Friday, January 15, 2016

Beating your Man: Microdecisions in Lane

All right. Season 6 starts in a week. Excited? Good.

Are you ready?

Hope so. Hopefully, you spent the downtime between the ranked seasons to plug the holes in your game, and to try to add more tools to your toolbox, be it more champs to your pool, a new position to play, or a new concept to take advantage of.

If not, well, time to play catch-up, huh?

This one’s going to be a more basic guide. Higher end players will know all this stuff already. But, if you don’t know how to do this, you either must be a jungler or you must be low on the ladder.

That’s right, here, we talk about how to lane.


There’s a lot of players who understand how to play this game well. Unfortunately, just because they can do it doesn’t mean that they can explain it. Performing a skill and teaching a skill are two different tasks, and it’s very possible to be good at one and not the other. After all, those who can do, those who can’t teach, right?

So to start off, I’m going to make up a few terms. As far as I know, there aren’t any official words for any of these concepts, like there is for a jungler attacking a laner (“gank”). But, we need to understand these for any of what I say later to make sense. Maybe someone’s come up with better or more popular names for these, and if so, feel free to post a link in the comments. The key words are in bold.

  • If your champion has a longer auto attack range than your opponent’s champion, you are tall. If the opposite is true, you are short. Jinx is the tallest champion in the game at level 1 (with Q splash), followed by Caitlyn.
  • It doesn’t matter if the difference is small, such as 550 v. 525. The shorter champ can cross the gap while the taller champ is in his attack animation (which he can’t cancel, or he loses the attack damage). But, if the gap is large enough, (75 or more) it matters. The gap itself is called the bubble.
  • If one of your opponent’s creeps is about to die, you must do something, or you’ll lose its gold value. You cannot use your auto attack now and still get the creep for free (no mana no cooldown), because the creep will die before it is available again. This means you are at risk.
  • If no creeps are dying within the time frame of an auto attack, no one is at risk. The lane is idle.
  • If both you and your opponent are at risk at the same time, you have a faceoff. Playing the faceoff correctly will get you very far by itself.
  • In a faceoff, you creeps may not be dying at the same time, one may be dying before the other. If your enemy’s creep will be dying sooner, you are first. If your creep’s dying sooner and your opponent’s auto will be up after taking it before yours will, you are last.
  • In a faceoff, you can choose to take the creep, or attack the opponent while he takes his. Preferring to take the creep is eating grass. A higher priority on hitting the enemy champion is eating meat.
  • There’s a lot of ways to eat meat. Maybe you just land one auto and back off, that’s a single. Feel free to play for the double or triple if you think you can land more autos. If you want the big damage though, you’ll use abilities and autos too, this is a trade. If you get a trade off for free, you’re in great shape.
  • Some are abilities are can only hit one target (Morgana Q), but most can hit more. They can hit the champion, or hit the minions. If they hit both, great! This is an extra.
  • If an ability hits nothing, wasting the cooldown and mana, that’s an airball.
  • Almost every champion maxes one ability over the others. This is their key ability. Also, many champions have an ability to protect themselves; a shield, a dash to dodge skillshots, or some sort of CC. This is their defense.
  • If you have killed all of the enemy minions and yours are advancing unopposed, you don’t have to stay; there’s no gold or xp to be had until more minions arrive. For now, you’re free.
  • If the enemy wave is big and you’re pushed to your own tower, you’re pinned. You have to either stay to get the creeps and hope your opponent doesn’t get too much done, and or leave and lose the gold and experience from the creeps. It’s a bad spot to be in.
  • There is a fixed amount of damage that you can do if you are willing to use everything; all abilities, autos, and even summoners. You can put a number on it. That number is your red line.
  • Similarly, if you’ve got a mana bar, there’s a minimum amount of mana you need to have to use your abilities. The cost of using every ability once in mana is your blue line. Some champions don’t have this though. Katarina, for example, has no mana bar and hence no blue line. All she loses is cooldowns.
  • If you are ever inside the enemy’s red line, or past your own blue line, you’re not able to function; you might as well be playing with your arm tied around your back. You are crippled, and you need to get out of there!
  • In a pairs lane, you have a partner. Imagine a line running between the two of you, as if Kalista’s spear is in play. If this line points towards the opponents, one of you is in front of the other, you’re line astern. If it’s perpendicular you your opponents, you’re side-by-side, line abreast.
  • Also included are the UNSWLOLSOC terms: standing behind your own caster minions is the farming stance. Standing in front of them to be a threat is the trading stance. I’d like to add the zoning stance, when you’re actually ahead of all of your minions. Don’t expect this to happen much unless your opponent is afraid of you.

You might want to alt+d, alt+enter now, to keep this list up in another tab if you’re having trouble remembering them. Hopefully though, they all make enough sense by themselves.

Fortunately, this isn’t going to read like most of my other guides; each section is going to be a lot shorter. As a result, they’ll have one sentence in italics as a TL/DR, and a short explanation after it. As long as you understand these terms though, you can quickly skim the guide and get on with your life.

I’m not going to touch on jungler interaction much, as that’s kind of off topic. This guide will be about beating the man in front of you. Also, some “macro” decisions we’ll skip over, such as when to freeze or when exactly to leave lane. You can search elsewhere on this sub for that easily enough. This one’s about getting down and dirty with your opposite number; not necessarily with mechanics or strategy, we’ve talked about those elsewhere. This will be about micro decisionmaking.

Ready? Here we go.

Remember: at all times, you are playing a human being. He is who you have to beat.

No one cares if this champion or that champion is OP or not. No one cares what build is broken and which one sucks. You’ve got to beat the player in front of you, and that means playing against him. Not his champion, not his runes, and not even your champion. Him.

Avoid airballs at all costs. If you’re going to press a button, it needs to be likely to hit.

Mana aint cheap. You can’t afford to spend it and not get anything in return, unless you literally don’t have any. Even more so, putting that ability on cooldown just shows your opponent that you’re weak until it’s back. As a challenger player at a tournament I organized once said, “this game is so harder when the other guy is actually going to attack me!” Don’t give them the opportunity.

If your opponent gives a cooldown away, especially if it’s his defense, be ready to trade. If you intend to give a cooldown away, do it from safety.

This game is about picking your spots. If the odds are in your favor, get in there. If they’re not, you need to protect yourself. So, when you see your opponent use an ability, trade. For example, Take Ahri who’s maxing Q. Make her miss that key ability with a dodge in the open if you can, or push hard so she uses it on the wave. Once she does, walk forward. Even if she does charm and hit all 3 Ws...the level 1 abilities just won’t hurt that much. But, if you can hit your own key ability along with some other stuff, you’re now ahead.

On the other hand, if you need to start using abilities to prevent yourself from getting pinned, back off and do it Archer-style: just the tip. It’s fine to turn that mana into gold, but it’s not fine to lose HP too. Think ahead, and move to safety if you’re going to use an ability on the wave.

I mentioned some abilities are “defense”, ones that are designed for keeping a champion alive. For example, say Ezreal uses his dash. He’ll have to flash now to make you away! Oh, Yasuo took some incidental damage and now his shield’s up? As soon as that thing goes down, let’s give him some heat!

Try to stay away from your own minions, unless you’re both melee champions.

Airballs are bad, but extras are great. And, if you let your opponent get extras, he’s going to crush you...he’ll have you low and he didn’t miss any gold to get you there! So, keep your distance and be in the open. This way, if he shoots at you, he’s risking a lot more. Maybe you can get him to airball and you can punish him with a trade, or he won’t shoot at you...and you’ll appreciate less pressure.

Even then though, some opponents can’t help themselves. As written here, keep your cursor close to your own feet and use a fast clicking action. you’ll be more prepared to dodge this way, which you can then get in there and trade.

The general rule for pushing is to push just as much as your opponent, then a little more.

Again, we need to beat the *man*. If he’s at 6, you’re at 7. If he’s at 2, you’re at 3. The reason for this is threefold. First, we’ll have more minions than him if it comes to a fight. Second, if we clear the wave out, we’re free and can try to score elsewhere on the map by roaming. But thirdly, we’ll be first if it comes to a faceoff.

In an idle situation, you might want to auto to push, but you should probably not use abilities unless you will get outpushed if you don’t.

I’m seeing many lanes, as high as platinum, where players are butting heads way more often than they should be. They may be up in CS, but it’s 45-35 at 10 mins instead of 80-70, like it should be. Remember, the reason to lane is because there’s gold and experience here, and that’s what we’re here for. I’m not saying to never fight the other fact, I’m about to tell you about how often you should fight the other guy. But, there’s a lot of takeable CS that’s dropped just because laners are trying to harass when the minions aren’t dying and the enemy is far away.

Another great way to miss a lot of gold is to get pushed to tower. The damn thing is expensive; even if you’ve got the mechanics to take all that CS just fine, your opponent’s free to do all sorts of things while you’re not. He may go win another lane with a roam right now, and if it’s enough to tilt a teammate, you’re gonna have a bad time. So, don’t get into that situation...don’t get pinned unless the champion matchup says you have no other option. (Nasus early, Ezreal against a Jinx, etc.)

When you are at risk, see if your opponent can hurt you. If he can’t, take the creep normally. If he can, either play for the extra, back off and use an ability, or let it go.

If you watch pro games, at least the ones where you get to see an extended laning session, you’ll notice that both players usually give each other some distance, and harassing is uncommon. This is because they’ve got an incentive to not take any risks, no one wants to bet the game on a fistfight with someone who’s about as good as they are. They shouldn’t ever fight fair if they don’t have to. So, they play nice, easily hit their 10+cs/min numbers, and will be equipped well for the first real fight.

In solo queue though, many, *many* more CS will be actively contested. Your opponent will try to hit you as you take yours, and you should do the same to him. The question now is whether you actually *can*.

If you’ve got a creep to take, but your opponent is too far back to do anything, we don’t have a problem. But, say you’ve got a creep that needs taking, but your opponent knows this and is there to shoot at you when you do. He’s in the trading stance. You’re not getting this for free.

