a summoner's guide to League of Legends

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This Is Why We Ward

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Humility OP: Carrying With Attitude

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Every time a frustrated summoner laments their solo queue experiences in a public forum such as r/leagueoflegends or the official Riot forums, one of the top comments invariably pertains to the behavior of the afflicted player. “Stay positive!” “Don’t rage” and “Communicate with pings” are always among the top suggestions from fellow summoners. Yet despite this pervasive sentiment, many players cannot stymie their bad habits, and continue to toil in their imagined “ELO Hell”.

So what new addition to the dialog can I make which might help those players who can’t seem to stop “raging”? The afformentioned advice to stay positive and focused is applicable, but that’s not enough for some players. I believe it’s the mindset you must have behind your behavior which makes advice like “stay positive” more universally applicable.

WINNING IN CHAMPION SELECT

This is one of the most prominent problems with solo queue, especially in lower divisions, and since it’s the first thing you do every game, let’s talk about it first. Everyone has heard this advice: “play carries in solo queue because you can’t trust other players to win for you”. This is the feeling of what is apparently the majority of solo queue players, which often leads to a scenario where nobody wants to play a supportive role. The outcome of this situation is normally competition – sometimes very unhealthy competition – for roles, an unhealthy argument which begins the game in the worst way. So how do you avoid the pitfalls of champ select? The simple answer is you cannot. The most important thread running through every piece of advice for solo queue is that you must control everything you have the power to control (same as the “play carries” advice), and this extends to your team’s behavior. You can’t pick your team in solo queue, and you can’t guarantee that everyone will be as smart, talented or respectful as you. What you can control is how respectful you are to others. You’ll find that by being as cordial and respectful as possible, you can turn toxic trolls into productive teammates on occasion – and when you can’t, would being rude back have done the trick? No, so being respectful is at least worth your time and effort in that it might just work.

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We’ve all been stuck in champion selects like this. Can’t dodge? Be flexible. Fill the open roles, support if you have to. All the skill in the world can’t win a game if your team is demoralized and infighting.

Pick Order > “Call” Order

Sorry, it’s true. Mechanically true. Once somebody locks in Kog’Maw, what are you going to do? Convince him to support your Vayne? That kind of mindset will lose games, because if you’re stubborn enough to make defiant picks and not care about the outcome, your teammates will probably behave the same way.  Of course, it’s customary in the community to state which role you’d like to play (it’s smart to say so kindly, e.g. “Jungle/Support Pref” or “Mid/Top please”) but if first pick wants to play your role, and picks it before you have the chance, you’ve reached your first important choice of the game. How do you respond? If you’re not willing to fill another role, you’ve begun your game at odds with your team, and you’re going to lose.

Consider the following: what are your goals? To improve your skills? To win games? To climb into “gold” or “platinum” ELO? Just to have fun? The truth is all of these goals are reached by taking a common approach: try to control the game with your attitude. Being kind to your team (especially when they don’t deserve it) isn’t about being nice to them, it’s about making sure you have the best possible chance to achieve your goals. Remember your goals are to win and climb the ladder. Once your teammate has locked in the role you want you may feel like your chances of winning have diminished, but they only get even worse when you “rage” at your teammates or refuse to cooperate.

What about when another member of your team is the one whose role was taken by a higher pick? They’re raging away and poisoning your team because they don’t want to get “stuck supporting” or they “can’t ADC”. Guess whose responsibility it is to solve this problem? It’s yours, because you can’t count on others to solve your team’s problems. If you don’t do it, who will? Offer to switch your preferred role for the discontented player. Often the angry player won’t even take you up on the offer, but will immediately be a little less upset when they see some members of their team are willing to cooperate. This is your opportunity to show your team you are cool under pressure and can lead them to victory with good advice and cooperation. “If you don’t want to support, take mid from me, I can play Lulu” you’ll say. Is that player going to be as good of a solo mid as you would have been? You don’t know. What you do know is that if they had been “forced” to do something they didn’t want and had an attitude about it, your team would lose. This is a mindset thing: winning is more dependent on cooperation than individual skill. If you don’t actually believe this, you’ll never be able to make the healthy team-oriented choices that lead to wins.

