Your elo is an attempt by riot to assign an arbitrary numerical value to your overall skill and knowledge of this game.
This value is used to rank you RELATIVE to all other players. RELATIVE is important, because your elo is not guaranteed to go up or down if the pool of players in your elo range change at the same pace you do. However, your elo is also not guaranteed to stay the same if you plateau and players around you change. As we've seen with the top players, elo will inflate slightly near the highest rankings.
Here's the important thing that applies to all players, elo is not equivalently significant across all ranges. Having 10 more elo than somebody is not significant at all, having 100 more elo than somebody is only significant depending on the actual number of the higher and lower and the number of players within that range.
Now the biggest thing - your elo is attached to a RANKING which tells you where you're elo stands within the total pool of players. So I want you to took a quick look at what elo means in terms of where you actually stand compared to your fellow lolers.
Key thing to note is that at the time you see this post - ratings and rankings may have changed; which means that you see when you click the link may not exactly match what I will describe under the link. This is due to the ever changing nature of everyone's elo and the total elo distribution.
This page shows 25 players who have played at least 40 ranked matches - they are rated 1236. The lowest ranking on the page is 64675. If you look at the pages in front and behind this one - they are are almost all filled with more 1236 ratings. The highest ranked 1236 rating is rank 64502. Which means hundreds of 1236 players are virtually tied for rank 64502.
My rating is 1457, which leaves me as one of the hundreds of players who are tired for rank 7978.
Moving up 221 elo points moves you up to top 8000 from 64,000, which is over 56,000 players.
My target elo is 1800, the currently lowest ranked 1800 elo is 435.
Moving up 350 elo points from where I stand would only put me over 7500 players.
Currently there are 67 players with over 2k elo. So the 200 elo disparity between 2k and 1800 only weeds out another ~370 players.
So what exactly does this all mean?
For one, the range of elo between two people is just as important as the the actual difference in elo in considering the difference in skill between them. Comparing 1300 rating to 1200 rating compares a MASSIVE group of players in relation to comparing a 1900 player to an 1800 player.
In order to rise in elo you must win more games than you lose - which generally equates to being better than the others in your elo range. As your elo rises; the pool of players you need to be better than decreases - and the skill level increases. This makes being better than the mean gets increasingly harder. But you should know that already.
The main point I want to get at is this; the number of players that exist within a particular range shrinks DRAMATICALLY. 1450+ elo represents about 12% of the players who are even above 1230. Many many more players lie below the 1200 line.
You don't find <1200 elo's on the ratings pages for obvious reasons; theres a TON of them. The LoL ladder pages only cover ~82,000 players, all of whom above 1200, there are a lot more ranked players in the US than 82,000. Riot has said themselves that most players fall under the 1200 line, which means playing at (which is different from actually being at) a 1200 level puts you in the minority.
I see a lot of people on forums casually estimate that 1300 is supposed to be an "average" elo, people who claim to be stuck in elo hell when they "deserve" to be 1500. Know this, on a curved distribution of players, 1300 elo is actually above average right now, and 1500 elo is GREAT. It's easy not to realize this because the MM system does match you with people close to your rating, and you'll rarely see those people who are extremely more or less skilled than you. LoL is a very snowbally game, and it's easy to have a poor game become terrible, and for a good game to seem like an epic roll, but because you play within a skill pool consistently you are likely to realize what average, good, and great levels of play are within the scope of all players - because you will base your judgment on what you experience most often.
tl;dr PLEASE, when you talk about elo scores - remember that the value of a range CHANGES, and remember that 1300+ are actually above the mean of players and making 1500+ elo is a small minority of players RELATIVE to the entire pool of players.
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