Season 4 is almost upon us, or as upon us as its ever going to be, and its time to think about what we want to achieve this season. For some of us it may be quite simple:
- I want to get to Gold
- I want to be a better Riven player
- I’d like to learn AD Carry
But these goals are pretty vague and actually don’t give us an easy way to either assess ourselves or also to plan to make the goals a reality.
What I propose is to do is try and do some improvement together as a group, you guys and me. I’m going to attempt to do some streaming at some point and will be looking to get some replays and do some analysis plus maybe doing some 1-on-1 coaching.
For those of us who are lucky enough to work in a professional environment you’ve probably heard of S.M.A.R.T targets when it comes to managing your professional career goals. Well we can sort’ve apply this to League of Legends in our endless quest (For some of us anyway) to reach challenger.
What is a S.M.A.R.T goal?
- Specific – Nothing vague. “I want to achieve Gold 1” is specific. “I want to get better” isn’t.
- Measurable – Have an end goal in mind. Track your progress
- Achievable – You have to be able to do it. Don’t set something too far for you to reach.
- Relevant – What is the point of the goal? Is it worthwhile?
- Time-targeted – How long do you have to do it?
Who ever said the business world wasn’t fun?
Anyway what S.M.A.R.T targets tell us to do is to set yourself a goal that you’re going to be able to accomplish within the next time period and then track your progress as you move through it. Time-targeted isn’t a huge one within League but its important to keep this within your mind. If you’re not close to reaching your objective as you come towards your deadline then you need to start thinking why.
Let’s start with something very simple.
“I want to move up a division before Christmas”
This is a S.M.A.R.T target. You’re being Specific, because its a single division and you can Measure it by tracking your LP as you move up. It’s probably Achievable unless you’ve really plateau’d (or are already challenger). I’m assuming its Relevant because you’re here reading this article and want to improve, plus you’ve set a Time goal by saying before Christmas.
The important thing here is that you haven’t specified how you intend to do it, its all about what you want to achieve. This leaves it open ended enough to allow yourself to try different ways of doing it.
Thinking about “How?”
One of the things we’re all told is to do is focus on a few roles and a few champions if we really want to improve. Many of the challengers are only up that high because they’ve played hundreds, potentially thousands, of games in a certain role until they know it inside out, upside down and back to front.
If you tuned in to the analyst desk during the Season 3 world championships and listened to how DoubleLift spoke about AD Carries you could just hear the breadth of knowledge he had about the role. Talking about why certain AD Carries were dying down to things like “used his Q too early” or “Should’ve purchased tenacity boots”. He has a knowledge of AD Carries, and by proxy bottom lane, that none of us can even get close to unless we put in the time and effort he has.
If you’re anything like me then this isn’t a luxury you can afford. With this in mind let’s set ourselves another target.
Whenever I play a game, i’m going to try and play one lane
Now this isn’t quite a S.M.A.R.T target but it does follow some of the rules. You’re looking to narrow down your options from potentially playing every champion down to just looking at a single lane.
Aside from the reasons listed above the main reason to do this is so you can focus on improving a small part of your play and then build on that as the season progresses. If you focus on the jungle then after 5 games, then 10 games, then 20, then 50 you will start to see parts of your play become like a reflex. You no longer need to actively think about these except for trying to get the absolute best out of your play.
As a specific example, playing Vi in the jungle.
When taking out the wraith camp in season 3 there were ways of positioning yourself so that you hit all 4 wraiths with your Excessive Force. This meant you didn’t have to waste auto attacks killing the little minions and could focus on taking down the big wraiths so you could move on.
To a summoner who is playing Vi for the first time, or maybe even the 10th time, these little tricks take time to think about. Then time to practice and then time for this to become a natural reflex every time you take the wraith camp. It may not seem like much but if you can clear the wraith camp 1 second faster every time you visit it you’ll save yourself 10 seconds in the jungle over the course of a game, which you can now put to better use by arriving at a counter gank a second earlier.
I’m sure many of you can see where i’m going to go with my next goal.
Limit your Champion Pool
Firstly allow me to state that it is more fun to play a huge variety of champions but if you really want to improve then this is probably the best piece of advice you can get.
Note about the above picture, the games occured in S2 not S3!
