League of Legends Amateur's Guide
How do I get to High Elo in League?
We’ve all been hardstuck before, even Faker was a hardstuck World Champion and World Class player for three years. In all seriousness, slumps happen, peaks happen, we all come to the conclusion that we suck (and we do) but overcoming these slumps are just as rewarding as the improvements that we make to our game. This guide will be getting into a few specifics of the game that those of us stuck in the middle and bottom of the pack should take to heart and accept that we need to improve on.
What is Meta in League?
There is an ever evolving Meta in League of Legends. If you’re unaware of what Meta is then let's familiarize you with it. Metagame, or Most Effective Tactics Available, Pertains to everything related to the game that isn’t the game itself. Respective to League of Legends this includes the current Champion Tier Lists and what plays well into what.
For those of you who one trick and can’t break the Rank of Gold, it’s time to hang up your saddles and branch out. While the Meta isn’t always right and we can, in fact, play things that “break the Meta” it can often be better for our LP to abuse the Meta.
Learning different Champions every patch is exhausting, but that is why the tier list exists. One week Draven is an S tier Champion who seems unstoppable in lane, the next week he gets a little nerf to his base stats and he’s demoted to A tier. He’s still Overpowered and a lane bully but he struggles in more match ups than he did before. That basically means you can still play him and win a lot of games if you’re a good enough Draven player. However, maybe Cait or Xayah has more favorable matchups than Draven does meaning you can win 7/10 games rather than 6/10 that week if you played only Xayah instead of only Draven.
Following tier lists is only kind of important, it isn’t often that good Champs become bad Champs and vice versa, but it can be the difference between a good and bad Win/Loss ratio on that patch. We all have favorite Champions and with a lot of dedication they can be C tier or even D tier and we can still use them on a level above anyone else. That just unfortunately means our 5/10 Win/Loss ratio wont carry us to the next Rank. Just because our Syndra Jungle has a seventy percent win rate on our Silver Smurf Syndra Jungle only account, doesn't mean that win rate will transfer to our Platinum account.
What are Smurf Accounts?
Maybe Smurfing is the wrong word for those of us who have never embraced high elo. Let's call our accounts Alternate Accounts. No, not everyone should or need to have one, but they can prove useful. Smurf accounts refer to anyone in a higher rank who makes another account to play at a lower rank than their main account is. When I was a support main and constantly complained about being Silver for a few years I made a completely separate account and just spam played Jungle. When I switched to maining Jungle on my main account, I instantly had a higher win rate and struggled in a lot less games, leading to an escalated LP growth.
It is possible to just practice in Casual matches of course, but the added pressure of not wanting to lose LP and Rank can help or hurt someone trying to learn something new. Alternate accounts can also help with burnout. Sometimes losing two games in a row really brings down morale but switching accounts and attempting to fix the mistakes you made earlier can be a big boost and even help transfer that knowledge to your main account.
What is Micro in League?
Some of us are born with the innate ability to dodge every skill shot while kiting back Vi and Malphite. Some of us have to practice hitting skillshots and predicting where the enemy will move. Micro is an important part of the game that for some requires time and practice. We all know to dodge, yet we get hit by every Ahri charm she throws behind her. Before you say, “Guess Ahri charm is just too OP there’s no way to beat it time to hang up the mouse and keyboard.” just go Into Casual modes like Blind Pick or ARAM and make it your goal to not get hit by skillshots.
Being able to dodge skillshots and hit your own is a staple of laning phase. Avoiding poke damage and winning trades offers you an advantage that is necessary to getting ahead and snowballing that lead. Patterns are visible in every player, whether they more frequently dodge up rather than down, or save that charm for when their Jungler is coming in for a gank.
Breaking our own patterns can help with our K/D as well. Learn to anticipate and read where your opponent is going to attack, decide before you dodge that you’re going to dodge one way and follow through. If you dodge one way enough times the enemy will read this and the mind games begin, start dodging the other way or stopping in your tracks and turning to fight while they’re in the middle of an animation.
What is Macro in League?
Micro is the dirty, sleek, and impressive Yin to Macro’s overlooked, rough, clean Yang. Correct rotation patterns and taking advantage of Summoner timings and counter ganking all fall under the the Macro category.
I say overlooked because it seems to be the Micro that’s always turning heads. Every once in awhile you hear a Caster or Analyst comment on the Macro capabilities of a team, but you never hear in Solo Que that as a team your Macro is good or bad.
