The Truth About "ELO Hell" - League of Legends
So what is “ELO Hell”?
Well, it’s almost easier to say what ELO Hell isn’t.
People like to say they’re trapped in ELO Hell for a variety of reasons. Some say it’s because of all the trolls, leavers, and inexperienced players they encounter. Others say they’ve been “screwed by the system” and are trapped in a ranking they can’t climb out of. Sometimes a player will attribute his inability to carry a team to his being in ELO Hell.
But truth be told, ELO Hell is mostly a scapegoat that people use so they don’t have to look at themselves critically and improve.
Wait…I’m in ELO Hell! Of course it’s real!
Okay, let me give you a little illustration. Let’s say I’ve got a coin and I’m going to spend all day tossing it (because I’m rather boring). After ten tosses, I’ve gotten heads seven times and tails three times. Naturally I conclude that I will toss heads about 70% of the time. It fits the data right?
But as I keep tossing and tossing, I get tails more often. Now after two hundred tosses, I’ve gotten heads 60 times and tails 140 times. What’s up with that? My 70% heads rate just dropped to 43%! I must be bad at tossing this coin!
Let’s say I keep tossing and tossing all night. Finally, at midnight I total up all the results and…lo and behold they’re nearly even! My heads rate is now about 50%!
What’s your point?
This is basically a metaphor for the League of Legends ranked system. You see, sometimes we get on a lucky streak early on. But as we play more games, we sink lower. This is because our starting win rate isn’t an accurate reflection of our true win rate. Just like in the example, getting heads seven out of ten times doesn’t mean my actual chance of getting heads is 70%! It just means I was lucky!
And by the same token, dipping under 50% doesn't mean that I'm a bad player! It could just mean that I have room to improve (or that I'm just on a losing streak). At any rate, this is hardly a permanent reflection on your playing abilities!
The fact of the matter is that every League match has two outcomes—just like a coin toss. True, a huge number of other variables are involved…but if we’re placed in the rank we deserve to be in (i.e. the one that accurately reflects our skill level), then we should be able to win about 50% of our games.
If you can’t win about 50% of your games, you’re going to trend downwards. If you win more than that, you’ll likely trend upwards. Things don’t always go the way we’d like, but that’s justice.
I don’t think you understand! I’m stuck here!
Sometimes players find themselves in an awkward position where a victory gives very few League points and a single defeat takes a huge amount away. How can anyone possibly advance with these conditions?
Well, the thing is that the game is trying to adjust you to a rank that accurately reflects your skill level.
I had this happen to me, too. After a summer without League, I decayed from Silver to the bottom of Bronze I. I was at the very bottom of my division—zero League points. It seemed that even when I won two games in a row a single defeat would send me plunging back down to the bottom.
This happened because even though I’d get an occasional lucky streak, I wasn’t winning about 50% of my games on average. Actually, I’m not so sure I was winning 40% of my games. Basically, every time I had a lucky streak the game had to decide if I was actually improving or if I was just…well…lucky.
After a defeat or two, it would know that I wasn’t able to win a larger percentage of my games…and it would send me plummeting back down.
So how can anyone get out?
I got better. Being at the bottom of my division for a couple months forced me to look at my skills critically. Even though there were wins and losses in my match history, there were always personal flubs that I needed to fix. I practiced more and I got better.
Here are some of the specific things I worked on:
- Farming while harassing the enemy
- Lane positioning
- Freezing the lane
- Working with my team (instead of against them)
- Strategic building (and counter-building)
- Not raging or being negative in chat
After a while, it wasn’t so rare for me two win two games in a row—sometimes even three. I started gaining more League points for a win and losing fewer when I lost. Pretty soon, I was one position out from my placements into Silver!
I’m not trying to say that getting “unstuck” from your current rank won’t be difficult, but it certainly isn’t impossible. Put your ego aside and be on the lookout for what you can be doing better!
But what about all the trolls, leavers, and noobs out there?
I don’t mean to be rude, but there are trolls, leavers, and noobs in every tier. I have friends in high Silver who still encounter these unsavory players. Another friend of mine is in Gold and recently lost his placement match because of an Ahri who just ran around him in circles, spamming “meow meow” in the chat box.
This is hardly an excuse not to do better. These players may make things frustrating from time to time, but if you can do consistently well—even in the games you lose—no number of them will keep you from advancing.
Just look on Google. There are hundreds and hundreds of players who climb up from the bottom of Bronze—sometimes making it as high as Platinum or Diamond! If these people can improve, so can you!
The only “ELO Hell” is that which we make for ourselves—by telling ourselves that it’s not our fault and that there’s nothing we can do about it.
I'm sure we'd all like to think that trolls are the devil, but...
The final verdict...
ELO Hell doesn’t exist...but excuses do! If you’re convinced that you’re stuck where you are, that it’s everyone else’s fault, and that there’s nothing you can be doing better, then you deserve to be where you are. Sorry.
However, if you begin to look at your playing critically, you can start improving! It might happen in a week, or it might happen in a year, but getting better is what gets people out of their current rank! Don’t allow yourself to make lame excuses!
One great practice that helped me improve drastically is adopting a three-fold response to failure: recognize it, own it, and learn from it! Be aware of your own mistakes, and don’t blame anyone else for them. I know for me this meant a lot of “woops!” and “my bad” being typed in chat! It may be a shot to your ego, but if you want to improve, then your ego is a no-go!
Be patient, and remember that perseverance will pay off!
What about you?
Do you have a personal success story you’d like to share? I’d love to hear it! Feel free to leave a comment for friend me on Facebook!
Best of luck on the Fields of Justice!