League of Legends is an unforgiving mistress. Everyone from the lowliest Bronze player to the top of Challenger will tell you that it’s a difficult game to climb the ladder. Often you must rely on your teammates to win, whether or not you’re having a good game yourself. The team-focused aspect combined with the famously toxic community equals one massive headache for someone who’s not prepared. But the rush of winning a close game or the joy at finally reaching your goal keeps us all coming back for more. Whether you’re a new player shooting for silver or a veteran pushing to diamond, I’m hoping to offer at least a few nuggets of wisdom for the aspiring Solo Queue Hero.
First, a little background on me, I’ve been playing League of Legends since 2012. In that first season I initially got placed into Bronze 1. A few weeks later I quickly found myself demoted all the way down to Bronze 3. In my last promotion match I locked in Support Sona. Our team had an abysmal early game and all hope was almost lost when out of the bush I flash-crescendo-ed to catch 4 members of the opposing team, our Wukong immediately flew in for a massive wombo-combo and we ended up turning the game around off of that play. I remember that moment so vividly because it was the turning point of my entire solo queue career. A few months later after a lot of hard work and over 250 matches I finally reached my goal of Gold 5. Next season I quickly moved up the ranks to Platinum in about 100 matches. Immediately after winning my promotion series to Plat 5 I went on a horrendous 12-game losing streak. Even though I didn’t go back to Gold, my MMR never fully recovered and I was stuck in Plat 5 for the rest of the season. Enter 2015: The year of Mt. Everest. After finishing last season at Plat 4 I had high hopes entering my placement matches. They were promptly dashed after a sub-par 3-7 start dragged me all the way back down to Silver 2! Over 500 matches later I’m the highest I’ve ever been at Plat 2. I know what it’s like to be stuck in Bronze and I know what it takes to improve and advance to Platinum. I’m hoping with some more hard work I can finally reach my goal of Diamond before the end of the season. But enough about me, this article is about how YOU can become a better player and climb the ranks!
- Be Flexible
You should look to master at least three roles. You can probably get away with two if one of them is support. In most of my games I’m able to get one of my top three roles. This is assurance to yourself that you’ll always have a balanced team. People think that the best way to get to a higher ELO is to just carry all the time from ADC or Mid. While this can be true if you’re skilled enough a lot of other people don’t follow the “be flexible” rule and will only practice one role, foolishly assuming they’ll always get their preferred role. What you can do is give them the role they call (even if you’re higher pick) and fill in the position they didn’t want to do. Yes, you’re letting the kid who just typed “ADC OR FEED” get what they want; however, that attitude isn’t going to help them win games and after your match their problems will follow them. You just need to get them to behave for your game. Even if they’re not being a jerk about it, if everyone gets their preferred role it’s generally a much better mindset for your whole team coming into the match. You can make that happen.
So being flexible is important so that your teammates are playing their best; however, it’s also good to specialize. I’m mostly referring to champion pools here. As most of my friends know, my champion pool is minuscule. I play over 64% of my matches on Lucian or Thresh. Now I’m not saying you have to be as extreme as me, but when you only play 1 or 2 champions in a certain role over and over you start to pick up on things. You’ll start to weave abilities together seamlessly, you’ll know every matchup like the back of your hand, and you’ll level up your abilities instantly without even looking. This total champion mastery comes with a side effect-if you don’t have to think about what you max second, then you might not miss that CS or notice that jungler coming in to gank you. Mastering three champions is better than being adequate at fifteen of them. “But Qualk, what do I do when my champion of choice gets nerfed?” It doesn’t matter. That’s right. I trust Riot. Any debilitating nerfs they’ve dealt out in the past have been quickly reverted and even if they aren’t that’s why you have two – three champions. Maybe your main has to take a back seat for a bit, but Riot will never nerf a champion to the point of complete uselessness at this point in the game’s development. You’ll always be able to return to your favorite champion once someone figures out the new optimal build, skill order, etc. Another note about specializing: It’s good to master champions that can be played in multiple roles. For example, Jarvan IV is one of my favorite champions for this reason. I can play him in the jungle, top lane, mid lane, and as my off-meta support pick of choice. Mastering multi-dimensional champions allows you to maintain a level of familiarity even when forced onto a role you’re not as comfortable on.
- Attitude, attitude, attitude
I can’t stress this enough. If you’re getting angry or frustrated, you need to take a break. Being honest with yourself is important. Know when you’re tilting so much that it’s affecting your play. If that loss really bothered you then do something else until you can center yourself mentally. If you immediately queue up again you’ll start to see everything in a negative light and generally play worse (not to mention the chance of getting the same teammates in your next match). The amount of time needed to re-focus varies. Sometimes I need a few days before I can play again, other times it’s just a couple minutes of watching a silly cat video. Find what works best for you and follow through with that plan. Going into each match with a positive mindset will do wonders for your win rate.
- See the Big Picture
Some losses hurt more than others; I get frustrated if I know that I could’ve played better, especially if it was in the last team-fight of a close game. You have to realize that it’s just one match. You’re going to lose, it’s unavoidable. Being able to take a step back and realize that it was just one game will go a long way to help your mentality.
An abstract graph of my ELO
- Learn from Every Loss
Losing is only bad if you don’t learn anything from it. Sometimes I write down specific things to work on for the next match after a loss (or a win where I played poorly). You can even take it a step further and jot down a few reasons why you bit the dust in your last match and try to focus on one or two to improve on for next time.
- Use your Ignore Button
Don’t feed the trolls, however tempting it may be. Just look at it this way. Would you be willing to spend 50g just to make your teammate angry with you? That’s about how much gold you’d lose in the time you spent typing. Don’t respond, just ignore. Focus on your own game and what you need to be doing, not what anyone else should be doing. Recognize when someone is deliberately trying to goad you into responding and don’t give them the satisfaction.
On the other side of the same coin, don’t point out to your teammate when they make a mistake. Even if you’re legitimately trying to help them improve, they could take it the wrong way and it’s better not to risk being misunderstood. If they just died or wasted a summoner spell or missed smite, they know, you don’t need to magnify their embarrassment by pointing it out! At the very least it’ll cause them to resent you and at worst it’ll affect how they play the rest of the match or even cause them to AFK.
Sarcasm and passive aggressiveness is just as bad as outright insulting. Saying, “nice smite” after a stolen baron or my personal favorite “…” after someone dies. When Zac hits the fan just remember KITY (Keep It to Yourself).
Images courtesy of pinterest.com, dlutzy.wordpress.com, lolking.net, and taringa.net
Written by Qualk
Edited by Williaf