Know Your Win Condition!

Here’s a simple tip to winning more games. Envision winning the game. Now, I don’t mean any sort of placebo/confidence effect, although it is true that thinking you will win the game makes it more likely — that’s the root cause of all the statistics Riot has about positive players winning more – that’s not what I’m here to talk about.

No, I want you to imagine the moment you win the game. Not your team last-hitting the Nexus, but whatever play made that inevitable. I had a long, hard time understanding this concept at first. I said ‘well, there are plenty of ways I could win’. And that’s true. Your top lane could get so tanky he forms a front line for your team by himself. Your ADC Vayne could end up 12-0 and show off those godlike mechanics. Their jungler could AFK. These are ways you win, but they aren’t your win condition. What is your win condition? Imagine an exactly even game. How do you win?

Does your champion become unstoppable at split-pushing and force 2 opponent champions to follow you, lest they give up towers? Do you become so tanky and immune to CC that you can dive the ADC and prevent him from doing damage? Do you have so much CC that even the worst-positioned ADC can put out constant damage? Whatever your win condition, you should be playing with that in mind.

First, let’s take a personal example. Followers of my stream may have noticed that I jumped from Plat 1 to Diamond 1 about a month ago, mostly playing Skarner – a champion largely considered unviable – as well as some Nasus – a champion who had fallen out of favor (and has returned in Preseason 4). Why is this?

I knew exactly what my goal was. Regardless of being fed, average, or behind, (with Skarner) I wanted to take advantage rotation or positioning areas to make a pick on a valuable target – using flash, if need be – and turn that into objective advantage for my team. My win condition was basically catching their most crucial member – typically a fed carry, but often their best wave-clear champion – with flash ultimate, bursting them with my team, and shoving hard down a lane – preferably mid.

This informed everything; picks, bans, ganks, and so on. If their team had an Anivia or a Lux, I would gank her most of all, knowing that her AoE clear could thwart my win condition. If their ADC was hard to get onto late game (Ezreal/Vayne), I would do the same. If a champion had great ability to protect or disengage for my target (Kayle/Lulu), I tried to ban or get my team to pick them. And if I saw those champions, I considered a different champion pick. I tried to avoid the extremely late game, where Guardian Angel and Quicksilver Sash would ruin my day, which meant hyper-aggression in the mid-game. I bought Distortion Boots (for more flashes), and CDR items (for more ultimates). I ran 0/9/21 with experience glyphs, so I could hit level 6 faster and start on my game plan earlier.

Of course, some games I would simply get fed as Skarner, rampage over champions, and win through sheer advantage. Then again, a lot of my losses were precisely from these games. I got so fed that I tried to win without attention to my goal, and it led to mistakes. The benefits of having a goal are twofold:

  1. You are always playing to your strengths (unless you pick an awful goal). This is obviously good.
  2. You are always in comfortable situations (because you’re playing similarly every game). This heavily minimizes mistakes.

Another example is perhaps forthcoming: when playing Nasus, I knew I wanted to maintain early vision control, and take early dragons with my ultimate, push down early towers with Spirit Fire, and then push early to gain control over their jungle camps. The constant pushing pressure creates a huge gold advantage, and Wither guarantees much higher damage out of my ADC than theirs, allowing for safe pushing.

So there you have it. Visualize your win, and what leads up to it. And make sure everything you do is about that. This is ultimately what players mean when they say ‘don’t fight for no reason’. A lot of players will just decide ‘now I fight my opponent laner’. Yes, there are timings where you are stronger and should fight. But it should have a purpose. Are you shoving him out of lane or kill him so you can push tower and force his jungler top? Go ahead. But I you’re fighting hi just because you think you can pick up the kill, consider that their jungler might show up, and it won’t have been worth the risk if they 2v1 you.

Here are some examples: don’t all-in in AP vs. AD lanes: you gain a bit of wave clear from a win, while they probably gain 50% damage on your tower. And if you DO all-in as an AP champion, roam and try to pick up kills in other lanes. Obviously, if you know you’ll win and you know you won’t get counter-ganked, all-in their game. But if it’s all up for question, consider how much they gain compared with you, and how you’re accomplishing your goals.

If you’re a split-pusher, and you’ve already taken both of your top lane towers, you should probably split-push bot instead. What are you gaining by splitting top? Not much. And if your team splits bot, the enemy team now has baron control. But whatever you do, don’t join up with your team. You’re no good in team fights!

If you’re a strong team fight champion, the reverse holds! Join your team already, no matter how hard you’re winning lane!

Once you know about your champion, try to incorporate knowledge about ally and enemy champions. You may be a split-pusher, but do they have a better split-pusher on their team? Maybe you’re better off joining fights!

Obviously, there are so many specifics that going through them would be an exercise in wasted time. But keep this idea in mind in your next game: don’t do anything without thinking about what it gets you, and how closely what it gets you aligns with your win condition.

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