Erik’s Tips: Betrayed by Determination

Determination is great when it is the driving force that helps you practice more or not giving up, but there are times when determination can be detrimental to your game.

Let’s look through a few examples:

I’m going to build…

You have 2 of the components needed to build a really powerful item once you have 1,000 more gold… that you don’t need right now.

Not long after we start playing the game, we learn that cheep items are combined to make more powerful items, and that the combined items give us more power for the gold invested in them than their components. Items are usually categorized as tier 1, 2, and 3. Where tier 1 items are build without any prerequisites, tier 2 items either merge two tier 1 items or upgrade a tier 1 item, and tier 3 items upgrade a tier 2 item and often combine it with other tier 1 or tier 2 items.

For example, the Long Sword is tier 1 and can be combined with a Ruby Crystal to make a phage which is tier 2, that Phage can be combined with a Sheen and a Zeal (other tier 2 items) to make a Trinity Force, which is a tier 3 item.

This is important to know because having a bunch of tier 1 and 2 items is generally very gold inefficient for the power you receive. We have this so ingrained in our head though that there are times we need to stop building what we are building and adapt to our opponents.

For example, you buy a Giant’s Belt with the intent of making a Sunfire Cape when there is a lane swap and instead of duking it out with Reneketon, you are now laning against Vlad.  The determined player will buy the Chainmail vest next, unwilling to let another player distract them from their goal when the right defensive choice might be a Negatron Cloak.

Even in the last week, I can think of many examples where I was determined to build an item that I had started, when I needed a completely different item for the situation. Maybe you were building an offensive item when you realize you need more health to survive fights, or maybe you need a Quicksilver Sash to remove Nasus’ wither so you can dart past him to the enemy team’s back line — or kite him. Maybe you need more flat damage so his attack speed debuff doesn’t have as much impact. Whatever it is that you think you really need, that’s what you need to do.

Whatever it is that you need to build for the situation, it is important to consider before any purchase what you really need right now.

Don’t spend gold without asking yourself: what do I need right now?

Maybe you need Tenacity, or more flat damage, or magic resist, or health… whatever it is. Sometimes you have to wait to finish items to adapt to the current situation.  This is a reason that looking at Mobafire or the latest LCS game for items to build is generally a bad idea once you are in game. It is fine to look ahead of time to get a sense of what items synergize with your champion, but once you are in the game, build what the situation really needs. Build items for your roll on the team — offensive or defense — but have enough of what you need to be effective.

A final note on building items: if you find yourself often holding tier 1 or 2 items because you had to switch what you were building, maybe you aren’t doing a good job anticipating what you will really need in a given matchup. Learn from this so that you can try to finish the right items in the right order and get to the tier 3 items efficiently — because they generally are the most efficient items to build.

I’m going to kill…

All tower dives and chases through the jungle start with the determination to finish somebody off. “Oh, no! You are NOT getting away from me.”

Generally those are the last words you say before you die and your team loses the game.

We tend to overvalue kills and we also tend to feel entitled to them. People who are at 100 health need to be killed — or that’s what we are thinking.

At low elos we quickly learn that chasing is bad, that tower diving is bad, and that… effing Teemo must die!!! Sorry. Lost track of what I was saying. Oh yeah, sometimes we let our hothead and frustration overtake our good senses and we lose the game.

Self-control and patience wins games. Don’t dive towers just because somebody is at 200 health. You’re taking a risk that is stupid. They need to go back to base and you might be able to get the turret or take other objectives. Let them leave without letting your lust for blood get the best of you.

Personally, I’ve had three really regrettable tower dives this week. I know better. As you increase in skill, so will your opponents and they will be better about baiting the tower dive. Sure, sometimes they’ll work, but sometimes there are 4 effing teemo mushrooms under that tower and a jungler waiting in the bush. He will laugh at you, even if you get the kill — because he knows that it will incite you to dive him again and again and more often than not, you are going to fail those dives — and more importantly, even if you get the kill, you will be too hurt to get the objective.

I’m going to get that one, last minion…

How many times have you been split pushing and realize that your allies stopped putting pressure on the other lane twenty seconds ago… and then you decide your going to just kill this one, last minion before going back. Only to have the entire enemy team jump on your face and kill you.

Pushing lanes only works if you have good vision and your allies are exerting pressure in other lanes. The 26 gold for that melee creep isn’t worth it. When you realize that your team just compromised your position, you need to get out of there immediately. Don’t be greedy.

Conclusion

There is a line between determination and greed. Somewhere along that line is lust and insanity. You need to control your impulse to take more than is safe to take.

Risks are a natural part of the game, but you want to take good, calculated risks. The high-percentage shots, if you will. Emotional override inhibits your good judgement and will hinder your win-loss record.

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