Stop Underrating Double Duelist
Stop saying double duelist compositions are bad. This seems to be limited to EU for some reason where both those competing, and fans, seem to look down on the idea of running two duelists. I’m here to dispel this myth and show you that they are in fact very powerful when done properly.
Firstly, let’s talk about some numbers. Looking into double duelist compositions from Challengers 3 from both EU and NA tells us something really interesting. We saw that 5 of the 8 teams in NA ran this type of composition and 6 of the 12 in EU. The key is looking at how double duelist comps match up against single or no duelist alternatives. In NA we saw that this style of comp came out on top 70% of the time, and in EU, 59.1% of the time.
So at the top level, double duelist is both commonly used and sees a high success rate against the alternative, so why does it get so much hate? In my opinion, it either comes from a place of concern, worrying about a lack of utility, or a snobbery that double duelist is too simple and lacks depth strategically. It goes without saying, I disagree with both.
For me when people say lack of utility, they actually mean a lack of support utility, to help with an execute and such. But, to say the second duelist doesn’t bring useful utility is crazy. Raze brings a great information tool, powerful plant denial, and a free kill on an 8 orb cooldown. Phoenix brings a powerful space-making arsenal, and arguably the strongest ultimate in the game. Reyna brings the ability to get insane value from one-and-done spots and take aggressive fights. Even Yoru has powerful positioning tools and a great ability to sell fakes to bring utility to the team (OK this might be a stretch but you get my point). So two duelists doesn’t mean you lack utility, it just means you have different utility.
The second argument, that it is too simple and has no strategy, is just false. Understanding how to play any agent composition at the top level requires a lot of thought and even for the most aggressive teams playing the most aggressive compositions, the answer is never just hold W. When teams decide what to play they have to weigh up the strengths and weaknesses of the composition, and their strengths as players.
A common example of this composition is trading the Skye for a Phoenix. The key difference is the trade-off between information and selfish enabling ability. To make up for this, teams have to adjust how they play. On the defender side, to take this information we will see the Phoenix using their aggressive kit to take space, and advanced positioning to be able to inform the team of the opponent’s movements and plans. This is also extremely common on the Reyna-based, double duelist Icebox composition, where the Reyna will routinely push A for info to make up for the lapse in utility. On the attacker side, things are different again. We see an increased emphasis on contact play. This means they can save their precious utility for the execute itself or even post-plant. Teams will routinely take what is given to them in terms of map control and know how to get a lot, from a little investment.
All of this together helps us shape the playstyle perfectly. FaZe at their best were a prime example of this. It works best for teams who like to take risks and are more than comfortable taking dry aim duels and it also takes a good IGL to manage all these aggressive moving parts and planned late-round executes. It might not require as much server time as some fancy new-age no duelist comp, but hey, maybe that’s a good thing.
The point of what I’m writing here isn’t to say that teams must play two duelists, or that one style is inherently better than another. Almost any composition is viable at a high level with enough practice and understanding, and it is almost always better to let a team feel comfortable than forcing square-shaped players into circular holes. Some teams have really found a home in this style of play, like Sentinels on Haven or Acend on Ascent. While they make it look effortless, that doesn’t mean it is. I for one hope we see more of this style where it’s appropriate and hope that caster’s and desk analysts will stop writing off a two-duelist comp before it’s even had a chance to show its depth.
It’s about time we gave this style, and the teams that play it, the respect it deserves.