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Seizing the Fourth Digit: Playing Your Way Out of Elo Hell

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MathMage

Senior Member

11-14-2010

First of all, I've written about this before (http://www.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=322639). Twice (http://www.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?p=3842108#post3842108). Those may be useful to you. They are sufficient introduction, so I'll plunge right into the meat of the post.

Before game: Get good with at least one champion in every role, preferably two or three (especially if one is a common ban--don't expect to get Amumu often). Fill your rune pages. Memorize your masteries so you don't risk running out of time putting them together. Make sure you aren't about to be distracted--leaving sucks, and leavers suck. Don't be one even by necessity.

Champion selection: Remember the anatomy of a balanced team comp. The priorities, in order, are DPS, beef, disables, heals, and nukes. Balance physical and magic damage, ranged and melee; get a jungler, solo top, solo mid, and strong duo; balance laning, pushing, and teamfighting. Pick what you're good at; pick for team comp; pick for lane combinations; counterpick the enemy comp (in that order). Pick what gets you wins--not kills, anyone can get kills, they don't raise your Elo. Stereotypical comp is ranged carry, AP carry, tank, beefy DPS, and support--you can build other ways and win, but this is what you'll face most often.

Early game: Guard the jungler before minions spawn--you can try harassing theirs if they've got one, but only if you know what you're doing. Do damage control for weak starters with lane switches, advice on tower hugging, and ganks in any pushed lane. Focus on getting a tower down and keeping your towers up--it's 10x more important than first dragon in low Elo. Last hit, last hit, last hit. Measured aggression is the key: seize opportunities, but remember that your first job is to stay alive and get that creep score up. And ward, by all that's holy to you. Get your team to ward. Hit dragon, the river bushes, their buffs and yours, with that priority. At minimum, warding each river and their red buff gives you a solid early game.

Late game: Too often this becomes a constant "group up and push mid" phase, and whoever wins the teamfight wins. Well and good if you've won the early game; but if you're even or, unthinkably, behind, you're playing like this because you have no map awareness. Get those wards down, split up to farm lanes, disappear from whatever lane the enemy hits--or group up and massacre that three-man gank squad with five. Once you have that advantage, use it--grab towers, clear the enemy jungle, farm up baron or dragon. Hit tab or O and know how many enemies are up. Then you melt back into farm mode--don't overextend and get yourself slaughtered and counter-pushed, that's one way you lose the advantage and the game. The other way is to let the other team get a free Baron, so don't just farm bottom lane when it's up, because you're forcing your team to fight 4v5. Build some survivability, even just a Negatron Cloak against the Kassadin that's carrying the other team. Positioning, positioning, positioning; know your place, your role, your kill order, and your escape route. Backdoor (with an appropriate champion) if the enemy team is distracted with something other than your inhibitors and nexus turrets.

After the game: Take measures to avoid any trolls you encountered; either ignore them, or friend them and avoid queuing up when they're queued. Think back over your game; consider your mistakes ("I didn't make any" is never the correct answer). Remember your best moments as well; you're doing this so you can play like that all the time, not so you can drown in self-deprecation. Take a break. Come back confident.

Deliberately cut the rager mentality out of your mindset. There's simply no reason to rage. Ever.

If you're playing for fun, realize that raging impedes your fun more than bad teammates ever could. Remember the times when you were awesome; forget whether you ended up with a victory or defeat. Laugh at the people who throw insults, who rage so hard, who emotionally invest themselves in the game. They are ruining their own fun in a game about having fun.

If you're playing to win, realize that raging is just another obstacle to victory along with bad teammates. Remember to analyze and improve your own play; forget about teammates' mistakes when you cannot reverse them. Laugh at the people who throw insults, who rage so hard, who emotionally invest themselves in the game. They are ruining their chances in a game about achieving victory.

