Thursday, 23 May 2013

How to Assess Your Skill and Eliminate Your Weaknesses

The most commonly asked question in the entire game, to streamers and friends alike, is "How can I carry solo queue?"  The majority of people seem to just blame their teammates on holding them back from the greatness they were destined to achieve, others are smart enough to understand they are just not good enough.  I say they are smart, because blaming other people for your lack of success does not get you anywhere, ever.   Sure, other people may seem to get lucky with who they get queued with, but by no means does that mean that you are getting unlucky.  Everyone has to deal with raging/AFK/toxic players at some point.   Now, I don't think it is a bad thing to be "not good enough", it is a very general term which could mean a variety of things.  Perhaps you don't have enough time in your day to practice League, or you don't have the champions/runes necessary in order to play.  None of that matters, you need to get your head in the game and get that elo.

Assess Yourself

Now, I'd like to categorize each elo.  Some may argue that you cannot do this due to there being a variety of different personalities/players, but I feel it is fair to generalize the elo brackets.  I'll explain why afterwards.  I will rate each elo bracket out of 20, split into 4 different categories, with a maximum of 5 points per category:

Champion Select: This is where the foundation of each game starts.  This is rated upon how well players are able to cooperate with one another, as well as what heroes they find "broken", necessary to ban, really good, or really weak, etc.  Which in turn leads to what they pick.

Attitude: This game is based off of communication.  Imagine if you didn't have to hear:

"LOL Sona, do u realize u died bcuz not only do u suck, but u lak the extreme knowledge and mekanix that me and aphromoo have?  LOL my input is necssary for u to relize ur obvious mistake every time haha lolxD u suck bitchnerd, lern from the best or stay beneath the dirt"

every single game from at least one of your players.  Things would be a lot better, right?  Attitude defines how well people perceive other players and the plays that they make, good or bad.

Mechanics: How well people last hit, trade, and play team fights.

Decision-Making: How well people decide on things.  Rated upon how much thought people put into each play, which in turn effects how well you make decisions, such as when to dragon or Baron.

Champion Select: 1/5
Attitude: 1/5
Mechanics: 1/5
Decision-Making: 1/5

Score: 4/20(blazeit)

Champion Select: 3/5
Attitude: 2/5
Mechanics: 2/5
Decision-Making: 2/5

Score: 9/20

Champion Select: 3/5
Attitude: 3/5
Mechanics: 3/5
Decision-Making: 2/5

Score: 11/20

Champion Select: 4/5
Attitude: 4/5
Mechanics: 4/5
Decision-Making: 4/5

Score: 16/20

Champion Select: 5/5
Attitude: 4/5
Mechanics: 5/5
Decision-Making: 4/5

Score: 18/20

Where do you feel you belong?  Reading the above may have felt useless, but it is important to know where you belong (or at least where you think you belong).  Be honest and hard on yourself.  Do you harass others for roles in champ select?  Do you harass people for mistakes in-game and make it a point to show your superiority over these random nerds you will never see again?  Are you a mechanical god who never misses last hits, or are they a second priority.  Do you flash for kills only to be baited in by exhausts and CCs?  All of this really matters.

Once you have totalled up your score, figure out what elo bracket you feel you belong in and compare it to what elo bracket you are currently in.  Figure out what aspect of the game you are lacking, and fix it.  Don't just spam games in hopes you will magically become a god, figure out your problems and FIX them.


How Can I Reliably Improve?

Most players will tell you get better, but as I've said in the past, this does nothing.  This is how you can improve, as well as some personal practice routines that I have gone through that have helped me get better.  Some things may be lightly repeated from my last blog post.

Champion Select

Let's keep this short and sweet.  This is the easiest problem to fix.  Be nice to people, not demanding, and be supportive of everyone on your team, even the people who seem 'troubled'.  By singling somebody out, they will feel like a helpless, angry, victim.  This is what loses you games.  You must sympathize with everyone as much as possible, while still trying to obtain your best possible role(s).  

See this? Analyze this video for what not to do in champion select. This holds comedic value, but not elo.  I have nothing against Robert (in fact I laughed at the video, it was comical), and I am sure I've done similar things in the past, but this is precisely how you piss off your other team mates in champion select.  Lack of communication, blatant ignorance to the discussion going on, etc.  The foundation of a good game starts by being polite and nice.  For example:

*last pick*
xX420BlazerKingXx: im ad dont play other roles


xX420BlazerKingXx: AD Please!
xX420BlazerKingXx: I know I'm last pick, so I won't complain if someone else wants it, but I play AD carry the best out of all my roles.  I'd appreciate it if you gave me the chance.  

This may not always work, but it doesn't matter at all.  Having someone polite like this on your team is a huge relief for other players.  Somebody who is a higher pick than you can pick whatever they want, you have NO choice in what your team mates pick.  But, if you are polite, they may just help you out.  Again, if they don't, at least you can know that you haven't put any unnecessary pressure on them to perform higher than their skill level, purely out of fear of being harassed and raged at by you.  


