We all know how important it is to hit that clutch shot, but while you are spending those hours learning the new gun or trying out that new strat, there is another facet of your game that needs paying attention to: Your communication.
Being an effective communicator can make just as big of an impact as getting a kill or dominating your lane. Aside from bullets or mana, your next greatest resource is information. The more you know about the enemy and where they are, the easier it is for you and your team to make the right move to counter their game plan.
First and foremost, even when playing a pick-up group (PUG) comms are your greatest weapon. The first step with a random group is to find a way to communicate, ideally via voice chat (using your ModMic we hope!). Often times it isn't the skill gap that costs a PUG the game, but the communication gap, so take charge and get your team chatting.
Sharing is Caring
The Oversharer: Sharing information is a balance between too much information and not enough. Most commonly this comes in the form of the oversharer, someone who shares too much information or the right information in an inefficient way. Fix this by putting yourself in your teammates' shoes. Is what you are about to share going to be valuable to them in their current situation? Focus on communicating pertinent information. Be precise and quick, remember while you are talking you are taking a very important tool away from the rest of your squad: Their hearing.
The Undersharer: This is at odds with the less-common undersharer. The key items you need to communicate in most games are what the enemy is doing outside the line of sight of your teammates. If you see something, don’t keep it to yourself! Like all the signs say, if you see something, say something.
The Bad Mic: Maybe this person shares too much, maybe not, it doesn't really matter because they're talking into a laptop mic or some webcam mic or maybe just an awful headset. Record how you sound on your mic while gaming, then compare it to your teammates. If you're not up to snuff, we'd recommend getting a ModMic (of course)! Check it out!
More Pitfalls than a Game of... Pitfall.
There’s more to communication than just delivering information. Communications can cause a lot of unintended stress on your team. Here’s what to watch out for:
The ChatterBox: This player never stops talking. Including things outside the game during a match. This is the extreme version of the oversharer, but at least you know what they had for lunch. Simply put: Focus on the game when gaming, chat later.
The Blamer: The Blamer can do no wrong! It does not matter if they die alone in the jungle or stepping in front of an unlucky awp shot, they’ll say you could have done something to prevent it. Before you start the blame game always seek to learn what your teammates were doing when things went south. Blame without the full picture is toxic, but understanding why things went wrong is progress.
The Jumpy One: They mean well enough but the slightest noise or rustle in the leaves leads to a panicked call out, usually an exaggeration. “The whole enemy team is here!” when it's really just half the team. This causes your team to move out of position and you know the rest. Stay calm, don’t make calls that involve absolutes. Deliver information without guessing: “3 enemies have me pinned down” not “*&^@ they’re all over the place here!”
The Silent Type: These can be tough nuts to crack, maybe they are just too good to use a mic or maybe they don't have one. Perhaps they had some bad experiences in voice chat and avoid it. This could be your opportunity to turn things around, reach out to them in text chat or any other form you can and encourage them to communicate with the rest of the team. Be that built-in emotes and soundbites or through text chat, if a mic is not available. And if they don’t own a mic you send them to us!
Make sure you actively listen to what other teammates are saying while using resources like mini-maps to determine if your callout is coming at the right time.
Crafting a callout
So what does the perfectly crafted call out look like? They vary game to game, but in general, there are three steps to most callouts.
Be Specific in Intent: When making a call there’s a lot of information you can give, the important thing is to give the right info for your intent. For instance, if you spot an enemy and don’t plan on engaging all you need to tell people is where they’re heading and maybe what kind of threat they are (e.g. Tank heading to courtyard). Or the inverse “Antlion Audio engaging tank in Courtyard” - Note the use of our screen name, never use general terms like “I” or “we." as that may cause incorrect assumptions.
Be Specific in Location: Never use generic terms (enemy at blue car) or relative directions (He’s on the right). The above example, tank heading to courtyard, should be “Tank heading to courtyard from hotel balcony, second floor” This is where knowing your map is vital, so it may just take practice to perfect.
Be Silent: Give your call and then give your teammates time to react. Don’t keep telling them what’s going on unless something REALLY changes drastically. The best calls are quick and accurate with enough time to let your team react.
We have covered the basics of what a call out is and when you should use them, the rest is up to you! Stay tuned for future chapters where we dive into specific calls for the most popular games, with tips from real pros around the world! For now remember to keep it simple, precise, well-timed, and never toxic.