Over the Bar: The Twelve Step Program to Increasing Your Elo Without Getting Better at the Game
Over the Bar (OtB) is a weekly column for ggChronicle with musings about the state of League of Legends, tips and tricks on how to improve, and analyis of the competitive scene, written from the perspective of an avid-gamer, attorney, and 2k Elo Season One player.
Summoners always ask, “Why is my Elo not higher?”, “What can I do to make it better?”, or “How do I escape all these trolls in Elo hell?” The truth of the matter is that the way you get out of Elo hell and gain Elo is that you get better at the game.
“How do I get better at the game, then?” you ask. Oh, you just play countless hours. There’s no top-tier League of Legends player that has not invested significant time in the game. More time than you are likely willing to invest. The people that players have perceived to jump up the ladder with great alacrity have done so for a reason. Most have significant experience with the same genre of games and have mechanical skills attuned to the game. Most also had the advantage of being tutored and queued with a top-tier players.
There is no shortcut to being good. You have to spend days and months at it. You can maximize your time by always trying to improve yourself, by correcting your mistakes, by watching better people play… but in the end it is a matter of time.
You can maximize your time by always trying to improve yourself, by correcting your mistakes, by watching better people play… but in the end it is a matter of time.
“But how does my Elo go up without me getting better at the game? Is it not the premise of all high Elo players that Elo is earned by better play?”
Your Elo is generally a decent reflection of your skill in the game. But it varies. And really, your skill-level varies. With your first game of the day, your Elo may dip 100 points for being rusty. In the fourth game, it may go down because you’re bored and not focusing on farm. After a loss, you may not be the same confident, aggressive player. On the other hand, you may have particularly lucid moments where last-hitting and harassing come natural and you play above your level.
While Elo is mainly dependent on your skill level at the game your ‘leadership’ is also taken into account. Now, most players perform similarly with their ‘leadership’, namely, they do not do anything to increase or decrease their likelihood of winning via communication with their teammates or good, solid habits. There have been many threads before on how to improve your ‘leadership’ or habits in game but I was hoping to make a more comprehensive list.
Below is my checklist of twleve points that will help your Elo rise without you needing to put in countless hours or actually improve your gameplay. Good luck.
1. Say Something at the Start of The Match
Everyone is worried when they get in queue that they are going to be matched up with a bunch of trolls. Ease their mind. Saying absolutely anything will put the fear to rest in your teammates’ minds. They will know there is at least one teammate not out to get them.
Everyone is worried when they get in queue that they are going to be matched up with a bunch of trolls. Bonus points if you say your preferred role in a polite manner. For example, I would often say, “I’d prefer to Janna support.” You can do the same and will get much better results than just demanding it. Now, you should know your limits in ‘calling’ your role and champion. It is likely you will not always get it, especially if you are a low pick.
2. Pick a Role to Fit Your Team
This is a bit of a continuation of the previous statements: know your role. If you are a low-positioned pick you may have to play a role that you do not prefer.
Now, you can just play whatever you want and a lot of time that’s not a bad strategy because you will almost undoubtedly play a champion better if you want to play them and have a lot of experience with them.
However, if you defy the ‘role roll’ and pick another solo after higher picks have already locked in, you’re going to demoralize your team. So while you may perform better your whole team thinks you’re trolling them. The ideal solution is knowing a few champions of varied roles so you can fit in, regardless the situation.
3. Specialize with Certain Characters
You should learn a few champions from each role. Pick two junglers, two supports, two AD carries, and two soloers that you want to play. It doesn’t matter too much who you pick, so long as you get in enough practice with them (this is not to say certain characters aren’t better at carrying than others, but that’s not the focus of this piece). If you do not have that much time, follow step 1 and be vocal about the role/roles you want to or can play.
You can also minimize the roles you need to learn if you play ones that are generally not sought after as much. Jungling and supporting, for example, are often considered the lower picks’ roles and will be available for you down there and you can also opt to play them as a first/high pick.
By investing time in the champions you will simply be better at them. I am a big fan of the theory of people have different Elo per champion. For example, I could be a 2k Janna player but a 1400 Tristana player. Hotshotgg can be a ~2500 Elo Nidalee player but not dominate games as most other champions even at an 1800-1900 level. You may also notice that a lot of top players excel at their most played champions (top 3-5) and will have high win percentages. However, the rest of the champions are often played at a lower level with lower win percentages.
4. Suggest To Your Team That You Help Your Jungler With a Pull
Normally I could just suggest you help your jungler pull but suggesting it happen is even better. Sometimes you’ll want to get to your lane and not wait for mobs to spawn but suggesting people do this should garner your jungler some support and there’s really very little reason not to lend a hand. Middle Lane can always offer a hit to pull and other lanes can do some decent damage to blue. Giving your jungler that jump start will increase the good will on your team and will allow your jungler to gank earlier.
5. At Start of the Game Say, “Remember Neutral Buffs Respawn in 5 Mins, Dragon in 6, Baron in 7″
This is self-explanatory. You never need to learn this. It helps a lot to keep track of jungle buffs, of dragon respawn times, etc. by actually stating them in game when you know but it’s also easy to forget.
Accordingly, just state something similar to the above at the beginning of the game and hope one of your teammates picks up the slack. After all, this is all about trying to get you Elo without making you better!
6. Never Negatively Criticize Your Team
This is a simple rule and follows along the same vein as, “DON’T RAGE.” But really, don’t. It doesn’t help in the slightest. No game was ever won because negative criticism encouraged a teammate to play better. That’s not entirely true; I am sure some have been won that way but it is very, very unlikely. Never complain when you’re dead. If you’re dead and your teammates are alive, you’re likely forcing them to respond instead of doing something useful like staying alive or farming.