Well, the best case scenario would be to shoot the minion with an ability, hoping to hit an extra. If you have to pay mana or a cooldown, at least you got some opponent HP as well as the gold. Can’t get much more than that. You still get the gold if you miss the champion. Or, say you can trade, but will get the CS anyway. For example, Renekton can go in for a trade with a dash, and his E or Q should collect the dying creep no problem. You get the extra without even really thinking about it.

But, what if you can’t get extras? Ezreal’s W doesn’t hurt minions. Nasus’ E does laughable damage and is too expensive anyway, both with its mana cost and the push he probably doesn’t want. Mundo’s W isn’t taking any creeps cleanly early, and his cleaver only hits one thing.

At this point, you don’t have any good options. The least bad is to just use an ability and suck up the mana/cooldown cost. After all, abilities are usually longer range than autos, and are safer to use. But, if you go in there and auto the creep, you’re going to get smashed. After all, you have to sit still in your attack animation, meaning your opponent WILL hit a skillshot if they’re competent. You might break even or even win if you just trade and ignore the creep, but if you used anything both the creep and not your opponent, even just an auto...bam, you’ve lost this exchange.

And if you can’t win the trade even if you use everything...let it go. Some matchups just aren’t winnable, and you are a fool to try. You are much better off with your 100+ HP than the 20 gold you’ll get.

If your opponent is at risk, step forward and be a threat, but stay away from the dying creep.

Don’t give any extras away. If you let the other guy get both you HP and the creep’s gold at the same time, you’ve lost a lot. So, get in the trading stance, but don’t be next to minions for Ziggs to bomb, or behind one for Lucian to Q. Or, one of Ezreal’s gimmick, where he autos the creep and Qs right through where it died to hit you.

If you see him auto the creep, blast him. If he’s going to trade with you, keep your head and hit all your stuff. If he lets it go, great, you just won 20 gold.

If he can win a fight and he doesn’t care about creeps, all this advice is meaningless.

Losing a lane is fine. You can still win the game. But, if you go straight back to that lane where you know you will lose, only to lose it further, I have little sympathy for you. Make yourself into a second jungler, or directly lane gank another lane, but if your opponent is both willing and able to kill you and you can’t stop him...what the fuck are you thinking by going straight back?

You need to see the faceoff coming. Pay attention and be prepared for it.

The faceoff is the situation where both sides have a creep about to die. This situation, by itself, is how plats and diamonds squash bronzes and silvers. Each one is different, because of both the champion matchups and the timing. We’ll discuss more details in the moment, but the first step is to realize that it’s there and that you’re about to take your opponent on in a double-blind guessing game. Winning this guessing game will win you lanes. Guessing wrong will make you lose, and the easiest way to guess wrong is to be oblivious and not guess at all. Don’t do that!

Grass eating only works against other grass eaters.

You will come across many opponents in your career that are perfectly content to sit, wait, and auto a creep when it’s about to die. Most of these people play Vayne. And hey, if you’re on a good scaler, this is a perfectly good result. But, be aware that trading HP for gold is almost never worth it. If you keep getting shot every time you take a CS, that means you’re gonna get shot 38 times before the clock strikes 5:00. You’ll be dead well before then.

So, take the time to feel your opponent out. If he’s willing to eat grass with you nearby, light his ass up. If he’s defending himself and won’t let you beat on him for free, sit back a bit and look for an opportunity before you blow your wad.

If you’re short, don’t try to get more than the single. Use an ability or an ability+auto if they let you get close enough, but that’s it.

This is obvious...being shorter means that your auto is by default worse than his. So, don’t get into an auto attack fight.

You’ll have to see if your opponent will let you cross the bubble. You may do it with just movespeed as they shoot a creep, or they may dilly-dally near a dying creep, unwilling to use their auto attack for fear of losing it, where you can then bore in and hit them. Still though, you are not allowed to get stuck in their bubble. And, the best way for that to happen would be when you stand still while you autoattack.

If you’re tall, always try to get more than the single. Doubles, triples, all you can.

One auto alone is a loss if the minions do enough damage to you, more so if you miss a creep for it. But, the second turns that into a win, and if the other guy’s nice enough to stay in your autoattack bubble, keep tagging him until he leaves. They may even dash out, and you can then fire a skillshot now that they must click well to dodge it.

Notice if you will be first or last in the faceoff. If you’re first, get ready to give him all you’ve got.

Specifically, this means that you can’t auto yet, or you’ll lose the dying creep. Also, your dying creep will die before his, meaning he’s going to have to act after you. This is your chance to get some good damage in. Newer players will be crossed up by having to deal with both your attack and the creep at the same time, and most of them will falter.

Your first instinct might be to auto to take the creep, and fire an ability, then take the single when your auto comes back. There’s a better way if you’ve got an ability that goes through creeps: take the single directly, use your ability on both the creep to take it and hit the opponent (get the extra), then take the double and fire more abilities if able. You’ve got an extra auto’s worth of damage.

If you’re last, be aware of it. Then, decide if you’re willing to fight, willing to take the creep from afar, or going to let it go.

Being last means you’re an auto attack down; your opponent’s second auto will be there before yours is. You might have the matchup to overcome that, but if you don’t, your only way to come out ahead is opponent incompetence (he misses a skillshot or otherwise mechanically does something wrong) or your own brilliance (a great Fiora parry or dash to dodge, etc.) Don’t get yourself into tight spots if you can help it. Realize that, and don’t gamble when you’re an underdog.

If you see you’ll be last, and have the time to do something about it, do it!

Be first Mac! I need you to be first! Beat Aran Ryan to the punch!” - Doc Louis

If you’ve been laning long enough, you’ll notice that it’s a while before the next creep goes down (tanks, etc.). You may be idle now, but you can turn the tables if you can hit that creep, kill it faster, and be first. Or, even better, just take it immediately and have your opponent be the one at risk. It’s not threesight, it’s not fivesight, but *foresight* that you need.

You can always opt out of this bullshit and blow your mana bar on the wave, and leave.

Don’t muddle on and hope for the best if you’re struggling. You can just fire away and press B. If you’ve got teleport, you won’t miss anything, although you’ll put pressure on your other lanes to win since you can’t save them with your D key. Even in the mid game, you cal lane as a mage against that Akali just by firing away at range, and leaving. Nothing’s making you stay in your lane.

You may or may not get freedom, but if you do, never waste it.

If you push past the 50-yard-line and can’t get the wave to stop without bouncing it off the tower, think of what you’ll do with this. You sure as hell shouldn’t sit here holding up a “gank me” sign. Instead, get the ward down, get the roam off, take a quick jungle camp, or press B to get down pit lane. The only reason to stay is if you can get off easy poke without jungler danger (did you see him?), or if he’s low enough and you have all the tools for a dive (abilites, or a teammate). Whatever you choose to do, it had better not be sitting there and waiting.

If you’re playing support, you’re never at risk. Always be considering how you can hit them without getting hit.

Even if you have a relic shield, you don’t have to take a single creep if you don’t want to. If you know auto attack ranges and general champion knowledge, you shouldn’t give free damage away, ever. Realize that you’re there to threaten the enemy ADC as much as protect your one likes a wallflower who sits behind their ADC and thinks their job is to look pretty.

In a paired lane, being line astern is only okay if they are, AND you can win a 1v1 trade.

Don’t EVER get into a 1v2. This will happen if one of you is too far forward of the other, and both of the other champions are able to hit you. This means they’re side by side, while you’re one in front of the other. Very bad.

Even then, if you’re ahead of your partner and so is an opponent, you’ll just get a 1v1, and what good is that if you can’t win it?

Know your blue line, and plan to leave before you get there.

If you overstay your mana bar, you’re headed straight for a trap. You won’t have the waveclear to keep up with autos only, so you’ll get pinned to your tower. The next wave will arrive before you’re done with this one, and you’re stuck. If you refuse to let one wave go, you’ll end up staying for three or more as you desperately try to waveclear to get your gold.

And when you’re waveclearing, you’re not fighting. The other guy can beat you easily with no abilities to defend yourself, or he can go try to win elsewhere knowing you can’t respond. It’s never okay to be sitting there farming while your team is losing the game elsewhere, so don’t get into that situation: be prepared for when you need to back off for more mana, and get out sooner rather than later. It’s much better to lose one wave then two or three.

You can move in at any time if your red line is bigger than his.

This isn’t exactly obvious, but you don’t need to have your opponent low enough for you to hit everything to kill him. You just need to have more left when all abilities are used and it’s down to autos than he does. He will then be facing flash or die, and the former’s no good if you’ve got yours and you’re far enough from his tower.

This requires a lot of champion knowledge, and with that website it may even be worth making a spreadsheet for every champion’s max damage on demand. If only I had the time...or the desire to touch Excel away from my day job…

If your defense is a dodge and your opponent’s key ability is a skillshot, abuse it as long as you will not be ganked.

When I was five years old, I played Contra on the NES. A LOT. Some sections where there was so much going on were hard, and I’d be glad I had used the Konami code. But, against one enemy or one bullet, I couldn’t possibly lose. I had enough reflexes and awareness that all I had to do was press the A button to jump or the down button to go prone, and I couldn’t possibly die.

You’ll need your defense ability to survive a gank, but if you see the jungler elsewhere or you’re far enough back to be ungankable, abuse that shit. Hooks aren’t instantaneous. Blitzcrank has no hope of hitting you with that hook if you’re Lucian or Graves, and you have the reflexes and awareness that I had when I was five. Even Sivir’s spellshield works for this...she laughs at hook supports. Either they stand there and don’t use their skillshot, so you can shoot them. Or, they use it and you dodge...and you still shoot them.


This guide’s more skimmable than the others, and I hope having to make up some terms wasn’t too much of a problem. But, hopefully you’ll see that laning is a game of choices, more so than a game of champion selection or mechanics. Before you leave, I do have one last bit of advice for you:

Don’t overcommit to a decision. Be ready to change up at the drop of a hat.

One autoattack from the opponent can change the next faceoff from first into a last. Your opponent can change his disposition suddenly, and you’ve got to react to this. If you see that superpassive opponent finally walk forward for no reason, it’s your own damn fault if his jungler’s gank succeeds.

