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Top 10 "small things that made me play better"

XelNecra January 21, 2013 User blog:XelNecra

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Many people i meet in LoL search for ways to improve their play, but are not really willing to do much for it. I somehow understand that. Often players, me included, just want to play the game and don't really aim for becoming a professional player who earns a living with playing LoL. And while i aim for becoming a better player, i really do not have the time to sit down and practice all and every day.

That is why i searched for ways to improve my play without having to put much effort into it.

I found surprisingly many ways to do so, and i decided that i want to share those with the community. In the following, i prepared a list of easy-to-do things that drastically improve your game in return. Here is my Top-10-List of those easy-to-do-things. Since i have more than 10 of those little tricks, i added the remaining points after the top-10-list, but in no specific order. Also, i added a statistic about "Effort in - > Effect out" with values rangeing from 1 to 10, where i subjectively rate how much effort leads to how much effect, so you can decide for yourself what of the following things is "worth learning" to you. (In Effort, a rating of 1 is pressing a key and 10 is learning a different language. In Effect, a rating of 10 is auto-win and 1 is +10 gold per game).

Some might utilize this list, some might not. If it helped you in any way, i am glad i could help. If it didnt help you… well, then it didnt help you. Noone forces you to read, and if you think what i do is a waste of time then it's your own fault that you wasted it, because you decided to read it, not me.

And yes, i messed up with the content box, so what.

Rank 10 - Counterpicking

When i encountered my first draft pick match, i was a little confused. But already in my second game i understood that you can use the system to pick champions that are extremely efficient against the lane-enemies, and thereby build a vital advantage above the opponent. After hundreds of matches, I fail to understand why so many players do not understand this simple system that i, with an average degree of intelligence, grasped in my second match. Do. Not. Pick. First. If. It's. Easy. To. Counter. When i hear people calling a champion instead of a lane, i already want to cry.

Understanding this system is a huge advantage, with the limitation that you loose this advantage if your teammates do not understand (or do not want to understand) the system. Nontheless, it has earned a spot on this list. The only downside is that you need access and understanding of many different champions, but as soon as you reach a certain level of understanding the game, you can play all champs at least on a moderate level with little time effort.

  • Effort in: 3
  • Efffect out: 6

- Rank 9 - Reacting to SS

Due to common misconception, people do NOT say SS just so you can not blame them when you die to a gank. They say SS because someone is missing, and this means that the chance for you to get ganked just doubled. If that's not a reason to go back, then you either bought wards or you actually want die.

It's really not hard. When you read SS, then maybe toss out a spell or two to get some of the minions and then walk away. If you do not know where a champ is, he could be right behind you, and dieing is always a bad thing. SS also does not replace mapwide awareness. You should always have an eye on the minimap, and maybe ask other lanes where their enemy is if he did not say SS.

Just stepping back a bit, and actually preparing that a gank might happen after someone said SS saves me a death every game, and thereby had a significant impact on my overall game-performance

  • Effort in: 3
  • Effect out: 7

- Rank 8 - Playing niche champs

There are over 100 champions out there. How many of them did you play already? 

I think the only champions that i truly never touched yet are Trundle and Darius. Trundle simply does not appeal tome, and while I always wanted a cool, blood-themed champion I find Darius way too underpowered, no escape, nosustain, tons of counters, the usual stuff. Playing many different champions helped me a lot. You dont only learnabout the limits and possibilities of the champion, but you might also find that you do extremely well with a niche champion. Xerath, Poppy and Sejuani are examples for me. When I picked up Xerath, he was noteven one of the 100 most played champions, probably for a reason, but i somehow manage to do extremely well with him, and as long as I am not facing Ahri I usually win every laning phase with him. 

Though playing every champion takes quite some endurance and time, it gives great returns. This is why i decided to put it into my top 10.

  • Effort in: 4
  • Effect out: 7

- Rank 7 - Pings

Saying "ss" is not your duty. It is your duty to inform your teammates that they are in danger because someone s missing. Saying "ss" is a good way to do that, but if you see that your enemy mid is going to gank your top-lane who is pushing like mad, and your mate does not react to an "ss", use PINGS.