You’ll catch more bees with honey than vinegar. Even when you’re losing and things seem desperate you’re better off with positive encouragement. If people die, say, “We’ll get them next team fight.” Even if you absolutely do not ‘got this’, say to your team, “We got this.” It will encourage people to keep trying as opposed to just giving up or trolling.
7. Never Surrender
Don’t surrender, bros. We got this! Yes, offer positive reinforcement and never surrender. There’re very few reasons to surrender in ranked. There are very, very few situatons you cannot come back from. Two days ago I won a game where we had all of our inhibitors, and all of our towers down while the opposition had everything but two outer-turrets still up. We won. There were many surrender votes but none of them passed.
Yes, comebacks may be rare. How rare? I do not know. I can’t quantify them. But let’s say that one percent of games that start out very, very, very negatively can be turned around by skill or simple luck. So one percent of those games that you may have previously surrendered now turn into wins. You’re now well on your way to improving your Elo!
Put simply, keep playing until the fat lady sings. You don’t know what will happen. I’ve been winning games 40 minutes in that were very easy wins and suddenly my teammate disconnects, the other team gets baron and pushes for the win in a few minutes. It happens to you, it can happen for you.
The mentality that you want to end this game because it’s hopeless and get into another one is just poor. There’s no real guarantee you’ll win your next game and even if you do win it, now you’ve just evened out your Elo from the loss before. In short, surrendering isn’t a shortcut to helping you out.
8. Take a Break if You Lose a Game
Losing a game has a negative impact on your morale. Do not rush into your next game. You will be convinced that those trolls are still chasing you from the last game. Take a breather, walk around, get a drink. Just relax until you are back in a state of mind where you realize that no one is out to get you. Analyze your previous game, recognize the mistakes you made, and then move on.
Losses are part of the game. The best players still often lose 45% of their games. There is no escaping losses but if and when a loss troubles you, take a break so it does not encourage you to throw away your next game. As a special note: do not go into the next game playing a champion you are not familiar with. I don’t care if said champion just destroyed your team or if you have been looking forward to playing with them for awhile- experimenting after losses leads to more losses.
9. Don’t Duo Queue With People You Don’t Know
Duo queuing is a precarious tool. It can help you raise in Elo greatly or it can drop you like a rock. Just because you played a game with someone and they did well doesn’t mean you should sign up with them for the next game.
Just because your friend wants to play with you does not mean it is going to help your Elo. As a duo queue, the matchmaking system inflates your Elo. I remember it being said that it only increased it like 30 some points but it often seems like more. What is important to note, though, is that the game puts you at a disadvantage because it assumes great coordination between the duo queuers. If you do not have this greater coordination, then you are at a disadvantage.
Ideally, you only want to go duo with someone if you know them well, get along with them, -and- you know that they are below their actual Elo.
10. Never Talk to Someone Into Playing a Character They Don’t Want To
Talking to people during champion select is a good thing. Demanding they play a particular champion is not a good thing. Odds are, they are not very proficient at the champion you want them to play. Odds are, you’re pissing them off by being insistent that they play it.
So, in one fell swoop you can both decrease that players’ usefuleness and their morale. It’s just a bad combination and midway through the game you’ll get mad at them and they will say, “Hey, it’s my first time with ‘whoever’ in ranked- you wanted me to play them!”
You should and can feel free to suggest champions but often it is best to suggest that the person play, ‘whatever they’re best at’ in the defined role they need to play.
11. At Fifteen Minutes into the Game, Mention That Baron is Up
Baron wins games. His buff is epic. The gold you gain is the equivalent of acing the opposing team. It seals games and it erases deficits. It is one of the keys to success in winning. But often times teams will forget about him. They simply will not ward. Or they’ll run multiple people to the bottom lane and allow the baron to be taken uncontested.
It becomes very dangerous even before 25 minutes to allow two people to be farming bottom lane. It makes a baron rush possible and a coordinated team will be able to pull it off. While I don’t see this as standard practice even in high-competition play, you’re better off at assigning your top lane to the bottom as the game progresses. They may have teleport, which would be a bonus but more importantly they are less prone to ganks than the AP-Mid or the AD-Carry. That way your support can keep shadowing your AD-Carry but have them be able to reach and thwart, or rush a baron at a moment’s notice.
12. If You Feel Uncomfortable With Your Role, Play to Not Lose
Contrary to popular belief that you must carry every game to win; you can be victorious in most games if you merely do not lose it for your team. Don’t feed, don’t find yourself out of position, and you will not lose your team the game. Then you count on the other four members of your team to win or alternatively, for the other team to lose.
Too often a player will be forced into a role he is unwilling, unprepared, or uncomfortable with. This will lead to the player despairing and feeding. Not necessarily on purpose but just because they do not have the confidence in their position.
So if you are forced into a role you don’t excel at play the champion that fits the role that you have the most experience with and that you feel is safe. You don’t play support but you’re beign forced into it? Try to grab Soraka. She is not as difficult to use successfully as Alistar or Janna, for example. Forced to jungle? Play Udyr or someone else who will easily farm and whose ganks are intuitive.
Pick the safe character and build safely! If you are not used to being solo top, do not try a creative starting item set. Cloth and five potions works for most everyone and almost ensures you can farm and sustain through damage for awhile.
Simply not losing it for your team will lead to wins!