Again, really simple with the right mindset.  When someone makes a mistake, don't be condescending or tell them something obvious they probably already comprehend, but don't have enough skill to carry out.  Instead, if you see something good happen, reinforce that situation with positive messages.  Also, try not to bottle up anger.  A lot of players will see something they don't like, then wait until they die or make a mistake to say how shitty that thing is.

For example:  You are Twitch, your support picked Blitzcrank vs Sona Draven.  You don't say anything about it or complain, but when you die from their extremely pokey and powerful lane, you instantly complain to blitz about how shitty his pick was and how you're doing fine to justify what happened.  This happened to me the other day, and instead of raging, I thought to myself "I really am playing this lane wrong, I should deny myself very hard vs Sona+Draven, Blitz is completely useless in this situation, so it's practically 1v2, but Blitz could come back midgame where he will return to usefulness." 


Learn to focus on minions, and only minions!

Since you've started League, you've seen montages of people killing people, people making plays on people, people styling on people and outplaying them for days!  You don't see what goes on behind the scenes, the CREEP SCORE (CS), so it is not drilled into most players mind that they need to be prioritizing CS, not harassing shitty champions.

Let's create a hypothetical situation where we can imagine the gold counts of both teams.  You are Vayne on blue side.  You notice at just 5 minutes, your mid has fed their mid+jungle, and your top died right after!  That makes the score 0-2 for you :(.  You may feel pressured to fix this by getting kills, or making plays, or getting dragon, but what you need to do, is take that pressure off your shoulders and start CSing.  Most players at lower elos get so distracted with their sick-nasty kill count, that they disregard CSing.  "Ha! It's okay if I miss this CS.. and this one.. and, you know what? I dont need any of this wave, I'm going B."  But what they don't realize, is that a kill does not give you a gold advantage unless you also have a solid CS count.

What does this have to do with me playing Vayne?

Well, many people in this situation might think that because the enemy team is getting "fed", they will be unable to fight them.  That is far from the truth.  You can singlehandedly even up the gold for yourself and your team just by farming decently!  You may miss some here and there, but if you truly focus on getting every CS, you will even up your gold and be able to carry a situation most players would lose hope in!  I cannot possibly stress how important CS is.  You may see players at the top of solo queue such as XJ9 who are considered greedy as hell for just farming everything, but in the end, that seems to work, doesn't it?  You don't have to be a god at mechanics to practice CSing and get decent/good at it!

How can I become a pro at killing minions?

It's quite simple really.  If you haven't already taken a look at my previous post, go do that and disable your mouse pointer precision.  Once that is done, you can get started.

Practice Farming in Custom Games

Most people take custom games for granted.  "How do I attack move, how does it work?" "How can I get better at CSing?"  The answer is right in front of you all along!  My best advice for you is to take a hero that you like to play or want to learn to play, and go into a custom game.  Take the runes and masteries you normally run, and go down to the lane you normally play that hero in.  Practice CSing as long as you feel it's necessary.  I used to run a drill where I would practice CSing for an hour every morning.  If I missed one, I would restart the game and try again.  This may be very difficult for you at first, especially on an AP, so you don't have to go that hard on yourself.  Just set a time limit instead.  5, 6, 10 minutes, it doesn't matter.  Set a time limit and see how much CS you can get in that time, and do it over and over until it's perfect or near perfect.  These skills will transfer into real games very well, although you will have a lane opponent that you must deal with, you will (hopefully) not miss CS when it is right in front of you, even in high pressure situations.

Using Minigames to Practice Mechanics

Short and sweet, here are a few links you can use to help your mouse accuracy:

This minigame is special, some might not even consider it a game, but an annoying image designed to piss you off.  The way it works is, you start at any box of your choice, and move your cursor in a straight lane to another nearby box (any of them).  If you overshoot or undershoot the box, try slowing down your mouse movements, and then do it 3 more times.  For each time you mess up on one box->box movement, you do it 3 more times.  Then you move on to the next box, and the next, and so on.

The point of this is to not only increase your accuracy with your mouse, but to understand your weaknesses/strengths in mouse movement.  You may be really good at going from bottom-left to top-right, but really bad at going from top-right to bottom-left.  You may understand how this can massively impact your gameplay.  Practice makes perfect!  It's repetitive, but what other useful stuff are you doing during champion select/queue?

Things You Can Do In Game

These are stupid little things I do in game that I feel help me to warm-up as well as increase my mechanical ability:

As you're moving to a destination, right click the ground in an arch, fast enough so that your hero is basically unhindered and continues moving in a straight line.  Do this as fast as you can.  Increases accuracy, warms up your hand, prepares you to CS better and make plays.