It has two advantages. First, if the enemy gets a kill, it is bad for you. So, if your teammate dies, and all you say is "i said ss, not my fault", then it is still your PROBLEM. You, as team, have a common opponent. And every kill the opponent does not get is good for you. Pinging in addition to calling "ss" can save the life of someone who just missed out to read the chat, we're all human, we all make mistakes. Second, it shows your teammates that you care about them. This is important, and can be game-changeing. More about that in one of the next points.

  • Effort in: 1
  • Effect out: 9

- Rank 6 - Timing Buffs

Knowlegde is power. If you know when buffs and dragons respawn, you gain power over everyone who does not. On lower elo and in most normal games i play, hardly anyone times anything. You can use this to your advantage. I am honest, i struggle to keep in mind 5 different times (both blue, both red and dragon), but keeping in mind one or two times is already returning a lot. Steal one blue buff from the enemy team and you put them into a major disadvantage already.

Even only timing the first 2-3 blue buffs will return a lot - especially when they are your enemies'.Timing dragon in a coordinated team gives you an immense gold advantage as well. Because already timing one single respawn returns a lot, this is a very low effort trick worth learning. And even though i did not perfect it myself yet, it deserves this spot on the list already.

  • Effort in: 2
  • Effect out: 7

- Rank 5 - Stop Greed

Getting a kill and dieing for it is an option. Getting a kill and not dieing for it is a better option. When you have two options now, and one is, by default, the better option, which one would you pick?

After dieing over and over just to get a kill, i decided that the better option could be better. Guess what, it was. Getting a kill is rewarding, but getting a kill without dieing, thats even more rewarding. It's not worth to jump into 5 people just to burst down their low-HP AP carry, giving you one kill and giving the enemy team a kill and 4 assists.

Taking only guaranteed kills, where i know that i can get away with it, made me a much better player. 

  • Effort in: 1
  • Effect out: 8

- Rank 4 - Juking Skillshots

Running away from something sounds simple, but is an art of its own. Especially when you are running from a Lee-Sin, Morgana, Ezreal or anyone else who has a skillshot that either impedes you heavily or kills you right away when you are at low health.

It is very easy to panic in a situation where you have to escape, but by controlling that panic i learned to juke skillshots. I realised something very important while i played a mid lane. I was up against a Ryze on mid and Lee Sin in the jungle. Then, when i was ganked by Lee Sin, he missed his sonic wave. He was not able to jump me and therefore could not slow me, and therefore Ryze did not get into range to cage me, and i got away pretty unharmed, without using flash.

Moments like that happened a few times already, but this time i noticed that Lee-Sin appearing was not a reason to panic. I do not have to be afraid of Lee Sin, i have to be afraid of his skillshot. There is no reason to panic because if the skillshots miss me, i am not really in danger. After some practice, i stopped to panic whenever i was ganked, and I was able to focus on learning how to evade skillshots. You will realize how harmless many champs are if they do not hit their skillshots.

Having learned this saves me a lot of HP or even deaths, and a lot of flashes as well. Thats why learning to juke has to definitely be on this list.

  • Effort in: 7
  • Effect out: 10

- Rank 3 - Psychological Aspects

When you feel good, you perform good. When you feel bad, you per form bad. When someone is nice to you, you like him. When someone is mean to you, you do not like him. When someone sets you under pressure, you might make more mistakes than if you were relaxed. When someone insults you, you are less likely to respect him. 

Those are basic psychological aspects that you can find in literally every part of your entire life, at every stage, at every age, at work, at school, at home… Why the hell do so many people think it is different in this game? Shouting at someone will not make him better. Cheering him up at least has a chance that he will keep doing his best. When you flame your team, it is YOUR fault that you loose the game.

Look at competitive play. When someone dies 3 times, it doesnt mean that the game is already lost. It is the teamwork that wins or looses a game, and teamwork can not be efficient when there is no team spirit, and flaming, insulting, rageing, trolling and all this shit DESTROYS team spirit, while forgiving mistakes, being nice and cheering up people will BUILD teamspirit. Incredibly simple.

