Ladder Climbing Tips

I’ve been pretty busy and I haven’t done an improvement/non e-sports article in awhile; here are some tips I wrote for Reddit about how to improve at solo queue and climb the ladder!

1) Champions

1.1) Role/Champions Don’t try to master League of Legends. You’re not going the best at everything, but you can be a pretty good Jinx/Lucian player. You could decide to learn every lane and every champion in the game, but I can guarantee you it will be a lot slower of a process. If you started playing LoL today, even AFFORDING all of the champions would take thousands of games.

You should pick champions based on two factors: playstyle similarity and playstyle diffusion. What do I mean by those? By diffusion I mean that there are tons of different compositions in the game, so you want champions that at least FIT into each role. If all of your champions need heavy peel, you’ll be screwed when your team doesn’t pick any and you’re last pick. On the other hand, the more similar your champions are, the easier it will be to master them together.

This is very nebulous, as there are lots of ways a champion can be similar. For example, Ezreal is like Tristana because they’re both slippery, Caitlyn is like Tristana because they’re both long-ranged and extremely auto-attack based late game, and Graves is like Tristana because they’re low-ranged and bursty early game. Determine what about the champion fits your strengths, and pick champions like them in those ways.

And while you should focus on one role, make sure you can at least play one ‘fill’ role (the role you’ll be stuck with if you’re last pick). I recommend support, as that is largely a fill role until Diamond (and once you’re in high Diamond, people will often recognize you and give you your role). Jungle is a good secondary role, although I imagine it becoming more popular at least during the start of preseason 4, as people seem intent on taking Tryndamere in there.

1.2) Champion Select Champion Select is a game of its own. If you are first pick, you want to try to secure a champion who is strong, but hard to counter. On the other hand, if you’re not first pick, you want to ban out those safe champions, but leave open the OP champs who are relatively easily countered. Why? If the enemy team first picks that champion, you can pick up two remaining strong champions (and also counter their first pick).

Don’t get too caught up in counter-picking. Play champions you’re good at, and use your matchup knowledge to get the best situation you CAN. But don’t counter-pick for the sake of counter-picking.

2) Mindset You’re not (yet) the best player in LoL, so remain humble, self-critical, and willing to learn. Your team is being matched up with you, which means they’re all at about your skill level. So don’t go flaming them because they made a mistake. Trust me, you make plenty of mistakes too. It’s so easy to see others mistakes, and so hard to see your mistakes because you so rarely make mistakes that you KNOW about (or you wouldn’t be making them).

Let’s say everybody in your game knows 40% of the game. You know the 40% about warding and zoning and objectives, and another player knows the 40% about 1v1 fights and teamfights. The first player makes a mistake in 2v2 fight, and the second player sees it, but still picks up the double kill. The second player thinks “what an idiot, why didn’t he shield himself?” He then proceeds to go back to heal and shop when he could easily have taken the enemy blue, or dragon. A third player watching thinks “what an idiot, why didn’t he push his lane out first?”

The point is, we’re all idiots about some things. Ideally, I’d like to say there’s room for constructive criticism. But it’s VERY important how you frame it. Say things like “if you push out your lane before you go back next time; you can deny their laner experience”. Don’t say things like “you should have pushed out your lane before you went back” or “why didn’t you push your lane out?” or “what an idiot”. If you can’t see the difference…just avoid criticism at all.

3) Tenacity No, not the CC Reduction. Never give up. If the game’s over, then it’s over. But the game is RARELY over. Obviously, if they have a Nasus/Vayne and are up 20 kills and 9 towers and you have one standing inhibitor, it’s probably time to throw in the towel. But you should play to win at all times.

Before you do anything deliberate, ask yourself ‘how is this going to help me win?’ If it isn’t, don’t do it. So don’t flame. Don’t even be sarcastic. Don’t be argumentative or annoying. If you make a mistake, apologize before anybody can blame you. You’ll be surprised what a difference it makes; nobody wants to be the asshole picking on the guy who ALREADY apologized.

Even if it WASN’T your mistake, just apologize, because it was. Your team wasn’t there to support you? Why were you there without them? Mid wasn’t warding and the enemy mid ganked you? You weren’t warding either, so… You thought your team would follow up? You thought wrong. You can blame others all you want, but the fact of the matter is that it takes two to be on the wrong page.

If somebody gets countered in lane, or gives up first blood, or loses an early tower, don’t get defeatist. You’re probably still going to win. It doesn’t matter if that’s true or not, the more true you PLAY like it is, the more true it will be. Riot has done plenty of studies on this, and positivity wins games.

4) Basic Gameplay 4.1) Cooldowns and Timings A good sense of timing wins games. You have to know when to gank a lane, when to push your lane, and so on. The best way to do that is to know the enemy cooldowns. Is their Ignite down? Be more aggressive until it’s back up. Is their Flash down? You have 5 minutes of aggressive ganking. Is YOUR flash down? It’s time for extra wards. Did they just ward? Pink it or gank in exactly 3 minutes.

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