If your team is doing nothing in the first 1:40 seconds, find a point on the ground you cannot forget, place your character on top of it, and right-click in random directions as necessary to make your character stand perfectly on top of that point you started on.  This increases your mouse speed and mechanical reaction time.


In order to make good decisions, you must be constantly analysing the game.  I touched upon this in my last post in little depth.  A good decision-maker does not randomly uses skills and abilities in the hope that he might get a kill, he/she carefully plans out his next move;  Always considering what he/she can and can't do. This involves knowing everything that's going on in your immediate surroundings, as well as your map.  Many people fall victim to barrier, flash, exhaust, Twisted Fate, Shen, shield, etc baits.  This means how well you do becomes a variable, based upon whether or not the enemy feels like (or is good enough) to bait/kill/outplay you.  You become nothing but an instrument played by the enemy on their way to Diamond, and you plummet down to Rusty Iron XXXVI.

Eliminating the Variable

The way you eliminate the variable, how well you do, is by removing the actual variables in-game.  If you're unsure of what the outcome of a situation will be, do not stick around.  If someone is MIA and could kill you, but you don't know when/where they'll show up, don't stick around.  This is very hard for some players to get past, because they feel as though they have made a mistake if the enemy doesn't end up showing up after all.  But usually the only reason that happens is because they have less map awareness than they could have.  So in the end, you must punish yourself for lack of awareness.  Lack of awareness could mean not noticing someone flying by on a ward, or not carefully studying what the enemy team is doing all while trying to farm/out-trade enemies.  The latter is extremely difficult, sure, but if you continuously lose farm because you didn't look at the map enough, eventually you'll start looking at the damn map more often, and be more sure of your decisions.    

Although map awareness is not the only issue, it is has the biggest impact on your decision-making.  You make your choices based off your current knowledge, it's when you make choices based off of your lack of knowledge that things go wrong.  "Maybe I can kill him, let's go for it.  Maybe this will go on youtube or something,"  "aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand I'm dead. Wow that guy does big damage" 

The other things you should probably keep track of in order to improve your decision-making are cooldowns, and the scoreboard.  Cooldowns are simple.  Learn the general cooldowns of commonly used skills, such as TF ult, Shen ult, flash, barrier, exhaust, ignite.  It can be really hard to memorize things like flash because of masteries, but for TF ult it's as simple as making a mental note to play defensively in 3 minutes.  In order to memorize summoners, you might want to compare them to your own.  Often, summoners are used in reaction to someone elses summoners.  If you and the enemy mid fought, and you both used ignite about 10 seconds apart, you know when each cooldown will be up.  

It is also very important to look at the scoreboard as much as you can, because you can see how well your lanes are doing, and buy items accordingly.  If enemy Irelia is getting really ahead of your Malphite, you might need a BOTRK earlier-than-usual in order to survive.  You may not have noticed this if you didn't look at the scoreboard, and you would've been slaughtered with IE and PD in hand.. Over, and over, and over.. Until you farm 3200 more gold.  Good luck mate! It's also good to know what items champions have before you think about fighting.  Or, what items they don't have.  You may want to harass someone and prevent someone from B'ing because you know they will finish a big item soon, or push them in to limit their options entirely.  While doing this, you could also inform your team of the situation and call for an incredibly easy dragon or tower, or tower-dive, etc.  

Small Tip to Help With Map Awareness

This may sound silly to you, but try reducing the size of your chat box and moving it above your minimap, perhaps even cutting half of it off so you can only read important stuff.  This makes it so that every time one of your team-mates says something, you will also subconsciously glance at your minimap.  Something I saw on Chauster's stream a long time ago, and adopted into my game, that I believe has helped me quite a bit.

In conclusion, the best thing to do in order to get better at solo queue is to recognize what is going wrong, and try to improve on it!  Don't expect any of this to get better within minutes, it could be weeks, months, or years, but at least you know your improving, or trying to.

Well, that's it for now, thanks for reading, and if you've read this far, I hope you enjoyed it.  There will be more to come in the future!


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  1. Great atricle as always!

    I wonder if your next article could be about "ranked aniexty", lack of confidence in your own carrying skills, going on tilt and dealing with it et cetera, et cetera..

  2. Hey. both these and previous tips are all amazing. Thankfully nothing I don't know already, but always good to remember what exactly am I doing wrong.

    Only one thing though. Don't you think that "disable mouse precision acceleration" isn't a no-brainer, just like (as you agree) turning everything to smartcasts isn't? Getting used to using mouse without it might take some time and while technically it's always better to use the mouse without it, practically you might not see much difference - LoL isn't an FPS or RTS, it doesn't need as much fast, precise actions. The result might be that you go through the inconvienience of turning the facilitation off and getting used to not having it, and you only get 1-5% improvement in terms of LoL mouse precision.

  3. Awesome article! I feel like you covered every aspect of how to improve in soloQ (or in low elo at least). Btw i noticed a typo "at least you know your improving".