Scrims – Esports Scrimmages Explained

If you are new to esports and competitive gaming, I’m sure you’ve come across the term “scrim” or someone may have asked you to scrim against them. Scrimmages are a common act in esports and gaming, but what are scrims?

Scrims are competitive matches performed between esports teams to simulate a tournament match’s environment without the penalties incurred from losing a tournament match. The purpose of scrims is to determine a team’s faults when faced against equally competitive teams in a risk-free alternative to a competitive match.

Although that is the broad explanation of scrims, below we will break down what scrims look like, including an overview of its differences and execution in games, and how you (and your own esports team) can start up your own scrims to improve your team’s overall ability and be ready to dominate in your next tournament.

What are Scrims?

Scrim is the short form of the word scrimmage and is used outside of esports, such as practice games in football. Scrimmage also means an argument, struggle or confusion. But that’s beside the point, in esports and gaming scrimmages or scrims simply means a practice match.

These practice matches are usually simulating the rulings and formats of the tournament the team is preparing for. Teams would contact another team at a similar skill level of their own (although scrims can occur with any team of any level, having someone at a similar skill level is ideal). This team may or may not be a team that is participating in the same tournament as they already are.

When a team faces someone in the same tournament, it’s typically in a league setting where the possibility both teams will face each other in a tournament is low or not as impactful to the standings of each team. That said, it doesn’t matter of the specific relationship, and scrims have no impact on an actual tournament (therefore when a team scrims, they acknowledge that this team may face them in the real tournament. This usually isn’t a problem).

The reason team scrim is simple; it allows the team to pretend they are playing in a tournament match without the penalties incurred by losing a tournament match. This allows mutually both teams, the winners and the losers, to determine their weaknesses while under the pressure of facing another skilled team.

For example, perhaps during the latter stages of a game, during the stress of possibly losing, half of the team stops communicating. That kind of mistake could have costed a tournament, but that is exactly why a team would scrim to identify that issue and proactively avoid the mistake in tournaments.

Tier 1 teams actually scrim with another tier 1 team, providing both parties with the opportunity to identify their mistakes. When they do, they may hold out on specific strategies they are reserving for the grand stage. These are sometimes what is referred to as pro scrims.

Let’s talk a bit more about how scrimmages look in specific games. Below I listed a few. If you are more interested in learning how to setup scrims for your team, click here to jump to the full breakdown.

Scrims in Fortnite

What are scrims in Fortnite? Scrims in Fortnite are practice matches taking place on a creative island map. Professionals do pro scrims, where they either queue at the same time on live servers or use a custom matchmaking key to practice on the standard battle royale setting.

Scrims in Fortnite are likely one of the most unique out of all the other games listed here. Fortnite battle royale scrims happen infrequently as they require a custom matchmaking key provided by Epic Games upon approval. Tier 2, tier 1 and streamers have the ability to scrim frequently as they are likely approved by Epic Games to own their own stream key.

Esports teams and tournament organizers also likely own some custom matchmaking keys. To obtain a custom matchmaking key, check here to learn more.

That said, when a casual player may say “let’s scrim” in Fortnite, you may wonder how they got a custom matchmaking key. Chances are, they don’t but instead they want to scrim on a creative island.

Scrims on creative islands are common for tier 3 and below esports players as this is typically the only format scrimming is possible for them. Scrims usually take place on a box fight creative island, but can also take place in zone wars or any other creative island map.

Fortnite scrims are unique as unlike all the other games, to scrim on the standard format of the game (battle royale) is not typically used to scrim.

Scrims in League of Legends

What are scrims in League of Legends? Scrims in League of Legends are practice matches taking place in a custom lobby. These scrims allow for both 5-man teams participating to simulate the pressures of a tournament match to identify their weaknesses without incurring the penalties that are presented when losing an actual tournament match.

The scrims in League of Legends are fairly straightforward, it’s just a standard League of Legends 5v5 in a custom lobby.

These custom lobbies are usually run in tournament-draft pick and the teams competing usually want to simulate any restrictions placed on the actual tournament. For example, if the tournament bans out championed released within 14 days of the match being played, the scrim match would likely mimic that restriction.

Scrims don’t have to be played following a specific tournament, they could be just to improve the team. Therefore very specific rules, such as pausing rules, won’t be taken into account. Also, anything that is just an inconvenience, like scheduling or specific communication with a third-party spectator, would be excluded.