WHY IS ATTITUDE SO IMPORTANT?

A team’s attitude is one of the most important factors among those that contribute to success; this is reflected in Riot-implemented systems such as the tribunal, the honor initiative and the quick in-game tips (“Did you know players who swear at their teammates lose 13% more games?”). I think most summoners who are genuinely trying to get better at League of Legends understand this concept, but find themselves frustrated by and reacting to teammates who do “rage” or “troll”. One common sentiment I’ve heard expressed by frustrated summoners is is “if I don’t say (x), that player is going to think what he is doing is OK” or “I don’t want that player to think they’re good.” This leads me to the shift in the mindset you have to have in order to successfully play with humility.

Be “Selfishly Humble”

Drawing a line between what you feel and what you communicate to your fellow summoners is important for your success in solo queue. Yes, the ADC who is feeding bottom lane is doing something wrong. Yes, the FOTM in mid lane is building incorrectly. Yes, your jungler is screaming and cursing in all-chat about how bad you are; and while you may feel as though these obstacles have made your game unwinnable – sometimes these obstacles make you feel like you don’t even want to win – you still have influence over the outcome of the game. You are 1/5th of your team. You know that the most productive response to somebody who is criticizing your build is not “STFU” or some derivation thereof, but sometimes the player in question is so wrong, or so toxic to you that you want to throw good sense to the wind and flame back. Humbly accepting the criticism of someone who you know is wrong, or who is rude in their critique can seem impossible for some summoners. So why should you be humble?

Who cares if some “scrub” in solo queue insta-locks and builds incorrectly? If a fellow summoner is hostile to you, or does not want to take advice, there’s nothing you can do except try to mitigate the stress their bad play puts on a team, and being mean or crude only puts more stress which in turn lowers the likelihood you’ll win your game. When you respond to a build criticism or a flame after a botched play (“WTF! Don’t tower dive, noob!”) you have a few options, let’s consider each of them and the impact they might have on your team and the game.

1) Ignore the troll

This is a pretty common approach which in practice delivers mixed (and therefore generally negative) results. A loud, discontented player generally only escalates their aggression when they don’t feel they’ve been heard. If you give no credence to their words, often that player will complain loudly to the rest of the team, or worse to the enemy team in all chat (“[ALL] omg this Ahri!”). Why is this bad? A few reasons. First – the more time your teammates spend flaming you in chat, the less focus and attention they have on the game. Second – if the enemy team gets the sense that you are disorganized or not on the same page, they will exploit that weakness. Expect extra ganks top lane if it becomes apparent that your top lane is not content with the play of your jungler. Finally – one poisoned player often “infects” other players on their team with negativity. A few rude comments from one player can quickly frustrate others and turn your whole team against one another. Very often I see players who struggle with team behavior claiming that they have to carry every game with their skill, that they have to play ADC or mid because they can’t trust solo queue players to carry for them; this same attitude applies to behavior: you cannot count on your teammates to control unruly players. Remember, you’re 1/5th of your team. If you’re not going to control the trolls, what are the odds someone else will?

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2) Rage back

Has this ever worked for you? Ever? Have you ever once swore at another player, or told someone to “STFU” and gotten desirable results?

3) Control the Troll (hint: choose this one)

Most often when someone is “raging” at their team in solo queue, it’s because they are feeling frustration that you can probably identify with. Sometimes, decent players will express this frustration in controlled bursts at first (e.g. “Xin we need u to build damage”). This is the best time to address the problem before it gets out of control. You shouldn’t spend an excess of time explaining your every move, but a simple acknowledgement of the criticism is usually enough to placate a frustrated player. Taking the previous example, responding with acknowledgement (“I’m working on it”/”Buying a brutalizer next”) or a brief explanation of your plan (“Yep, need a few wards first”/”Want to finish Warmog’s, BoTRK is next”) is usually enough to communicate the following to the angry summoner: you’ve heard them and you’re not another solo queue jerk who thinks he knows everything. Remember, you’re not the only good summoner who deals with toxic trolls on a daily basis. Everyone expects to run into unfriendly and rude summoners, appearing to be one of the “good guys” is an easy way to mitigate the damage done by unruly teammates.

