“What can I do to improve?” is the most asked question on the League of Legends forums. People think there are a few magical tricks that can instantly turn them into Diamond players. This isn’t the case. In any game, the good players are separated from the great players by a combination of little advantages or inches. You need to find these advantages if you want to improve.
Al Pacino sums this concept up nicely in his “Inch by Inch” speech from Friday Night Lights.
(When he talks, feel free to add an “ELO” in front of “Hell”, and replace the word “Football” with “League of Legends”)
You find out that life is just a game of inches.
So is football League of Legends.
Because in either game, life or football League of Legends,
the margin for error is so small.
I mean, one half step too late or to early,
you don’t quite make it.
One half second too slow or too fast,
and you don’t quite catch it.
The inches we need are everywhere around us.
They are in ever break of the game,
every minute, every second.
You improve in League of Legends by knowing more about the game, and using that knowledge more effectively than your opponents. This isn’t easy. The game is extremely complex, and changes every two weeks. Even Riot doesn’t know everything. If you want to get better, learn something new every time you play. The faster you learn, the faster you’ll climb.
10 inches that will help you climb
The little things matter. Everything you know (and use) that your opponent does not, makes you the better player. Let me share 10 little known inches that helped me climb to Diamond, and can help you too.
1. Focus on objectives to win games
An objective is anything that can help your team win the game. Here’s the order which you should generally prioritize taking objectives:
Nexus > Nexus Towers > Inhibitors > Baron > Dragon > Inhibitor Towers > Killing Sprees > Inner Towers > Outer Towers > Farm > Kills
This is because the different objectives are worth different amounts of gold/buffs/advantages. Also, some are easier to get than others. Here’s a look at gold values of objectives just as a quick example:
Outer Tower = 650g
Inner Tower = 725g
Inhibitor Tower = 875g
Dragon = 975g-1825g
Baron Nashor = 1525g + buff
Killing Sprees = 750g+
Kills – 300g
Some of these (like dragon) also give experience and extra bonuses. This order isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it is generally correct for making decisions ~99% of the time. Focus on objectives, win more games.
2. Assists can be worth as much as kills
Seriously, never complain about a kill steal again. An assist gives 50% of the kill gold spread evenly among contributing champions. It also gives an extra 15g every time you have one more assist than kills (Capped at the gold the kill is worth). Read about this on the wiki if you don’t believe me: http://leagueoflegends.wikia.com/wiki/Assist
3. Always buy a 35 gold health potion
The 35 gold health potion gives 150hp over 15 seconds, or 400 gold worth of extra hp during a fight (a ruby crystal). Pop your potion whenever you start fighting. You can tell that this trick won you a fight if you ever walk away with less than 150 hp.
4. Minion Control
You can manipulate minion waves to slowly build pressure and set up plays on the other side of the map. Want to take Baron in 2 mins? Setup a super wave in your botlane and force the enemy team to defend two objectives at once!
5. Minions are Mirrored on the Map
The enemy minions move at the same pace as your own minions. So you can look at your minions to see where the enemy minions are. If there’s a wave at your outer tower, there’s a wave at the enemy outer tower too! This helps you remain undetected during an invade or know when the next wave is coming.
6. Ward Cursor Changes Color In/Out of Bushes
Ever screw up a ward so that it’s one pixel out of a bush? Never again. Your cursor changes colors when placing a ward in and out of a bush. This inch can save your life next time your perfectly placed ward spots a jungler coming to gank you!
7. Know Your Timers
Riot keeps track of the buffs, baron, and dragon for you in the client when you hit tab, IF you have vision when the camp is cleared. Knowing approximately when the next dragon or blue buff will spawn can tell you a ton of information and help you plan/track the enemy team. These can change from time to time, so I like to check the League of Legends wiki for updates.
Didn’t see the jungler clear a buff? Click him next time he shows up on the map. You can see how much time is left on each buff, which tells you how long ago he did each one, and lets you know when the buff will be back up! (Buffs last for 2.5mins or 3mins with the Runic Affinity mastery)
Knowing the cooldowns of summoner spells can win games too. Flash is on a 5 minute cooldown, so you can plan to pressure immobile enemy champions for the next 5 minutes after they burn it.
Timers can make plays and win games.
8. Clear the Small Jungle Creeps First
Early in the game, if you can’t kill the large creep of a jungle camp in ~2-3 seconds, then kill the small creeps first. You will take less damage from the camp and be healthier.
9. Understand when/why items are good
Take time to look at how much each item costs and what each item gives you. For example, Locket of the Iron Solari is the best defensive item in the game against area of effect magic damage since it gives you and your team WAY more stats per gold spent than any other item. But a Banshees Veil is a better buy against single target burst casters like Fizz since it’ll block the first spell and give you extra sustain.
Understand how items interact too. There are a lot of little known interactions that end up making a big deal during team fights. For example, the Frozen Heart attack speed slow aura procs the 2x damage multiplier from the Liandry’s Torment % health passive. Few players know this, but you can use this combo to get extra free damage out of the item during team fights. These interactions are often unintentional, and may get cleaned up in subsequent patches, so abuse them while they last!
A lot of this knowledge will come with practice or reading posts like this one.
10. Die less
This is the best advice I can give someone trying to climb. Gbay99 has a great video about why not dying will help you win games. Also, most players don’t know how to win games when they’re behind or even with their opponents. If you don’t feed them kill gold, then they’re forced to beat you with skill over raw damage stats. This is where all those inches add up and win games. Die less, outplay your opponent, climb more.
The Best Advice
Constantly be learning and trying new things. Be wary of advice from players that “know everything” and always try to improve. This game is too complex and the meta is constantly shifting as new discoveries and patches are made. Focus on your weaknesses and pick up new inches every time you play. To improve at league, life, or anything, the inches we need are everywhere around us.