Hey! That one got your attention, didn't it?
For a while--until I get bored and/or sidetracked--I thought I might do a few posts on playing the game. What with everybody feeling all shiny and new and ready for the upcoming season now is the perfect time to grab your attention and put a stop to that sort of Pollyanna-ish nonsense. (Just kidding.)
Today's post will be about lane control. And, yes, I will be relating Legion philosophy as it applies to lane control because it is (in my never to be considered humble opinion) the cornerstone of how they teach and play the game. But first a brief definition: Lane control is an established position of dominance that allows a player to (ideally) deny movement through or past the narrow zone or lane actively observed by the dominant player. In this context when I say lane control I am including edge control as well. Edge control refers to the capacity of an opposing player, either a mirror or other line-of-sight position, to contest for dominance and thus, lane control. It is a fundamental feature of the modern game and happens numerous times during each and every point played.
Nor is it a static situation. It is one in constant flux and this is where Legion philosophy and training come into play. Simply put the Legion's first rule is 'Never give up lane control.' Their second rule is 'Don't die.' And that's pretty much it for rules about lane control. With only two rules it should be a piece of cake (um, cake) but it actually turns out to be a bit more difficult in practice. Let's expand on the rules some, shall we? The typical scenario is what is commonly called gun-fighting or gun battles. The term carries with it a connotation that the process is a back and forth battle for edge and lane control--with opposing players taking turns being in control--and as it is commonly played that is precisely what happens most of the time. But that is not how the Legion do it.
One of the key reasons for the Legion's rise to dominance of the NXL in the past was their absolute adherence to the lane control rules. (With a few Americans--who bring unique skill sets to the table--and a slightly less rigid team structure than in the past--the current Legion isn't quite as unyielding on this score as they used to be but if you watch them play you will still see what I'm talking about.) But more than anything we are talking about an attitude. Lane control isn't lane control if it's only effective 50% of the time. It follows that what is required for real lane control is that it be maintained uninterrupted and if or when it is contested the opponent must be eliminated or pushed off their edge. Even if you die in the process. (See rule #2) In order to do this effectively you must maintain discipline and provide the smallest target profile possible. The techniques can be taught and learned--the will can only come from within the player.
The result is instead of gun-fighting for control lane control becomes a game of chicken and technique. There is no back and forth. No snap shooting. No in and out. No lightning reflexes. No real contest of all around ability. No rolling the dice. In this scenario technique dominates--and remember, technique can be taught and developed.
But even for the Red Legion perfection isn't possible so here's a little trick that should help. Most of the time you can give up edge control and still maintain lane control. Remember, your purpose is to deny movement thru the lane or gap you are attempting to control. Too often players over adjust when pushed off their edges. If you are forced off your edge don't move all the way back behind your bunker, don't switch sides, don't move your gun out of a shooting posture. Move only as far as it is necessary to move to avoid being hit. In a mirror situation that often requires no more than pushing into your prop. But in any event the idea is to move the minimum amount necessary while maintaining a line-of-sight somewhere within the gap or zone you are supposed to be controlling. Better yet, roll your gun and get some paint going thru there. (If you're uncertain as to why we'll get to that next time.)
Now that you know how it's done--a far cry from doing it I might add--take a minute to think about how you transition from what is mostly thought of (incorrectly) as a defensive posture--lane control--and make it a fundamental element of your attack. That's next time too.