"But, MathMage," you say, "I already know how to play this game. I'm good, but I can't get to where I should be because I keep getting bad teams. What I want to know is, who do I choose to carry my team out of low Elo?" Well, fine, I'll grant that you can get away with 'maining' a champ to get out of low Elo. But the stereotypical notion of 'carrying' a low-Elo game is bunk. The typical mentality is that you'll make up for your teammates feeding by stomping all the harder on your foes with Tristana or Twitch or whoever. That "win despite my team" mindset causes losses. The way to make up for feeding teammates is to help them stop feeding; else, you'll be one fed player facing four fed opponents late-game and you'll lose. You need to get yourself ahead early, use that to get the entire team ahead, and snowball to victory. Your focus can't be just "How can I contribute to my team's victory?", but also "How can I help my teammates contribute to our victory?" And this is something that's much more possible in the early game than the late game. Help them help you carry.

Some ways to accomplish this:
1) Play a great laner. Examples: Pantheon, Miss Fortune, Kennen. Getting fed in your lane is 10x easier than trying to farm your way to a late victory. Kills are plentiful at low Elo--get some for yourself! Miss Fortune is an exception to my general "don't play carries" policy because she is just that good, if you know how to use her. Take down the tower early and give your team an irrevocable map control edge. Push them so you can go gank other lanes or hit up their jungle. You're good, you can do that.

2) Play a great jungle ganker. Examples: Warwick, Fiddlesticks, Shaco. Jungling is the most skill-intensive role on the team early-game; you have to be aware of all lanes, ward the map, compete for dragon, and gank well. If you think you're better than your Elo, you want to take the jungle, and take advantage of that. Giving your team the XP/gold advantage is great--not many junglers in low Elo! Ganking early and often means your team doesn't have time to feed; it also establishes you as the leader. This is how you make the carry effect outweigh the feeder effect, people. Even if towers >>> dragon, you can get dragon earlier and with less caution than at high Elo; low-Elo players don't ward dragon early (or river, which is why ganking is so bloody easy). If you can keep your laners from pushing into their towers all the time, you will get those kills. And then you can get their tower, and get help with dragon. Sweet!

3) Play a great independent tank. Examples: Rammus, Gragas, Udyr--really, any tank whose options extend beyond "Hold them off till Gandalf gets back," because your teammates sure won't be Istari. When your tank is weak, your carries are weakened; you need a successful tank to look beefy and threatening so the DPS can do its job in teamfights. Then, too, when you have great early- and mid-games with a carry, why are you fizzling? Because you weren't pushing hard enough to create a permanent, sustained advantage for your team. 9 times out of 10, that's the case. Who do you get to start the pushing? The tank. Who do you get to start teamfights? The tank. Being the tank makes you the leader during the crucial mid-game phase.

4) Play a great beefy DPS. Examples: Xin Zhao, Vladimir, Sion. This follows essentially the same philosophy as the independent tank. Where the independent tank is concerned with doing enough damage to carry, the beefy DPS counts on player skill to make him a target, which lets him tank damage. In low Elo, these champions basically get an automatic Taunt when they start the fighting--so you get to be a tank-DPS-carry, a whole team in one. Beefy DPS lanes well, tower dives more easily than most low-Elo players expect, and pushes hard--all ingredients for success. I count Vladimir as DPS because he's really a sustained-damage caster with an ult steroid, not a burst caster with a nuke ult.

5) Play a punisher of mistakes. Examples: Twitch, Akali, Eve. After all, mistakes are common at low Elo. Since the point is to get yourself fed early, playing a champion that feeds on player error is a good way to go. Special mention should be made of stealth. Some low-Elo players don't adjust for the possibility of an invisi-gank, and succumb to them readily. Others over-adjust, won't leave base without an Oracle's, die five times because they're underfarmed, and waste thousands of gold. You mess with people's heads just by existing. Credit to Nills, who brought up the subject. (http://www.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?p=4380258#post4380258)

The rules of low Elo champion selection:
1) Good early game
2) Solid damage output
3) Beefy, not squishy
4) Strong pushes

You'll note 'high-tier' isn't anywhere on here. Your skill with a champion matters 100x more than the champion's abstract skill ceiling. And Elementz isn't trying to call the shots at 800 Elo.