Some other easy ways to build team spirit: avoid strong words ("shut up" is already a strong word, everything that can potentially offend someone is), tell people to keep it up and do their best, repeat that "we can win this", when someone dies or feeds tell them that it is no big deal (even if it is a big deal, but they already know that they play bad, they dont need you to tell them. But if they have the feeling that you still respect them, they will keep doing their best and troll/intentional feed chances sink drastically! Also when you flame them you put them under pressure, like "get kills or i will insult you more", which leads into even more risky play by him), and most  important: when they do something good, let them know! Writing "GJ" is neither time consuming nor does it hurt you in any way. Also, always respect the support. When he is good at warding, say it. Typing "nice warding, keep up the good work" will make sure that he keeps doing his job. Especially supports are often neglected. But the more motivated he will be when you actually tell him he is doing his job good.

When people trust you, they are more likely to play together with you rather than compete with you. Just because you're anonymous on the internet does not mean that you can behave like shit all day. Enough said. Realizing this simple fact is probably the easiest way to improve your win-ratio while coming at no disadvantage whatsoever. Just because there is no stat for it, psychology is not less important than anything else.

  • Effort in: 1
  • Effect out: 7

- Rank 2 - Warding

I can not stress enough how much warding made me a better player. I hated warding. But literally every good  player talked about warding here and vision there and counterwarding and oracles and whatnot. So i though, give it a try, and it worked! I realised the Maths behind it.

Each time you take farm that is not close to your tower, you risk being ganked. And a successful gank means feed for the jungler and your laning opponent, and that means you will have more problems farming after that. So by warding and preventing those ganks form happening, you can farm freely. Wards do not cost money, they EARN you money. This discovery had a great impact on my entire performance in any role. Keeping wards up takes a little practice, but becomes routine after a few dozen games, so i think it is easy to learn.

  • Effort in: 5
  • Effect out: 10

- Rank 1 - Secure kills, appreciate Assists

When judgeing a player, most people pick kills and deaths and think that was something determinative. It obviously is not most of the time.

Many things, like buff control, dragons, towers or rescued teammates are not in those statistics, while most of these objectives are probably worth more than one or even three kills. Also, after you died several times you are not worth much gold anymore when you die, and this fact opens possibilities that can be game-changeing. People have to waste skills, maybe even ults, on you, just to kill someone who is not worth anything. There is much depth in that, but i will not go into detail with this one now. All in all, that said: statistics mean nothing most of the time. But money means something. When you get a kill, you will get some money, which is cool, but when a teammate helps you with the kill, there will be a kill and an assist, resulting in more money for the team.

Now, if you hit someone for 99% of the damage, and then your jungler comes and takes the kill, how is that bad? It is a GOOD thing! It means that you will have more money as a team, and that is what counts. When you do that with every kill of the game, you get massively more money overall. On a side note, from a realistic point of view, getting a kill will just add a number to your stats. Noone cares about that. It's not like your life partner will come in after the game and say "WOAH! You got 10 kills! Awesome! Let's marry at once!", and at work, your boss won't come and say "Mr. Lolgamer, you had such a marvellous game yesterday, you got all those 10 kills, thats why i decide that I will raise your wage!" and Riot will not call you and say "Congrats, we just watched the game and you played so awesome that we want to feature you in our next Episode of 'pro player picks' ", fuck, all this will never happen, but if you manage to get a gold advantage of roughly 100 gold for every kill in the game, then you have more money, that WILL happen.

I will try to make this short, but i have also to scratch the "what if"-topic. When someone secures a kill, and you did 99% of the damage, dont flame him. First, keep in mind the assist thingie that i just men tioned. Second, always think "what if". What if flash came back up only 1 second later and he could have escaped? What if i chased for another 3 seconds, and the enemy would ambush me and i would have died? What if enemy Soraka would have used her ult, or came back to lane just in time to save my enemy? Yes, you thought you could have had the kill on your own, but watch a replay of one of your games, and you will realise:

most games are lost just because something happened that you did not expect to happen.

This is my personal number one of things that made me play better.

  • Effort in: 3
  • Effect out: 8

Other stuff that didnt make into the top 10

Smartcast

This point is not in the top 10 list as it is too debatable. I for myself found smartcast extremely usefull. Combos can be per formed so much easier, leading an enemy with a skillshot became a breeze for me. Same for my GF, she always had trouble to cast spells in quick succession, but smartcast solved her problems. However, many good players and even some pros do not use smartcast at all, and they are perfectly fine as well.