Things change, things aren’t set in stone, and be willing to adapt with the situation. Unfortunately, it’s fast paced and it’s hard, and it might not be for everyone. If it’s not for you, well, you could always take up jungling.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Okay, Now What? A Guide to Mid and Late Game

TL/DR Develop the skill to read where your opponents are, and come up with the correct play to advance to the nexus. Also, here's some ideas how.

“No terms except unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted. I propose to move immediately upon your works.”
  • Unconditional Surrender Ulysses S. Grant, before the final day of the Battle of Ft. Donelson
I have a question for you, and it’s not a trick question: What’s the one thing you need to do to in a game?
CS? Build right? Not rage? Good comps? Good rotations?

Nope. It’s the nexus. Destroying the nexus is the only thing you need to do to win games. I said it wasn’t a trick question.

Obviously, we both knew that already. The problem is that when the game begins (the clock reads 0:01), destroying the nexus is not possible. We can’t attack towers alone and minions won’t be there to take shots for us. At that moment, winning is literally impossible.

Also obviously, this eventually stops being the case, and winning becomes quite possible. But...when? When should we stop farming lanes (because nothing else is possible) and play for objectives (because they’re now possible)?.

The answer is really simple: as soon as practical. The reason is that this is a slippery-slope game, where a small lead early becomes a big lead late, and there’s never any incentive to be behind.

This is a guide about making that transition, and specifically, coming up with the ideas to try to turn a farming contest into a lead, and a lead into a win. But first, let’s see if you know how to play poker.


Back in the early 2000s, poker had just caught on with television audiences, and the demand for it was high. The cardrooms I wasted my youth in were always full, and online play hadn’t been raided by the feds yet. The game was more popular than it had ever been.

Naturally, many pros sought to cash in on this, and one of ways they did was by releasing poker books. I’d gotten a hold of most of them, and was quite thrilled when my favorite player released one of his own. I bought it immediately. I shouldn’t have, it didn’t teach me anything I didn’t already know, this was just a quick cash grab. Except, for one little piece of advice: When you’ve folded and are out of a hand, try to guess your opponent’s hole cards using the information you were provided. Better yet, say them out loud. People will be quite impressed (and begin to fear you) if you can get it right!

Okay, let’s try it now:

You are playing on the Red side, as the mid laner. The clock reads 02:10. Your team watched the jungler entrances, and you are sure your jungle has not been, and is not being invaded. Your top laner has put a ward with vision on the enemy gromp, and it has not seen anyone. Every opponent has taken Flash, only one has Smite, and no one has taken Teleport.

Where are all five of your opponents?

Take a moment if you need to. But, come up with a complete answer...where are all five of the opponents, using the information given? Here’s a hint: don’t overthink it.

(insert Jeopardy! music here)


Answer: The top laner is in the top lane, the mid laner is in the mid lane, the adc and support are in the bottom lane. The jungler has killed his krugs and is currently fighting his red buff.

You may complain that I didn’t mention that 4 of them are on the minimap, but I said they didn’t invade.
Your ward shows that they’re not in their upper jungle (blue buff), so they’re at their red buff area. The only reasonable start for the jungler would be krugs, which spawned 15 secs ago. The enemy bottom lane can’t start krugs (the jungler is), they can’t take red from the jungler, and they can’t take raptors and still make it to lane on time and not get slaughtered by level 2 opponents. So, they’re bottom.

It’d take a very odd set of circumstances for a midlaner to start with a jungle camp here, and as we said, they didn’t invade. The mid is mid.

The top laner didn’t take teleport. He’s really hurting himself if he starts wolves here, and has to back and walk back to lane. So, he’s top.

Obviously, this wasn’t a very hard question. Seems kind of stupid too…”the top laner is top”? Come on now.

Well, you may feel I’ve just wasted your time. If you already have the game sense to determine where the opponents are without actually seeing them on the map, I may very well have. But, for the rest of you, this is what “game sense” and “map awareness” really mean. It means you have the means to see through the fog of war, and determine where the opponents are.

And, if you know where every opponent do you lose? Seriously, how do you lose an exchange if you know where each of the opponents are? If you see there’s too many for your team, you back off. If you see that there’s not enough, you fight. If you see they’re all on one side of the map, take objectives on the other side of the map.

In our last scenario, what would we do with this information?

Well, their upper half of their jungle was open. Smiting the wolves would give us vision on that part of the jungle to invade at 3. We could outright steal their blue. We can take a quicker path through their jungle to attack the jungler at blue at 3. Our midlaner can safely lane on the top side of the lane at the moment, as we know the jungler’s bot and that’s what side he’ll come from.

I’ll always remember my last game to get out of Silver for the first time, in my sixth series. I didn’t do anything spectacular, and it was an hour-long war. But, we had a TF on our team, and he won it by pressing R for vision. Not to teleport with, just for the vision. We saw that one of their teammates was farming a jungle camp across the map for no reason while their other four were right around the corner. We went in on the 5v4, won, and I was Gold. Having TF’s free vision is nice, but it was another of our teammates that pinged to go in and led the engage. In other words, vision is the means, and the right decision is the end. I was quite fortunate that two of my teammates were able to put the puzzle together without me.

Although, if anybody asks, I’ll swear that I carried MYSELF to gold that season!.

So, maybe in the future you’ll see yourself spectating a game. When you do, only give yourself one side’s vision, and try to guess where the enemy is as the game progresses. When you do, take a peek and see if you’re right. Keep at this, and before long, you’ll be able to see the cards your opponents hold.


I have another thought experiment for you.

Is it possible to carry as a zero-damage support?

Those of you who know me know I play Janna, and can surmise how I feel about this. But regardless, is it possible to carry, as in your team would not have won without you, while doing no damage?
If you think the answer is “no”, I’d really like to hear your reasoning below. But, if your answer’s yes, I’m willing to bet that your answer included wards somehow. Am I right?

But, as we determined earlier, vision is the means. It doesn’t mean anything without the end. Specifically, this means that providing vision is not enough. You need to make a good decision.

But even then, that may not be enough. If you see the dragon’s wide open, what can you do if you ping it
and your teammates aren’t interested? Seems like those bastards care about themselves more than the team. It’s annoying, and it’s common in solo queue. So, if you have a bunch of antisocial misanthropes who would rather sit in the corner and farm while listening to My Chemical Romance, that’s one thing. Maybe you should have banned Nasus and Vayne. But, that’s usually not the case. They’re playing games to win and will often come for something that will benefit the team.

In other words, there’s nothing wrong with doing other people’s thinking for them. Especially if you saw where the opponents are and know that a particular play will work. Tell them what to do. If you’re jungling and see an opportunity bot, ping your mid and try to get him to come. Instead of sending three and getting likely one kill, you can send four and get likely two kills and a tower. At the price of losing some farm mid, seems like a good deal to me! It’s not that hard, just say to your mid that if you ping for a gank bot, “come down for free kills and tower”. Mid laners love getting kills for free.

In other words, shotcalling IS carrying. In fact, it’s more likely that you’ll carry this way than trying to turn in a 13/0 Vayne or Yasuo game. Work on your game sense, your decisionmaking, and finally, your communication. You can use the “spectating with half-vision” practice described above. Practice like this, combined with being a good teammate, is how turn your shitty teammates into good teammates.

Now, sometimes it won’t work. Some people will actually get offended when you tell them to stop farming and go do something that gets us closer to the nexus. Well, the good news is that you don’t need to win to every game to get where you want to be. Don’t take it personally when you see a League of Legends solo queue player who turns out to be an asshole. After all, wouldn’t it be more of a shock when he turns out to NOT be an asshole?


Now, let’s get to the actual white meat. Below, I’m going to list various objectives you can take in the mid and late game, and ways to actually pull it off other than to walk towards it and hope a teammate does something.

As a caveat, be aware of how most people think. They want to farm because farming’s easy. They don’t want to go on deep jungle adventures, or dive, because it’s risky.

So, you can’t expect everything from your teammates, nor that they can see what you see. So, try not to ask them to do anything unreasonable. Then again, you’re better off asking them to follow a call and watching them ignore it then calling nothing and watching them act randomly. Well, at least until you run out of headache medication. On the other hand, why the hell are you playing League of Legends if you are prone to headaches? Have you ever turned team chat on, ever?


Let’s examine what getting the Dragon actually gives you:
  • DRAGON'S MIGHT: +6% attack damage and ability power
  • DRAGON'S WRATH: +15% damage to towers and buildings
  • DRAGON'S FLIGHT: +5% movement speed
  • DRAGON'S DOMINANCE: +15% damage to minions and monsters
  • ASPECT OF THE DRAGON: Doubles all previous bonuses and your attacks burn for 150 true damage over 5 seconds. This stack only lasts 180 seconds or until death.
The first dragon is the best dragon. It instantly delivers useful stats. Bear in mind that it favors AD teams, and isn’t as helpful on AP types who build things other than AP. Even then, AP typically isn’t 100% scaling on abilities.

Other than that, there’s not much to write home about until you get to # 5. Extra tower damage is cute, but how often are you in a close tower battle where this would make the difference? That’d mean a close siege where the other team is trying to waveclear while you shoot the tower, but no one is engaging. It’s not that common. Typically, when most towers fall, it’s because they are open and they fall with one wave of minions and one champion’s autos. The tower damage doesn’t do it, "no defenders available" is what does it.

The movement speed is nice if your frontline doesn’t have any gapclosers (Nasus, Singed, Volibear, Mundo, etc.). Except, it’s still not going to get through a competent Janna, for example.

The most notable one is #4, the waveclear bonus. This will make it easier to outrotate the enemy, as you force them to run from tower to tower to clear waves as they approach. But, that’s #4. Meaning, it’ll be relatively late before you get it, and rotating is the only use it’d have. It’s not going to turn poor waveclearers like Vayne into decent waveclearers.

But hey, #5 is solid. It’s just so far away.

Before we get into the ”hows”, one final tip: be aware of who’s tanking and how. The dragon’s attack is a cone; hitting his target and whoever’s behind him. So, if multiple melee champions are fighting him, don’t stand on top of each other and all get hit by it. Come on now, act like you’ve played an MMO before and don’t stand in the damn fire.

