The specific kits of Flanks require domain knowledge to master but the overall game-sense aspects of playing a flanker well translate between them.
Supports and Damage
- These roles are generally the highest priority targets for an enemy Flanker to kill.
- They often have limited options for close-range combat and some lack in defensive abilities.
- With a fragile health pool, they can be killed more quickly so you can disengage before you overstay your welcome.
- Flank vs. Flank is a more even matchup (though it depends on context and the specific matchup)
- While it makes less sense to take a neutral matchup over an advantageous one, target priority is often contextual. Sometimes the enemy’s backline is difficult to flank or you may want to peel for your own backline (maybe the tanks aren’t doing it).
- Even if the flankers on both teams aren’t competing in a direct 1v1, they are competing indirectly on which can disrupt and punish the other team’s backline more.
- Usually not a high priority. If an enemy Tank is heavily damaged, vulnerably positioned and/or being focused by your team mates, you can help finish them off. Otherwise, it’s not the main job of a flanker.
- Their high health pool mean that they often eventually win the 1v1 out of attrition. Even if a Flank does have an advantage it still takes a long time to kill them. And you don’t want to stick around in the same place for too long where enemies notice you.
- Tanks are large and easy targets to hit for farming Ultimate charge. Sometimes worth considering if your Flank champion’s Ultimate is a core component of your win condition, or maybe if you’re at 80% Ult charge (almost there) and want to quickly get it up to 100%.
Changing target priority based on the circumstances. For example:
- An enemy that used a defensive cooldown recently may be more vulnerable.
- An enemy with low health trying to escape and you can score the final attack on them.
Flanks provide utility in a unique way. By getting behind the enemy, they impose a crossfire; the enemies have to manage fighting on two sides at once, diverting the enemies resources from the main team fight. They force enemies to turn around so they temporarily can’t see what your team mates are doing or fire at them. They also put pressure on the enemies defensive cooldowns (i.e. Ash’s Shield can’t protect the frontline and the backline at the same time).
Actually Flank. This is an obvious statement but a lot of players do use suboptimally flankers to deal damage at the frontlines rather than take a little extra time to get behind the enemy and attack them from a good angle.
The kit of Flanks sacrifices in raw damage, sustain and even range, specifically so that they can have the mobility and other tools to flank. If you’re attacking from the front as the flanker, even if you’re getting the damage in, there’s a sacrifice in utility.
It’s often easier to attack the backline first. Consider two scenarios:
- If attacking the frontline, the enemy’s backline also sees you and fires at you.
- If attacking the backline, the enemy frontline won’t have much of a sightline on you ; you may be able to quietly kill a backline enemy and then work into their frontline.
Scouting. With a unique position behind the enemy, you can see information that your team mates cannot. If stacking with friends or playing on a scrim team, this is your job as a flanker to communicate (a) the positions of enemies and (b) which cooldowns enemies have used recently.
Soft vs. Hard Flanks
Most if not all maps have these, but using Jaguar Falls as an example, a soft flank might be the doors by the point whereas a hard flank would be going all the way behind the enemy. Of course, it’s contextual, but factors to consider.
|Soft Flanking||Hard Flanking|
|Less time to enter, less time to exit||More commitment of time and resources. ; higher risk, higher reward|
|Can more easily go to their supports for healing||Is locked into a more independent playstyle|
|Easier to escape in case of a lost fight||Risk of not escaping a losing fight|
|Puts a crossfire to the side of the enemy||Puts a crossfire directly behind the enemy, demanding that they do 180 degree|
|Enemy’s backline might still be able to use cover to hide from you||More access to vulnerable enemies hiding in the backline|
The majority of flankers have 2 or 3 defensive cooldowns, offering them sustain/damage blocking (i.e. Reversal, Magic Barrier, Counter) or Mobility (i.e. Billow, Agility, Pounce).
Engage With Cooldowns Ready
If you don’t have your cooldowns up, you may want to stay somewhere safe, unseen, and wait a few seconds before taking on an engagement with an enemy so that you can engage with your cooldowns ready. In this case, you are sacrificing a few seconds but also significantly decreasing your chances of dying in a 1v1.
- If you use your mobility cooldown to pursue a target, you don’t have it to disengage and escape with. You are committed to staying whereever you are
- By not having a mobility cooldown up, you’re vulnerable to attacks, Ultimates, and basically everything. If using the mobility cooldown offensively, it should offer a high amount of value to compensate for this risk.
Relevant article: Efficient Cooldown Management
Synchronizing with Team
Flankers don’t necessarily push in the same direction or location as the team, but they need to push at the same time.
As a Flanker positioned in the enemy backline, it’s easy to fall into the trap where the player has tunnel vision on the enemies and is focused on trying to kill them, but isn’t fully aware of what their team is doing.
Engaging Too Early.
- Before your team mates arrive team fight begins, enemies twiddling their thumbs, bored and waiting for action.
- If you engage several seconds before your team does, all 5 enemies will try to focus you because they’re not occupied with anything else.
- Even if you die and come back, and you do start performing well, sometimes it might be too late.
Engaging too Late.
- Taking some extra time to setup in an advantageous position is good
- However, during the time it takes you to get in position, your team is fighting a 4v5 until you show up. Your tanks will be soaking up more damage than the enemy’s tanks and having a disadvantage in the poke war; your tanks will have to give up point presence.
- If the flanker takes too long, the enemy team might gets 1-2 picks and sometimes the fight could be lost if you take too long to contribute.
After a Lost Fight
Assuming the team fight is lost and you’re still alive behind enemy lines, it’s often a two-fold choice between staying hidden (hoping that no one sees you) and immediately dying quickly (i.e. jumping off a cliff, or letting enemies kill you ASAP).
If you die quickly, the best and worst case scenario – you die, but there’s no staggering.
However, staying hidden. Best case: You live and are immediately in position to engage on the next fight. Worst case: You waste time trying to avoid death and anyway. And, you stagger your team, delaying the regroup even further.
Good opponents will know that you’re still alive (because they won the team fight without confirming a kill on you or seeing you in the killfeed). You need to make a judgment call on whether they’ll chase you down or not.
Comparing stats against the enemy’s flank (if they have one). That’s your competition. Are there any major differences between your stats? Did you outperform them overall? If you have video footage of a game th
Kills and assists. Generally speaking, having more of these is better than having less, but context matters.
- A flank can frag out, get a lot of kills and assists, but if they’re not in sync with the team, it may not result in actual progress on the objectives and overall progress in the gamestate being attained.
- A flank can sometimes provide a lot of value for the team despite not getting a lot of kills. Even if you don’t frag out as a flanker, you still might be providing the pressure and harassment that causes enemy teams to over-invest in dealing with you, hence giving your team the advantage.
Deaths. Statistically, Flanks do die the most often of all roles. There’s also a somewhat of a risk-reward balance. Of course, minimizing preventable deaths as much as possible is ideal, though this ideally shouldn’t come at the expense of being overly passive.
- Cauterize = first priority, usually.
- Master Riding, Haven/Blast Shield and possibly Nimble are other options.
- Wrecker or Bulldozer are viable if barriers or deployables are preventing you from doing your job
- Please don’t get Deft Hands