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.

Erik’s Tips: Bait

When you first start playing, you are oblivious to what your teammates are doing, but as you get better and become more assertive in your play, you realize the importance of coordinated engagements.

If somebody on your team jumps into a fight, there is no time for debate or discussion, they saw an opportunity and seized it. If you don’t follow up, they might die or the opportunity will be lost.

Eventually, you become conditioned to stick with your allies and trust that if you dive in, they’ll come too and the other way around. And for the most part, this is very good because there really isn’t time to discuss things and, on the whole, you’ll win more.

Yes, I know that sometimes it isn’t going to work out. Sometimes, you’ll dive in and nobody will go with you and you’ll die. Or sometimes, an ally will dive in and you can’t follow up.

As a beginner, you can never count on anybody following up on your engagements. You’ll constantly be disappointed if you do. When playing with friends or more skilled players, you’ll find that, more often than not, they’ll follow you step for step.

The problem is, sometimes we all make bad calls and engage when we shouldn’t. It happens and your allies will die with you and blame you for baiting them. Simply because they are conditioned to follow up on engagements.

The foundation of team play is trust. If you engage, I follow. If I engage, you follow.  When anybody engages (whether it is a good choice or not) and their allies don’t follow, they lose trust in their allies and become hesitant to engage in the future. If you initiate multiple bad engagements, the same thing happens… your allies stop trusting your judgement and stop following you.

I think it is the onus of everybody to communicate their intentions as quickly as they can (when possible) through pings.  If you plan on backing up or are afraid an ally might engage and shouldn’t, then ping a warning. If you are going to engage ping a target.

On the whole, I think it is better for team coordination to follow a bad engage than let them die alone because games are won with engagements, not by passively waiting. If an ally picks a bad engage, you don’t need to tell them. They’ll probably know they screwed up and bickering about it in game won’t help. Sometimes you win bad engages simply by being coordinated.  You also need to take responsibility for your ally’s bad engagement — you didn’t ping a warning that this was a bad time to jump in.

You can’t control others, but you can improve communication of your own intentions and build trust with your allies.

Don’t blame.  Personally own the entire team’s mistakes and share the entire team’s victories.

Mistakes happen less often and engagements are better when everybody is communicating. Even when you are on Skype or Team Speak, the most efficient means of communicating are pings. Learn to use the smart pings, especially the target and warning alerts.


Breaking a loosing streak

Having a bad week? Here are some of my thoughts on how to turn that frown upside down and get back to winning. In the comments, be sure to tell me what you think and what you do when you are having a rough time.

  • Take a break from ranked and play some ARAM or Dominion Games. Personally, I find ARAMs to be relaxing, and no pressure. Everybody is bad with their campions and it really doesn’t matter if you win.
  • Find a new champion and learn them (in normal games.) By learning a new champion, you focus less on trying hard to win and more on learning the mechanics and nuances of the champion. If you are like me, you’ll play safer and won’t be as hard on yourself about mistakes because you know you are just learning that champion.
  • See a movie. Step away from the game for a week and do other things. When you come back, you’ll be fresh and ready to play again. Pushing through a losing streak by force of will can sometimes just make it worse. The harder you try, the more you lose. It’s tough to tune your play — either you lose because you are too timid and afraid to make plays or too aggressive and chasing into death traps. Time away will give you a chance to recalibrate. It’s like riding a bike and you’ll be doing good again in no time.

What do you do when you are on a losing streak?



Coming changes to Lich Bane in the 4.4 patch

There are a lot of interesting changes in the 4.4 patch. Elise is nerfed, Kassadin “reworked”, Annie does less damage as support, Vi’s Vault Breaker requires building some AD to get the same effect, and then a slew of changes around Lich Bane — including buffing the only 4 champions that they deem use the item.

I’m ok with the change, but when was the last time you thought, “Gee, Diana is really getting out of hand in my ranked games?”

Diana, Ezreal, Twisted Fate, and Fizz were the four champions doing too much damage with Lich Bane, but all four barely see competitive play. Fizz saw some play at the start of  Season 4, but has disappeared since. Ezreal is still played competitively, but not with a Lich Bane that I noticed.

So, while the change itself seems fine. I’m unconvinced that this was a pressing need.