Open Goal
This may be in the dragon section, but only because the dragon section is first., An Open Goal means there aren’t any enemies there to contest your objective, so you can take it for free. You’ll find this in every list.
Sometimes you can maneuver them. If your team draws a gank top and both the jungler and top laner attack your top, the dragon is yours if you can get there in time. They’ve got no smite to stop you, and at worst, their top can TP down, but their jungler can’t, so it’ll be a 4v4. If you got there first, with the smite, you will get it.

Kill or Pushout
This is the most common way to get an objective in solo queue. Someone, somewhere, will have made a play, and now your team tries to cash it in for an objective. At higher elos, your teammates will go straight to an objective, which may be this one. At lower elos, they’ll go to farm. This is one of the reasons why they’re low.

Ward Screen
All the enemies may be alive and available, but you can still make a dragon play if you’ve got enough wards around. This typically means inside their jungle where they’d approach from, and you’d need to knock down any wards they may have on the dragon. Don’t get fooled into taking dragon while they take baron, though!

Solo it
If you’ve got the champ and the potions for it, you may be able to just sneak it early. This play is fragile though, as one enemy showing up can really harm your level 3 dragon solo. You’ll have to be aware of whether or not the enemy team has warded the dragon early, and to ward yourself for protection.

Sell a tower
It’s possible that your opponents are pressuring a tower, and that means they won’t be there to contest your dragon play. Be warned, trading one tower for a dragon is a close call, but trading two almost certainly isn’t. Be aware of this and make sure you don’t find yourself in a base race that you don’t want to be in.


Now, let’s discuss the actual goal; getting to the nexus. To do that, you have to get towers. Let’s talk a bit about the towers themselves.
  • Outer: 125g global + 150 divided locally
  • Inner: 150g global + 100 divided locally
  • Inhibitor: 175g global
  • Nexus: 50g global
Yup, Nexus turrets don’t pay out. Sucks, doesn’t it? On the other hand, the prize money for a lane turret is significant; it’s over a creep wave for everyone on the team, including supports and junglers who are working on short budgets. Now, how to get them:

Open Goal
As it always is, if there’s no one to defend it, it can be taken. For example, if the laner is now backing, the tower is ripe for your team. Get there, and get it. If the other team’s not there and it does not appear they will get back in time (you have vision on them, or you’re reading the game well and know they’re not there), pick that gold up.

Kill or Pushout
If you happen to make a play and the tower's now ripe for the taking, take the tower. Don't spend time chasing, farming, or worse, backing before you have a chance to get your whole team paid. Specifically, you should be doing this every time. As soon as a fight is decided, immediately ask yourself what you can get for it. After all, you earned it!

Siege it
Specifically, this means attacking a tower that is actively being defended, but without the intention of winning a fight.

What this will come down to, mainly, is a competition with two events: poking, and waveclear. If one side can land enough skillshots to make it obvious who wins in a fight, the siege is over. If not, one team can still win by waveclearing: the attacking team gets their minions into tower range and shoots the tower, while the defending team tries to clear minions so their tower doesn’t get distracted, and will shoot enemy champions first.

When deciding to siege, look at the teamcomps. Who has the advantage in poke and waveclear? If you’re up against an Anivia, Ziggs, Jayce, or Nidalee, I wish you the best of luck getting that tower down if they’re there to defend. If you have these champs yourself, get them blue buffs and force the action at a tower. You are very likely to win.

Furthermore, there’s another way to make sieging almost always work: the Baron buff. It turns minions into massive damage sponges, making clearing them extremely difficult. So, if you killed the worm, don’t waste too much time, get those purpled minions to a tower to take it!

Dive it
We’re going to fight the enemy under their tower, and we’re going to take tower shots in the process. Because, we don’t care.

It is very common at lower ranked games for players to miss simple dives. Almost any 2v1 situation can be dived, along with many situations when you outnumber the enemy, as long as the following criteria are met:
  • You are sure you will not be interfered with by another enemy champion.
  • You have one champion with enough health, armor, or both to hold the turret aggro. (the “tank”)
  • The tank gets the turret aggro and does not lose it during the dive.
  • The rest of the team can get to the enemy champions and kill them while the tower is being tanked.
Now, understand that there’s some flexibility here. You do not need to be a “tank champ” to do this. For example, one team’s Janna is at 90% hp, Vayne is at %40, and Vi is at %50. There’s a no-ult enemy Jinx clinging to her tower at 50% hp. Can you dive her? If so, who tanks?

The answer is yes, and it’s Janna. She’s got the HP to hold aggro while Vi and Vayne have the speed to get in there and get the damage needed to collect. As long as she gets the first attack and doesn’t leave tower range. With Jinx dead, they can back off, and take the undefended tower. (As long as the other team doesn’t respond from other lanes/jungle soon, as they will all be low.)

Be advised that losing the tower aggro, or “spilling it”, is very dangerous. I know you want to stop getting shot by the tower, but if you leave before the dive is completed (and the next shot will not kill you), then the aggro will have to pass to one of your teammates, and it’s up to who hits first the instant you leave...too random to predict. This will force them to run before the kill is completed, ruining the play. So, if you’re holding the aggro, be aware of how close you are to dying and not to leave tower range until you absolutely must.

Splitpush it
Ah, those poor, poor Tryndamere mains. I bet you can’t stand that your team’s taking the pressure you provide and pissing it away farming jungle camps while the enemy team sends 3-5 players to stop you (and loses no towers in exchange), huh? A lot of people don’t understand splitpushing. Or, what’s worse, they confuse it with “splitfarming”, which just means standing in a side lane and farming. Actual “splitpushing” means you’re a threat to the enemy’s towers. Here’s specifically what it means:
  • You will take towers and inhibitors if you are left alone.
  • One opponent will not stop you (you will either escape or win a duel), so your opponents will need to be shorthanded elsewhere if they send players to stop you.
  • Your team will take advantage of this shorthanded-ness elsewhere, taking other objectives if they overcommit to you.
So, realize that if you’ve got one teammate intent on splitting, the rest of you need to pull together and threaten the other team elsewhere. If the splitter is top, 4-man bot or dragon. If bot, 4-man top or baron. In other words, leverage that pressure into objectives, instead of leveraging it into meaningless farm.

Sixth Man it
Put simply, this is splitpushing without the champion, using minions instead. If you have an understanding of minion waves, you know that you can set them to build up and push. Start deep in your end of the field, kill enemy casters, leave melees, and wait. About 60-90 seconds down the road, your wave will be 3 waves big and be threatening a tower. As I’m sure some of you have noticed, many people are loathe to let that wave go, and will show up to farm it.

Then and there, you know the enemy team is weak. Unless that side lane farmer is Shen or has TP, it’s not possible for them to participate in an upcoming fight. As a result, many barons and towers have been lost for no other reason than a carry showed themselves in the bot lane to farm.

Furthermore, you can always push with the big wave yourself. As long as you’re not up against a waveclear titan, those 15+ minions will be enough to get you that tower, and can even help in a dive if it comes to it. Even better, if the enemy team only sent one player to farm it, you can then kill them, take the tower, and very likely the next one before the death timer expires.


Now, let’s talk about the buffs.

Understand that the buffs change in value throughout the game, and sometimes won’t have any value. In a Zed v. Yasuo mid matchup, neither of them will care about the blue buff. Carrying further, if there are no mana-based casters who spam abilities on the team, the blue buff is little more than some experience and gold that takes longer than a normal camp to get.

As for red, sometimes it matters, sometimes it doesn’t. If Jinx thinks that red buff to kite with is going to save her from that Akali, she should think again. Buy a pink ward, noob.

But, sometimes the opposite is true. If you’ve got Jayce, Kog’Maw, or someone who spams a button on your team, you should take the time to get them blue. If there’s one on their team, try to deny theirs.

Lastly though, be aware that you can not only take the buff itself, you can also use it to get a pick. If you’ve got the timer, as described in this guide, you have a good shot of getting a pick and rolling it into an objective. Let’s be real here, later in the game, most teams will have a player taking the buff alone. You can break the game open then and there if you can get there at the right time.

Open Goal
Kill or Pushout
Second verse, same as the first... if no one can stop you, you can take it. Buffs are unique though, as to get vision on them, you’ll have to get multiple, very deep wards down. The only other way to be certain that a buff is clear is if the other team is showing many champions elsewhere, and you probably don’t want to let them get a tower or something for a buff.

Also, be aware of the likelihood that someone will come for their buff, where you can then score off them. We’ve all been in that solo queue game where everybody whines about the jungle being warded, but no one buys a pink or a sweeper. So, press tab, if they have those things, don’t expect much from the ambush. If not...go there, wait a few seconds, and enjoy your free kill, buff, and objective.

Timer Guess
If you want to see a good jungler, look for one who can correctly guess when the enemy team is taking a buff with no vision. This play can crush the enemy jungler at levels 2 or 3, and still be significant enough later in the game. Make sure you’re not running yourself into a fight you can’t win, but if you can, get there and see if you can get both the buff and a kill.

Smite steal
As I’ve mentioned before, you have to weigh the value of the buff you’re trying to steal. If the other team needs blue to function (pokers, or a struggling mid that needs abilities to farm), the buff itself is worth the risk. Also, stealing the red early will make enemy ganks less effective. But, you’re probably better off looking at these plays as opportunities for kills first, and the buff second. After all, the buff hits hard, and it’ll always hit the person closest to it. No reason not to enlist the buff monster’s help to soften the target up for you.


The new baron is a game winner. The gold boost is massive, but the minion enhancement buff makes advancing on the nexus extremely easy. The window you have to either end the game or get insurmountably ahead is so huge; once you get this buff, regroup and start pushing.
If only I could get these people to stop feeding the buff away after we’ve worked so hard for it, or worse, piss the buff away farming a side lane instead of attacking a tower.
As an aside, be aware of the following:
  • BARON'S GAZE: Baron Nashor takes 50% reduced damage from champions he's damaged in the last 15 seconds.
  • VORACIOUS CORROSION: Baron Nashor's basic attacks apply a stacking debuff that reduces the target's armor and magic resistance by 0.5, stacking up to 100 times for a total of 50 reduction.
  • VOID CORRUPTION: Baron Nashor periodically deals magic damage and applies a stack of corrosion to a nearby champion with the least amount of corrosion stacks.
All of these things are there to show you how fragile a baron try is. If the other team gets all 5 players to attack you while you’re doing baron, this is not going to go well for you. Then again, you may be able to find a place on Dignitas’ LCS team.

