Wednesday, October 14, 2015

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

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