I'm a recovered video game addict studying to become a mechanical engineer.
So if you’ve played League of Legends for more than about five minutes, you’ve probably noticed that it’s the most frustrating thing you do “to relax”.
Think about it. It’s five minutes into the game, and your support Morgana forgot she still has her ADC runes on. Your top laner is supposed to be tanking, but he thought it’d be best to build straight damage into his opponent’s armor. After a quick trip back to base, you notice that your bot lane and jungle fed three easy kills to the Katarina you’re mid against. Your 0/3/0 jungler and 1/5/0 ADC swear left, right, and center that they’re really ranked in platinum—they’re just smurfing this game. Hmm…doubtful.
Midgame rolls around and the only number larger than their team’s kills is your team’s deaths. After several long minutes of bonehead plays, blades, and butthurt, you find yourself wondering what it is that you actually like about this game.
The good news is that you shouldn’t worry; you’re certainly not alone. But the bad news (brace yourself) is that, if you are experiencing this on a regular basis, you just might suck at League. Sorry.
I don’t say this to make anyone feel bad. The moment I realized that I sucked at League was the moment I started getting better…and actually enjoying the game! Would you believe me if I told you that I once thought Syndra was a bot lane carry? Or that attack speed Zilean was a thing? If you thought “yes”, you’d be right!
I know how people can get when they're told they're not good at something, so check out this chart. This approximation was done for the North American server in 2013, but it's still a good representation of player skill distribution today across most (if not all) servers.
Basically, about 53–55% of all players, ranked or unranked, play at the skill level of someone in bronze tier. That's over half. Therefore, it'd be fair to say that most people who play this game aren't very good at it. So don't feel too bad when someone you encounter at your ELO gives you crap, as there's a very, very good chance that he's just as bad...if not worse.
10 Signs of Suck
The funny thing about getting better is that suddenly you notice all the people who aren’t. You see them, rockin’ their seventeen farm at the ten-minute mark, and you think “I remember when that was cool.” Kind of like cat sweaters, I guess.
There are half-a-gazillion ways to pinpoint a player who still doesn’t understand the game, but these are some that jump straight to the top of the list.
1. You Don't Know Your Role
Each role brings something unique to a team. If the all the little cogs don’t mesh, your team is at an immediate disadvantage. Knowing your role lets the other team know that you are contenders, not an easy, twenty-minute surrender.
What are you bringing to your team? Are you the bruiser? A DPS mage (someone who deals a large amount of damage over time) or a nuke? What does your specific champion contribute to your team? How does your kit (your champion’s abilities) work with your team?
If you can’t answer these, you probably aren’t playing to your full potential.
2. You Don’t Know How to Build Your Champion
Building effectively isn’t just about picking good items—it’s about picking good items that are good on your champion. Ravenous Hydra is a sweet item, but that doesn’t mean you should put it on just anybody.
Knowing how to build also means knowing when to buy your items. Buying defensive items too early can make your damage output suffer. On the other hand, if you rush all your damage items when what you need are resistances, you’ll just give the enemy team free kills.
3. You Don't Know How to Counter-Build
The other day, I decided to get ballsy and try something new—AD Leona top. I’m sure the Sion I was laning against didn’t see that one coming. After several uneventful minutes of farming, I had built up a sizable amount of armor to mitigate his ult and the autos he was harassing me with.
If this Sion were smart, he would have realized that he could have just built AP and wiped me out with his stun. But no, he built AD…and absolutely no armor penetration (or resistances...).
Don’t just follow the same cookie-cutter build every game. Adapt to your situation. If you’re against a lot of AP, ditch some of that armor in favor of magic resistance. When you’re laning top and you’re 0/4/0 against a Leona, you’re doing something wrong.
4. You’re So Busy Trying to Get Kills That You Haven’t Noticed That Your Farm Is Atrocious
Let me break this down. The average minion gives something like 15–25 gold. Because I’m too lazy to actually look this up, let’s underestimate and say that every minion is only worth 10 gold.
That means that first blood would be worth about forty minions. Keep in mind that because we’re underestimating the value of each minion, it actually takes quite a bit less than forty minions to equal the gold value of a kill. You may spend ten minutes harassing your lane opponent and finally get a kill, but if your 0/1/0 enemy has twenty or thirty more farm than you, he’s winning.
