What the best players do

The first thing you’ll notice the best players do is probably what they say after they die:

“I should have done…”

They don’t blame their teammates or are wowed by inevitability.

The best players always learn from every mistake and look for what the correct response to the situation was.

It doesn’t matter whether they are actually correct, what matters is that they are looking for the correct responses after every mistake. It is most obvious after they die, but they do it constantly whenever they made a suboptimal response.

Then they move on. They don’t dwell on there errors. They assess, they postulate the correct answer, then get their head back in the game.

Where to put gold on your team to wins fights

At its most base level, a fight is a race to eliminate health bars. The person who still has health left in the end, wins. Sounds simple. There are many nuances to what it means and how fights are won, but this is the essence of a fight.

There are really only two components in this race: the rate you do damage and the rate you take damage.

Damage Mitigation

You have a finite amount of health, and damage mitigation is simply reducing the rate at which you are hurt. There are multiple ways that you can reduce the rate you take damage.

Health

Everybody has a different amount of health, and we don’t care so much about how many points of damage you take but the percentage of your health you lose per second. Having more heath means that your opponent will do a smaller percentage of your total health in a given hit.

Unfortunately, health is an expensive stat that costs roughly twice as much as armor or magic resist. For a team, this is one of the least efficient means of winning a fight.

Armor/Magic Resist

A single point of armor or magic will increase your effective health by 1% against a specific type of damage. This is amazingly powerful, but has two nuances: 1. you need to have health and 2. it is only good against a specific type of damage. If you are a tank, the general wisdom is to spend half of your month on health, then a quarter on magic resist and a quarter on armor. This is the most cost effective means of amplifying your health to maximum potential, but it is predicated on having health which is expensive. As a means of gold spent to mitigate damage, it is still not the most effective for a team.

Crowd Control

You take zero damage per second for each second an opponent can’t do damage. Sounds like crazy simple math. Here is what is interesting about crowd control in League of Legends: it doesn’t scale with gold. Yes, you can buy cool down reduction to do it more often, but most engagements are so short that you can rarely use crowd control more than once in a fight. This is one of the primary reasons that supports are usually champions with a huge amount of crowd control abilities — because you don’t have to give them gold and yet they can help mitigate a tremendous amount of damage by using their abilities.

Many of the most potent crowd control abilities, unfortunately, require that you put yourself in harms way by being in close range. This often means that if you fail to lock up your opponents, you may need other forms of mitigation to escape the opposing team’s damage. (Like health, armor, or magic resist.)

A second issue with crowd control is that it lasts for a limited duration. No amount of cool downs will generally allow you to lock down opponents indefinitely. You might be able to stack crowd control with other people on your team, but eventually it will wear off and to maximize your use of it, your team must be doing damage in this time.

In the race of who is doing damage faster, this is one of the most cost effective ways of reducing an opponent’s rate of damage to zero. Not just some percentage of damage, but no damage at all.

Positioning

I just finished saying how great crowd control is and how cost effective it is. There is a second really amazing form of damage reduction. An opponent does no damage while not taking shots, of course, but you can’t control what shots they take beyond staying out of range: so the next best thing is they do no damage for every shot they miss.

Positioning is aided by movement speed and abilities that allow repositioning or give you extra range. It requires knowledge of opposing champions, their range, and the ability to anticipate their attempts to do damage so you can avoid them.

If you have longer range, you can also do damage without them being able to do damage back. You simply have to make sure to maintain that range as they attempt to come your direction.

Positioning tends to be dirt cheap (boots or cool down items to activate dash-like abilities), but takes a tremendous amount of skill and timing.

Life gain

Stealing life and healing is not damage mitigation directly, but it reduces the rate at which your health bar is going down per second and that’s a key part of the race. Many effective damage items happen to also offer some form of life gain.

Summary of Damage Mitigation

The cheapest and most cost effective damage mitigation is positioning and crowd control. They cost virtually nothing or very little, and allow you to take little or no damage at all. Life gain is often done through abilities or through items that also do damage.

Damage

There are three types of damage in a fight: burst, area of effect, and steady. Through the use of items or abilities, some champions have the ability to quickly do huge amounts of damage to a single target. Area of effect damage is merely damage that impacts multiple targets and has a very high “damage per second”, but that damage is spread out over many targets and is unfocussed. Steady damage is the damage done by auto attacks and has very few spikes (with Critical hits being the only real spike damage and by late game you’ll critically hit with most shots if this is the type of champion you are playing.) Steady damage can by high, but may give opponents time to react so they can either use crowd control or burst you down.

All three types of damage require items — either to reduce cool downs or to increase ability power, critical hit chance/damage, attack speed, or attack damage.

The goal of area of effect champions is to soften up targets before an engagement and create a favorable fight. The goal of burst damage is, once the fight has started, to spend all of your cool-downs quickly and eliminate your opposing steady damage dealers, while your steady damage dealers wear down their more durable champions that a burst damage dealer would not be able to take out.

Cost analysis

Damage requires items and damage mitigation can be done with fewer or no items. So, the general wisdom is to first put money into the damage dealers, as defensive stats are generally about surviving engagements, not winning them.

Get your roam on

A Silver player will either win his lane and press his advantage, or if they are losing their lane, they will avoid feeding and giving up more than they have to.

One of the most notable difference between a Gold and Silver though, is that a Gold player will extend his advantage beyond his lane. When a gold player gets ahead, they don’t just stay in that lane pressing their advantage, but move to other lanes and get those lanes ahead as well — starting with a lane that is already winning, but getting it further ahead.

If you are wondering, a Bronze player might win his lane against a weaker opponent and might push his advantage without ever helping another lane, but when losing, he will try to force fights and die repeatedly.