When Bot Lane pushes to the tower just as the Jungler shows up to Dragon, it is a good Macro play for the Bot Lane to rotate to the Dragon pit to assist their Jungler with the Dragon while the opposing Bot Lane is forced to choose between farming the minion wave and mitigating damage to their turret, or losing those to look for a fight at Dragon with their Jungler.
Recognizing that there are more advantages than just simple advantages over your opposing Laner or Jungler such as positional advantages and Vision Control and acting on those advantages as a team helps create better Macro play.
What is the most optimal way to play?
In previous guides we talked about optimization in the general sense, a base level part of an intricate whole. While there are many ways to play the game and find enjoyment as well as victory, there are some ways to ensure more consistent LP gains and higher level of play.
First things first, Champion pool. While having a large Champion pool can be effective, having a smaller Champion pool with Champions that have different play styles but stick to the same position offer enough flexibility to look for the counter pick into the enemy team. Champion pools should change patch to patch based off of the Meta. Another benefit to smaller Champion pools in early Ranks is that you will learn the ins and outs of these Champions and be more effective on them than someone who plays a large number of Champions.
It is important to consider tier lists when learning Champions that you intend to play frequently, usually anything above C tier is viable. The more important thing to consider here is whether or not you are picking something that either meshes with your own team composition well or at the very least counters a part of the enemies composition. If your team lacks anything such as Ap damage, Tank, or Crowd Control, then picking something that covers those shortcomings. Reversely, if the enemy team is focused on heavily Assassins, then a more tanky Champion can help mitigate their effectiveness.
What is a Skill Ceiling?
Before, we talked about playing whatever Champion you found interesting, cute, cool, badass, whatever. Now we have to take into consideration our own capabilities. Some Champions are less intuitive than others and are more easily playable.
Champions like Annie, Tryndamere, and most Supports can be played with less skill requirements and still be rather effective. Annie has a point and click stun after her fourth charge, when comparing her to Riven who requires a higher level of Actions Per Minute (APM) and higher understanding of her matchups, Annie is a lot easier to dissect and play while maintaining viability. Riven can solo carry games if she’s in the right hands, but likely you won’t master her quickly enough to save your LP.
Newer Champions always draw attention to the community. Often times they are banned out of spite more than anything else because people are afraid that their teammates will play them and just feed, or that the enemy team will play them and just roll over their team.
A basic level of understanding of every Champion is crucial to being able to play into them. That being said, some success is warranted to trying new things under high pressure situations. Being flashy isn’t always better than being solid, everyone wants to be the one who pentakills on Kat, but you get the same victory screen if you played Support. The moral here is that not all of us are mechanically able and will take longer to develop those play making reactions and skills. Don’t be afraid to lock in the Garen or the Tahm Kench.
What is Snowballing and playing on the Back Foot?
An important part of any lane matchup is knowing when you are ahead and working to snowball that lead into a win, and recognizing that you’re behind and how to recover from playing on the back foot.
Your Jungler ganks level 2 and you get a kill and your laners Flash. Not only did this happen but you got a wave or two of extra farm that your enemy laner didn’t. This turns into a level advantage that you can exploit upon your next encounter. In a perfect world your Jungler will just regank and get you another kill with another wave and level advantage. This is called “Snowballing”. Sometimes though your Jungler needs to help other parts of the map who may be struggling, in turn, you should expect the enemy Jungler to be eyeing your juicey 150 gold bounty.
Remembering that you’re ahead is the first thing, not knowing you’re ahead. I say this because if you just simply know that you’re ahead you are more prone to forget the downsides that come with it such as ganks and roams. When you’re in the opposite position you have to remember to keep your cool. Playing passive is going to work out better for you when you’re in a helpless situation than trying to create a situation that will put you back on even grounds.
Of course there are exceptions to this rule, but playing with a sound mind and waiting for backup will allow a more favorable matchup.
Are there more tools to use other than Replays?
Under the Profile section in the League of Legends Client, there is a Stats option that allows allows for players to look at a generalized version of Champion statistics. It shows you your win rate in each position and offers a lot of selections to compare stats with those of other ranks. It shows you your playstyle compared to others, and if you are the kind of person that selects fill or plays multiple roles, you can see exactly which roles and even Champions you are performing the best on. Using this information makes it easier to pinpoint key Champions you should bring to Champion select. This, in hand with going over replays, allows for the player to help locate their personal strengths and weaknesses and offers a way for players to recognize what they need to work on. These are really important tools that can prove fruitful to your growth as a player.
