DISCLAIMER: I don’t condone elo boosting, neither does Cloth5. In this article I take a look at the topic, but ultimately talk about how YOU, yes YOU, can just be like them! (Well, sort of)
Has science gone too far? 4 techniques used by “Elo Boosters” that they don’t want you to know
You – you play League of Legends. You have seen them – players that have dominated their opponents and ended the game faster than you could have said “Stop feeding!” There are three very likely scenarios that created this situation. First, your teammate made some big mistakes or suffered a technical difficulty and even though the lanes were at the same skill level, the opponent took advantage. Second, they were smurfing. It was a fresh account, and it was on its way to Platinum and Diamond. And last but not least, the dreaded destroyers of SoloQ… the Elo Boosters.
Now you can put on your tinfoil hat and pretend that this is a non-issue, and maybe you’ll never even encounter them in a ranked game once, but chances are most of you reading this have. Elo Boosters usually operate in a Duo queue fashion, using a variety of strategies designed to destroy solo queue games and stomp the enemy. They don’t have time to lose – they don’t want to lose, they’re getting paid, and the faster a job is completed, the more jobs they can take on.
If I had a nickel for every time someone said they were smurfing or boosting in the lobby, I’d be a pretty rich man. But if I got a whole dollar for the claims that were true… well I’d probably end up with maybe 2 bucks. Now why is that? It’s because most boosters – guess what – don’t reveal that they’re boosting deliberately. You can tell once you get in game, or if you look at their match history (item placements suddenly off, summoner spells reversed positions), but it’s not immediately obvious, since some people could just be on a win streak.
But why is Elo Boosting so popular? It’s just a game right? Well, the immediate reasons are for one, the rewards – a champion with an exclusive skin, as well as other shiny objects to go along with it. The second is bragging rights. Another factor could be the time that needs to be dedicated to climbing the ladder – a player may look at the ladder and think of all the stressful games they had to deal with, so instead of climbing, they pay someone else to do it. The benefit is two-fold, they save the time that they would have to spend to earn the rewards, a money vs. time sort of thing. Increased accessibility and competition in the boosting scene as League of Legends grows means that if you go to the right websites, you’re paying less and less for more and more MMR. It’s that easy. Finally, it’s more or less “safe.” You give your account information to the Booster after you pay them, and if they try to steal the account, you just contact Riot Support and most likely you will get your account back. The risk of being banned is also low – services from VPN protection (obfuscates the location where you’re playing from, a service sometimes legitimate player use to reduce ping) to disabling your friends list (so any claims that you got boosted can be rejected with a nu-uh).
So how do they do it? How do they win on a consistent basis? Easy, you might think. They’re just mechanically better so they’ll destroy their lanes and in teamfights and carry the game. It’s simple. Well… that’s about 70% right. But there’s more to it than that.
The concept of shock and awe – what it means and why it matters
Some of you might have heard this term, either in military movies or in the history books. Shock and awe is actually a military doctrine, written in 1996 by two gentlemen from the good ol’ US of A. Shock and awe entails one underlying idea: “to affect the will, perception, and understanding of the adversary to fight or respond to our strategic policy.”
How does this translate to a game of League of Legends? Well it’s quite realistic to see Summoner’s Rift as a battlefield – you have two sides, two bases, protected by structures with small armies of minions and champions. In terms of shock and awe, especially in the lower leagues, how many times have you seen a player call “gg” before 10 minutes? How many times do people stop caring about the game, wishing it would end as soon as possible, to just “push mid?” Elo Boosters take advantage of this mentality, and they run with it. That’s why it’s so easy to boost people out of the lower leagues, and the price dramatically increases in the higher ones, when it becomes both harder to employ these techniques and shock/awe on a consistent basis, when the players are more jaded. It doesn’t mean it can’t be done; it just takes longer, hence the price hike.
So what instills this mentality? It’s not that your teammate was a pessimist from the get-go, it’s probably something that happened in their lane that caused them to feel that way, and once one member of a team goes down, that’s 20% of the team’s overall power gone. In an army, if 20% of all human resources were to suddenly stand up and walk away, the battle would not last for much longer in most cases.
Let’s talk a bit about the techniques that they use.