Open Goal
That having been said, there are plenty of chances where the enemy will concede the baron by virtue of showing themselves on vision. If you see that 9/1 Vayne show bot with 20 minions to farm...she just backstabbed her whole team for farm if you can get to the baron. That lead she has will look a lot less pretty after the enemy takes the baron, and drives to the inhibitor with it.
Secondly, you have an odd opportunity to baron right after you’ve lost a fight. If the other team is wounded and they take their time getting back to base to rest, you may have a shot if you all run straight to baron when you revive. They’ll either be in base or too low to contest, so if you’re quick and have the damage to burn it down, you now have the baron buff to make a comeback with.

Kill or Pushout
This is much risker, to leverage a baron with only one dead. Be aware of who it was who actually died. Also, you'll still need someone to tank and your damage dealers, and if they're super low, they can';t take it.

Sell the Dragon
Remember how we were talking earlier about the dragon buff? I made the point of showing that the dragon buffs were good, but not great. If it’s the middle of the game and neither team’s on 4 dragons, you’ll often be in a position when both are up. If the other team’s going to take the dragon, you have a clear shot to take baron. This trade is huge if it works, and now you’ll have plenty of opportunity to get further ahead while your minions are purple.

Sometimes, the old tricks are the best tricks. The baron appears for the first time at 20:00, and very often will he not be covered by vision when this happens. If you’ve got enough vision to see that the other team can’t contest, he’s there for you to take. Make sure you have a tank with an armor item to do it with.

Ambush fake
Obviously, you aren’t able to get the baron in secret every time. As a result, there are many late game situations where one team is running to baron while the other team is already there.
If that’s the case, why start baron, only to have him help the other team? Instead, sweep a bush, kill them as they arrive, and then you can have the map at your mercy?

Again, you need to outward the other team and be aware of if and how they’re responding. But, if you can sneak your team into an unwarded bush just before the enemy arrives, you have a huge advantage in that fight. And, when you win it, it may be enough to win the game by itself.

Sixth man it
As mentioned earlier, in both the towers section and in this one with that Vayne, there’s no reason you can’t make your minions do your work for you. If the enemy minions get far along in the lane, you’ll probably farm them yourself. Most people take this opportunity to clear the wave and take the next. They’re near their own base and the creeps are there, why not?

Because, if take that wave, your minions wave will be small when it pushes out. It won’t be able to build, so it won’t provide any late pressure to farm it before it threatens a tower. Your opponents will appreciate having less pressure to deal with, while you got about 120g in return from farming that extra wave. Your choice.

Long guide, huh? Well, you know me. If I wrote anything short, it’s probably from an impostor. Report my account for having been hacked.

But, what I want to say again is that you have a lot of “means”, wards, pressure, and your teammates. What matters is the “end”. No matter what, you’re going to be on the field and you’ll have to decide for yourself how best to proceed. Let’s see if you’ve learned anything.

So, for fun, here’s a scenario:

You are playing as the jungler, on the red side. You are level 5, and are coming out of your base. Just as you begin to turn to a camp, a fight breaks out mid.

Your Katarina’s been giving the enemy Xerath fits, but the enemy jungler’s had enough, and ganks. Katarina opts to fight instead of running, shunpoing forward and attacking. She tried, but Xerath lands the stun and Katarina dies. Xerath is at 20%, and the jungler’s at around 40%. There’s a few more minions in the wave, so Xerath and his jungler are clearing it.

Your Gnar is playing their Riven to a standstill top, the wave is in the middle and both are nearly at full. Both teleports are available. In the bottom lane, your Thresh/Kog’Maw are struggling against Nami/Ashe. They’re pinned to their tower, but to their credit, their health bars are mostly intact, both are over 80%, but Nami and Ashe are in a good poke position with a wave and a half of minions to block hooks with. Finally, you’re two camps away from 6. Your wolves, gromp, and blue are all available.

Finally, as you see in the mid lane, the enemy jungler is at 50%, 75% mana, and doublebuffs. He walks down the lane towards his turret, then turns the corner to go to the southeast (in the path between raptors and mid bush), disappearing from vision. Just as this happens, Xerath uses the last of his mana (25% HP, he potted) to kill the last minion, and vision fades.

Both your flash and your smite are up.

Here are the questions:
  • Where is Xerath going?
  • Where is the jungler going?
  • What is your play?

The Madden List

Recently, we had a conversation where we brought up “Madden” ratings, as if LoL players (the human, not the champion) had quantifiable skills. This got me thinking...what are the actual skills that League of Legends asks of its players? Assigning numbers may be a bridge too far, but can we come up with a list of what exactly players will need to be capable of to succeed in this game? If we could do that, we could then design ways to practice these skills individually. After all, Riot hates us for trying to practice, so we’ll have to do it on our own. Probably from scratch.

So, below is a list of of skills and attributes a LoL player might have, if they were a Madden character. I don’t know and don’t care about assigning numbers to them, but I do want to make you aware of them. If you read this list, you should be able to understand if each attribute is something you’re good at, something that needs improvement, or something that’s catastrophic and needs to be fixed as a priority.

Natrually, I’m not the only smart guy around here, and /u/SoccerSupaStar beat me to the punch with this post. I had already gotten started on my post here though, so I decided I might as well finish it. Besides, I kind of have my own way of describing things, and it’ll be interesting to see how my terminology squares with his.

I’m not going to group them by position. A mid laner will have little use for Jungle Path Selection (JPS) himself, but even then, knowing about it to prepare himself for enemy ganks is a plus. So, I’ve divided them into the following categories:
  • Mousework
  • Button Pressing
  • Strategic Play
  • Tactical Play
  • Non-Combat
  • Teamwork

So, here we go. I’ll be including three-letter abbreviations to each skill, so you can ctrl+F to find them as you jump across the guide. Use an asterisk and the three letters to cut straight to it, like this: “*APM” to get to Actions Per Minute. Also, you may come across something that you may yourself need to work on. If you Scholarship (SCH) is low, you may be at a loss for how to fix it. If you need help, ask below and I’ll see if I can come up with something. I’m told...that I’m...pretty that.


Mousework pertains with everything to do with the mouse.

Actions Per Minute (*APM)

APM refers to how often the player clicks to issue a command to their champion. A player with high APM clicks more often, and appears to stutter. This will assist him in Skillshot Dodging (SSD) and is more unpredictable in their movements. A player with low APM uses long strides, will have stiff fingers, and is very deliberate in their actions.

Clinching (*CLI)

Described here, CLI is the action where you catch an opponent with auto attack kiting, using either attack range or movement speed to prevent the opponent from running away. A good clincher also uses his KIT as he consistently catches his opponent in a situation where he is attacking and the opponent cannot escape by running, he must dash, flash, or the aggressor has to let him out. A poor clincher takes one auto attack at max range and immediately backs out, or worse, no autoattacks at all.

Cursor Tracking (*CRT)

This means keeping track of your cursor, and knowing where it is at all times. A good CRT player never has to think about where his cursor is, being able to track its movement with peripheral vision or just keeping it on his champ. He never has to spend his concentration looking for it. A poor CRT player will lose his cursor, and have to look for it, at the most inopportune of times.

Fault Prevention (*FUP)

FUP refers to reducing misclicks. A player with good FUP will click on what he wants to click on, especially in traffic, so he doesn’t accidentally cast an ability on a minion or otherwise aim it wrong. A player with poor FUP will commit faults, such as clicking on the ground instead of an enemy champion (walking towards danger instead of shooting at range) or vice versa, cancel their own auto attack, fail a flash by not putting the cursor in the right place, or misuse the attack move click to attack the wrong target.

Kiting (*KIT)

KIT refers to moving your champion in between auto attacks or abilities. This makes you much harder to hit, and makes sure you stay in range when chasing (and out of range when fleeing). Good kiters can use the proper technique (rapidclick or attack move click), don’t miss the clicks and keep going in the right direction without cancelling autoattacks. Poor kiters stand still like bumps on a log.

Uncontested Farming (*UCF)

UCF refers to never dropping a creep when the enemy is not there, or is otherwise not interfering with you. Proper UCF means you’ll get all 6 creeps in the wave, 7 if there’s a tank. Players with poor UCF drop minions to slivering, late hitting, or other simple farming errors that cost them gold.

Button Pressing

Button Pressing refers to the use of abilities and summoner spells.

Teleport (*TP)

TP is the use of the teleport summoner spell. A good TP player can escape with it, pressure with it, sees opportunities with it, and can get a tangible return when he does choose to press it. Poor TP players can barely muster anything other than teleporting back to lane to farm.

Flash (*FLA)

A great skill to make the highlight reels, FLA is about the most common summoner skill. Using it properly means always flashing through the wall when required (put the cursor more than half way but not completely through the wall). Also, this is used in conjunction with PLA to land longer skillshots, CMB to make an important enemy skillshot miss (Lee Sin Q or Riven R, for example) or with FIN to collect kills on low health opponents. People with poor FLA skills use it to run away, and that’s it. What’s worse, they don’t even wait until the enemy skillshot comes out first to throw their flash away.

Smite (*SMI)

Saintvicious’ worst enemy, this is the use of Smite. SMI means securing objectives with it, but in the latest season, also collecting the right jungle buff with it. Furthermore, making sure it’s available when you need it; a poor SMI player uses it whenever it’s up on whatever gold-giving thing is in front of him at the time.

Combat Summoners (*CBS)

Exhaust, Heal, Barrier, and Ignite fall under the CBS category. Each of them are used to swing a fight directly. Do it right, and it’s the difference between a death and a kill. Do it wrong and you use it when a kill wasn’t possible, or worse, you forget about it and don’t even use it at all. I’m looking at you, “support mains” who don’t exhaust assassins...

