-Added an AMA section.
-Ask a question via comments and I will be creating blog posts with the answers.
-Will be answering quite frequently.
Hopefully that's a good place to ask questions...
We will see how successful it is :d
On a side note, the amount of appreciation/views this blog has gotten is quite crazy. Thanks for the support and I hope to continue to bring more quality posts.
"How do I get better?"
"How do you guys do it?"
"What is the secret to becoming so good?"
People will ask me these types of questions the most. On the spot, I can't say anything. There are so many different ways to improve. I have been down that path before. After all, I was never a competitive player. I was one of those people who would cheer for CLG when they were at IEM Gamescom.
League of Legends (LoL) is a different game compared to Heroes of Newerth (HoN) and Defense of the Ancients (DotA). Even though they are all of the MOBA genre, LoL emphasizes more on decision making. Do not get me wrong though. DotA and HoN require a similar amount of strategic thinking. Maybe I should say LoL requires less mechanics. There. I won't delve quite into it (maybe a different post as it is quite a big topic I could talk about... I've played all 3 games at a pretty high level so just trust me on this)
It does not mean mechanics are still not important. Mechanics are required in every role minus perhaps jungle. If you do not have the decision making skills to back your mechanics up, you are worthless. If you are getting ganked by 2 people and you had no idea it was coming... well, you're probably dead. Mechanics won't save you. This happens quite often due to the small map size.
What is also important is, many heroes in league don't require you to be good at skillshots. Take a look at heroes like Ryze/KhaZix/Zed/Twisted Fate/Shen etc. Almost all of these heroes have no skillshots but are still top competitive picks. All you need is above average mechanics to play them and you are good.
Let me go on a slight tangent here and explain how League kind of works and how I perceive League.
League is a game of pressure. The drafting stage is to help you create a team composition to help pressure the map and win you the game. If you can outpressure the enemy team, you will win the game by overwhelming their base. Sometimes, your team composition might be weak early, but it might be stronger late game. Sometimes, your team composition might be incredibly strong early, but weak later on. Recently, Caitlyn/Lulu was a heavily picked bottom lane combo. Its pushing power is insane and the pressure you can create early game can snowball the game versus inexperienced teams. By taking a tower, you can completely control the map by controlling where you send Caitlyn/Lulu. Doing so will give your team more gold/exp via taking towers and more map control -> dragons -> more towers -> baron. More gold/exp will most likely help you win a teamfight. Very rarely do teams set up a team comp where their early game is complete trash but their late game is god (greedy team comps as I like to call it). Most of the time, you will see all around strong team comps (during lane, mid game, and late game). What a team picks is all preference (or based on covering their weaknesses or playing off their strengths).
When you die. You lose pressure. When you die at a crucial time to push, you lose momentum (therefore the inability to pressure). When you win (or kill someone), you can CHOOSE to 1. do nothing with it (therefore, not pressure) or 2. do something with it and take a tower. Lower ELO players will run into #1 quite often. They killed this guy in lane... now what? Not buy wards and then give back the lead? Could happen. Maybe not heal and not buy items? Definitely a possibility. Maybe team wipe the opposing team... then not do baron. Sounds about right. Decision making... like I said.
So... how do I get better as a player?
1. Improve mechanics
2. Improve game flow by improving map awareness
3. Play the game and understand your hero [limits] - spacing
4. Decision making (note 1+2+3 => helps 4)
(1) Improving mechanics
Mechanics are what allows you to get into this position to make a decision. By outplaying your opponent and killing them, you are now able to make a decision of what to do. So mechanics are kind of important. There are easy ways to improve your mechanics. Mechanics is a broad category that I like to split apart.
a. Last hitting
c. Precision clicking
a. Go into a custom game and practice last hitting on a hero you like to play for about 10 minutes. You should hit around 90-100 cs. Do this everyday and you will naturally get better. Last hitting is much harder when you are fighting vs someone else though. To solve this, you can just 1v1 someone so you can practice finding a balance between harassing/last-hitting. You will learn how to space as you play this game. More on spacing in (3).
