summonerschool – How to really improve at League of Legends (not just tips)
To start off, I want to emphasize that League is an incredibly complex game. It is multidimensional and mulitaxial in terms of skill. The problem many people face with the „These 7 tips will help you get to Diamond“, „This one trick got me to Gold“ „Just do these three things to improve“ are that they really only work for the person who wrote them or people who are very similar.
Let me explain my logic:
The game often gets broken down into two components: game knowledge and mechanical skill. These are great general categories, but many important skills fall into one, both or neither.
Kiting – mechanical skill
Powerspikes – game knowledge
Map awareness – both (you need to be able to look at the map often and quickly AND understand it)
Attitude – neither
Improving in any of those skills will have a positive impact on your game – so it‘s not that one or other is more important.
Furthermore, it‘s easier to make huge gains in skills you didn‘t have before and see those gains quickly than perfecting something you are already good at.
Someone who never knew that last hitting was a thing and usually never had more than 30 CS at 15 minutes starts to try to last hit. He jumps up to 70 CS at 15 mins. This can happen in a day. Now it will take him several days or even weeks to get up to the 100 CS at 15 minutes that is considered good CS. It may take months to hit perfect CS. This is logarithmic scaling. The initial gains are the quickest and after a certain point you plateau (though you‘re really still improving). It‘s much harder to see gains after this point. This is also why people say the skill difference between Challenger and Diamond is as large or larger than the skill difference between Diamond and Bronze. It takes a ton of work to get from great to nearly perfect in any skill.
So how does this help me? – Well lets break the ladder up into skill brackets. Your skill score is the average of all of your skills – on a scale of 0 (don‘t even know it exists) to 100 (as close to perfect as possible).
Challenger 99 and 100
The skill score difference between the levels gets smaller and smaller – but if you think to what I said about how much harder it is to raise your skill once it‘s at a certain point – you can see where the actual gap becomes larger and larger.
Also, if you think about it, you can see how someone can be bad at a certain skill or two and still be Platinum or Diamond, if they are really good at other things. Likewise, you can be awesome at one or two skills and still be forever Bronze since there are many others you don‘t even think about. Since it‘s all an average – you have to improve in all aspects of the game to really be good at it.
Let‘s further break down what goes into my idea of a skill score: It‘s multiaxial, meaning multiple things go into how it‘s calculated. Generally there are two axes: Ability and Consistancy.
Player A can kite like a god – seriously – in a 1v1 scenario he always outplays his opponent. He gets 48 points (out of 50) for his kiting ability. However, in teamfights or fights around objectives, he tends to freeze up and forget to kite. He only gets a 30 in how consistantly he kites. This puts him at a total of a 78 skill score in kiting – which is low Gold.
Player B wards all the time and is constantly carrying at least one pink and several green wards the whole game. If you look up his ward score, it‘s better than 98% of players in any role he plays. However, he just randomly puts wards in bushes. There‘s no thought that goes into his ward placement or how he maintains vision control based on strategy. He gets a 47 for consistancy, but only a 10 for ability in warding. This gives him 57 – or low Silver in warding.
So thinking about that – can you see how some of the time you might think to yourself:
All these posts say I just need to do X to gain elo, I do X, but I‘m still stuck!
If you don‘t do X properly or consistantly – you won‘t get much higher than Silver or Gold in your skill score and if you don‘t consider all the other possible skills – your average won‘t be above Bronze.
Another way to look at skill score is just over a scale. Let‘s look at map awareness.
0 – What‘s a minimap
10 – I look at the minimap when I‘m dead/walking to lane
20 – I look at the minimap when someone pings, usually
30 – I try to plan my plays based on what I see in the minimap
40 – I look at the minimap at least once a minute, even if no one has pinged
50 – I use the minimap to decide if I should trade with my lane opponent or not
60 – I look at the minimap several times a minute
70 – I keep an eye on the minimap and tell my team (pings or chat) what to do based on that info
80 – I look at the minimap every several seconds
90 – I use information like last time I saw a champ and their direction to follow enemy movement in the fog of war and predict ganks/location.