Timing (*TIM)

You can get away with anything in the world as long as you have impeccable timing. Good TIM means using abilities when they can do the most good, Fiora’s block is the obvious example. Did you get anything important with it, or did you give your defense away for nothing? On the other side, did you hold anything back while the enemy’s defense was up, to make sure that you don’t throw it away? Finally, did you fire your ability when your opponent was committed to a minion, or did you do it when he wasn’t committed to anything and was free to dodge? On the other hand, poor TIM players have no idea about this. They just mash the buttons and hope for the best.

Placement (*PLA)

Anivia walls, Orianna balls, etc...did you use it in the right spot? PLA refers to placing skillshots in a location where they can do the most good.Good Lux players, for example, know how much damage they can do in a tight, straight jungle corridor. Poor PLA means wasted skillshots; hooks that are easily dodgeable, hit minions, or the like.

Reaction (*REA)

You’d think that a bunch of people who spend so much time playing video games have actually developed reflexes. Instead, you see a lot of people who cannot press a button on demand. Good REA players hit the Zhonya’s when the killing ability is on its way, and can disrespect Blitzcrank as Sivir or Tristana. The former can just shield a hook, and the latter can jump away after being hooked. But, some players don’t have the capacity of presence of mind to press a button when an enemy does the one thing that button counters. How often do you see someone dash before the skillshot is fired, instead of to the side after it comes out?

Combo Sequences (*CMB)

Some people think that combo sequences are rigid, or that one sequence of buttons is the “best” and is the only one worth learning. This isn’t right. You should look at your abilities (including the auto attack and summoners) as cards to play, and to play them at the right time. Along with MUK, this is how one-trick-ponies are able to get so far with their champions in many situations. For example, Renekton cannot dash into a Darius to start a trade. Darius will just hook him back after his second dash, and now he’s stuck in melee range. Instead, Renekton has to walk up and start his damage, saving the dash. When he’s done hitting, first dash out, hook, second dash and he’s away scot-free. Or, if he has bad CMB skills, he can just button mash. See how that works out for him...

Item Actives (*ITA)

Not just QWER, what about 1, 2 and 3? Drinking potions in fights is essential, along with making sure you correctly use that item you paid so much for. Put the item in the item slot you prefer to use (for me, it’s “3”), and then actually use the thing when it comes time. Don’t be a fool and forget it’s there...

Strategic Play

Strategic play refers to all forms of “macro” decisionmaking, inside the game.

Certainty (*CER)

League is a game of information. Some of it is hidden; the fog of war hides the location of your opponents, which makes your decisions harder to make. Some of it is not, such as the cooldowns of an ability.  But, when the information is still there for you to see that you have an advantage, you can then act on it. Players with good CER are aware of this and can take advantage of these situations: the jungler has no TP and was bot, so he can’t be top. The enemy champion just used an ability, and he can’t use it again. Players with poor CER can’t put the information together, or worse, aren’t even aware of it. As a result, they just throw up their hands and “play passive”.

Counting Skills (*COU)

*“Let’s count to five!”* - Annie

COU is the skill of measuring the odds in a fight and deciding whether or not to opt into it. This means seeing that an opponent isn’t available because he’s farming a side lane (and you have an advantage and should fight), or your own team is not available (you have a disadvantage and should run). People with poor counting skills suffer from Yasuo’s Disease...they’ll take everyone on, circumstances be damned.

Item Building (*ITB)

One of the simplest-to-understand skills, ITB refers to buying the right items for the champion and the situation. Good players can tell you what every item does, know the opportunity costs of selecting one item over another, and can decide what they need to get for this game. Poor item builders haven’t bothered reading the item list; they just build whatever someone told them to build.

Jungle Path Selection (*JPS)

Personally, this is my favorite “community underdeveloped” few people seem to have put any thought into it. Specifically, this means knowing what each camp gives you, what it costs to take (HP and time), and deciding which path to take on the way to your next play. But, poor JPS players just do the same path every game. If a better JPS player surprises them in their jungle, they have no hope other than to flee for their lives.

Minion Management

You cannot play chess well without understanding the pawns. They’re the soul of the game. Similarly, you cannot play League without understanding the minions. They too are the soul of the game. You (usually) can’t take towers without them, meaning you can’t win a game without them. Also, enemy minions may damage you, but they’re the source of the XP and gold you need. Good MMG means planning your wave size; you either overpush relative to your opponent to build yours (to trade or roam with), or underpush relative to your opponent to play of safer territory. Poor MMG means you just wait for a minion health bar to get low before you click it. Hopefully you don’t get shot in the face too much while you’re staring at that health bar.

Objective Foresight (*OBJ)

This is the ability to think ahead, and be there when it’s about to go down. Good players watch the timers, and can see when they need to leave a wave to be available for a fight. Bad players at this are nowhere to be found, having either backed with 10 secs until dragon spawn, or blissfully farming away.

Playing Speed (*SPD)

This is one of the clearest marks of a higher ranked or lower ranked player. SPD is literally what it is, how fast you play the game. [Explained here](, high SPD players kill minions quickly, and use that time to go do something else: poke, trade, ward, roam, or back. Slower players keep waiting for their minions to do the heavy lifting until they can last hit. All of this wasted time starts to add up as a slow player quickly finds himself overwhelmed by an opponent who seemingly has so much less pressure...

Pressure Assessment (*PRA)

To be clear, this is the “splitpushing” skill. But, I’m not calling it “splitpushing”. The reason why is because this skill is actually broader than that. Specifically, PRA means realizing when you have pressure to attack with and when you don’t. good PRA players will recognize one of two things:

The splitpusher can threaten towers and take them if left unchecked.
The rest of the team can see this, and attack elsewhere, giving the splitter time to work.

Due to poor PRA, many splitpushes break down for one of two reasons: The rest of the team is afk farming, so the splitter can be chased down for free. Or, the splitter’s clearly not a threat (deep in his own lane with no TP), on vision, showing the other team that they have a 5v4 if they want it. In other words, good PRA makes *enitre teams* put this together. Poor PRA means people just try by themselves, fail, and blame their teammates.

Push Decisionmaking (*PSH)

This isn’t Dota, you can’t “pull” a lane by shooting your own minions. You can only push, and the result will come from how hard you push, relative to your opponent. Poor laners want to quickly clear and back off, leaving their opponent to spend their effort CSing, and not attacking them. Lane bullies want to set a zone in, scaring the enemy off while maintaining a freeze.

But, this can change in an instant. If an enemy leaves the lane to back, you need to push your minions into his tower, so he can’t get XP or gold from them. If he’s going to roam, you need to choose to follow or to powerpush. Furthermore, you have to get all the way to the tower. Because, if you get a big wave but not to the tower, you’ve just conceded a freeze to your opponent if he wants it.

But, that’s only if you have any PSH skill. If you don’t, you don’t even consider when to push or when not to push.

Shotcalling (*SHC)

This is both the broadest, and most lacking skill in the game. Specifically, it’s the choice to do ANYTHING other than these two options:

Go to your own lane and farm.
Go mid for a 5v5 fight.

Roaming, baiting, warding, counterjungling, diving, ganking...all of these are plays that you have to decide to try. They all fall under the umbrella of “shotcalling”. What’s worse, they all run a risk of failure: if they fail, you lose the XP and gold you left behind from your old position. But, instead of letting this scare you, good SHC means you’re always trying to create something for yourself or your teammates. But, if you don’t have this skill, people just go straight to their own lanes. And then, when their unwillingness to try to win leads them to a loss, they cry about it. Or worse, they’ll be actively angry that you have the temerity to “steal cs”, when you’re actually trying to push to a tower in their lane to get the whole team paid.

Swindling (*SWI)

Many people would refer to this skill as "baiting", that word makes me think of Idiocracy more than I'd like. So I'm using the chess term.

Swindling is getting the opponent to make a mistake. Getting him to chase you into teammates, to facecheck a bush, or choose the wrong lane to go into.

The fact of the matter is that this is a game of information, and if your opponents know everything, they'll play perfectly. You cannot beat them unless they make a mistake somewhere. And, if you intend to take on the best in the world and beat them, you cannot count on them making those mistakes themselves. They're gonna need your help.

Ward Locations (*WDL)

This isn’t entirely what you think when it comes to “warding”. Specifically, putting them in the locations where they can see as much as possible, while being less likely to be found and knocked down. Most people ignore the second part; I really enjoyed that support game where my opponent pinked the same bush 5 times. I was happy to make 150 gold off of the 500 he wasted. If he actually had good WDL, he’d actually make me work to find his wards to destroy them. Also, this refers to taking as much as you can with a ward. If the enemy jungler shows himself top and all laners are in lane, the bottom half of the enemy jungle is open. Good WDL means your team now has multiple deep wards in their bottom jungle. Bad WDL means your team got one ward in the river, or none at all.

Warding Maintenance (*WDM)

This is more what you’d expect when you think of warding. WDM is the ability to identify when you need to ward. I call it “maintenance” because your vision situation begins at 0:00 and doesn’t stop being important until a nexus falls. Good WDM players use their SPD to find time to get wards down, mind their expiration times, and can plan ahead to get renewing wards down to keep hold of the territory they earned about three minutes ago. Bad WDM players still have their non-upgraded trinket 30 mins in, and don’t even consider an action where the goal is “getting a ward down”.

Wanna play a depressing game? Next time you play, look at how many players refuse to play their opponents at level 1: they either go to the first jungle camp and stare at it, or to their own tower and stare at it. Do not expect good WDM from these people. Hopefully, you yourself don’t stare before the minions spawn.

Tactical Play

Tactical play refers to actually executing on the decisions made. You’ve got to press the right buttons, in the right place, at the right time.

Assembly (*ASM)

ASM is the use of abilities, in concert with teammates, in small skirmishes. When you do get that pick or gank, what skill is used first, and by whom? Are you going to properly chain your CC? What do you keep in reserve in case he flashes of something otherwise goes wrong? Good ASM players know who’s got the best skill to lead with, and can properly time their abilities so the CC isn’t stacked. Poor ASM players just button mash, like the Lee Sin that fires the Q, misses it due to an enemy dash, and has no way to continue after that.

