Last year I wrote out these Protips for Lucioball, which are kind of aimed at helping people get from gold to diamond. This season, I’ve set my sights a little higher and I’m hoping to make Master rank. The more I play the game, the more I see things in terms of an ever-shifting set of ratios, probabilities and cones of angles. Hopefully these tips help you get from good to Great.
-At the start of the match, establish if everyone feels confident playing as a goalkeeper. If anyone says they can’t keep, make sure they switch with someone who can.
-Communicate before you ult. Unless you’re deliberately overwhelming the opposition defence with two simultaneously ults, it’s generally better to use them one at a time.
-Passing along the ground may sometimes be preferable to passing through the air; for a short distance the ball moves faster as it travels in a straight line, even if it has more resistance over a long distance. Therefore, short passes along the ground may disorient the defenders and allow you to get around them.
-When the ball comes to you and there’s no one else in striking distance, take your time. Walk the ball up the field – it’s surprisingly easy to dribble. When your opponents get impatient and try and take the ball off you, boop it over the heads or punch it into a wall and skate right on past them.
-If you and an opponent are racing towards a ball and they’re slightly ahead of you, booping it at the wall (instead of towards their goal) is not a bad way to neutralise their advantage, especially if you were further back and then you suddenly turn around and are in the lead.
-Once you have established good ball skills and you can place it exactly where you want it to, the game takes on another level. It’s no longer about making the best shot (the most direct line to the middle of the target) but about making a shot that is least likely to get blocked. This means anticipating whether the defender will move high or low to block you, but more often it means not shooting straight at the goals but shooting at the wall and catching it (or letting your well-placed teammate catch it).
-A simple combination of a punch (onto the wall) and boop into the goals seems to work better than boop onto the wall and then punch into the goals, but it’ll depend on your distancing and the placement of the defenders.
-Learn to rely on your teammates a lot. A single striker is less likely to score a goal than two strikers who understand each other’s intentions and help set up assists and rebounds.
-Learn to cross the ball (and if you’re striking, assume your teammate will pass it to you and position yourself to receive the cross). That is to say, pass it across the field (rather than towards the goal) to get around defenders.
-As the goalkeeper, a good option for clearing the ball while setting up for a shot is shoot the ball directly to the opposite wall on either side of the goal so that it rebounds to a waiting teammate.
-There may come moments when neither your boop is on cooldown and the split-second timing of the punch may be too perilous to use. In moments like these, blocking the ball with your body may be preferable because the ball will stop quite dead if it hits you, enabling you to set up a shot to clear it out.
-You know how last year I said if the ball’s not going to get into the goals, don’t worry about blocking it? Yeah forget that. At advanced levels, waiting until the last second to try and boop the ball out of there gets increasingly dangerous. If Sometimes it’s important to leave the goal unprotected and get to the ball early so that you can clear it the hell out of there before any of the opposing strikers close in. If the strikers are very good, blocking it once won’t be enough: they’ll catch the rebound, and your boop will be on cooldown as you try and block the next shot.
-This doesn’t necessarily mean skating towards a defender and trying to jam their shot. While it’s true that the closer you get to them the narrower their angle of shooting becomes, a clever striker won’t shoot directly for the goals but will just pop it up over you or behind you and then follow up with the rebound. In other words if there’s no one near the ball feel free to get it, but if someone’s coming at you try and react at the last second so you don’t overextend and give them an easy shot.
-In a desperate situation, sometimes you can’t just shoot down the field to clear the ball because there will be two opposing strikers closing off the angle and waiting to return the shot. In these instances, passing up the wall, or even along the wall may get it past them.
After several hundred games, I can summarise all of these tips thus: try and get the ball into their goal, and try and stop them from getting it into yours. At the end of the day, no amount of advice will make up for the intuition and rapid response that comes from sheer repetition. Play enough games and you’ll automatically calculate timing, distancing and positioning, and more importantly develop appropriate responses based on where you, the ball and the other players are. There’s no easy formula for that, and it’s the simplicity of it all that makes Lucioball a work of genius.
Good luck, have fun, and don’t forget to endorse your team.