc and not enough time playing. Remember you’re a Team of equals, not a Shot-caller and 4 minions.
With that being said, develop your own ideas for how the flow of a game should go. Do you want to have a 2-2-1 on Blackheart’s Bay, then rotate into a 0-3-2 for chests to make sure you get coins? Is your composition better built for lane bullying, or should you go for a roving gank squad? In order to get this down, first step is getting good game knowledge. If you don’t know enough about the mechanics of the game, you’re never going to make an informed decision and people aren’t going to respect your calls. As the game progresses, you’re going to have to keep your ideal flow in mind, and apply it to your current situation so you can be thinking 2-3 steps ahead.
What isn’t a Shot-caller’s job?
Micro-managing is a very detrimental thing that many Shot-callers run into. If you focus too much on every step of the way, you can lower morale. Generally, your team-mates are going to be relatively smart, capable people who can make decisions on their own. Your job is most definitely not to undermine their ability to do so, just help guide their decisions to help the team in the best way possible.
In addition to not micromanaging, there are a few other things you shouldn’t focus on during the game, as oftentimes less is more when it comes to Shot-calling. One of these is your team-mate’s builds, unless it is very important to the flow of your game (such as ETC choosing Stage-dive for a more split-push oriented game or Mosh Pit for a team-fight oriented game). Another is people’s performance. You can’t make your team-mates better just by telling them, and insulting them absolutely won’t do it. Their skill level is more-or-less static when the game starts, so work with what you have. Lastly, if you’re going to Shot-call, you absolutely cannot get caught up in an argument in-game. Your focus needs to be on the game at hand, and anything not relevant to your next move can wait until the match is over.
How do you determine who is the Shot-caller?
There are a few different methods to determine who should shot-call. In random teams, it’ll usually be the person who speaks up in a positive way and can make suggestions that the team feels good about. The key to being the one they listen to is having solid knowledge and good communication. Speak up during the draft/pre-game, and ASK people how they want to play. If you’re on a team with Sylvanas and want to Shot-call, check to see if they’re okay with solo-ing a lane. Odds are they’re already planning on doing so and it sets them up to be agreeing with you later. If somebody else ends up being the one people go with, don’t be upset. Watch what they do and try to learn, as there’s probably a reason people chose to listen to them instead.
In pre-made teams, there are a few ways to decide on the Shot-caller. Each way has advantages, but the important thing is to decide it in advance (if you’re going to formally have one) and stick with it for the game. Some teams choose to have the most knowledgeable person as the Shot-caller, because they are likely to know the best timings and make solid decisions. Other teams choose to have the team’s initiator make calls, since they will be the one charging in and need people to follow-up (like ETC and Powerslide or Tyrael and Judgement) in order to be successful. Other teams will choose the person who is most personable/cool-headed, which can be good on teams with multiple dominant personalities where arguing can be a problem. Each of these can be good for teams, and feel free to experiment to find the best approach for your team.
How can you be an effective Shot-caller with random teammates?
The most important thing to remember about Shot-calling with random people is that they didn’t ask for you to take on that role, you decided to take it on. With that in mind, be extra courteous and make it clear you’re making a request, not giving orders. The beginning of the game is crucial since you have so much time to talk and can actually type with impunity. Talk about which lanes you’d prefer everybody go to and feel everybody out.
Since you won’t be able to use voice chat, you’re going to have to work with limited communication. Typing is going to be minimal, so it all comes down to pings and trust. Ping twice for important things (like retreat or boss if enemy is there) if you’d like, but never more than that. If you have to type something, keep it concise, but polite. If you have time to type out a suggestion, you probably have time to type ‘please’ or at bare minimum ‘plz’ at the end. It’ll go a long way. Also, bear in mind ‘Muta-all’ is (unfortunately) a thing, so don’t put crucial info into a message without pinging.
If your team-mates don’t show up after you’ve pinged and/or messaged, don’t dive in and blame them. They thought it was a bad call, and didn’t decide to do it. Focus on what you think is the next best call or see what they’re doing and assist them. If you show you’re willing to work with them and support their calls, they’re more likely to do the same for you. Agreement begets further agreement, whereas getting upset will only further divide the team.
How can you be an effective Shot-caller in voice chat with friends?
This is a bit harder to have a concrete guide for, as every group is going to function differently on certain levels. Voice chat opens the communication up for a lot more depth and coordination, but also strongly increases the possibility of frustration and arguments if people are out of sync. If you’re going to have a voice call, I highly suggest having a Shot-caller, even if it’s only to make a decision when other people disagree.
A very common mistake people make when Shot-calling is talking too much about inconsequential things. Often, you’ll see people, especially those used to streaming, talking about talents they’re choosing or about specific Heroes because they’re used to providing entertainment while playing. They can also feel pressured to say things because they’re ‘in charge’. A HUGE part of Shot-calling is listening to your team-mates. You’ll want to know if somebody goes missing from a lane or when they see the shimmer of a Stealthed Hero. If they’re struggling in-lane you’ll want to know about it so you can encourage a good rotation without losing soak. You won’t hear these crucial bits of info if you’re constantly talking.
What is the best way to assist a shot-caller?
Sometimes, you won’t be the person calling the shots, and that’s perfectly fine. There are some ways that you can still help affect the flow of the game for the better. Chief among them is sharing info. If somebody is missing or you think the enemy is setting up a trap, let your voice be heard. Redundant info is better than no info at all. If the Shot-caller makes a decision that you support, ping or say that you’re ‘On the way’ to reinforce that it’s a good call and they know you’re going to provide backup.
If for any reason a dispute comes up, help diffuse it. As previously stated, an arguing Shot-caller is an ineffective one. If you know why a certain call was made and it’s being questioned, explain it if you can. If a person goes off on their own instead of following a call, let them know you’d appreciate their help next time. It comes across much better when they hear it from somebody who didn’t make the original call, as it shows that you two are in unison and encourages them to join the pack.
There’s obviously a lot more that goes into Shot-calling on a game to game basis, but I feel like this is enough to help people start making calls with confidence. If you’re a person with experience Shot-calling, I hope this heaped you refine your skills and if you feel I missed anything please share it. Leadership is something you must always strive to improve in, so I welcome constructive criticism. With that in mind, let’s all be kind in the comments, shall we? Thank you.