b. Play nothing but skillshot heroes. I remember playing nothing but lee sin, ezreal, lux, nidalee, kogmaw just to help improve my skillshots. A tip: don't smartcast skillshots. By taking the time to aim (even for a split second) it increases accuracy tremendously.
c. Precision clicking is basically being able to hit the target you want to hit during say... the middle of a clusterfuck teamfight. 4 people around you and you can't click that 1 hp hero? Well... you let him live. By being able to utilize your skills (i.e. ignite) on the correct target allows you to basically do your job. ADCs require extremely good precision clicking. Take for example Vayne. You have 2 silver bolts procced on one guy then you accidentally clicked someone else. You just lost a lot of your dps. To practice this... well it mainly has to do with hand eye coordination. Playing games like OSU (or just the game) can help you quite a bit.
(2) Improve game flow by improving map awareness
You need to be able to know where your enemies could potentially be. Obviously there is no way to know all the time, but there are some ways you can. The easiest way is through wards. By having wards placed at proper choke points, you can play without being afraid of being ganked. Map awareness can be improved by knowing what jungle path they are taking. Maybe their mid lane came from their blue. Chances are, their jungler is now gonna go to his red (which gives you a window of like 1 minute of safety). The most dangerous times are when someone can be anywhere. In that event, you just play back and safe. Dying is the worst possible thing you can accomplish.
Say your opposing laner randomly does go bottom lane. Say 5 people are bottom lane. What happens if you aren't paying attention and you are scared out of your mind to even move forward. That's a problem. You need to be able to watch the map to know as soon as someone is in another lane, you want to try to get something out of it. If you are freezing on purpose... good job! (just as long as your other lanes can hold...) If you are freezing and well your lane opponent is taking everything on the map... well you are doing nothing. Being able to differentiate between when to push and freeze is something that comes from playing the game. Knowing how to punish and knowing how to trade is extremely important that only comes from playing the game.
(3)Play the game and understand your hero [limits] - spacing
Play the game. Play the game. If you don't play the game and not know what your opponent does... you are kind of screwed. Maybe he knows exactly what your hero does and knows its weaknesses. If you don't know cooldowns, mana costs, skill builds, you are in deep trouble. If you play the game and learn all of these different things it only helps you. By being able to play multiple heroes (and not just 1 role WHICH A LOT OF LEAGUE PLAYERS TEND TO DO)... chances are you are in a more advantageous spot. I cannot emphasize this enough. I am able to play almost every hero in this game at a capable level. I took the time to learn what they all do. (sure I don't know what Yorick does still because fuck that hero LOL) One of the biggest reasons why this happens is cause of how the League system works. By not being able to play every hero... well, you can't play -ar like you can in DotA. So you are exposed to a lot less champions. When I started this game though, I knew whenever it was a new week of champions I played them all in an instant to figure out what they do and in search of someone incredibly fun.
By knowing the limits of your hero, it allows you to play accordingly. You know when to take advantage of maybe their long cooldown. Maybe they are incredibly strong at level 6 so you should play passive from now on. Knowledge is the key to this game. It helps your decision making and allows you to play reactively.
Every lane requires you to know how to space. Spacing is basically purposefully creating a distance between you and your opponent. If you know the exact range of their spell, you can stand just outside of it. He walks forward, you walk backward. You are spacing vs him. Doing so allows you play safe and outside of his reach. Hey, maybe you have longer range and he has lower range. In that case, space outside of his range and utilize your long range. Now you can harass without fear of getting harassed i.e Syndra vs Ryze matchup. By knowing the extent of your and your opponent's hero, you can play the matchup smart.
(4)Decision making (note 1+2+3 => helps 4)
So all of this (1/2/3) all help aid your decision making. All of this is basically knowledge. By knowing more, you can do exactly what you need to do in the right situation. Play a bit safe because you know their jungler is nearby. Play aggressively cause you know their jungler isn't here. You have to be able to process the information and utilize it effectively... decision making.