How many games is too many games for League?
Take breaks, keep winning. As mentioned before, taking a step away is important, especially at the lower Ranks. Building up a mental fortitude helps strengthen your resolve in regards to solo que. Whether you’re on a win streak or loss streak, getting up and stretching or getting a snack even is enough to come back with a fresh mindset. Avoiding tilt helps players play smarter and react faster.
Consistency in League of Legends becomes better play, you learn more and more about your Champions as well as all the different situations you can find yourself in which translates into real experience.
What should I be doing in my chosen Role in League?
At this point it is time to talk about each position with a lot more specifications. Locking in a Champion is more than just filling a role within the game, it is your responsibility to fulfill your role to increase your team's odds of winning.
ADC- nine times out of ten, as the ADC role on your team you are playing as a Ranged Marksman with AD stat focused items. You’re all of the consistent damage for your team and getting you fed is one of their number one priorities. Work with your team in team fights by staying behind the tanks while simultaneously outputting as much damage as you can. With any luck they will try their hardest to stop all incoming attacks on you by “peeling” the enemies away or by body blocking skillshots.
Usually you want to stick with your Support, they offer you the best possible chance of survival by either helping sustain you back to full hp or by intentionally sacrificing themselves to create a window of opportunity for you to thrive in a fight.
In lane, it should be a priority for you to poke while you are farming up, trading autos with the enemy ADC can create a better situation for your Jungler when they come to gank.
Rotating on objectives like Drake will help give your team an advantage in securing that objective. After taking your Bot Lane tower rotating Mid or Top to help siege those towers is a good way to increase the gold in your pocket and snowball the lead you’ve already acquired.
Support- Whether you are a Tank or a Mage Support your main focus is on benefitting your team by either suppressing incoming enemies with CC, getting the picks on lone Champions, Sustaining your team with heals and shields, and getting Wards into the Jungle and River to gain knowledge on the enemies rotations.
In lane focusing on poking the enemies and sustaining your ADC will keep things even and will more effectively make the lane advantage go in your favor.
In team fights your positioning really depends on which Champion you chose, Tankier ones should be helping frontline while squishier ones should be further back attempting to either sustain or deal damage.
Top- The name of the game in the Top lane is survival of the fittest. Being able to trump your opponent on your own is a great accolade and will prove to be fruitful to your team, but isn’t always the best course of action or even possible.
There is a meme that goes “Meanwhile in Top Lane….” which accentuates the widely accepted idea that the Top lane is a persistent stalemate. When the first one dies then everyone begins to worry that the structure of game will fall in favor of whichever team’s Top Laner drew first blood.
Waiting for your Jungler to make a move may not always workout for you, in lower elo and even in the pro scene it is common for the Jungler to not gank and focus on other lanes. Taking Teleport Top and using it to try and find numbers advantages in a fight across the map is a great way to keep the game going in favor of your team and one way to find an advantage over your opposing laner.
Mid- mid laners are often tasked with either Assassin or Mage Champions that specialize in one shotting enemy carries or outputting an alternate form of DPS than the ADC, Ability Power.
Mid laners can be scary when they get fed, yes that can be said about any role but Mages with some extra damage output pull some itemization from the enemy team to build MR instead of other things, making ADC’s a bit more effective. In some cases however runaway Mages really can get the best of the whole team’s with their well rounded abilities. Champions like Ryze and Lissandra who have burst damage outputs and CC tend to be major threats to any players caught out by them.
Jungle- The most infamous position in the game, this Role is thankless and even when you carry games you're the sole reason your team would have lost. In all seriousness this is a more difficult role that requires the most strategy and planning.
Jungle pathing is important, it gives Junglers a clear route that will give them the fastest Jungle clear time while also assisting lanes by ganking them. Junglers take Smite to help secure neutral objectives for their team.
The foremost role of the Jungler is to look for any opportunity to get your Lanes ahead, and get good rotation opportunities so they don't lose out on too much farm and experience.
Junglers bring utility as well as flexible Champions to the team, being able to play multiple styles will help in the long run when looking at forming team compositions and countering enemy team compositions.
What is the next step?
There are so many ways to improve in League of Legends, but there are also so many things we need to improve on in order to move up in the Rankings. Keeping habits in mind, actively looking for mistakes you make and comparing your playstyle to the playstyle of higher elo is essential to learning how to play better. Of course the best thing to do is continue playing and practicing. Make sure to look for our other guides in order to help you in your climb to the top.