Scrims in PUBG and PUBG Mobile

What are scrims in PUBG and PUBG Mobile? Scrims in PUBG are private matches with at least two squads competing with each other on a small sectioned area. Scrims are benefited from additional teams participating, and the scrims can be for duos, trios or solos, although this is atypical.

PUBG and PUBG mobile scrim matches leverage the custom lobby functionality where individual teams can setup a battle royale match. Typically you’d want to use a small map like Livik and agree to play in a certain area.

The scrimming teams would usually agree the general area where they’d fight to save time. This isn’t always the case, however.

Scrims in COD Mobile

What are scrims in COD Mobile? Scrims in COD Mobile are private matches where teams play in an agreed game mode, most often Domination Mode, to practice with teams at a similar skill-set and coordination without any penalties of losing the match which would otherwise occur in a tournament format.

COD Mobile scrims are similar to League of Legends scrims, where it’s the same format as the standard game format. The key difference is, however, that COD mobile has multiple competitive play styles to choose from, versus League of Legends which only has 1.

Below is a good example of how teams leverage scrims to understand where they need to improve and where they are strong. This is also a prime opportunity to practice, as you can see below:

Scrims in Rocket League

What are scrims in Rocket League? Scrims in Rocket League consist of a private match where two teams of three use the map selections and rulings of a tournament to practice without the incurred penalties for losing in a tournament. Scrims are a prime opportunity to determine the team’s weaknesses while competing against similarly-skilled and coordinated teams.

Rocket League, such as LoL and COD Mobile, allow you to play the scrim as a standard match. Furthermore, the scrims are likely the easiest to setup when compared to all the other game titles.

How to Scrim?

In order for a team to scrim in any step, they need to do the following steps:

  1. Determine how the game’s scrims functionality works.
  2. Find an opposing team at a similar skill level to compete with.
  3. Agree upon any rulings that are required as per game.
  4. Determine a date and time for the competition.
  5. On the day of, setup the lobby.
  6. Compete and reflect on the mistakes and successes of your team.

Let’s break these steps further. Feel free to skip to the explanation of the step you don’t understand or struggle with.

1. Determine how the game’s scrims functionality works.

Before you can even consider scrimming, you need to understand how one simply scrims in your game of choice. Above we broke down different games and how scrimming works in each but if none of those games are your team’s game, you’d need to do the discovering yourself.

One rule of thumb is that every game that doesn’t involve multiple teams involved in the activities should have a standard private mode that reflects the live servers, which can be used for friendlies and ultimately scrims.

The reason why Fortnite and PUBG Mobile didn’t have that functionality is that they are both battle royales, and in a battle royale a large number of teams are involved in the standard format. Therefore, both of these games don’t have the ability to play that actual standard format in a private lobby without multiple teams involved (or workarounds as we mentioned above).

2. Find an opposing team at a similar skill level to compete with.

Now in order to scrim, you need a team to play against. A good place to look for these teams could be the teams signed up for a tournament you are or will be participating in.

Some of these tournament Discords even have specific channels for scrimmages. You can also go to Discord communities that revolve around the game. If the community is competitive, they almost always have a channel to find people to scrim with.

3. Agree upon any rulings that are required as per game

This one only applies to games that need rules included, changed or discussed. This applies specifically to CCGs and battle royales but virtually could apply to all games.

Even games that are as streamlined as League of Legends. A discussion can come up on champion picks, such as if a champion was recently released, it cannot be played to follow tournament standards.

This can be taken in a multitude of lights in varying games.

4. Determine a date and time for the competition.

This one is as the name implies, you will need to determine a suitable time to play with the opposing team. Bigger games like Overwatch with 6 players per team usually require a game to be planned more in advance than other teams.

Meanwhile, 1v1 games like SSBU or smaller games like Rocket League may be able to schedule a game for later in the day. This works well when both parties are playing in the same tournament when they want the scrim to be used as a warmup before the tournament.

Although some avoid this as it may fatigue the players with an intense game before their actual tournament match.

5. On the day of, setup the lobby.

By now you should have coordinated with the opposing team who is setting up the lobby. Whoever that is, you’d need to do it and invite the opposition.

6. Compete and reflect on the mistakes and successes of your team.

As the name says, compete with the opposing team and reflect on your mistakes. It is very useful to have your coach closely watching this match to better enhance the reflection process.