Technique Number 1: Beat their Jungler, and kick them while they’re down
Elo Boosters have no mercy. They don’t care about the opposing team’s feelings; they just want the job done. You’ve probably seen this in action from YouTube videos, poor junglers that have their entire jungle taken, buffs, camps, that effectively takes them out of the game in no time flat. In lower leagues this is devastating – Junglers don’t know how to recover from this. They stay in their jungle, farming what’s left, and by the time they hit level 3 the other Jungler has their ultimate ready. Let’s take a look at one such scenario:
The game won’t happen like this every time, but you get my point. This is in Diamond, and you can see that it doesn’t take more than two people to accomplish this. If the boosters manage to get ahold of Mid and Jungle, this is a really easy strategy to implement.
The other important thing is that all timers on all of the other buffs are being kept, and then they camp that bush because they know the opponent wants the buff. They ward it and gank, repeating this over and over until that Jungler’s mental strength is destroyed. They are as ready to forfeit as soon as the timer hits 20, or maybe even leave the game beforehand. I’ve seen Junglers simply stop trying as soon as they get their first non-leashed jungle buff invaded period. It doesn’t matter if the lanes are holding their own, unless one of the lanes is dominating (unlikely, because the other Jungler is most likely running around causing havoc), they have already lost their will to fight, and simply cannot respond to the situation.
Technique Number 2: The 4-man early dive bot-lane
Again, this requires a competent Mid and/or Jungle. This technique is fairly easy to pull off, and is usually done around the 7-8 minute mark. The second spawn of buffs is up, there’s a ping to invade, take the buff quickly because it is on a timer, and then proceed to 4-man dive bot lane, or a 2-man gank. At this point, most likely mid lane is level 6 and Jungler is 5, and Bot lane is level 4 or 5. A dive at this point in the game puts the bot lane that gets dove on severely behind, because the other bot lane will hit 6 soon after a successful dive, and will be able to zone and apply pressure if they play at their regular skill level.
After a successful dive and gank, a dragon is most likely the next objective if everyone is healthy enough. A single pink ward denies vision, and if the non-boosting jungler tries for a steal, the chances are slim due to level differences and most likely will result in a death as well. This puts the diving team at a global gold advantage, and it snowballs from there.
End result: discouraged bot lane, discouraged jungler, blame on the opposing mid lane for not roaming/following – ready to forfeit at 20 minutes, top lane depressed that the team sucks.
Technique Number 3: The absolute annihilation of bottom lane
Decimation, slaughter – whatever you want to call it – this technique requires the Boosters to run a bot lane stomp. Essentially they pick a really good Support/Marksman combo that, with perfect communication, will result in a really fed Marksman, really fast. A Platinum/Diamond level Marksman/Support combo will have no problem identifying positioning mistakes, as well as champion weaknesses of the opponent. There’s no quick way to replicate this technique, mechanical skill comes with time and practice, and a lower league Marksman will stand no chance.
Here are some (not so common/extremely common) combinations that I’ve seen that work really well:
This is a pairing that has been a true terror in bot lane ever since they were released. Leona offers copious amounts of CC that Corki can then follow up with copious amounts of burst damage. Leona punishes positioning hard, and her passive gets continuously popped by Corki’s many spells.
At level 6, it becomes incredibly hard to get away from this pairing, as one landed zenith blade often leads to a very dead bottom lane. With the recent nerfs to Corki he isn’t as overwhelming, but he’s still definitely viable.
Honestly, Zyra is good with any Marksman. She punishes positioning, her plants can block spells, do tons of damage without any items, and she scales well into late game with a giant Area of Effect knock-up that can often turn a tower-dive into a triple kill. Draven also, especially in the lower leagues, punishes positioning hard despite the nerfs that he suffered. A well-played Draven at level 2 will kill the Support and Marksman faster than the blink of an eye. If Draven hits level 2 when the opponent doesn’t have any CC yet? They’re dead, or they burn flash, in which case the next time they make a positioning error and caught by a snare they’re dead.
Jinx is one of the best Marksmen right now in lane. Her dueling potential is out of this world, and if she gets a kill it’s very likely to turn into a double very quickly with her passive, “Get Excited.” Why Soraka, you might ask? Jinx’s second spell, Zap, hurts, slows, and reveals, so if you were in a bush she can trade with you with her long range rockets without face-checking or requiring a ward. By picking Jinx, it allows Soraka to play aggressively without too much fear (provided tri and river are warded in case Jungler comes), and an infinite mana pool means the Zaps will keep coming and hitting like a truck every time, especially since people in the lower leagues have trouble dodging skillshots. She’s incredibly easy to snowball, and once she does, snowballs extremely hard. Riot recently nerfed the power on her Zap, and while not overwhelming, is still a pain to deal with.
