Everyone knows that the higher elo you get, the better the players are. What people often don’t understand (even those that are at higher elo) is what exactly creates the skill difference between the top leagues and the lower leagues. I’ve recently had the pleasure of playing at lower elo, both on my account that I use to make “Escaping Elo Hell” videos (playlist here) and for my NA account. Throughout my playing experience on those accounts, I’ve been able to draw several parallels between the players I’m used to (at Diamond 1) and those in Bronze/Silver/Gold/Plat. This is a list of 5 commonly committed crimes in the lower ranks, but also extends in to the higher leagues, albeit to a lesser degree. These are not the only mistakes people make and there is no particular order to this list.
Poor Item Builds
Wealth is relative. You can be the richest man in the world, but if you spend all your money trying to revive Axl Rose’s music career then you’re going to have nothing. A similar concept applies to LoL – it doesn’t matter how well you farm, if your first items on Tryndamere are a Mana Manipulator and Sorc Boots then you may as well have farmed nothing. That’s quite an extreme example, but the point stands.
The biggest mistake I see in relation to poor item choices is that people will buy the same items each game. They saw a pro rush X item on Y champion and so they spend the rest of their days rushing X item, even when Z item would be a better choice. Item builds are not static things. They should adapt with each game. Buy items that are suited to your lane, your personal objectives (i.e if you need to endlessly sustain in lane, or if you need to push down towers with speed, or if you need to focus on blowing up carries in mid game, etc), who’s fed on the enemy team, what your teammates have bought, and so on and so forth. By getting the most out of your items you directly improve your chances of being effective and winning games.
A Fundamentally Wrong Champion Select
I’m sure everyone is all too familiar with the “MID OR FEED”, “no support runes or champs on this account sorry”, “omg you banned my vayne? k time to troll”. These issues are frustrating but are just a product of a wonderful liberty known as anonymity, alongside a pinch of dickhead-ism (it’s a real condition I swear, go look it up).
However, what I’m referring to is not the trolls, but the whole notion that the game is won or lost in champ select. Whereas there is an undeniable strategic element of champion select that influences the flow of the game, that strategy is really not too important in solo queue (especially at the lower elos). Here is a phrase I like to throw around that I believe to be true: A player that is experienced and comfortable on a ‘mediocre’ champion is much more valuable to your team than a player that is inexperienced with an ‘OP’ champion. I’m not saying that ‘OP’ picks aren’t a problem, but they are most certainly not the determining factors of won games. There are MUCH more important things to worry about than if that Zac squeezed through. In the same way, you shouldn’t be picking a champion just because you view it to be OP. In my experience at low elo, there are many more games lost due to people picking ‘OP’ champs and not knowing how to play them than there are games won due to ‘OP’ champs stomping.
In my opinion there are three guidelines for picking a champion: pick what you’re good at, pick what your team needs, pick what works well against the enemy team. The first rule is ALWAYS the most important; it doesn’t matter if Amumu is the perfect pick for your team and against the enemy team, if you can’t play him then you’ll be shedding the wrong kind of tears.
Incorrect Valuation of Objectives (overrating and underrating certain objectives)
This one is fairly simple and straight forward. The objective control at lower elos is, put bluntly, pretty hideous. The good times to take Drag are dismissed and the inadvisable times to take Drag are leapt upon. Here is a quick list of objectives in term of value: Inhibs > Baron > Towers > Dragon > Buffs. This list is not 100% set in stone and there are times when the order could change, but you won’t go too wrong if you stick to it.
I’m convinced that the Dragon is the Overlord of the lower elos – people worship that winged lizard like a Sim worships rosebud. Sieging a tower when Drag spawns? Better take that drag! In general, I feel as though people under-value the structural objectives such as Inhibs and Towers and over-value the Baron and Dragon.
I would say that a fair number of players would be able to climb a whole league if their personal mechanics were better. If I had a quid for every time someone missed a CS that was free, I would have enough wonga to buy out Riot Games and implement a system where you had to pass a “if you don’t hit 70 CS by 10mins in this custom game versus bots you can’t play ranked” test. Seriously, there is no reason for you to be missing free CS. Farming is the most efficient and reliable way to be generating income (getting fed) and it’s something that really should not be passed up. A good number to hit (excluding junglers and supports) is 70 CS by 10 minutes. Even better if you can hit 80 CS. 70 is really not that much to be getting, it just takes practice. Go in to custom games and work on last hitting, it’ll do you wonders.
Aside from last hitting there are other sides to mechanics that are lacking from lower elo, most of which manifest in the lane phase. Harassing (or lack thereof) is a big one – there have been times where I overextended for a CS, or made some other kind of mistake, and the opposing laner would leave me alone and not touch me. Similarly, people often overextend for CS and soon find themselves zoned from the wave. The problem is that lower elo players are used to playing versus other lower elo players that don’t punish their mistakes, therefore they continue to make these mistakes and only when playing versus a better player do they get punished for them. You may ask what you can do to learn from these mistakes if it’s impossible to recognise them – truth is, it’s hard. However, not all of these mistakes are a big obstacle for you at your current elo. The more you climb, the more of these mistakes you’ll be punished for and the more you’ll have to improve your game. That’s what climbing the leagues and being a better player is all about! I personally still have a lot to learn and am still finding weaknesses in my play. Another good method is to watch streams and draw parallels between what you do and what the streamers do: often times, those differences are where you could be improving. Try to put yourself in the shoes of one of the players, try to imagine what you would be doing in his place and see how that differs from what he actually does.
Lastly, a lower elo player’s positioning in team fights is usually quite poor. They often fail to identify incoming threats before they’re on their face (i.e they deal with threats as they come, rather than avoiding them in the first place), which can make carries extremely easy to pick off. It’s not uncommon to hear lower elo players say “I can’t do anything, Annie just blows me up”, which is half true, Annie does blow them up, but is also avoidable if played correctly.
Inability to Close Out Games/Take Advantages
It sounds odd to say that my games at higher elo are much shorter than my games at lower elo. The reason for this is because, when ahead, high elos will have a deathgrip on your balls and squeeze until you lose – lower elos are more likely to just flick your nutsack every now and then. In the lower leagues. the pace of the game doesn’t really change if a team is ahead. They don’t force objectives, they don’t tower dive losing lanes, they don’t deny the enemy jungler. The downside to this style of play is that it allows the enemies to find windows of opportunity back in to the game. I found myself giving a lot of instruction to my teammates about what to do in certain situations – for example, a mid laner that is winning will often just keep farming rather than pressuring the enemy laner or taking the tower. Simlarly, a jungler would farm his jungle and gank as opposed to forcing down towers and making plays for dragon.
Here is a big tip for closing out games: Oracles. With an Oracles, you completely deny vision from the enemy and, when behind, the enemies will play 110% passive, often unnecessarily denying themselves farm and making it so they very rarely contest objectives like Baron and the Outer Towers (they won’t be able to track your movements to see if you’re moving in on a particular tower, and by the time you show up it’s often too late). Vision is power!