Finally, the golden rule of low Elo:
Be the best teammate. Elo Hell is full of people who are convinced that because their teammates are bad, therefore they must win despite their team. Protests of "I won my lane, but we lost the game!" are rampant; people point to their individual scores and ask for justice--as if justice can be applied beyond the implacable record of who won and who lost. If you want to beat these guys, you can't think like them. Choose champions to fit team comps. Communicate constantly. Help other lanes--at least suggest lane switches when things go south. Be supportive.

Will you win every game this way? No. You have leavers, AFKers, ragers, and intentional feeders who screw things up. Your opponents are sometimes good--imagine that. But you will do better. Cohesive teams win more games and suffer fewer leavers. They also have more fun--and that's why you play the game, right?

Never rage. Always communicate. Never overextend. Always ward. And you will find your way to victory.

Some excellent references:
[Guide] Camera's Comprehensive Guide to Escaping ELO Hell (http://www.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=367383), which is everything this guide is x10.
[Learn ****] Why I'm 1800+ and How to Get Here (http://www.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=452151), which is the next step after you don't need this guide anymore, and a fun read to boot.
A simple guide to sight wards (http://www.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=237436), a superb introduction to the most important item you'll ever buy.
League of Legends: Zoning Tutorial (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kxGQ3gWdrM), teaching you what your champion's "zone" is and how to use it.

Some other things I've written (shameless plug--hey, I have to index this stuff somewhere):
Ranked Bill of Rights (http://www.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?p=5777581#post5777581), the basic requirements for a safe, sane, and consensual Ranked experience.
@BR Hate Threads: A Critical Analysis (http://www.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=437768), doing some mythbusting on common arguments for banning Brazilians from the NA server.
@Riot: Dynamizing the Lane (http://www.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=426710), how to make laning something more than farming, and remove the jungler's monopoly on early-game dynamic play.
[Discussion] The Mathematics of Elo Hell (http://www.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?p=4580919#post4580919), an investigation into whether the numbers support Elo Hell, and if so, how to change the numbers.
[Guide] Rammus--Can't Touch This (http://www.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=258919), an epic-length intro to the roly-poly bouncy-ball of doom that terrifies your opponents by raising his hands.
@Riot: Please Remove Smite (?) (http://www.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=355536), a speculative look at how teams might take advantage of a Smiteless jungle.
Elo Hell: Let's Get Something Straight (http://www.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=330211), explaining why Elo Hell is a symptom, not the problem--and how it became the subject of endless QQ anyway.
@Riot: How You Inadvertently Created Elo Hell, and How to Fix It (http://www.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=357528), a melodramatically named examination of Elo deflation and why it matters.
@Riot: Supplement Journal of Justice with Streamed Games (http://www.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=350548), which is just what the title says it is.


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Achillean GG

Senior Member

11-14-2010

This deserves a bump, good insight.


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Zarata

Senior Member

11-14-2010

IF only people had a brain and get this stuff through their head, rather than rank starts:

Me: Any champions you guys want?
Them: *silence*
on 3rd pick, Me: We need a DPS.
Them: i got it. -----> *Ezreal*
Me: .......
"Gangplank, Garen, Swain" and then proceed to lose....


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Siblics

Senior Member

11-14-2010

Quote:
MathMage:


The stereotypical notion of 'carrying' a low-Elo game is bunk. Carries shine late-game; late is exactly when it's hardest to make up for poor teammates.


Learnt this the hard way. Do as well as you want in the laning phase, but past 35+ minutes, all it takes is for a teamfight to go wrong to lose EVERYTHING.


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Swampf0x

Senior Member

11-14-2010

It also helps to have that one guy on the team that can actually hold off a 1v2 lane for six minutes without feeding three kills.

Great insight as always MathMage.


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AGCrew Bloodwolf

Senior Member

11-14-2010

+1 bumped for great justice! And a great thread too!


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xOYQyuqpZHcxpDk2

Senior Member

11-14-2010

2) Play a great jungle ganker.
And watch as your solo lane loses a tower within 2 minutes!

3) Play a great independent tank.
No such thing.