Backing Planning (*BKP)

The midlaner’s you are with minions to kill and no mana to kill them with. With autos only, you can’t kill them safely before the next wave arrives...and you can’t bring yourself to miss those either. Here you are, stuck in a trap. Before you know it, your lane opponent is MIA…

BKP means what it says, properly planning for pressing the B key. This means knowing the amount of gold required for your next buy, and also your “Blue Line”, the mana operating costs to continue to play. If you are going to run out of mana, better to push before you do and get down pit lane ASAP, instead of trying to stick around for “one more”...which will turn into another, and another, while your opponent has free reign to do whatever he wants while you’re a caster minion. If you don’t have any BKP, you just back when you feel like it. That way lies the trap.

Lastly, this skill is also used offensively. if you’ve got action across the map, such a a splitpush or backdoor, you have every reason to prevent your opponents from backing. Good BKP recognizes that, bad BKP lets them go save their nexus.

Cooldown Awareness (*CDA)

Good players know their cooldowns. Great players know their opponent’s cooldowns.

Each situation changes dramatically if a key ability is unavailable. Sivir is a significantly easier champion to play against if you got her spell shield. Zed’s much less of a threat after he fires the Q he’s maxing. And what good is a splitpushing Shen with both TP and ult down?

CDA correlates with CER; together they give you the ability to recognize that your opponents have given you an opening to get some work done. If you let these openings go, you have little right to complain when you find yourself losing.

Counter-Engaging (*COE)

It’s odd to put this before its counterpart, ENG, but alphabetical order’s annoying like that. COE refers to the “positioning” people often think of before fights, not sticking out and allowing the enemy engage to come. If you’re an ADC and their Annie’s fed and with her stun up, you had better not stand next to a target, or within her flash+ult range. If you have low COE and do that, you will get what you deserve.

Diagnosing Intent (*DGI)

Many solo queue players think only of themselves: “What do I do?” DGI is the opposite: ”What are THEY doing?” This matters to see what your teammates are thinking and deciding the best way to help, but most critical is what your opponents are doing. If you’ve got DGI skill, you can trade with all cooldowns up because you now the enemy player doesn’t want to trade with you. You can follow or shove lane as the enemy begins their roam, and communicate that info to your teammates. Finally, you can guess where the enemy is going to try their next play, and be there to stop it. On the other hand, poor DGI players just keep going to their same lanes to farm, and use the ? ping when their opponent happens to be elsewhere. Isn’t it funny when you get the MIA ping AFTER the gank has already succeeded against you?

Monster Aggro Awareness (*MAA)

This skill seems simple and narrow, but I’m seeing a lot of people not understanding how the dragon and baron work. You see people stacking up in melee range so the dragon can hit all of them, or an ADC at full refusing to step in to tank and making the 20% hp jungler do it. I am really getting tired of telling people not to stand behind Baron, and to move to avoid Baron’s AoEs. You’re vulnerable when you’re taking these objectives, as the baron or dragon will be giving his damage to your opponents. So, don’t be giving them any damage for free by standing in the wrong spot, or forcing a teammate to get low when you have HP to spare..

Engaging (*ENG)

Wanna get out of low bronze? Learn how to engage. Or, at the very least, use the hidden passive on Amumu’s R: “make teammates start to fight”. ENG refers to getting an advantageous start to a large fight. (Skirmishes fall more under ASM) Specifically, good ENG players understand that they are a *delivery man*. The goal is to get their team’s damage dealers to a target, safely, by defeating the enemy’s use of COE.  Poor ENG players rush in way too far ahead of their team, meaning that their teammates can’t open the package he gave them. Or worse, he’s late, and the fight has begun and teammates are less interested in doing damage and trying to run for their lives.

F-Score (*FSC)

I made this one up myself. It was the result of a training program I made for myself to increase my map awareness. Specifically, I counted how many times I used the F1-F5 keys to instantly shift the camera to a teammate, and then spacebar back to myself. This was so much more efficient than checking the minimap or the health bars, as I could see the enemy’s health, mana, and the disposition of the minions. I could then predict which way the wave would push and how likely it was a fight would happen, and plan accordingly. You can have plenty of awareness without using FSC, but take it from’re missing out.

Finishing (*FIN)

This is the stuff that’ll get you on the highlight reel, terrify your opponents, and rocket you through the lower leagues. FIN means collecting kills on opponents when they’re there. You’ll need to know your champion and their “Red Line”, the amount of damage they can deliver if they hit everything. With proper use of this skill, you can know when every ability and a few autos are enough for you to collect. If you’re bad at this though, you’ll consistently get the answer wrong, either by firing off everything and failing, or by not fighting when you have a kill there for you.

Gank Assist (*GKA)

Ganking’s like sex: it works better when you have a partner. GKA refers to the laner’s part in making a gank successful. This doesn’t just mean getting pushed then freezing. This means selling your opponent on the idea that it’s safe to fight you, or better, to give a cooldown up that he’ll wish he had to defeat the gank. Sometimes it’s just having the patience to press Nasus’ W at the last possible moment. Or if you don’t have any easy mode abilities, being a good enough laner so that your opponent thinks your aggression is business as usual, even when you’ve got a jungler up your sleeve. On the other hand, poor GKA players do it all wrong, going in too early or too late, throwing away a key ability before the gank starts, or worse, being just oblivious as his jungler runs at the opponent.

Ganking (*GNK)

Now for the actual jungler’s act in the gank, or at least, the roamer showing up to help. Unfortunately, most of these nerds who play this game have never had the pleasure of having to tackle somebody on a football field. In other words, they don’t take the time to get behind their opponent, forcing them to go *through* him to escape. They don’t coordinate with their teammates that it’s on, and they don’t make an effort to get around the wards to surprise their victim. Instead, poor GNK players just run up the river and press a button. Some of these people can’t even be bothered to ping. Can you believe that?

Lane Objective Identification (*LOI)

I went out of my way in another post to get readers to realize how exactly they can win, of the choices they have. If you’re good at this, you can realize that you don’t have to go through the front door every time, and can try something else. You don’t have to “win your lane”, you can go try to win someone else’s or even try to catch the jungler if you’re so inclined. On the other hand, you can make like thaaat no-pressure Vayne who actually think they can farm bottom all the way to Challenger. Good luck with that.

Laning Cadence (*LAC)

Wanna really be a top-class laner? This is the skill for you. LAC is the skill of timing in lane, finding the time to auto a creep, auto the opponent, use an ability, and most importantly, not get hit by an opponent. More than anything, this skill has little to do with your game knowledge, and everything to do with your opponent. This is DGI on a much smaller scale, landing that extra shot and making him miss. Hopefully you have some of this, or you’re going to get your ass kicked up and down a lane like I did that one time.

Matchup Knowledge (*MUK)

The good news is that this is one of the simplest ways to climb. Good MUK will get you very far. The bad news is that this skill covers *everything* that you may see: the champ you’re playing and the opponent they’re up against. With over 14 thousand possible matchups one-on-one, not to mention pairs, you may be in for a long day of googling guides if you’re setting out to learn it all. Understand that this is a two-part skill, and it varies. You may have been spamming Riven top for quite a while, but how well prepared are you to take a Riven into a Jinx? How about a Cassiopeia? Your Riven v. Irelia MUK may be high, but it might not be for others.

Minimap Tracking

I’m sure you’ve heard of the metronome trick where you set a device to click every few seconds to get you to look at the minimap. From my experience, that’s understanding the skill backwards. Instead, if you’re an active player who wants to look for opportunities, you find time for the map to look at it as often as possible. Furthermore, you practice your other skills to make them as automatic as possible. If they require less mental effort, that effort can then be redirected to the map and coming up with the correct strategic play. Furthermore, this coves minimap-visible action. For example, your Ezreal has taken a large dash forward. He didn’t dash, he got Blitz hooked, get down there to swing that fight if you can, or at least clean it up! Or, on the other hand, you can keep staring at those minion bars. Kinda like playing a healer in an MMO, huh?

Positioning (*POS)

At the simplest level, this is the skill of “not getting shot”. Don’t stand too far forward where an enemy can get to you when you don’t want him to. But, It’s more complicated than that. Specifically, this is an extension of champion knowledge. You need to know where to stand and where not to stand, and why. For example, Janna is playing against a Leona with ADCs present. Imagine a line passing through both Leona and Janna’s ADC; Janna needs to stand on that line and keep on the line as the two of them shift spots. This way, if Leona throws her sword, Janna can quickcast a tornado right through Leona’s dash path. Leona gets knocked up without getting into melee range, and now has lost her dash to cooldown. Unless she flashes in to stun, Leona now can’t do anything. Janna’s positioning and reaction time has counterfeited her abilities.

Or, you can just float around and play it where it lies. Best of luck landing that at long range on a target moving side to side.

Teamfight Decisions (*TMD)

A lot of people have a rigidity problem when it comes to teamfights: This is my job and I will do it. Whether or not that job is possible doesn’t enter their thinking. For example, A Rengar player might blow up an ADC instantly, not minding that they have a Guardian Angel. Threshes and Leonas get delusions of being assassins, leaving their ADCs to rot against assassins in the backline. This skill means you’re able to see what the best course of action is. If you’re Renekton and you can’t catch that Vayne and kill her, your new job is to armor shred a frontliner for your ADC. If you’re supporting and your ADC is way behind but your mid mage is fed, you’re not peeling for your ADC, you’re peeing for your MVP. Now, if you don’t understand this, you’ll just have to come up with excuses as to why you lost other than yourself. After all, if you don’t understand this skill, how can you know that you played it wrong?

Tower Dancing (*TWD)

To win a game, you need to get to the nexus. To get to the nexus, you need to get the towers, and sometimes the easiest way is through the front door. This skill refers to sieges and how to properly use your abilities to waveclear or fire at enemy champions as needed. The reverse is also true, as eating one Nidalee spear or a Ziggs bomb will kill your chances in the fight that’s brewing, forcing your team to back off and concede the battle. Well, that’s if you’re good. If you’re not, you still may opt into the losing fight anyway, giving the other team kills on top of the tower. Might want to put a little more thought into spinning in a circle with everyone in the game nearby, huh?

