There are many enthusiasts in League of Legends community who care about climbing higher on soloq ladder and winning more games. Understandably, not everyone succeeds or some people just don’t hit desired rank as fast as they feel they should. League is a team game and, as long as there’s room for controversy and topic is relevant to so many people, there will be a debate on what’s cause of soloq struggle that so many people tend to go through.
Some people suggest that you should only focus on yourself, your improvement as a player; another group suggests there’s “ELO hell” where it doesn’t (or almost) matter if you play better than average player in your MMR bracket and it ultimately comes down to luck if you are “allowed” to climb or not. Instead of jumping to a conclusion, let’s just evaluate both approaches.
Let’s start with “teammates holding me back” idea. Even not looking at it as excuse, but just an expectation in ladder games. Isn’t it true that you are dependant on teammates to hold their own in lane, at least early on when you can’t be around and don’t yet roam? Ofcourse, you are. If you take extreme example, complete mess of a team, all lanes feeding, people blaming each other and so on, you are just set to lose. Don’t poach yourself with idea that Faker woulda won any crazy unforeseeable game in gold MMR — he would win far most of them if he palyed random champion everytime, he would carry literally every game on Zed… until that one comes where his entire team goes 0-10 in lane, enemy with ton of CC groups and Faker just feasibly can’t do anything. And those things happen from time to time to non-Faker players, and understandably they lose. So, there is a factor of it. Something similar can happen even five games in a row sometimes, yet on average percentage of those unwinnable games is not that high, otherwise good players (see numerous examples of pros climbing from unranked to challenger etc) just wouldn’t be able to climb to the top consistently. Everyone should be able to climb, given enough development time and amout of effort put, that’s the point.
On the other hand, focusing on yourself is logical behaviour for one who wants to climb. “Stay in your three-foot world” is a tip that NAVY Seal Mark Owen got from his instructor when he froze 300 feet up on a rock during their climbing trip. This means “focus on things that you can affect”. Your own play should be one of those things. This tip saved Owen’s life multiple times and it likely could save your League climb aswell.
Now we are left with group of people who sticked with doer, self-improvement approach, yet they still can’t climb after hundreds of games. And if they come for advice to /r/summonerschool or places alike, or would ask me directly to review their gameplay and tell what they are doing wrong in their low tier games, I would go like “you stand here wrong in lane, there you don’t push your cooldowns to win trade further, here you wiffed a very easy skillshot”. Question that I would have to ask myself in this situation is “If this guy really accumulated some decent knowledge, yet his inability to execute is so plain obvious, why didn’t he see and address it without me pointing at it?”
What I’m getting to is leeway that all people, regardless of what they deem to be their approach at the time, tend to let themselves have. That ignorance that generally bounds them from climbing higher on soloq ladder. Some of them vaguely feel like if they do all that learning jiggery-pokery, like watching pro streams or visiting league education sites, than it should be enough to climb up. Yet if they were to formulate questions in more clear, prolific fashion, they would likely be able to eventually arrive at the right answers, by themselves. I say it cause I did it.
“How do I win more games?” versus “How do I maximize my impact on the game?” is a clearcut example question that is a bit vague and suggestive versus self-honest and prolific one. If you ask yourself first one, you can reasonably arrive to a conclsuion that you need better teammates: “Well, in my last five games my botlane went 2-8 by the course of first fifteen minutes and enemy got essentially uncontested Dragons, I really don’t think I’m supposed to carry that”. If you go with second question, you’d be like “What’s my best chance at carrying games where I’m likely gonna have at least one lane doing really bad? Oh shit, I probably should be ahead and win my own lane to begin with. Oh, see, I’m in silver cause I don’t win lane consistently even against bad opponents. Here we go, here’s the right answer.”
Now that was enough of lore. We broke down some biases affecting average League ranked players. “They are no bad people, they just need a bit of guidance before they can get to rank reflective of their effort. Why “hypocrisy”, why would you use such an utter formulation for something that spooks just some harmless bits of human ignorance?” Well, thanks for asking. I was about to go into it.
I play League of Legends alot, thousands of rankeds games since towards the end of season two, and as I was going, I’ve noticed a trend: “Soloq is no reddit, people don’t act as nice here.” It turns out, there are relatively few of those people who actually are looking to improve and are self focused (which we earlier defined as a more reasonable and more constructive approach). I know it from rich experience of not only playing League of Legends, but also actively trying to bridge communication with fellow players, which also includes but isn’t limited to outside the game talks and observations, to figgure out what they are like, what’s the “meta” of approaching games and also teammates in chat. After some practice and dedication, I inevitably arrived at some, rather displeasing, conclusions.