Learn. When you lose a game you have to have the mentality of "What did I do wrong?". If you continually to blame your team for sucking and not doing something properly, you are in the wrong (almost 99% of you guys out there). You need to be able to learn from why you just died. Figure out what you can improve on. "Hey... I missed a lot of last hits here for no reason. I shouldn't do that."
"I just got harassed for free here.. why?" "Oh his range is much longer than me... I shouldn't walk up like that in the future"
"Why did I just get ganked? NO WARDS??"
By constantly asking yourself why (like I do after every game), you improve as a player. It might be a slow and tedious process, but I can guarantee you that MANY people that play League do not do this. I've played MOBAs for a long time... I did not get good instantly...
So there you have it. Kind of droned off... Hopefully it makes somewhat sense.. Not going to proofread this (even though I probably should.. hmm) Oh well. Hope this makes a bit more sense. If there is anything you guys want me to expand on (maybe in a future post...) well just tweet at me ^o^
I have asked these questions to myself and my team multiple times. CLG was branded as a top 3 team in the beginning of the season, but as the season carried on, its reputation as a strong team dropped slowly. CLG went into a losing streak that made everyone the team question themselves. It was a dark period and even coming out of it was rough (still is).
So why did we lose so often?
If we were ever in a game-winning position, we would throw many times. I could count over 70% of the games that we lost where we had a gold lead at some point in time that we decided to give back. Obviously, the most recognizable ones are our game vs Vulcun (when we ran Karthus top and Katarina mid vs AP Nidalee) and Marn (where Nien 1v5 hard carried as Tristana). These two games are two huge game throwers. But most of the time, the reason why we lose happens in an instant. The momentum we once had shifts completely.
Misplay multiple teamfights hard because we did not know what to do (occurred earlier in the season).
Someone gets caught.
Freeze instead of pushing.
Somebody dies despite knowing all they had to do is play back/safe.
These are the main reasons why CLG has lost all of their games. This happens every time we lose and this easily results into a snowball effect. Somebody dies -> they get a tower -> more towers -> map control -> dragon/baron and then well, they win. Another scenario is when somebody dies as we group to pressure the map -> lose momentum/delay our window of going on the offensive -> they catch up -> etc.
This is 70% of the reasons why other teams lose too.
What surprises me is that these many problems happened in such a team that I consider "veteran". CLG has no doubt regressed in terms of strength. Well... I can't completely assume that as maybe these problems did exist when they were playing during IPL5/Korea. To this date, many of these problems happen daily.
The 3 games in Azure are 3 games that none of these mistakes almost never happened. The next few games that we play will determine how much we have learned as a team and show our progress (in which I cannot wait to play ^^).
Why we lose and why we are so inconsistent are directly related. By not fixing these problems despite knowing them results in heavy losses. It is one of the biggest reasons why many of the people on our team felt our practice schedule was so inefficient. In the beginning of the season, we scrimmed around 8 hours a day playing from 3-11pm. We would watch replays here and there and speed through it. A lot of it has changed. Today we only scrim around 6 games total and spend the rest of the time talking about the game and scrutinizing the replay. The same mistakes would happen multiple times over and over and over and over again. It was painful.
Note that many of these mistakes have nothing to do with what most of the community thinks. They don't know the other side of the game. i.e. We don't lose because we always play team comp: "Protect the Doublelift" We lose because of other reasons.
Well, we established why we lose and how we lose. Of course, there were times when we had no idea what to do as it was a completely new scenario and proceeded to learn from it. But besides that, what else? If we were so conscious of it all, why did it keep happening?
Playing LCS games is completely different than scrimming. In scrims, the average death count is probably easily 20-30. First blood happens in the first 5 minutes. In LCS games, the average death count is probably like 10-20 with first blood happening sometimes after the 10th minute mark. Why? Because the games actually matter.
There is pressure and there is fear. Everyone feels this no matter what. Communication in LCS games is much more solid (sometimes). There is no bickering and arguing during those games. CLG in scrims != CLG in LCS. There are also times when high pressure situations arise. Suddenly, everyone starts going crazy. Everyone becomes hyphy, communication becomes chaotic, and everyone feels rushed. I was a victim of this. My legendary flash wall Anivia, flash Rumble E, jump into Baron with Khazix without waiting for my team are all examples. That's when I knew.
