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4 - Improving As A Player

"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)
5. Learn

(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
b. Skillshots
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.

(5)Learn
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^

"It's easy to be good, but it's hard to be great"

L


25 comments:

  1. Anonymous17.5.13

    god damn it link you're the best

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  2. I like point 3 the most but 5 is probably what the majority of players can benefit the most from.

    Don't deflect blame when it is your fault but more importantly, don't be content if you've had one good game. Sounds pessimistic but a part of becoming a better player is learning what you did wrong and not making the same mistakes.

    Good read, Link. ^^

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  3. Anonymous17.5.13

    bookmarking this and will keep reading my status msg on league right literally is not sure how to improve so this was amazing to see and read ty link. =)

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  4. Anonymous17.5.13

    Here's a pretty good guide on improving yourself I found awhile back... http://www.squidoo.com/improving-elo-guide

    Maybe Link should give us his own opinions on some of the stuff mentioned in there.

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  5. Dang this was a great post Link! I found myself nodding my head to basically everything you wrote here. GOOD STUFF! Keep it up! :D

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  6. Anonymous17.5.13

    Good tips. How do you feel about reviewing your own vods? waste of time or good learning?

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  7. How can you say zed twisted fate and others don't have skillshots? Twisted fate requires a tremendous amount of skill and try hitting all three Q's on zed.

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  8. Anonymous17.5.13

    Legit

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  9. Anonymous17.5.13

    And that's why watching NA games and Asian games are so different? Mechanics are on a whole different level, so is the decision making. Watching NA games is like watching any other streamer in a solo queue game while Asian games look like an actual competitive match. Skill combos, positioning (which can be on the decision making side), overall just better champion control. I mean.. seriously? Even the NA all star team is happy going 6-2 against NA teams that would go 0-100 against any top non-allstar Asian team? Stop scrimming NA teams, stop being satisfied beating NA teams, LoL is a global game now.

    There is still a HUGE mechanical skill gap between NA and Asia/some EU. You guys swear it's not that big of a difference, like Dyrus said after worlds. Stop being delusional, there is a huge difference, especially under pressure.

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous17.5.13

      You exaggerate the skill level of asian teams. Aside from kt rolster playing against moscow 5 and curse, you have almost nothing to compare asia with since worlds.

      Are top asia teams extremely good? Yes
      Does that make them all good? No

      Delete
  10. Anonymous17.5.13

    Good Stuff Link. Thank you for taking the time to do this and your other blogs. I've read each one and each one has shown that you are putting thought and sincerity into them. Thank you for this. Cheers

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  11. Anonymous17.5.13

    I've something to add. Even tho i am a nobody but this needs to be said. You need to be willing to commit high levels of concentration, off-playtime and brain-capacity to activly get better in general. Only natural talents get better without studying. Such a level of thinking is all about leaving your comfort zone for alot of us. So improvement comes with a drop in fun during learning, but rewards ten-fold when everything comes together.

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous4.3.14

      I agree with that completely , I've probably spent as much time playing as I have studying about it which doesn't bother me because I love learning (about interesting things ) and I know that it's making me a better player . It's a mix of learning the ins and outs of the game through experience and outside knowledge such as tutorials , guides , etc.

      Delete
  12. Good job link =D

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  13. Anonymous17.5.13

    THANKS LINK!= D

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  14. Thank you soooo much for this link, and keep it up! This guide could not have come at a better time for me, as I feel as a Mid laner I've hit a wall... wining lane and not the game gets frustrating after the 11'th time straight :D

    Anyways Rooting for you guys in the next split!

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  15. This is probably your best entry yet!! You're timing probably couldn't be better because I've been recently racking my brain on how to get better and you've come to the rescue!! Thank for writing this, Link. :]

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  16. Great read! Link is the best!

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  17. Maybe the addition of knowing and analyizing the enemy laner/team and proceeding to actually think in advance a way of outplaying them (dodging skillshots, knowing what to buy, how to position, losing/gaining vision for a play) would have been nice but taking that away i share every thought in here LoL is a game of who can pressure the most just as you said. gj link

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  18. Anonymous17.5.13

    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.


    You can still use smartcasting and aim. if you hold down the key of the smartcast spell until you are ready to cast it will give you a reticule of the spell in the direction your cursor is pointed.

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  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  20. Very well put together post, even if it gets a bit ramble-y. I agree with all of your points, I think.

    What I want to know is whether you regular cast skill shots using the normal keys (qwer) or if you still have them smartcasted and just use shift+(qwer) to regular cast?

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  21. I disagree with the point "non-smartcast skillshots". I'm not a pro player at all but I got used to it and the aim is far more better than w/o smartcast, a simple logic behind that was "I use skills faster - they go off cd faster". The only problems occured with the bc grab and leona ult, these were the only 2 skillshots I was missing for a while and was using standart cast for them but then I just got better in their usage and voala - gg :P

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  22. Logic games are totally mind games. Simply the use of logics and physics the game can be played. Anyhow, the details you share to improve as a player is awsome.

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  23. Anonymous17.3.14

    Dude thank you im a B5 an i need help
    you helped me i will try it in blind an after ranked :D

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