Even though you may not always agree with the critiques of your team, even though you may not think they’re worth listening to, simply acknowledging them and trying to be kind will often curb most of the problems presented by these “troll players”.

BE THE PLAYER YOU WANT TO PLAY WITH

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I think like.. Gandhi said that, or something.

Everyone wants to be on a team with a total man-mode monster who carries with a  20/0/10 score, but you can’t guarantee you’ll play that well every game. What you can control – every game – is your attitude and your treatment of fellow summoners. Nobody wants someone on their team who spends the whole game cursing at their jungler, nobody wants a teammate who keeps talking about how “everyone at this ELO is a noob” and that they were “diamond in season 2”. Don’t be that guy. Model the kind of behavior you want from  your team in your own conduct, and sometimes your team will rise to the occasion. Time respawns, (“next dragon: 16:12”) thank teammates, (“good gank, Lee”) place wards, and be supportive when things go wrong (“nice try, ping me next time”).

Your own positive mindset will not win you 100% of your games. Being positive will not make every troll change their ways. Sometimes it will seem like you are the only one who cares about winning, and maybe you are. In that case, it’s even more important you’re focused on increasing your team’s chances of winning. If you feel like you can’t be calm enough to be respectful and kind to your team, you should take a break! Skip the next game and watch a stream, see what the pros are doing while you cool down; go take a walk, get a snack. When you come back, get ready because it’s going to be your positive attitude which will carry you to victory.


The Golden Rules of the Rift: 5 Gameplay Keys to Success in League of Legends

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Many summoners feel like games are won and lost in champion select, others feel your attitude and behavior can have a major impact on the game as well, but what about good general gameplay decisions that you can make to help your team win while you’re out there on the rift? We’ve assembled here a streamlined list of 5 basic rules you should try to follow every time you play League of Legends which will help you carry your way to more victories.

RULE #1: DON’T CHASE

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This comes first for a reason. Engaging in long, extended chases – especially on high HP targets (Mundo) or targets with a lot of escapes (Nidalee, Kassadin) – is probably the best way to squander advantages and lose games. One bad tunnel-vision chase will very often turn a successful gank or team fight into a net-loss for your team. Why though? Shouldn’t chasing down and eliminating enemies be a top priority? It’s a gold boost and it keeps an enemy off the map, right? Well not always. Consider the following scenarios:

Scenario A: In Game Time 4:45

Hecarim runs up top to put an early gank on Singed for his friendly Akali. After a good charge from Hecarim’s “W” and a few attacks, Singed is chunked pretty low and runs, flashing away onto his tower. Hecarim chases a little too long, losing HP from Singed’s poison trail and from minion attacks. Singed turns to flip Hecarim onto the tower, but Hecarim pulls off, running back and avoiding death. A fleeing Hecarim makes it down into river just in time for the enemy jungle – Jarvan IV, who saw the whole fight and had time to run up in response – to drop an E>Q combo on him from tri-brush: “First blood! An ally has been slain”.

Scenario B: In Game Time 31:12

The blue team has been getting pushed around most of the game, and desperately needs an advantage to stage a comeback. They have a strong team fight composition and think they can catch a member of the purple team out of position and force an objective. Purple team’s jungler, Fiddlesticks, gets caught in a warded bush near the Baron pit, and the blue team melts him down. The rest of purple team comes pouring in a little late, and a team fight begins. Quickly, the blue team breaks down the enemy team, trading 0-for-3. Purple team’s Ryze and Teemo know the fight is over, and run back towards their top tower. If blue team chases, what happens? They hit a string of mushrooms in the jungle, get CC’d by Ryze, fight on top of a tower, maybe take down a target but in doing so lose some teammates, HP and most importantly time which prevents the blue team from killing Baron Nashor and ending the game.