1 & 4 however are great advice, combine the 2 to unlock hidden powers!


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ItsMeBlackSmith

Senior Member

11-14-2010

play a great janna


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Raptamei

Senior Member

11-14-2010

Quote:
MathMage:
The stereotypical notion of 'carrying' a low-Elo game is bunk. Carries shine late-game; late is exactly when it's hardest to make up for poor teammates.


The reasons why you shouldn't play a squishy carry are because everyone else is playing a carry and because your team will never hold the fort while you're farming and will instead get owned a few times and then surrender.

Quote:
MathMage:
1) Play a great laner. Examples: Pantheon, Miss Fortune, Sona. Having the first tower down is 10x bigger than getting the first dragon in low Elo. Getting fed is 10x easier than trying to farm your way to a late victory.


Yeah, but less for the early game advantage but simply to demoralise the other team and inspire your own team. When you have 3 towers down and they have 0, they're likely to just give up.

Also, the point is not so much to have a great laning phase but to avoid having a bad one. If you have to rely on your team to succeed during laning (Poppy, Kassadin) they won't help you and you'll feed a few kills (if you are careful enough not to get killed, your lane partner will get killed instead because either he's unaware that you're useless and charges to his death and/or will call you a noob for being useless)

Quote:
MathMage:
3) Play a great independent tank. Examples: Galio, Rammus, Gragas--really, any tank whose options extend beyond "Hold them off till Gandalf gets back," because your teammates sure won't be Istari.


No. No. No. Don't pick Galio. He's hell to lane against (I have a meki/mp5lvl/clarity build just for this) but his ult is almost always completely wasted. Your team will stand there and watch you do it, then the enemies run away and/or you die. Or they just won't have the reflexes to make use of that 2 second duration ("its just a game dude&quot.

Rammus is much better: he runs into the enemies and stands there. Everyone is tempted to beat on him; if they don't, make them. Then just turtle up, leave your Rammus there and go check the shop or something while your team hesitantly inches forward until they come into firing range.

Quote:
MathMage:
When you have great early- and mid-games, why were you fizzling? Because you weren't pushing hard enough to create a permanent, sustained advantage for your team. 9 times out of 10, that's the case. Who do you get to start the pushing? The tank.


Lack of pushing effort is a huge problem at low elo but tanks don't push (unless they have tremor). If you charge ahead as a tank you'll run into half of their team turtling at the next tower, leaving you with a choice between a stupid fight under their tower or going somewhere else (followed immediately by your team initiating to their doom and calling you a useless tank).

It's much better to play Sivir and when nothing is happening just run off and push a tower.

Quote:
MathMage:
Being the tank makes you the leader during the crucial mid-game phase.


As the tank you're the first person to get called a feeder when things go wrong. Once this happens the team will disintegrate and scatter. But you have little control over whether you feed or not: it depends on whether your team can kill their team while they're bashing on you.

This is why you need a champion with a great laning phase or at least great jungle ganking potential. The magical threshold is 4-0.


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MathMage

Senior Member

11-14-2010

I'll admit that my advice for playing tanks is largely informed by playing Rammus. Generally, having their tower down becomes a matter of ganking into a 5v3 and then just walking up to the tower and starting to beat on it while the opponents flail uselessly at my spiky shell. Perhaps Udyr would be a good choice for this style of play, rather than Galio.

Tanks don't do the bulk of the pushing, but they're the ones who have to go in for a push to work. Master Yi doesn't start that 5v3 next to the tower. Annie doesn't tank it when minions aren't there yet and time is of the essence. It takes a good player to do that, far more than it takes a good player to follow the tank in and DPS to victory. Yes, you'll get blamed when things go wrong. That's what happens when you lead. That's why the tank needs to output some good deeps, like the ones I listed, so you can have some effect on the teamfight beyond initiation. That's why you need to have some effect on teamfights before they happen, too--it's no coincidence that Rammus, Udyr and Gragas are great jungle gankers.

(Disclaimer: I am by no means saying DPS champs don't take skill. Their skill ceiling may be higher than a tank's, in fact. But the skill threshold is lower.)