I’d rather that the balance team focussed on reigning in Kha’zix who is picked or banned in every single one of my games and is frustrating to play against. You could argue that I’m “just not doing it right”, but I’m not even saying that I’m losing all of my games against him. I’m saying that he has a massive impact on every game he is in. He’s similar to Kassadin, in that he jumps on people’s faces and instantly destroys anybody he lands on, then jumps on somebody else. Even when you aren’t isolated, he’s a serious threat if you are squishy. If you are in lane and a jungle Kha’zix jumps on you after he comes out of invisibility, he kills the minions near you instantly, snares you, and makes you flash. Then, he’ll come back again in thirty seconds to kill you. Compared to Kha’zix, a Vi gank is a treat. Vi will dash-flash into lane and then ult you. If you are squishy, you’ll die, if you are durable with any escape tools, you might get away. The fact that Vi’s ganks are most successful when she has flash up makes it less absurd than a Kha’zix’s gank where he technically doesn’t need anything but a jump, though he benefits most from having his ultimate up. His damage for non-isolated champions and his aoe damage really need a nerf, but I digress. We should really look at the champions who will be changing.

Instead of doing 50 damage + 75% of your AP damage on your next auto attack after an ability activation, it will now do 75% of your AD damage + %50 of your AP damage. Of the changed champions who now have abilities that scale better off of AP, only Ezreal would plausibly build AD, and that would include the Trinity Force, which also has the unique passive “Spell Blade.” So, we need to know how spell blade stacks:

From wiki: In the event you own multiple spellblade items, only one attack bonus applies, to which the order of priority is: Lich Bane, Trinity Force, Iceborn Gauntlet and Sheen.

So, Trinity Force users can get the Lich Bane proc with the stats of Trinity Force. This seems to be a great damage buff to Ezreal. (I haven’t run the numbers, yet.)

Every single time that Riot adds both AD and AP ratios to a champion or item, it is abused, so let’s look at champions who suddenly benefit from it… heck, let’s just look at Jax. Blade of the Ruined King into Gunblade, Trinity Force, and Lich Bane. Will this be a new thing?

I don’t know, but I do know that Riot is constantly caught off guard when they add multiple ratio types to items and abilities. Time will tell if Jax becomes stupid powerful, or remains on the fringes of viability. Maybe this change is totally fine and good. I can’t be sure yet.

Tutorial Videos

I plan to move these over to the blog when I can, but in the meanwhile, enjoy some tutorial videos from this week:

Best League Blog NA ~ Singed Tutorial

Best League Blog NA ~ Teemo (The Devil Himself) Tutorial

Best League Blog NA ~ Wukong Tutorial

Best League Blog Na ~ Shyvana Tutorial

I recommend that you watch them all, and watch them in order. I give advice not just on playing the champions but also other general play advice that may help you play any champion.

Enjoy and good luck!


The retirement of Mundo

With the recent nerfs to Doran’s shield (100 bonus health down to 80 bonus health and 10 health per 5 seconds down to 6 health per 5 seconds) and to the defensive mastery Perseverance being slowly nerved from 3% to 1% (at max rank), being a tank in the top lane is getting harder.

Renekton is still thriving as a tank that relies partially on his ability to life steal more than regenerate or have a huge health pool.

Shyvana was already struggling early game against Renekton, but continues to do fine late game despite the changes as long as she can avoid getting too far behind.

Trundle has shown himself to be a great counter to Renekton, but less effective against Shyvana. He isn’t reliant on health regen or massive health stacking, so he is the most indifferent to the changes to regeneration.

Mundo… a champion that didn’t quite fit the meta as an aggressive, early game domination machine is finally about to see early retirement. He was played simply because of how amazingly broken he was late game due to the defensive mastery tree, despite his otherwise lack of synergy in the general game plan of lane dominance. I don’t think that he is horrible, but he’s become mediocre or average in a role that he doesn’t fill well.

I don’t know that we’ll see full carry-style top laners make a comeback, because teams still need tanks and the carry junglers seem to be a vital part of the current meta. I’m not saying that top lane Aatrox or Jax is bad in lane, it is just not as good for the rest of the team when they have a tanky jungler that is getting invaded and influencing the other lanes less.

Shen, the ever dominant top laner from seasons past, seems forgotten in the current meta of early game champs. I think that he is still viable and good, but he’s still a late game champion who is likely to lose his tower early and possibly put his team behind. However, his impact on other lanes in the mid game and ability to split push late game should not be overlooked. The nerf to Doran’s Shield does make his return unlikely to high level play, but I think he’d still be good in lower elo where games tend to go very late.


Erik’s Tips: Health and resistances

Don’t groan, but today we’re going to do a little math.

I said, “Don’t groan!”

Fine. Groan a little, but this may help you play a video game so pay attention, or just skip to the bottom of the article where I give you my conclusions and you can just trust that my math is infallible. (Which it must be, right?)

Math (ignore if you are lazy or really trusting)

We’re going to look at the concept of Effective Health.

Everybody has health, it’s a little green bar at the bottom of your screen. When you run out of it, you die. Effective Health is the idea that resistances (armor or magic) amplify the potency of your health.

A simple example:

You have 500 health, 30 armor, and 30 magic resist. That person has 650 effective physical and magical health.

Every geek just screamed out in agony, “What’s the formula?!”