From the moment the first enemy (especially the enemy jungler) dies, your team is on a power play clock. At 30 mins, you have something like 25-30 seconds (hit “tab” to reveal the scoreboard and check) before your enemy respawns and your “power play” is over, thus you must immediately leverage your advantage as soon as you get it. As soon as the enemy backs out of a team fight that your team has won, turn your attention to an objective. Get Baron, take dragon, push a tower. Don’t chase your enemy and waste time. In fact, if you’re playing a tanky champion and your team has just lost a fight, the best thing you can do is run and try to get the enemy team to waste time chasing you. Winning a team fight is meaningless if you don’t press the advantage it gives you.

RULE #2: TIME RESPAWNS

blue-buffIdeally your jungler and support should be handling these tasks because their role is more about global awareness than say, an ADC, who is focused on getting fed. That being said, every player (especially if it’s you) should try to observe this simple rule.

Dragon respawns 6 minutes after death.

Baron respawns 7 minutes after death.

Red Buff/Blue Buff respawn 5 minutes after death.

Wards expire 3 minutes after being placed.

Write it down and tape it to your monitor if you have to. Next, open your options menu and turn “time stamps” on. When you see an enemy drop a ward, take note of the game time in the top right hand corner of your screen. In chat, let your team (especially your jungler) know where the ward is and when it expires (“ward in tribush, expires 7:44”). If your jungler is smart, he’ll time a gank just after the ward expires, before another can be placed for an easy kill.

When a major objective (Baron/Dragon) goes down, in chat you will see “[Champion/The Enemy Team] Has slain The Dragon/Baron Nashor!” If you’ve turned time stamps on, right next to that notification, you’ll see the exact time the objective went down, and can time accordingly. You don’t need a stop watch, and it takes about 2 seconds of your time and attention, but can lead to huge gold advantages for your team. When you see: “[20:33] ill_monstro_g has slain the Dragon!” you’ll type in chat “2633 dragon” and remind your team when the spawn is coming up (“>2mins on dragon, set up”). Ideally,  you’ll have your team sitting on top of the objective just before it spawns so you can take the objective uncontested. Uncontested objectives win games, so make it your business to time respawns. Finally, a huge advantage can be gained timing buffs. If you’re in a solo lane mid, and after a gank you sneak into the enemy jungle and steal blue buff, take note of the time. In 5 minutes, you and your jungler can set up to steal it again. By denying the enemy their buffs, you’re costing them XP, gold and obviously, the buffs. You may have seen some summoners tell you to leave a small minion (one of the little lizards) so that the buff will not respawn; this can be a good idea situationally, but it’s almost always better to clear the whole camp and time it, especially if your enemy did not see you take the buff. This way, you know when the camp is back up and the enemy does not, allowing you to take it again, gaining you more XP, more gold and another buff.

RULE #3: FOLLOW YOUR LANE

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The new “smart ping” system is wonderful, and very useful for sending specific information to your team in a pinch. Stopping to type “MIA” while trying to farm, or while watching for a gank might be hard, but a quick MIA ping is simple. However, a quick MIA ping isn’t enough when your lane disappears. Where is the enemy laner going? You might assume they’re going back, but what if they are going to gank bottom lane? As soon as your lane goes MIA you immediately have a choice, the right answer to which might win a lane. You have to try to put yourself in your enemy’s shoes. When was the last time they went back to buy? When was the last enemy buff you saw; are they going to their red/blue? Is one of your lanes pushed out, ready to get ganked by your MIA laner? If your lane opponent runs straight up or down river, making it apparent that they are going to gank another lane, you need to follow-up, otherwise you’re going to lose somebody their lane. If the lane being ganked looks like they can escape, you can try giving them a “warning” ping and taking advantage of the MIA by pushing a tower. This works especially well if your confidence in your team is high and the tower you’re pushing is low on health and can go down easily. Almost always, though, you’ll want to follow your opponent to the lane they’re going to gank so that you can help your team, and turn a gank around into a team fight win for your side.