Vayne is just at a silly position right now if a Diamond level player is on her in the lower leagues. She has a huge power spike very early on, and has no worries about the laning phase because chances are the opposing Marksman won’t even try to harass. As soon as she gets a cutlass and ultimate, she can outplay the opposing bot lane, snowball by herself, and carry teamfights 1 vs. X.
End result: discouraged team. The Solo laners and Jungler always pray that bot lane doesn’t feed – so when they do… everyone is bickering at each other, and the League of Blame train chugs on.
Technique 4: Unadulterated skill
Okay, okay, I know what you’re thinking, this isn’t really a technique. You are right, it isn’t, but it’s just something that I have to point out and talk about.
The underlying theme that lower tier players talk about getting to higher tiers is that a lot of is based on luck. You either get teammates that are bad, or someone trolls, etc. I agree somewhat – if you happen to have disconnects on your team or someone that’s feeding, then yes, a loss is inevitable. What I don’t believe is that these people are keeping you at the level you are at. There’s plenty of discussion on the math behind it, but I don’t really care about that, I just want to point out how Elo Boosters carry so hard, and that’s with pure skill.
If you put two separate Diamond players in two Solo lanes, they will both dominate their lane opponent through mechanics without the help of the Jungler. It doesn’t take much to figure out that the game is most likely over at that point. An unstoppable Jax will be able to shove a lane, and if the Jungler goes deal with him, it gives the Mid lane free reign to roam bottom and get a double kill. These aren’t situations that just happen because it happens; these are situations that are created. If you apply pressure on one part of a map, resources from the other team will automatically go towards relieving that pressure. If you create pressure on multiple parts of the map, the other team will not know how to respond, and hesitation is the seed of defeat.
These situations are only possibly created with skill. To be able to replicate the techniques as effectively as the Elo Boosters do, you have to practice and play as much as they do. However, it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible for you to implement a “softer” version, especially if you have no duo partner to practice with.
The key to this is to play as aggressively as possible. Elo Boosters don’t just play passively, that doesn’t snowball and more importantly, doesn’t shock and awe at all. I know that this tip has been given countless of times, and I’m going to say it again and again because it is absolutely crucial that you get it pounded in your head. The concept of shock and awe is to simply make your opponent so scared of you that they don’t even want to fight you. If you go out and play aggressive, at the lower tiers, they simply cannot deal with that level of aggression.
This doesn’t mean you should play aggressively stupidly, with no vision on the map or fighting an opponent two levels higher than you. I’m talking about smart aggression. If you see their Jungler top lane and the Mid laner well, Mid lane, and you’re playing Marksman, it’s time to walk up and hit them as hard as you can. If you’ve lost the trade, or died from the exchange, figure out why – is it because they were a higher level? Did they have more minions than you did? Were their Summoner spells up and yours wasn’t? Did they hit all their skills while you missed a few? Were they ahead in items?
There are questions that you can ask yourself in any situation – don’t use skills for the sake of using skills, but consider the amount of damage your skills will do, how much health they have, how much health you have, and the amount of damage they can do. All of these things might seem like a lot to keep track of, but it becomes second nature with time. You can start with the basics, keep track of their items and summoner timers, but then slowly increase the amount of questions you’re asking yourself, and then deciding if you can play aggressive as a result. That’s how you snowball and take advantage of mistakes in the lower tiers.
You might suffer a few losses at first, or maybe a lot of losses, so if you can, practice in normal draft pick until you become more confident. Confidence is also pretty important but that’s another topic to be discussed another day. Once you have the confidence and the skill to back it up, you’ll find yourself dying less, winning more exchanges, and finally definitively beating your lane. If you beat your lane so hard consistently, you’ll see yourself winning more than losing, and that’s a given. It won’t matter if you lose a game or two because of all your other teammates feeding – that happens to everyone, but if you are winning at your role so hard every single time, there’s no way you will lose more games than you win, and if you are, then that’s a lie because I’ve done it time and time again, I’ve duo queued/smurfed with people in Bronze, Silver, and Gold, and honestly, we win way more than we lose simply because we defeat our lane opponents convincingly each and every time. I don’t believe that you can’t do the same.
Good luck soldier.