Four simple guidelines for winning more

1. Stop worrying about kills and start worrying about objectives.

You are looking at me doubtfully.

Kills happen when you have an advantage and people don’t get out of your way on the way to taking objectives. Stop chasing people and stop seeking out fights. Everybody forgets the goal of the game from time to time: destroy the nexus. It is not: get as many kills as possible.

Yes, it is fun to duel, but you could win the game without fighting a single person. Don’t believe me? Make a custom game with no opponents. The game will end when you blow up the nexus.

I think one of the biggest mistakes people make is that they become impatient and try to force fights. Nearly ever single major mistake I’ve ever witnessed in any game is likely because somebody became impatient and tried to fight when they should have backed off. I’m not saying that you should never fight, but make sure you have a clear advantage before you do. Patience is the right move nearly every time. Yes, I have made and seen other mistakes, but most of those were recoverable or took place after they had already gotten themselves killed a few times.

2. Build small advantages every moment.

Whether it is getting last hits on monsters and minions or taking down towers, you should always be getting more gold and spending it on items that make you stronger than your opponents. What is more, taking down towers also gives you more control over sections of the map. Even though I’m saying that you shouldn’t seek out fights, they are going to happen and by having a gold, vision, and tower superiority, you’ll be in a better position to win fights that break out.

3. Be aware and share.

Always keep tabs on the mini map and be aware of enemy movements, then be sure to communicate what you see to your allies. Even a simple ping may be enough to help others notice, too. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen fights break out and an ally is not more than a quarter screen away and they have no clue it is going on. Ping them and then ping your plight.

4. Practice.

There’s no way around it. If you don’t practice, you won’t get better. Learn a few champs exceptionally well, and play all champions at least a few times. No excuses about not having IP, either. Free campions rotate in all of the time. Play them and get to know how they work and how they are beat. You don’t have to play every champion often, but at least once or twice. Focus on really mastering a few champions that work well for the roles you like to play.

 

Erik’s Tips: Playing from behind

I have seen this way, way too much in the past two weeks.

Your team gets behind — probably because of unwarranted early aggression on your part — and now you are trying to get back into the game.

The first rule of being behind: don’t die again.

If your opponent’s won the last fight and you haven’t done anything to get ahead of them in gold, then there is a good chance that they’ll win the next fight. I get so frustrated when people die in lane and then try to get back into the game by fighting more.

If you die when you and your opponent both have 1000 gold in items, when you come back to lane, they’ll have 1300-1500 gold because they picked up gold from killing you and they picked up minions. They also were getting xp and levels while you were gone. Even if they didn’t spend the gold, the xp alone is probably enough to be concerning.

The second rule of being behind: farm.

Get every ounce of CS that you can manage without dying or losing towers. If they keep farming at the same rate of you, then you’ll stay the same distance behind — however, the percentage behind that you are will shrink.

Let’s look at the math.

In our example, you die and now they have 1500 gold to your 1000 gold. That’s a 50% lead.

If you keep farming minions for gold for awhile and you each get 1000 more gold, it will now by 2500 to 2000, which is only a 25% lead.

Just keeping up in farm evenly will let you catch up in a comparative sense. As the game gets later, 500 gold will be less important. If you keep dying, that lead will get out of control. They will pick up cs faster, zone you from getting more cs, and take towers. Growing a lead that you cannot close.

The third rule of being behind is: seize opportunities.

You don’t want to spend your time waiting in bushes because you need to be farming, but if you can catch an opponent out while they are in transition in a 2v1, then killing them will help you get back in the game. Picks become a very real way of getting back into the game.

Avoid fair fights, but don’t hesitate to kill opponents who get arrogant and don’t show respect by walking brazenly through your jungle alone or just trying to seize your tower by themselves.

If you can’t beat somebody in a 2v1, then they are likely so much more skilled than you or have such a massive advantage that there’s little hope in winning. I’m sorry. I’d like to offer hope, but you probably need to resign this game and move on to the next rather than waste your time being frustrated in a match you can’t win. In low elo, people get cocky and do stupid stuff. You might just win a fight here or there by them being dumb, but they probably will only make one big mistake and if that isn’t enough for you to push and win, then you’ll probably still lose. I don’t want to be a downer. Just learn from the experience and move on.

 

Passive aggressive laning

When I’m top lane, one of the best ways to win in Bronze and Silver is to be patient. Carefully last hit and avoid dueling. Chances are, your opponent will get antsy and want to aggress on you. Back off when they get even close to in range of you. Their aggression will eventually get the best of them and they go in and engage you in your minion line where you have the advantage.

As long as you are getting xp, you don’t have to worry too much about losing a few cs here and there in lower elo. Chances are, they are missing a ton, too.

When they do go in and you have your whole minion wave beating on them, you’ll be in a position to decide to kill them or stick under tower, depending on how well you think the fight will go.

I am very accustom to winning my lane and mostly, I do it with patience. Until I get my first two or three kills, I simply snatch my easy cs as best I can without taking damage and without pushing my lane (there are exceptions — if your jungler is invading, you need to push your lane, just don’t die in the process.)

In low elo, CS and not dying are so much more important than kills. Kills will happen — and lots of them, if you are patient. Starting players assume that the kills come first, but they are actually the result of a carefully cultivated early game.

You need to know your match-ups. If you have an advantage, you can be more aggressive in getting your CS, but worry about your getting the easy gold more than fighting. Punish them for getting to close. If you are in a bad match-up, just try to stay close enough to get your xp and avoid dying. You can’t get back into the game and be useful by feeding your opponent and dying.