If you’re the jungler and you see mid lane leave to gank bot, don’t stand there and finish wraiths – ping your mid lane and follow the enemy to prevent the gank. If you’re the mid lane, and you see your opponent go up to grab blue, look at your map. Is the enemy jungle there to help, or is he ganking bottom lane? Where is your jungler? If you think you can get your team to meet the enemy at their blue, you can secure (and time) a buff and pick up some kills in the process. Little responses like this will set you up to win your lane phase, and eventually the game.

RULE #4: SHOP RE-ACTIVELY

The biggest mistakes many new and veteran summoners alike make is to follow a rigidly set item build every time they play a champion. While resources like LoLpro and SoloMid might be very useful for learning the basics of a champion and what items synergize well with their kit, you can’t follow the same build every game. In order to be successful your item build must be flexible and responsive to what’s happening in your game. Your items are a reflection of your team’s needs in the specific game you buy them in.

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The best example of this is your choice in boots. Let’s say you’re jungling with Vi and you’ve got your level 1 “boots of speed” and are considering your upgrade. Most summoners prefer Mercury Treads for the Tenacity buff and the slight MR, some junglers like Boots of Mobility (henceforth referred to as “boots 5”) for the extra speed between ganks and camps, and still others go with Ninja Tabi for armor or the CDR of Boots of Lucidity. Which is the right way to go? The answer lies in what the enemy team is doing. If the enemy has a lot of CC (Crowd Control) – for example, Ashe ADC, Nautilus jungle, Nasus top etc. and they have an AP mid (say, Veigar) who has a few kills already, Merc Treads is the right choice; they help handle most of the threats that specific enemy team brings. The MR is preferable to the armor on say, Ninja Tabi for dealing with Veigar’s burst – especially if you’re already heavy on armor in your jungle build, and the tenacity helps you cut through the CC of the front line and get in on the enemy carries. Likewise, if the enemy is running an AD heavy comp with say a Zed mid, Ninja Tabi provides the extra little armor you might want, and for a lower cost which might allow you to pick up more damage or HP on another item. If you’re jungling and finding that you’re ahead early and ganking effectively, sometimes grabbing boots 5 is the best option for even more aggression and counter-jungling.

The same logic you use to choose your boots should apply to all of your purchases. Are there some core items you should always aim for? Yes. When you’re AP mid, you’re almost certainly going to buy a Deathcap, for example. However, the priority you place on certain items, and the items you buy outside of your core build should reflect the needs of that specific game. When you don’t know what to buy, look at their team – who is the most fed? Who presents the biggest threat? Buy something which addresses that threat. Are you a tank worrying about a fed enemy ADC? Pick up a Randuin’s Omen to mitigate their damage and attack speed. Are you a carry who is getting bursted down by huge combos? Pick up a Quicksilver Sash to protect yourself against the early burst.

RULE #5: KNOW YOUR ROLE IN FIGHTS

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Very frequently in chat, teams who have just lost a fight will start to declare “focus carries” or “focus their ADC” or sometimes something as simple as “don’t target tanks”. This is only partially true, and following this advice 100% of the time will lose team fights, because it leads to bad behaviors (like breaking rule#1 – Don’t Chase). First, consider what your job in a team fight is. There are a few roles which must be filled by someone on your team, and depending on who your teammates are, you might be better suited to one of these roles or another. Once everyone knows what they should be doing in a team fight, you should not have to worry about “focusing the ADC”, because you’ll win the fight before everyone is standing around just trading damage until one side falls.

