In this series of articles, I am going to focus on things that should help you improve your mentality and your approach towards solo queue games. I will also talk about what is the most beneficial way to learn and I will try to change the way in which you view the game. I am also going to touch on several things which a lot of people consider to make only a minor difference but in my opinion they are very important, for example item builds, runes and masteries setups and your champion pool. We’re going to start with your mentality and your in-game behaviour.
Mentality and in-game behaviour
Having the „right mentality“ is the hardest thing to achieve. The definition of the „right mentality“ for us, is to fully understand what do we need to do to win and not get carried away by other things which might influence us in a bad way. Let’s say that our plan today is to play ranked games and hopefully gain some LP. Everything starts before we even turn on a computer. We’ve just got home from work or from school and we are in some kind of mood. Is it a bad mood, a good mood? Neutral? If you‘re in a bad mood and you know that you won’t be able to change that anytime soon you shouldn’t be thinking about playing the game. You might say to yourself that it doesn’t matter and that you will tryhard as much as any other time but the truth is that it’s not entirely possible to play your best while being upset about something or even depressed. If you try to play the game in this state of mind you might still be able to win some games but you will not be consistent and you will find yourself making mistakes which you wouldn’t have done otherwise. It’s very important to clear your mind before you start playing. Simply do something relaxing which will boost your mood. I am not going to talk about how to do this because different things work for different people. I can only tell you what works for me personally – going to the gym, watching my favorite series, chatting with friends or sleeping.
„Successful people maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them. They stay focused on their past successes rather than their past failures, and on the next action steps they need to take to get them closer to the fulfillment of their goals rather than all the other distractions that life presents to them.“—Jack Canfield
Before you click that „play“ button you have an option of choosing a solo or duo queue. If you want to duo queue with somebody your reason for this should be that the person motivates you and makes you want to play with as few mistakes as possible. Having fun with the person isn’t particularly important. Choosing the right person is crucial. If you think that you don’t have anyone like that you should go for a solo.
Here we are in the champion select. Let’s picture a hypothetical scenario which can be seen in our everyday games. We’ve got two guys fighting over one role, a guy who doesn’t say anything, a guy who begs first pick to ban that damn Riven because she’s so op and the enemy team surely has a one trick pony Riven player and then there’s you. My advice is that you shouldn’t get involved in the chat too much but you also shouldn’t completely ignore your team. The best thing to do when a champion select starts is to call your role (Hey guys, prefer mid). If you don’t want any specific role but you are sure that you don’t want to support, don’t say (Anything but support), I’ve seen this so much and it usually ends up with you playing the support role. Simple (Prefer mid/jungle/adc) works well enough. If you pick at the same time with someone whom also called the role that you want, you have plenty of options: 1) Instalock a champion and don‘t care about the other guy. This one is the riskiest and usually ends up with either you getting the role that you wanted or the other guy trolling and destroying the game in the champ select. Even if you get the role it will create some kind of bad blood because the other guy had to succumb to you, not having a choice.
2) Be quick enough and call the role first. This might be a determining factor when you pick at the same time and there’s nothing else to judge from. 3) Try to persuade the other person. This is the best option in my opinion. You need to have good arguments prepared though because something like (Pls let me mid I carry) isn’t the smartest thing to say. Better try (I main mid and have 75 % winrate on Anivia, it’s my best role could you let me?). 4) The other guy instalocked your role before you could do anything. If this happens, don’t rage in chat, don’t even say a word. It won’t help you get your role and it will tilt everyone in the lobby. If you know that you can play another role relatively well just go with it.
If you ended up on your worst role and you know that your winrate with this role is pretty terrible you can consider dodging. It costs you only 3 LP and 5 minutes and 30 seconds of time which might be more acceptable than a lost game. However, keep in mind that any subsequent dodges will increase the penalty to 10 LP lost and 30 minute waiting timer (60 minutes on third dodge). So I recommend dodging only once. If you are in a promotion series, don’t dodge at all because dodging there will count as a loss. Another strategy on how to dodge a game without getting penalized is to pick troll summoners and hope that someone else dodges. You have to be ready to dodge yourself though because if no one else does you don’t want to waste 20 minutes of your time, lose LP and get a bunch of reports.
Now that we’ve finally got to the game I have some rules for you which I will explain in just a moment.
- Rule #1: Use chat as little as you can.
- Rule #2: Under any circumstances, don’t rage.
