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Topping teams vs. Assembling balanced teams: What's the difference?

I come from grassroots esports, where the practice of assembling teams based on skill superiority, commonly known as "topping teams," was a recurring theme. Some embraced it, while others viewed it with disdain. Personally, I'm not particularly fond of forming top-heavy teams in grassroots esports; however, I am very enthusiastic about creating well-balanced teams. You might be wondering, what's the difference? I'll delve into that in this post.

Firstly, the motive behind team division is crucial! Are teams split because the coach wants them to excel, or is the division aimed at providing everyone with a conducive training environment? While it's possible to form teams based on skill and top-tier players, you can also structure teams based on various factors, creating a balanced team. The key distinction between a top-tier team and a balanced team lies in having a greater emphasis on motivation for attending training sessions rather than solely on performance! Consequently, players with similar goals are grouped together. Those whose objective is to attend training for the sake of playing and socializing are placed on the same team. It's entirely feasible to include a top player with a high rank in such a scenario. Typically, a highly-ranked player is placed on a team with other skilled players. However, if the motivation is to have fun and engage in light-hearted banter, a high-ranked team might not be the most suitable for that player. By assembling this player with others who want to play and have fun, you address the needs of the players.

Conversely, you can place a slightly lower-ranked player who is highly motivated on a team with a higher rank. Caution is advised here. Ideally, the difference should not exceed 2 tanks. This is because you want them to play ranked matches together while ensuring productive training sessions. The rationale behind this is that, as players climb the ranks, the pace often quickens, and training involves more advanced elements. If a player struggles to keep up with the pace, frustration can ensue on both ends. The player who lags behind in rank often experiences pressure to bridge the gap in skill level. When forming teams with a significant skill gap, effective communication and clear expectations are essential. Those with a higher skillset must understand that training will proceed at a slightly slower pace, and they won't be able to focus on the most advanced techniques. Meanwhile, those at a slightly lower skill level must put in extra effort to catch up. If everyone agrees, you can proceed, but be aware as a coach that you'll need to manage frustration from both sides. It's a challenging balance, but it is certainly achievable.

However, the goal of assembling balanced teams is to ensure that everyone has their needs met for the desired training, growth, and thriving in the sport.

Topping of Teams

Topping a team, on the other hand, is a different matter. Using the previous example, a player proficient in the game but desiring a social and lighthearted approach will be placed on a high-ranked team, regardless of their training objectives. This decision is made to gather as many skilled players as possible on one team, with a primary focus on performance. Consequently, players are placed in situations where expectations are set that they may neither be able nor willing to fulfill.

Topping a team often involves benching players who do not perform as well.

The key difference between topping teams and assembling balanced teams, in my opinion, lies in the coach's motivation for team placement. Is the team assembled based on what the players aim to achieve, or is the focus solely on performance, regardless of the players' individual goals for participation.

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