a) Tanky intiation – it’s your job to lead the way and soak up damage and CC. A friend once told me that as a tank, your HP is a resource which if unspent is worthless. Get in there first (not too far ahead of everyone) and try to get some ultimates blown on you, so they can’t be used on your carries. Once you’ve initiated, your job falls into one of the other key categories (probably peel, but possibly dive)

b) Burst – You’re the AP mid. You have crazy burst damage capacity, enough to take down any single target on the enemy team. Who should it be, the ADC? Probably not. If you catch the ADC separated from their team, burst away and win a team fight with the power play advantage; but in a straight up 5 on 5 Baron contest or fight in mid, you need to think more carefully. The ADC is squishy and won’t take all of your massive damage to kill. One of your teammates has the responsibility of diving on carries and taking them out, and anyway, how are you going to get past the enemy front line to be in range to kill the ADC? You’re going to get shreded by Dr. Mundo as you try to reposition. Instead, you should be keeping a safe distance, waiting for a major threat to get in range and nuking them. Your job is to punish bad initiations, dives on your carries and enemies who get caught in CC. Once your combo is down, you should be ducking into a bush until you can nuke another enemy.

c) PeelYou’re probably either the jungler, top laner or possibly the support. You have strong disengage abilities (Xin Zhao’s R, Thresh’s E, Janna’s R), CC (a knock up, slow, stun, etc.) and probably one of the lowest damage outputs on the team. Your job is to keep the enemy off of your carries, when the enemy Xin Zhao dives with his E onto your Graves, it’s your job to knock him back or stun him so Graves can survive the fight and kill his assailant. Lots of top lanes and jungles assume their job is to dive and kill the enemy carry – but if everyone dives on the enemy carries, who is going to protect your ADC and AP mid? What happens if your ADC dies first? You’ve lost the team fight.

d) DiveYou have a strong ability to reposition and stick to targets, you’re probably a top laner or jungler, or sometimes and AD mid like Kha’Zix or Zed. You do some of the highest damage on the team (probably 3rd after mid and ADC) and are a strong duelist or assassin type. Your job is to get past the enemy tanks trying to peel and kill the target they’re protecting. When people say “focus the ADC” – this is the person they’re really talking to. Champions like Vi (with her unstoppable R), Hecarim (huge charging R and E), Olaf (with his R and high damage output), Nocturne and Jax (with his big burst and leaping Q) are ideal for this kind of role. You need to be fast enough to get into the fight, and be durable enough and do enough damage to kill your target(s) before you go down.

e) Sustained DamageThis is the ADC. With some random exceptions like unconventional team compositions or in a weird situation like a very fed Quinn top lane, the ADC is your sustained, team-fight-wide global damage. It’s your job to essentially kill everything and win the fight for your team. This is where the “focus the ADC” advice falls apart. As an ADC should you always go after the enemy ADC first? No. Your job as the ADC is to survive long enough to win the fight with sustained DPS on enemy targets. If you die, you do zero DPS (damage per second) so your team loses. If the enemy carries are out of your range, and between you and your targets are a bunch of beefy tanks with lots of CC your job is to stay back and poke as much as you can at the targets who you have a shot on. If you find an opportunity (say, after a bunch of ults are blown on your tank, or if the enemy team all get stunned) to jump in and kill their carries, of course you should! But you must do as much damage as you can safely. A dead ADC is useless to everyone.

How do I get my team to fight like this in solo queue?

Surprisingly all it takes to get your team out of the blind “focus ADC first” is generally just a little communication. Remember that you can’t count on other players to make good descisions for you, so take a look at the enemy team, and your own team comp, and make the descisions. If you’re a very strong top lane Olaf with a lot of kills and farm and you have a nice tanky jungle Cho’Gath on your team with lots of CC, the choice is easy! Before the next team fight say something like “Cho, try to peel for Orianna and Varus, I’m gonna dive their carries.” Just agreeing who will peel and who will dive is generally enough to lead to success in most solo queue team fights, all other factors being even.

WRAP UP

Of course, these 5 rules alone won’t win you every game. There are a ton of important concepts and mechanics in League of Legends that you have to be familiar with to succeed consistently. Minimap awareness, player attitude and communication and a slew of other concepts are core to winning, but if you follow these 5 general rules, you will see your chances for success in solo queue and arranged 5s alike rise dramatically.