- Rule #3: Use mute buttons if needed.
- Rule #4: Don’t try to have too much fun, there are normal games for that.
- Rule #5: Focus solely on your own play and your own mistakes.
- Rule #6: Every time you die, remember what you have done wrong and learn from it.
- Rule #7: Think strategically. Compare the pros and cons of every action that you can take.
- Rule #8: Even if there’s a troll or AFK in your game, try your hardest to learn something from the game. There’s always something to learn.
- Rule #9: Try to predict your opponents‘ actions and think as if you were your opponent.
- Rule #10: Keep track of the minimap
There are many more rules which I haven’t even listed that you will learn by yourself but I tried to pick the most obvious and important ones. Let’s start with explaining every single rule. Number one might seem pretty interesting to you. In your games you probably see people chatting all the time, commenting every kill or death and even making fun of enemy in all chat. That’s the worst approach. People who chat often pay less attention to the actual game and they can get easily distracted. Simply the less you use chat the better. Number two is pretty obvious. You have to learn how to control your own emotions if you want to get better as a player. This applies even in real life. Raging doesn’t only affect your teammates but you as well, decreasing the chances of your team winning a game and setting you up for a possible tilt in upcoming games.
Number three is a thing which a lot of players tend to forget about. If there’s a troll or somebody really toxic in a game it might get too hard to just ignore him. In this case you should use a mute button. Asking questions like (Why the fu*k are you trolling??) doesn’t do a whole lot and only encourages the person to reply with some troll answer. Rule number four is all about keeping you focused. If you want to play your best you shouldn’t care about whether you’re having fun or not. Sometimes the right thing to do is the most boring thing, you should accept this. Number five is the biggest problem of the majority of low elo players. They focus on their teammates so much that they forget to focus on themselves. I’ve seen players that were counting every death of anyone on their team (top 0/2 omg; 0/3 wp you died again; 0/4!!! stop fu*king dying!). This might be closely related to raging in chat but it’s not only that. Even if you don’t flame your teammates in chat you truly shouldn’t care about how bad are they doing. You have to accept that you can’t influence the way they play and there’s zero merit in caring about their play. The only thing you should care about is you and your mistakes. If you will improve yourself the players around you will automatically improve with you. I am going to talk more in-depth about number six in my future article but your mistakes are the things that you should be looking out for the most. There’s no other way of improving than realizing your mistakes and fixing them. Number seven is the hardest thing to do. Even pros can’t do this at a perfect level but you have to keep trying on choosing the most optimal way of solving a situation. Imagine this, the enemy midlaner is missing and you have to quickly decide on an action which you will take. Should you shove the wave under his tower and then go farm your jungle? He’s probably trying to go roam bot, should you follow him? Or is he just taking his blue buff… perhaps you could steal it? Learning how to quickly decide is crucial.
In number 8 scenario, people usually decide that the game is lost, they accept their defeat and stop caring about the game in the moment they realize it’s 4v5. But they forgot about something. Are they really playing the game to just see the sweet „VICTORY“ screen at the end or are they playing because they actually want to become better players, improving their mechanics, game knowledge and so on? Even in a game which has like 20 % chance to be won due to it being a 4v5 you should find something positive and focus on it. For example play a mini game where you will try to last hit as many cs as you can or try to dodge 80 % of all skillshots thrown at you. There’s always something to learn. Number 9 is something most people don’t bother doing. Do you think that because enemy Syndra just hit 6 you have to give up every cs and hug your tower? Well, try to think the same way she probably does. Her Q and W are relatively short ranged but her E has a pretty long range. She will want to hit her E on you at any cost and then follow up with Q, W and ulti so as long as you dodge the stun she won’t be able to burst you. Always think about what is the priority for your opponent. Some just want to farm up until mid or late game comes, some will try to catch you off-guard and kill you and some will try to push the lane and then roam.
„Master yourself, master the enemy.“ —Lee Sin, the Blind Monk
Number ten is another thing which most low elo players have problems with. You shouldn’t miss anything which happens on the minimap. The reason why you buy wards is because they reveal a small area of the minimap and they can warn you about potential ganks but if you just don’t look at the minimap they are more or less useless. Every time you don’t have to pay attention to the lane you should be looking at the minimap. This is really similar to learning how to last hit, you just have to practise and practise.
That’s gonna be it for part one. If you enjoyed the article you can look forward to my part two which is going to be about runes and masteries setups, item builds and how to manage your champion pool.