I’m sure you guys have heard of Annie Bot. This is a summoner who, more or less exclusively, picked Annie in every game they could, playing her over 2000 times in season 3! If you browse the lolking link then you can see that almost all of their rune and mastery pages are dedicated to Annie and dedicated to getting the best out of that champion in every possible situation.
What i’m sure you’ll also notice is that the player is Diamond 1 and, unless i’m mistaken, they did get to challenger for a short period. I’m certain this person could tell you absolutely everything about the champion from the mana costs of the spells down to how you should build her against more or less every single match up in the game.
Now i’m not asking you to be as extreme as Annie Bot was but you can learn a lesson from this summoner and impose a few sanctions on your champion pool. We’re blessed in a way because you can now use pre-season to decide what champions you want to carry into the early part of season 4 without drastically changing our MMR.
What am I trying to do for Season 4?
The first thing I did was look at all of my lanes and tried to critique myself. I consider Jungle and Marksmen to be my two best roles with Vi and Corki being my best champions in those roles.
Top Lane – Probably my 2nd weakest role. I understand the importance of warding and can happily stomp players who are worse than me but I struggle with trading and CSing against a superior opponent. Focus Champs – Riven, Renekton, Rumble
Jungle – My strongest games tend to be on Vi but I can play a few others. I need to improve my back-up junglers and also using my knowledge of where the other jungler is to influence my play as I don’t always capitalise on this information. Focus Champs – Vi, Hecarim
Mid Lane – Try and stay away from this if I can. I’m not a good mid laner as I don’t really seem to get on well with casters. I can play a good Ahri but I tend to focus on roaming and frequently lose my tower because of it. Need lots of practise in normal games (looking forward to the new champion select for this very reason). Focus Champs – Ahri, Ryze, Annie
Marksman – Work on my attack move. I can ‘orb walk’ (kiting) pretty well and am pretty confident with getting involved and maximising my auto attacking. Need to focus on not throwing a way a CS lead trying to pick up a kill and doing more auto attack harass. Focus Champs – Corki, Caitlyn, Tristana
Support – Has changed a lot with season 4 so will require practise in normal games. Overall a fairly strong role for myself but I tend to duo queue with support mains. Look into new builds and synergy with Marksmen. Focus Champs – Janna, Thresh, Leona
Just to give a bit more background. I reach Gold 1 on the last day of the season but had traditionally been ‘filling in’ with what my team needed throughout the season rather than playing Jungle and Marksmen, my two best roles. Once I started restricting myself I rose 2 divisions in about a week going on a 13-1 spree.
I think I can easily hit Plat, I just need to play mor,e so i’m going to set myself objectives based on this:
- If i’m not placed in Gold when the MMR squish happens, get back to gold within 2 weeks
- Get to Plat 5 playing Jungle and Marksmen as often as possible
- Once i’ve achieved Plat focus on improving other roles, top lane first
- When playing normal games try out other roles. If forced to Jungle or Marksmen then try out new champion
Now those goals are fairly broad but it is what is currently in my head. I’m going to set myself some more limited targets once I get to Plat that will focus on improving certain areas such as only queuing for top lane for a whole week and only playing Riven, Renekton or Rumble.
We’re in pre-season now and you should focus your efforts on learning the changes and how they have will adjust how you play. This could be from personal experience but you should also watch pro streams and read guides from around the internet. It’s an exciting time for supports, or seems to be whenever I talk to my support friends, and i’m really looking forward to seeing players like Madlife carrying from the support role.
Setting yourself some basic objectives, with time limits if you can, about things you want to achieve this season will allow you to monitor your play as the season progresses. If you’re not meeting your expectations then you need to think about why, and it could be a huge number of reasons, and work to try and solve these issues.
So set yourself a goal now and write it down somewhere. Either as a word document and save it on your desktop or on a piece of paper you can keep near your computer. Then set out some ways you’re going to work on achieving those goals.
As a final note don’t forget that this is still a game and if you’re not having fun then you might want to take a step back and evaluate why not. I prefer ranked games to normal game because I enjoy the competitive edge but also that every decision you make counts towards my overall ranked situation. But sometimes i’m not in the right mindset and get frustrated with myself, and others in the game, so it might be worth doing something else.