100 – I look at the minimap between every CS
In this example, each tier is building on the previous one, so the 60 point person looks at the minimap several time a minute AND uses that info to decide if they should trade. You can see how it wouldn‘t take long for someone to go from 0 to 40 with a small amount of determination and practice, but going for 70-80 could be a lot harder (remember, it has to be consistant too – it doesn‘t count if it‘s only for one game when you‘re supporting and don‘t have to CS)
(disclaimer: I am going to post the following assuming all skills are equally weighted – this is unrealistic, but it‘s too subjective to try to come up with any kind of accurate weighting)
So what are the different skills that you can work on in League? (this is not necessarily a complete list, but it‘s as good as I can get it at the moment, suggestions welcome)
Powerspikes Part 2
Skill information (damage,CD, cost, effect) of your champ
Skill information of your teammates champs
Skill information of your lane opponents
Skill information of your enemy team‘s champs (these 4 are separate on purpose)
Wall hacks and other map tips (warding over walls, vision weirdness in bushes, etc)
Controling the jungle
Ganking (both as the ganker and the lane getting the gank)
Team composition based strategy (ie, a late game team comp shouldn‘t /ff at 20min if they are down by 8 kills)
Poke – Sustain – Kill triangle (first 10 mins, rest is good too)
Situational builds (old, but the basic ideas hold)
Creep wave management (top specific, but the same idea works in any lane)
Resource conservation (normally mana, but also CD, charges, etc)
Champion/item counters (ie. I had a Corki with Zhonya‘s kick my team‘s ass – our Zed was fed, but couldn‘t insta-kill Corki anymore, so Corki wrecked us)
Initiation (how and when)
Disengage (how and when)
Split pushing (as the pusher and as the rest of the team)
How to close out a game
How to stall a losing game
Analysis (learning from other players and seeing your own mistakes)
Being in the right place at the right time
Targetting (in a teamfight)
Teamfighting (in general)
Now for you to improve, you‘ll want to first focus on the things in that list that you don‘t really understand. Say, you‘ve never heard of the poke-sustain-kill triangle. Go look it up, read about it, try to understand it and then use that knowledge. You‘ll go from 0-40/50 by the time you go to bed tonight.
Don‘t focus on the things you‘re already pretty good at (I get 90CS at 15 mins, how can I get 100?)
Also, realize there are things that are hard to accept that you suck at. Most people will probably never admit they have a real attitude problem in game.
You don‘t have to be toxic – but do you immediately stop listening to someone if they criticize your build/decision? Do you just /muteall and refuse to communicate (communication is a skill)? Do you get defensive and argue with someone who said you were wrong instead of focusing on the game? Do you notice that you play worse after making a mistake? All of these are symptoms of an attitude problem. To get the 100 skill score in attitude, you need to be a buddhist zen master when you play (Zen Master). You need to know what your team is saying without letting it have any effect on your play.
Likewise, many people don‘t realize there‘s a ton of decision making involved in initiation. Just diving in and CC-ing the enemy team does NOT make a good initiation. This is one of those things that‘s really easy to judge from the outcome. If you lost the resulting fight – it was a bad initiation. No excuses, not your teammates‘ fault, nothing. It was a BAD initiation.
Remember, if your goal is to improve – you should welcome all constructive criticism. Ask a higher ranked friend (or someone who is the same/lower rank, but better at a certain thing) specific questions:
„On Amumu, I always try to land my ult on as many people as possible in a teamfight by bandage tossing in then ulting, but I always seem to die and we lose the fight – how can I work on this?“ You‘ll get better answers asking questions like that as opposed to „How do you initiate on Amumu?“
If your teammate says in game „Amumu, stop diving in and dying“ don‘t get mad at them but try to think about it. What do they want you to do instead? Ask them. (nicely) „I‘m trying to initiate but it‘s not working, what do you want me to do instead?“
Also realize that nearly every salty comment someone has ever said to you had some truth in it. Did someone tell you your build sucked? – It‘s probably not ideal for your champ. Did someone tell you that you are a bronze scrub that must have been boosted to gold? – You‘ve probably got bronze skill scores in certain areas that you really should work on. Did someone else say that you don‘t know how to play Fizz – you probably are making the wrong calls on how to play him in teamfights/1v1s/skirmishes. Again – be a zen master – try to learn from those salty comments and think about the actual reasoning behind them.
Try to take any opportunity you have to work on your skill set and remember the things that are holding you back the most are the skills that are at 0 (You don‘t even know they exist). You‘ll never improve them unless you‘re willing to listen to people tell you about them.
Lastly – give yourself credit for what you are good at. Many people focus on where they lack skill and you see things like „I suck and I‘m in Diamond“ „It‘s not hard to get to Plat, I did it“, etc. That‘s hardly fair because those players are AWESOME at a lot of things – even if they are just meh at others. If you know you‘re awesome at something in this list – leave a comment explaining it to those who don‘t have the faintest idea. Share that knowledge. Link guides, videos, articles, etc.
No tl;dr. Read it or don‘t.
edit: added a few more skills, added some links