It is rather simple:

health x (1+ (resistance type/100)) = effective health against that type of damage

In my sneaky example, the champion had the same amount of magic resist and armor, but now that you know the math, you quickly realize that in real life you will likely have more armor or magic resist, so your effective health varies depending on the type of damage you are taking. What is more, True Damage ignores resistances completely.

If you reach 100 points in armor, you just doubled your health against physical damage. The same is true of magic resist against magic damage.

If you could have as many items as you’d like and money didn’t matter to you, you could reach a high effective health any way that you wanted. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

We need to spend our money effectively to achieve our desired level of durability, using as few equipment slots as possible.

If we assume that your opponents do roughly an equal amount of magic damage and physical damage, let’s do some math with tier 1 items:

  • A Giant’s Belt is 380 health for 1,000 gold.
  • A Chain Vest is 40 armor for 720 gold.
  • A Negatron Cloak is 40 magic resist for 720 gold.

If we have 3 item slots and 1035 base health there are many possibilities, but I’m going to cover a few big ones:

  • 3 Giant’s Belts give us 2,175 Effective health for 3,000 gold (0.73 cost efficiency)
  • One of each gives us 1,829 Effective Health for 2440 gold (0.75 cost efficiency)
  • Three Chain Vests gives us 2,277 Effective Health against Physical damage and 1,035 Effective Health against Magic damage with a 1,656 average Effective Health for 2,160 gold (0.77 cost efficiency)

Stacking just armor or just magic resist has a great cost efficiency — you get the most effective health per gold you spend — but also has the lowest average effective health for using three slots.

Stacking all health gives the most effective health that three slots can use with tier 1 items, but is the least cost effective.

Balancing health, armor, and magic resist gave us a moderate amount of average effective health at a moderate cost effectiveness.

In real life, it is highly unlikely that a team will do perfectly 50% magic damage or 50% physical damage. It is also unlikely that the magic doing spell caster is going to ignore the fact that you built all armor and not hit you more often than other targets, as much as it is unlikely that the champions doing physical damage will prefer you over squishier targets.

Let’s quick look at a champion with 2,000 health and four tier three defensive items (let’s assume that they have boots and one offensive item.)

Example item options might be:

  • Warmogs is 1,000 health
  • Thornmail is 100 armor
  • Randuin’s is 500 health and 70 armor
  • Sunfire Cape is 450 health and 45 armor
  • Spirit Visage is 400 health and 55 magic resist
  • Banshee’s Veil is 450 health and 55 magic resist

I’m glossing over cost effectiveness for these items because these items do more than just give resistances and health, but other important effects that would require calculations beyond the scope of this article.

Let’s look at two obvious options:

  • Randuin’s, Sunfire, Spirit Visage, and Banshee’s Veil is 1800 health, 115 armor and 110 magic resist and an effective health of 8,075.
  • Four Warmogs is 4,000 health for an effective health of 6,000 (remember that we had 2,000 base health in this example.)

I think that it would be unwise to stack only magic resist or only armor, but against teams that only did physical damage and no thought toward how you are ignoring the unique passives of these items (read: don’t do any of these things in real life):

  • Four Thornmail is 400 armor for an effective health of 10,000 health against physical damage (base health was 2,000.)
  • 2x Thornmail, Randuin, and Sunfire for 950 health and 315 armor for an effective health of 12,242 against physical damage
  • 2 Thornmail and 2 Warmogs is 2,000 health and 200 armor for 12,000 effective health against physical damage

You can see that the items that give both health and armor actually help considerably more than just stacking armor or just stacking health.

Side Note: Having less actual health while having a high effective health actually increases the effectiveness of healing.

If you have 500 health, but through armor and magic resistances have 650 effective health, you can be fully healed from 1 health to full health for 499 points of healing. However, if you have no resistances and have 650 points of actual and effective health, you need 649 points of healing to get to full from 1 health.

There are certain champions that heal based on the amount of health that they have and certain items (like Warmogs) that heal on a percentage bases. However most items do not heal a percentage amount.

What you need to know (skip to here if you trust my math)

A safe bet against a balanced team is to spend roughly half of your money on health and then divide the rest of your budget between armor and magic resist.

If an enemy team does more of one type of damage (physical or magic) then get more of the appropriate resistance (armor or magic), but it is still important to have bonus health so that your resistances have something to multiply.

Early game, if the enemy jungler and the person you are laning against do primarily the same type of damage, you might consider buying the appropriate resistance before health. Otherwise, you might consider buying health before resistances.

For the math indifferent: Always get a mixture of health and resistances to maximize your potential durability.

For the math conscious: Roughly 30 points on your health bar for every 2 points resistances seems like a good rule-of-thumb ratio to be cost effective and utilize your limited slots effectively.