You have to be calm. By staying calm and playing like the way you do in scrims allows you to play your best. Being level-headed is the most important aspect in any single moment of your life. Decisions made on emotions result in bad results (well, not all the time). "Stay calm" I told myself. After the first half of LCS I learned how to keep my cool during the middle of the game. Everyone on the team acknowledged this and made an effort to calm everyone down during such moments. We encouraged each other and did not call people out. Keeping a positive and level atmosphere was key. Upon learning this, my consistency skyrocketed.
Kelby always said CLG never plays like they do in scrims. It is true. The way we play in LCS is a lot different. We don't plan level 1s and picks/bans in scrims. We play 100% reactively. This is the polar opposite of what we did in LCS matches. That is what we figured out. I touched on this point in my previous post (after our loss vs Vulcun). We learned and improved. Constant reminders on this team is key (at least that is what I believe). CLG is especially good at ending games; however, getting to that point is the tricky part and the part in which we work on next.
Replicating the same environment to become comfortable is extremely important and I feel that is the lesson to be learned from all of this.
4.26.2013 - CLG vs Vulcun 1:2
5.12.2013 - CLG vs Azure Cats 3:0
The weeks leading up to playoffs and promotion have been some of the longest weeks I have ever lived.
After playing 8 hours of scrims everyday starting from January, I got burned out from the game. It never happened to me before and it just felt both mentally and physically exhausting.
When the Spring season ended and we saw our bracket, we knew we had the hardest bracket. The seeding in the LCS season meant absolutely nothing minus TSM. There was no such thing as a bottom 4. It was literally TSM + the bottom 7. Any of the bottom 7 teams can beat each other on any given day. Some teams just looked worse going into playoffs (CRS/DIG).
Vulcun was going to be no easy opponent and we all knew this. The team consists of 3 of my former teammates so I knew their strength. They are incredibly versatile, which meant they could pull out any team composition they wanted. It just depended on their mood. What made it scarier was that Vulcun only showed 1 specific team comp during super week and didn't play in week 9. This meant that Vulcun could surprise us quite easily. We knew we were going to be playing dark.
Scumbag Benny (Sycho Sid) and Chris (Zuna) removed me from their friends list :( (to prevent me from seeing what they play)
All we could infer from was what they were playing in solo q and that is how we planned. That entire week, we played a variety of different champions. Hotshot learned Diana top and practiced only that in scrims. Chauster stuck to his roots with Jarvan, Lee sin, and a little bit of Volibear. Doublelift practiced Tristana because we wanted to first pick Tristana in all of those games. I played my Orianna/Lux all day everyday. I was well versed with those two champs and was confident into any matchup.
But what happened?
The day before the game we psyched ourselves out and this is something we always do. We changed our plans and had no intention of first picking Tristana, but instead focused on taking away their Sona/MF/Jarvan combo. We thought of a level one that we never practiced. Our picks became stale and well, we tunneled on picks.
Because we never practiced the level one and they got vision from a Jarvan flag, our invasion went sour. The time ticked 1:30 and it was too late for Doublelift and Aphromoo to base and they put themselves in a matchup where they could get infinitely camped by Jarvan + Thresh lantern while in a counter matchup (Sona/Vayne vs Thresh/Tristana). Everything went bad and one mistake with our Orianna/Malphite teamcomp can snowball the game. With Karthus global pressure and Jarvan camping our strongest asset, we gave up constant kills and this snowballed the game.
The game went relatively well. Top lane (our duo lane) drew pressure and managed to bait Mancloud's flash. This allowed me to pick up a first blood and I was able to completely snowball off of this. One kill allowed me to get wards to play up and I farmed hard. By having control over mid lane, I was able to push in Karthus and roam bottom as a play was happening bot. I arrived at the right time and was able to win the fight. With this advantage, we pressed our lead and won the game.
