Sigbog has been playing League of Legends since Season 1 and is currently a Grandmaster level jungler.
Elo hell is a frustrating place to be in League of Legends. It's when your rank stops climbing and you just seem to get stuck in a bad game or bad situation way too often. Most articles will give you great advice on managing tilt, dodging bad looking games, using wards, farming advice, or not dying. These tips are incredibly useful and should be followed! However, if that doesn’t quite do it for you, here are a handful of really important things to pay attention to that you may not find elsewhere.
Your Path Upward
1. Gold isn’t the prize for kills, objectives are.
Bronze and Silver players tend to not play objectives well, that's one of the reasons games last so long in those elos. Gold and Platinum start to be much cleaner, but it isn't until Diamond and above that people really realize this, and even then many often forget. The point of getting a kill is to get an objective. Converting kills to objectives is how you push a lead, maintain that pace, and close out games. You gank to get a dragon, not a kill. You roam to get a tower, not a flash. Many carries, particularly early game carries, can fail at converting kills and actually cost games rather than win them. You might hear something like "omfg team too heavy" on a high kill carry (Think of a fed Talon for example) that had kills in multiple lanes, but did not get first tower or dragon. That means they weren't carrying, they were just stacking gold and doing nothing with it. One way to get out of this if you can't seem to break objectives even though you have kills is to snag an early Rift Herald, force a tower, and break the map to initiate a team fighting phase. You could also force a 4 person fight in bot lane with a mid roam / top teleport. That's a good way to convert a kill lead to an objective lead.
2. If you have the gold, you have the responsibility.
Similar to what I mentioned above, if you're the fed one, it's your job to carry. If you have a strong lead and you lose, it's your fault, not your team's for being 'uncarryable'. Take your gold lead and take objectives, roam and make plays, turn that small lead into a big lead. If a 1k gold lead in your lane doesn't lead to large gold leads across your team, you've failed.
3. Play the map, not the lane.
You aren't playing your lane, every single decision you're making is with respect to the rest of the map. If you're bot, and top is winning, you can play cautiously, focus on not dying, getting deep wards and vision, and wait for them to drive their lead further. If top is losing, you might need to make a play, even if it's risky. If you're mid, leave your lane, get lane priority and roam whenever you can, and always watch for the chance. Leaving lane might be just to get wards in critical spots or steal some raptors, just be sure to do it.
4. It’s your job to find the enemy jungler.
Similar to above. It doesn't matter who you are, plays are made where the jungler goes, plays are countered or stopped if you see them coming. Don't just ward bot bushes, try to ward bot buff. If the jungler appears or is spotted elsewhere, it's your chance to make a play on your side of the map. A great example is the enemy jungler appearing top and you have lane priority bot lane, you have an opening to take dragon or gank mid.
5. Pick a way to win, and execute on it.
Knowing your win condition isn't exactly a secret or uncommon knowledge. However, what I have to add is that executing on your win condition is a lot more than just "we need X person fed, or Y person not to feed". If you're supporting a hyper carry ADC bot lane and you're mid lane, you can ward to spot mid/jungle ganks, or just keep lane priority so it's hard for mid to leave. You could also roam bot. Consider another example, perhaps your opponent has a counter to your win condition, figure out how to stop it. Perhaps your hyper carry ADC bot lane can be stopped by an enemy Zed in the mid lane. In order for Zed to stop your hyper carry, he needs to be fed. That means your mid lane can't feed, which might mean itemizing more safely rather than for damage, picking up a Zhonyas or an AP item with health rather than a Luden's or other more damage focused items.
Evaluate Your Play & Improve It
6. Keep up with the flavor of the month, but don't chase it if it's not your style.
You need to know who's OP, how the last patch shifted the meta, and all the details on what's FOTM. That doesn't mean play it, just understand how to play against it. You're better off playing your own style on a small handful of champions than trying to chase what's OP. Most climb articles will tell you to focus on a few single champions, and that's correct! But also fully read into what the hot strategies are so you can be a part of the counter meta that develops to deal with it.
Good rule of thumb? Don't play any champion in ranked unless you at least have a level 4 badge, regardless of how 'OP' it is.
7. Learn your 'situations'.
This will vary from champion to champion, lane to lane. But you need to learn how to deal with the specific situations you get put in for managing your play, especially with regards to farming CS. I know this sounds vague, but stop to think about a few examples.
- Example: In the early game, with base items, ranged minions will require 2 hits after being hit by a turret in order to be killed. That means a support needs to auto attack a minion so the carry can actually kill it and it isn't missed. Similarly, melee minions are probably 1 auto attack from death after 2 tower hits. Learn and memorize how to deal with this.
- Example: Amumu's auto attack procs his passive, so when jungling be sure to auto the monster before you use Tantrum to give it a little extra damage.
- Example: Nunu's snowball can be hard to steer, but about half the distance of the jungle maximizes its damage so when going from red buff to raptors, be sure to walk a little further away from red buff before starting snowball to get maximum damage.
- Example: Rift Herald's eye opens every 4-5 auto attacks, you can plan for when it opens and be standing behind it when it does to take it down faster.
There are dozens of miniature ways to optimize your play, start paying attention to these details.This is also directly tied to why you should not play a bunch of champions and focus on a few.
8. Know your stats.
There are plenty of tools out there, including League's own stats profile page, to track your performance and the meta performance overall. Know what champions counter yours and what builds are the most successful. Also find out what you did well and what you did poorly for each game, particularly the losses. Did you have a low vision score? Buy more control wards. Did you hard carry with a high KDA? How was your turret/objective damage? Look. Consider a tool like blitz.gg, or at least take a look at op.gg.
I hope these few tips have been helpful. Leave a comment if you have any feedback or questions. Be sure to read what others have to say about farming, de-tilting, mechanic improvements, etc. Those will all be critical in climbing as well, but most places I read as I was climbing and trying to break from Platinum into Diamond did not seem to cover what I really needed so I wanted to share it with you! As I learned this I broke from multiple seasons peaking at mid-high Platinum all the way up to Diamond 2!