Early game, you should be prioritizing your farm over getting kills. Of course, if your opponent slips up and puts himself in a bad position, capitalize on it! Otherwise, just harass a little, here and there, to make them keep their distance.
Don’t forget to pay attention to your CS (creep score) throughout the game. You should never be too busy to farm minion—the only exceptions being a teamfight or when you’re helping your team take some other objective.
5. "Wards? Those Are Just for Supports, Right?"
WRONG! If you aren’t warding, you’re basically playing Russian roulette with every bush in the near vicinity.
Think you’re going to head through jungle to help your mid lane? Surprise! The enemy Rengar jungle was waiting in that bush—just to plunder your sorry butt! Face-checking, bad engages, and poor timing on objectives are game-ending mistakes happen all the time at lower levels of play…and almost all of them begin with a lack of wards.
The only players who can get away without warding are those with super-high ELO, and that’s only because they pay attention and know the map so well that they know where people are without wards. Trust me, if you’re reading this, you aren’t that good.
6. You Just Don't Pay Attention
You’re a machine—a cold tool of grim destruction! You bravely ride out to meet your adversaries head-on! About the time that you’ve dived straight into all five of them, you suddenly realize: where the heck is my team!?
Yeah, if you’d been paying attention to your minimap at all, you’d have known there was no chance in hell they’d be able to back up your kamikaze run. If you had to ask where your teammates were, you weren’t paying enough attention to your surroundings.
7. You Don't Know a Lost Cause From a Golden Opportunity
An okay player knows when he’s getting his butt kicked and gets the heck out of dodge…or tries to, at least. A good player anticipates when he’s about to get his butt kicked and reacts accordingly. A great player doesn’t really have to anticipate when he’s about to get his butt kicked because he avoids situations that would put him at risk.
By the same token, be on the lookout for golden moments when you and your teammates can get the jump on the enemy. Don’t all-chat “I see you” when they’re standing in your ward. Group and kill them. Don’t give away a surprise gank or a hidden teammate. Instead, bait the enemy, kill him, then laugh maniacally.
8. You're Just a Jerk
Do think that your bad attitude, blaming, cussing, trading insults, racist and/or homophobic comments, or bragging is going to win you this game? Think again. If you can't say something nice or at least constructive, keep off the chat.
9. You Don't Know How to Control Your Lane
Lane control isn’t just about being the one there who isn’t dead. To maximize your gold income (and to get ahead of your opponent) you want to get as much farm as you can, as fast as you can, and as safely as you can.
Try not to push the lane past the middle-space between your tower and the enemy’s—doing so will put you in a prime location to get ganked (especially since it’s very likely that you’re not warding). Instead of demolishing minions with your abilities, try to only last-hit. This will make the minions push more toward you’re side and put your enemy in the danger zone.
10. You Aren't There When Your Team Needs You
Chances are that if you often find yourself alive and well while your other four teammates are dying on the other end of the map, you probably aren’t where you need to be.
Farming and split pushing are great and all, but there are times when your team needs you. Don’t make them go 4-v-5 while you chill out for a few extra minions. That’s a costly mistake that can turn the tides of a game…or end it.
Get Better! Enjoy the Game!
When you make League of Legends into a game of personal challenge (or group challenge, if you often play with friends) and self-improvement, you’ll find you enjoy it so much more.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you’re the Princess Anastasia of gold tier, lost and confused in a heap of “bronzies”. There is no ELO Hell, so you're certainly not unfairly being kept in it. The truth is that if you’re stuck here, you probably belong here. It’s okay, we’ve all been there (some longer than others).
Playing the blame-game is the best way to ensure that you’re trapped in bronze forever. Instead, be self-critical and aware of your weaknesses, and work to improve!. League will instantly become more fun, and your blood pressure will thank you someday!
Best of luck on the Fields of Justice!
© 2014 TwerkZerker
Spencer on April 07, 2018:
Great article! I'd like to emphasize the "don't be a jerk thing" - you will ALWAYS play worse if you're being toxic to your team. Instead of blaming others, offer constructive criticism instead! A friendly team has a much higher chance of winning.