Our biggest mistake came from us forgetting what we've learned. I was being 2v1d by their bot lane and I was doing fine if not well. Our bottom lane smashed Diana into the ground, but instead of taking the tower, they denied the creeps and left them in a weird position where they could not take the tower anymore. Chauster came middle instead of staying bottom to take the tower and our mid tower died. Because of this, their bottom lane roamed top took more towers, roamed bottom, took a dragon along with a tower, and Diana caught up. All because of 1 simple mistake. Many inexperienced players probably won't understand the importance of just being able to take 1 tower faster. To put it simply, by winning the tower race, it allows you to move around the map and you get to choose where you want to create pressure. If you can't take a tower, you are simply a placeholder, if not useless in the early game. We outplayed ourselves and lost the game.
We lost and we were sad. We were on the verge of losing everything we worked for.
We had a 4-5 hour long talk about what to do and what we just learned from losing those games. We knew not to tunnel on picks anymore. We knew to pick up more champions to create a more diverse playstyle. By understanding our mistakes and learning from them, we became stronger.
Vs. Azure Cats
Azure Cats beat us like 7-2 or something the day before our Vulcun match. They were our scrim partners. Knowing this, I was afraid. I knew they were a good team, but I knew we can outsmart them. Despite the mental pressure, everyone on the team expanded their hero pool (by this, people revisited old heroes that we used to play - Diana, Nidalee, Urgot, etc.) I did as much research as possible and drew up a list of 20 heroes they could possibly play and drew up a list of 10 heroes they most likely were going to favor and pick. Their match vs Double Buff allowed us to adjust some of our information and prepare accordingly. We had them read.
I was nervous. I haven't been nervous in a long time. I learned how to deal with pressure and overcome most of my choking I dealt with during the first half of the season. I practiced breathing and calming myself down before and during the game. By staying level headed, I was able to focus and play properly.
The picks and bans went solidly. The only thing that caught us slightly off guard was the Rammus pick. We knew they could potentially pick it, but it did not faze us. With a strong 4 man comp and a Nidalee, we were able to win our teamfights strong. Our team comp straight up countered their dive comp and were able to snowball our win from the first teamfight quite easily.
We were all smiling and making small jokes. The pressure lifted. Picks and bans happened and everything went perfectly. Almost too perfect. We got absolutely everything we wanted and Aphromoo said "Pick me Blitz". Instawin. With our invasion, we were able to get deep wards along with a first blood that allowed us to secure me blue. Chauster counterjungled his heart out only to buy two boots (h4h4) and our map control simply extended. We waited for our core items to finish and by playing the game correctly, we took objective after objective and forced teamfights when they had a positional disadvantage. We won game 2.
We were laughing now, but we were still cautious. Chauster said that all it could take was one game to swing the momentum completely around. I sat there during the break mapping out everything that could possibly happen. What will they pick? What will they ban? What are we gonna do? We were going to do what we came here to do. Win. We pick a really strong mid game lineup and dominated the early game laning phase. Come mid game, we outplayed in teamfights and sieged our way to victory. It was a smooth win. It was a damn satisfying win.
We dominated those games.
I was happy. I hate losing. Losing to ourselves is a large part of the equation as to why we are so inconsistent. But damn. We played some good league and we intend to do it again. The whole season was just a way to expose our weaknesses. A lot of our attitude problems have been solved. Next season is going to be a fresh new start and if we make new mistakes, we will learn from them. I am always learning when I play this game. To get better. To win.
I will be posting on this blog pretty sporadically (heck it might be daily).
I want to use this blog to create a closer connection with myself and the community, but I am not sure how intensely I want to make this associated with League of Legends. I intend on making this blog casual with an air of professionalism (if that makes any sense). These posts will be as honest (and hopefully cohesive) as possible.
Likewise, I will be making a lot of adjustments to the site as I develop this blog.
Expect stuff like:
Guides/Commentary on the game
Thoughts about the team
Thoughts about other teams
Random life stories
If you have any critiques/advice send me a message on Twitter. I'll read it. Thanks ^^