Tower Aggro Awareness (*TAA)

A very quick path out of lower ranks in solo queue is properly understanding dives. Specifically, this skill refers to who should get, and who currently has the aggro from the enemy tower, if there is one. Simply put, the enemy tower is a well-fed but very dumb ADC. It will stand still and attack the same person over and over again until its rules tell it otherwise. If you have this skill, you know these rules and how to exploit them. The right person gets the aggro, and the other know not to attack until the right person does. The “tank” also knows to keep taking shots until he’ll die if he does, giving his teammates time to get the kill before taking aggro themselves. In you don’t have this, you’ll probably be too afraid to dive, mainly because you keep screwing it up whenever you try.


Noncombat refers to your skills and choices made outside the game: in the loading screen, on the runes or mastery page, or outside the game altogether.

Champion Pool (*CHP)

So...who can you play? This is much like MUK, except it’s only one half of the equation. On the champs in your pool, you have a feeling for its AA range, its native attack speeds, and how long the cooldowns are. You don’t need to check when it’s available again, you just know if it’s there or not. Furthermore, you know your Red and Blue Lines, meaning how much damage one line of abilities costs and how much mana those abilities cost, respectively. Bear in mind that doesn’t mean you play them a lot, this means you’ve learned them and know their details. Disregard how many games you’ve played on a champion, see how crisp your autos are with your champion’s AA animation.

Champion Selection (*CHS)

A sad fact of life is that you can’t fit a square peg into a round hole. Fortunately, if you have this skill, you won’t try to. This isn’t CHP, this is the act of choosing them. With this skill, you pull the right champion for what we need. On the broadest scale, this refers to “designing a comp”, the narrow skill is just picking the right champ for this game. For example, if we’re short of AP, waveclear, and we’re facing a Veigar, you should take Lissandra. She can kill minions, do damage, and specifically counter Veigar’s abilities. She can stop his ult with her own and claw through Veigar’s stun cages. Whether or not you can play Lissandra is another issue, but she’s well equipped for the task. On the other hand, you can just keep spamming your
main and see where it gets you. Who knows, you might win the impossible matchup, right?

Chin (*CHN)

In boxing, a boxer’s “chin” is how well he or she can take a punch. Here, this means dealing with mental pain. We get these posts all the time from people who can’t get control of their emotions. You’d think they’re better suited for /r/Anger. just because this game triggers your issues, that doesn’t mean players of this game can help you with those issues. So, give yourself a good examination, and be honest if you need help. I’ll paraphrase some advice I got from John Vorhaus’ Killer Poker: Remember the serenity prayer:

God, Grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.

Regardless of your stance on religion, pay attention to those words. Because if you don’t, you’ll soon realize why Vorhaus refers to tilt as “corking”. You will be a cork, bobbing on the sea of League of Legends”. You will be powerless to affect where that sea takes you, and I can assure you it will take you to places you don’t want to go.

Early Game Planning (*EGP)

So how often do you spend the loading screen time deciding how to play your lane? Are you better off playing for the kill or the roam, and what jungle pressure can you expect, where, and when? Can you make a play with an early roam? If this is a ranked fives game, what’s our level 1 strategy? Or, did you just go to the bathroom or alt+tab to look at cat pictures? This skill refers to the preparation you can take against the the five champions in your game with the 5 champions you have.

Heart (*HRT)

CHN is about external threats to your mental state, HRT comes from the inside. This is the belief that you can win. Some people have HRT for the wrong reasons, such as a massive ego or that they seem to believe that if they surrender, they won’t get into Valhalla or something. But, they do have it, and that’s a plus. Players with low HRT are grim servants of death, queuing up again to see how life is going to disappoint them this time.

Masteries (*MAS)

One of the most straightforward skills, this is the ability to choose the masteries for a game. Not even just for one champion, but a specific page for this game, in question. You should have opened up the page, and looked at the rules for each mastery. Hopefully, you didn’t just ripoff lolking guides or ask someone to do your thinking for you here.

Meta Knowledge (*MEK)

When I say “meta”, it means how the general public plays the game. In no way is it right or wrong, this only means it’s popular. For example. if you play ignite supports in the juggernaut meta, you might as well just DDoS your own ADC in a teamfight. Clearly you have no interest in keeping him alive with exhaust. Unless the juggernaut has attention deficit disorder, they WILL get to your ADC and they WILL kill him. This skill means knowing what’s popular, therefore what to expect, and therefore again, what to do to adjust.

Meta Adherence (*MEA)

The last skill is knowing what’s popular, and what your opponents will likely play. But, are you on board with everyone else? This skill refers to you, and what you play. Interestingly enough, there are merits to both having this skill and not having it. Good MEA means that you know why something’s popular, and can make it work. If it’s low, you can surprise your opponents with stuff they’re not ready for. Don’t get too extreme though. If you’re a 0 here, you don’t have a coherent play, and you might as well select your champ from Ultimate Bravery. If you’re a 100 here, you won’t be able to innovate, and your opponents will always be ready for you.

Practice Time (*PRA)

Unfortunately, we play a game made by a company that actively hates practice. That having been said, you should still find the time to practice. Be it a CSing custom, or some laning practice with a partner, find the time to practice the game without any pressure. This isn’t an MMO, you will not magically get better by grinding games until an experience bar fills up. You have to grind something (games, guides, practice, videos) until you find the knowledge you’re missing. The better you are at this skill, the less time you spend working towards that end.

Runes (*RUN)

Just like MAS, this is for runes. This is an understanding of what you want in your rune page, and why. For example, I take flat AP instead of scaling AP on Ziggs. I’m not interested in them because of Ziggs’ scaling or early harass. Specifically, I want to kill caster minions with 2 Q bombs with level 2 of the skill, and Q+E with a level 3 Q. Requiring 2 Q bombs + 1 auto each costs me time I don’t want to spend and exposes me to risks while autoing I don’t want to take. This gives me the time and HP required to roam, which is how I play the game with Ziggs mid. How do you play your champion, and which runes will benefit you to that end? Hopefully, this isn’t the first time you’ve thought about it.

Scholarship (*SCH)
My old flair on this sub was “Son, I’ve been playing video games since before you were born!” It’s because I’m a crotchety old man who can’t stand what I see in youth today. In this case, it’s how many people are incapable of learning. In a world where everyone has a Google search bar in their pocket (or at the very least, in their web browsers if they don’t have a phone), so many people aren’t capable of finding things out for themselves. This is why we keep getting these “is this item good on X” or “can’t climb, any tips?” threads around here. Now, if you have this skill, you can go find out information for yourself, once you know what you need to know. For example, on my main champs I keep a “guide collection” with links to guides of matchups, and I’ve bookmarked lol wiki if I need to look up someone’s cooldowns or whatnot.

To see if you can do this, tell me: what’s the atomic symbol for mercury? Maybe you know or maybe you don’t, but if you have the internet in front of you and you can’t find it, you don’t have much of a future in this game. Or in the 21st century, if you ask me.


This is the stuff that solo queue will never teach you. Teamwork refers to skills required for being part of a team.
Assertiveness (*ART)

If you have something to say, say it. But, some people can’t do this. And, it’s a detriment to their fives teams. Almost universally, it’s better to be all on the wrong page than to be on five, separate right pages. To achieve this, someone’s got to stop up and get the five of you to work together. Most people consider their ideas suggestions, and ask “should we do this?” and expect someone else to make the call for them. Hopefully, one of you has the guts to tell other people what to do. A simple test is as follows:

You and your friends are going to order pizza. When asked what topping you want, what do you say?

If you names a pizza topping, you passed. If you said “anything’s okay” or “whatever you’re having”, you failed.
Agreeability (*AGE)
The reverse of the previous skill; if you get told to do something, do you do it?
This is probably the biggest failing professional players have; these kids who got to the top of solo queue in their home servers all by themselves seem to dislike being told what to do. As I said, it’s better for the whole team to be on the same page, and if you refuse to get on board, that’s on you. If you don’t like it, you can bring it up later outside of the game. But, if you take your Vayne bot to sulk because your teammates won’t do it your way, you’re just as much of problem.

Dedication (*DED)

A fact of life is that everything worth seeking is hard. Can you stick with it?

Like I told somebody in the second half of this post, your team is going to struggle, and you’ve got to choose to stick with it or move on. and, if you choose to move on, you won’t make it to the top of this game. In fact, you won’t make it to the top of anything.

Identity Comprehension (*IDC)

Who are you and how do you play? Also, do you try to be something you’re not?
I play lane losers top. I’ll almost never get a kill, am often down 5-10 at 10 minutes, and will put out little pressure in that time. Instead, I look to win with teleports or by trading my tower for an advantage elsewhere. If a ranked team gives me Darius and expects me to carry with him, they’re going to be disappointed. This skill is the ability to realize what you can do and what you can’t, and not to try what you can’t handle. You can try to fix these holes in practice, but fixing them on the field just isn’t going to happen. But, if you disregard this, feel free to keep spamming those comps you saw at worlds.

Networking (*NET)

I have never gotten a job anywhere except for two places: either I knew someone who worked there, or they take anyone with a pulse. You may not want to play on the second type of team, but NET refers to the first one. This is about making friends, building contacts, and seeing about finding the people you need to play for your team. This typically means spending time talking to people or playing meaningless normals with them instead of something else you may want to do, and even then the people you invest time in will still let you down. Are you up to keep investing?

Vocalization (*VOC)

How often do you say “um” when you talk?

It’s universal, every language does this. But, it’s a completely useless noise that blocks out meaningful information. Instead, how good are you at getting your point across as quickly and clearly as possible? That’s what this skill is. Now, I realize that not everyone has taken a public speaking class, but you’ll wish you had if you want to succeed as a team, and you’ve got something to say.


Before I go, I wanted to explain that I’m finally taking students for coaching. It’s by appointment, nights and weekends in NA (Pacific time). Specifically, it’ll be like a lastshadow video with a spectated game first. You play a game, I watch it, and we talk about it over skype afterward. Since it takes a while to discuss a game, the whole thing will take about 2.5 hours, maybe three. So, if you’ve got the time to do that, you can message me here or on my blog at