With the role of an educator I’m often asked questions about how individuals can improve their skill in League of Legends. The questions range from being rather simple (“what runes should I run on Lee jungle?”) to fairly complicated (“when’s the best time to gank bot lane?”) to the pretty much impossible to answer and/or rants disguised as questions (“what do I do when my top goes 0/5 every game?”).
As you can imagine, the whole ‘elo hell’ topic is one that I deal with fairly frequently. Because of this I’ve dedicated a fair few videos to helping those in a self-perceived ‘elo hell’ (you can watch my popular “Escape Elo Hell in 5 Steps” video below) and I imagine I’ll continue to do so until the concept ceases to exist – in other words, I’ll be doing it forever.
I’ll be honest: I’m critical of the those that claim to be stuck in elo hell. I don’t believe it exists (at least not with the definition that many claim) and I hold that it can be overcome by improving as a player. The Dunning Kruger effect explains elo hell quite comfortably and the vicious cycle it creates – you can’t climb leagues, but you believe you’re good enough, so you get frustrated, so you don’t improve, so you don’t climb, but you believe you’re good enough… rinse and repeat.
A lot of ‘elo hell’ comes down to perspective, mindset, and attitude. These three things will determine whether or not you improve as a player when you play this game and, by extension, whether or not you get stuck in ‘elo hell’. The mindset I want to talk about here is, as the title says, the difference between not deserving to lose and deserving to win.
“I don’t deserve to lose”
Whether it’s in the post-game lobby, a comment on Youtube or a message I get sent, the words “I don’t deserve to lose” are more common than grains of sand in the Sahara. This attitude, much like a left-hand drive, is not right; in fact it’s a direct contributing factor to an individuals’ unwanted placement in ‘elo hell’. There are several reasons why I say this and why “I don’t deserve to lose” is not a legitimate excuse for losing a game.
Firstly, it is completely and utterly the wrong perspective to be looking from. At the end of a game, you shouldn’t be asking yourself if you deserved to lose – you should be asking if you deserved to win. Some of you reading this may be feeling a bit perplexed: “Surely that’s the same thing? If you don’t lose, you win, if you win, you don’t lose. What’s this guy on about?”. I’m of the opinion that it’s not enough to go even in lane (unless you’re a horrid laner who’ll carry late game). It’s not enough to simply not feed. It’s not enough to not get caught. You have to be dominating people, you have to be catching people out, you have to be making plays. You can’t just be a neutral factor – you have to be a positive one.
Secondly, the phrase “I don’t deserve to lose” paints yourself as the victim. It reeks of helplessness – that the outcome of the game was decided from other peoples’ actions as opposed to your own. Seeing as other people are (more or less) outside of your control, if their actions caused you to lose then there’s nothing you could have done, right? Victimising yourself is the easiest way to stay in ‘elo hell’, because you’ll be chalking all your loses up to external factors as opposed to yourself. By saying “did I deserve to win?” you are putting the focus back on yourself and your own actions: the outcome of the game resides on what you do, not what your team mates do.
Lastly, and this is somewhat intertwined to the previous point, your self-improvement is hindered when you excuse the outcome of the game on external factors. If you say you didn’t deserve to lose then that means you would have won if it weren’t for your bad allies, which implies you yourself did nothing or very little wrong. By instead asking what it was you could have done to win, you open yourself up to criticism and can focus on improving elements that will enable you to do that in the future. Did you farm as well as you could? Did you deny the enemy enough? Should you have roamed more instead of just stomping your own lane? Did you play fights correctly? Could you have made better calls to organise your team in to making plays?
It’s like there are two kind of mistakes in this game. There are obvious, standard mistakes such as missing CS or dying in lane, and then there are retrospect mistakes and missed opportunities: things you could have/should have done that you chose not to, things that would have been beneficial to your team. It’s very easy to miss these kind of mistakes because, well, they don’t really exist (as such). I think the majority of people who believe they’re in elo hell fail to recognise these missed opportunities which leads them to not comprehend why they’re losing games.
“I shouldn’t have to dominate every game to win”
My opinions of solo queue, as previously mentioned, are fairly black and white. People argue that it’s unfair to be expected to dominate games just to win. So for some closing words, I’d like to address that.
Playing average doesn’t mean you deserve to lose – but it also doesn’t mean you deserve to win, either. People argue that it’s not fair that there are feeders on their team in every game. To that I say that if the enemy team doesn’t have feeders then you’re not dominating enough. By playing well and punishing enemies you will cause them to feed. Most feeders aren’t born, they’re created – created by strong opponents. Be one of those opponents and you’ll create enough positive to outweigh the negative on your team. It’s impossible to win every game, but with a shift in attitude you will open yourself up to being a much better player.
There will be games that you don’t deserve to lose where you will win. That’s all well and good, but don’t be blindly content with your play just because you won. Mediocrity and not being a negative influence for your team isn’t exactly a recipe for disaster, but it’s not going to push you through to the next tiers, either.