For me, personally, activating smartcast was a step into the right direction, and i gladly recommend it to everyone to at least try it out. It might improve your performance.

Abandoning Towers

So, this is something I even see when I spectate ranked games. The tower is at 10% HP and three or more  enemies are, together with a minion wave, heading towards it. Only 1 ally is nearby, and he happens to not be fed enough to kill three enemies easy-handedly. There is no way this tower will survive. And yet, i still often see people hanging around the tower solo, trying to defend what is not defendable. And the story from this point is always the same. The tower falls, the enemies switch focus to the lone defender, now totally guardless, and kill him. Or he manages to escape, but did not achieve much apart from burning a flash and having to run back to the summoner platform, possibly resulting in another tower falling as well.

It sucks to loose a tower, but it sucks even more to loose a tower and get killed. So, just leave the tower, and try to defend the next one. Or apply pressure on a different lane so they have to retreat, or take an objective. You will gain a lot from that.

Accepting Non-Meta

What? that Orianna wants to go AD?

And? Then let her go AD. At first, Pre-Nerf-AP-Rengar was called a troll pick as well and then everyone did it, and you could see people build it in Tournaments. Heck, when Froggen went Lee Sin in mid lane, he wrecked faces like no other.

When someone wants to pick a champion for a certain lane that deviates from the meta, then for god sake let him play it. Either he knows what he is doing, or he is trolling and wont change his champ anyway. No matter how you see it, flaming and crying won't help you here.

Since accepting that there are more ways to win than playing it "meta" was a useful discovery, but not good enough to make it to my top 10.

Rationing Mana 

I love to use spells. In the end, that's what they are for. Using them. And I did. A lot. Being out of mana is not only a pain for you personally. It makes you extremely vulnerable compared to anyone who notices it. I used to compensate for my spamming vice by getting lots of mana-regen, but spending less gold on items that increase my damage-output had a negative impact on my game as well. Starting to ration my mana was a vital step for me into the right direction, and added greatly to my understanding of building champions, however, it just didnt seem as vital as the other points that i have put into my top 10 list. Using Dorans I kind of did not get the point of Doran's Items at first. Sure, i realised that they offered very good stats for a low price, and that those stats were useful, but i found the downside of it not building into anything andhaving a reduced resell value very unappealing. However, when i was loosing a lane hard to an enemy Gragas, a buddy told me to just get 2-3 Dorans. Well, i did, and i got back a lane that i had waved goodbye to already. Sometimes you can not afford to buy dorans because it steals inventory slots and money due to the low resell value, but sometimes you also can not afford to return to a lane with little or no increased stats. And this is where Doran's shines. 

Activatable Items

I realised this while playing Fiora with Season 3 items. Ravenous Hydra is pretty much core on her now, as it gives her all it needs. The Active part is not to be underestimated, as it can give you the edge in a duel, espe- cially when you have your attack-speed impeded, are blinded or in the middle of a creep wave. Also, for example, i build bildgewater cutlass on her for the slow. She needs a slow for successfull ganks. But if you build a phage on her, you get a small amound of AD and HP, while she herself needs high amounts of AD and lifesteal, and bilgewater cutlass gives her both these stats, and the slow is fine too but it was active. So i had to sit down and learn to use active items, and it was not as hard as i expected.

Meanwhile i build 4 activateable items on her, and i have the feeling that i suddenly have an answer for everything, no matter what the enemy team throws at me.

When you buy an item, you also pay for the activateable aspect of the item. Dont let that money go to waste. The practice is worth it.

Disengaging

When a fight doesnt go your way, why stay in there and feed the enemy ADC a quadra when you instead could at least try to get away?

When the enemy starts a fight, it is very likely that he thinks he will win it. When i ain't sure, or even expect him to win, there is no use in dedicating to a fight that he started. And if you, after the enemy initiates, try to get away at once, chances are quite high that you manage to escape without casualties - if you positioned right.

Understanding and accepting that you just sometimes should not fight, and that it is okay to leave a battle, increased my survivability. The only tricky thing with this is that you need some experience to understand when a fight is not winnable, but many times it is blatantly obvious (you are fighting 4v5, for example. It's never good. Even the worst player costs the enemy an extra click). Though, the Experience-Requirement disqualifies this as an easy-to-do-thing, so i scapped it off the list.

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