The keys to IGLing
An IGL is the “In-Game Leader”. Sometimes called the captain or the shot-caller, the job is always the same. They’re the ones in charge. It’s one of the toughest roles in all of VALORANT because they have to understand the game enormously as well as be able to get kills on the server. However, good IGL’s are always in demand and it’s easily the most sought after role, meaning a good IGL will have a job for life. In my time around competitive VALROANT, I’ve worked with some talented in-game leaders, all with several things in common. I’m going to lay out the key skills you’ll need to find success in this role.
Be an untiltable, cerebral mountain
I’ve put this first for a reason. To me, this is arguably the most important thing to develop if you want to lead a team. You CANNOT tilt. In tough games when things go wrong, your team will be looking to you for guidance and you need to be ready to confidently reassure them that it’s all ok. Tilt makes almost everyone play worse but as an IGL, both your aim and calls will suffer. When you’re trying to lead a team, leading by example is the best way and promoting good mental fortitude is key. Be that positive voice every team needs.
Understand your players
This is massively important. In VALORANT, there isn’t always a perfectly right answer. What will work for one team might not necessarily work for another. Learn as much as you can about your teammates including their playstyle and preferred agents. Build strategies that work for them and play to their strengths as much as possible. If you have a duelist who loves to peek quick, use it and trade them. If you have a sentinel with amazing setups on a site, take space elsewhere and force your opponents into it.
Keep it simple mid-round
A very common mistake for people trying to learn how to IGL is doing too much. Having complicated executes and set-pieces are great, as long as everyone is on the same page and they’ve been practised beforehand. Mid-round however, try not to be too complex. If I just say flash this, then stun this, and star here and here then double satchel and walk out ramp then flash this, it’s going to be too much. Someone will be confused and get something wrong. Trust your team to understand their own utility and give calls more related to taking an area rather than very specific, micro-based instructions.
Learn how to give and take criticism
Being a leader means sometimes you’re going to have to tell your team off and give criticism. There is definitely a right and wrong way to do this. Any criticism you give to players has to be constructive. At the end of the day, you’re on the same team working toward the same goals, so it’s important your player’s feel like you’re working with them to help them improve and not just talking down to them. Equally, you have to take criticism well. You might spend all day coming up with a fancy new execute just for your team to try it and tell you that it won’t work how you think. It’s important not to take this personally and realise that their problem is with the strategy, not you. Try not to get too defensive about your calls and ideas and work together to improve them.
Have a structure between rounds
This one might just be my personal preference, but I find it best when calls are given in a set structure. This way there is consistency, your team knows what to expect and it can avoid unnecessary clutter when you’re trying to lay out a plan. It’s best to find what works for you and your team but a basic structure might look like this: A few seconds to fix mistakes from the last round, say the enemies buy, then check their ult economy to get a potential read of the opponent for this round. After this give your starting call and positions for the round using all the information you have.
Adjust adjust adjust
One of the most important skills to develop is being flexible. Coming into a round with a plan is ideal but don’t force it too hard. If you call a rush then realise you’re running into Sage, Killjoy, Astra, maybe it’s not the right call and you should cancel. The same goes on a bigger, game-based level. You might have a fantastic anti-strat going into a match but there’s every chance your opponents do something entirely different or run a new composition. Work on developing your game understanding to always have a plan B and be ready for if your first idea doesn’t work.
Use the minimap
Have the biggest minimap you possibly can. Seriously. To quote dapr from Sentinels “wait until people realize playing with a giant mini map is a huge advantage”. This is most true for IGL’s. To make good calls, you need as much information as you possibly can. Whilst your teammates should be constantly feeding you information, a massive minimap will help you see the utility and positions of players with greater ease and accuracy. Honestly, give it a try and you’ll never go back.
Good IGL’s are in demand for a reason. It’s an incredibly tough role to master. It takes a lot of time and practice to develop all the necessary skills and even at the top level, only a handful, stand out as truly exceptional. With patience, you can develop these key skills and set yourself on the path to becoming a fantastic in-game leader.