I only played on EUW for most of the time, so if that are only other servers that are relevant to you, than you may add some caveat which will make some of the information below not at all or less relevant to you, if you want. As far as I know from seeing discussions on reddit and talking to people, there no other “magical” regional server where things called “toxicity” wouldn’t be a problem, so I will assume that narrative applies to other regions just as well.
It doesn’t take a genius to see that the most vocal category of players in rankeds, just by seeing what’s being mostly communicated by the means of chat, unfortunatelly, are sobs, whiners. Not that they have to consitute a majority of players, but there certainly is enough of them to make it expected in most ranked games that at least one person will sooner or later start throwing around cliche phrases like “why?”, “blind?”, “plz report” etc, which quite clearly hold negative value for their team’s chances of winning the game and also are just what they are: the buzz, the manifestation of “toxicity”.
If you remember those “potato deciding games” threads on /r/leagueoflegends, please think for a second how pivotal that is that attitude of each and every player on the team is on par. Yet those passive-aggressive phrases seem to be so widely popular and not find much resistance or punishment from within community or Riot themself, it’s just ridiculous.
It’s actually more of an opposite from being resistant. Huge cohort of ranked players has this tendency to routinely shift their responsibility and blame on others game after game after game. Being unreasonable, communicating primarily through the means of broken english and community inspired memes, being irresponsible, sobbing, buzzing are all norm, something that’s essentially promoted on soloq ladder. If you speak proper english, have your own idea of the game, run your own builds, then they will try to find a reason to single you out and call you toxic, a troll or otherwise a malicious person. It’s same with opinionated people on reddit: unless they are already famous, they keep getting downvoted since they have opinion which they came through their own ways and it happens to not fully tally with most popular opinion which everyone upvotes. Except reddit is about traction and game should be about being good, but sometimes it isn’t.
Let’s look at an example of what I mean by hypocrisy.
If someone was to say that he or she had sexual intercourse with one of the player’s parents, then implication is that person who says it wants to offend the other by means of besmirching precious lucid image of another’s relative, which might be precious to the person being addressed. It’s toxic, it’s offensive, it’s unacceptable: pretty much everyone in League community can find a reason why it’s most terrible thing by far that one can say to another person.
When someone says “Everyone report Gragas, he fed double buffs to our lane opponent at 3 minute mark”, implication is that it didn’t even matter what everybody else was doing after Gragas died at the beginning of the game. In other words, the player who says it, doesn’t even try try to win past point he “got angry”. He refuses to play game out properly. The implication should be further translated as “fuck you all, I will be a reason why we lose cause I simply dislike our jungler”. Objectively speaking, it’s way worse than vague offense of someone’s origin just because it aims to harm more people: entire team, those on opposing team who wants quality games more than win itself, which by the way there’s nothing wrong about it, and also potentially those who will spectate the game through means of streaming, op.gg, VOD’s, replays or any other way.
In League community, such responsibility shifting is practiced much more often than the offenses on the basis of etnicity, origin, religion or epperance altogether; it causes more harm and it’s somehow considered to be “okay” and doesn’t even get addressed at all directly by Riot or League populus, despite being actual reason why ranked games are known for being heated up, in a bad way, and also why so many people don’t wanna bother with rankeds at all.
You can call it human nature, ignorance or result of negative affection, I call it hypocrisy when a person makes effort to look vaguely reasonable while farming karma on reddit, and then being complete opposite in game where one’s attitude actually affects something outside of their mood, footling not only people they interact with, but their own rational mind in the first place.
Even if those people don’t spell a majority of ranked players, there are certainly enough of them to noticeably harm competitive ingegrity (the word we all love) of lower elo soloq, relatively often turn it into a swearing contest.
If you are stuck in particular MMR bracket, ask yourself, “am I really being genuine enough with my judgements?” Defined and complete understanding of your flaws is what makes half a road to improvement, it’s not self-derogation, being “overly humble”.
Goal of this article is to remind some people that regardless of how hard it would be, it’s still in their “three-foot world” to not be a whiner, to stop (if they are) being actual reason why rankeds are not always fun for everyone involved and why they are still stuck in silver. And also, for those who will find courage, remind that they might actually improve community in small or big way by not only being an example, but by manifesting what’s still being left good about it to start from.