How to Be a Better LoL Player: Climbing Up the Ranks

10 months ago by Jan Custodio

One of the most frustrating things for a LoL player is to get stuck in a particular division. If you’ve been playing ranked games for more than a few weeks, you’ve probably heard terms like “Elo hell” and “hardstuck” – hell, you could even be one of them!

Whether you’re new to the game or someone already trying to climb the ranks for years, there are plenty of things that you can do to win more games than you lose. Today, we’re going to help you gain a better understanding of how to be a better player and increase your chances of ranking up!

Rank Is NOT a Reward

One of the biggest reasons why people feel frustrated about not climbing up the ranks is that they think climbing up is a reward for their efforts. The truth is your rank is nothing more than a rough measurement of your skill. If you’re as good as a typical diamond player, you will eventually get to diamond. If you’re a silver-level player that somehow got carried to platinum or higher, you will lose more games than you win.

FACT – In Season 9, most players playing ranked games are in Silver and Gold divisions, with the average player getting placed in Gold IV!

Because of how rank actually works, simply playing more games doesn’t always work. This is why you will see a ton of players that have spent a long time in their current division – they keep playing but they don’t learn from their games. You probably know where this is going: if you get better at the game, you get to climb up!

“Git Gud” – The Fundamentals

So you need to “get good” to climb up the ranks, but how exactly do you go about improving your game? There are plenty of things you can improve on, but we can group them into two things:

  • Mechanics – control over your champ and ability to perform specific tasks even under pressure. What you can do in the game.
  • Game sense – the ability to process info necessary to make the right calls at the right time. What you know about the game.

We have a lot of ground to cover, so let’s start with the first part of improving your game: enhancing your mechanical skill.

Mechanics

Sure, anybody can make a champ move or use abilities, but it takes some skill to use a champion to its full potential. The player with better mechanical skill will have the advantage over their enemy, even if they’re using the same champion.

A classic example of how better mechanical skill will give you the advantage, SKT T1 Faker defeats KT Ryu in an “unwinnable” mirror match.

Attacking and Moving

Being able to attack and move sounds basic, but are you sure you’re already doing it properly? A LoL player worth their salt must be capable of performing the following things on a consistent basis:

  • Kiting – moving between basic attacks or using abilities to keep the enemies within your champion’s effective range.
  • Juking – dodging abilities or tricking enemies into missing their offense.
  • Landing skill shots – being able to land manually-aimed or delayed area-of-effect abilities to catch the enemy.

The best way to see if you have problems with this part of your mechanics is to check your previous games. Do you see yourself not moving enough? Are you missing skill shots that could have otherwise turned the battle more often than usual? Fortunately, this part can be improved through sheer practice.

  1. Kitting is best practiced with a friend. Create a custom 1v1 match and have him chase you. You can also have your practice partner run away, this time with you trying to keep him within your basic attack’s range.
  2. For juking, have your partner pick a champion with plenty of low-cooldown skill shots or AoE. Start by practicing in the river (away from the minion lane), and ramp up the difficulty by trying to farm in a lane while under pressure from the enemy.
  3. For skill shot practice, simply switch places with your training partner. After some time, try to practice kiting, juking, and landing skill shots all at the same time.

It’s important to note that some champs are more mobile compared to others thanks to having dashes or teleports. Take your time to get used to those abilities, including the summoner spells Flash and Ghost.

Farming CS (Creep Score)

Every player has to learn how to consistently land the killing blow on minions. If you kill more minions, you earn gold faster and you can buy your items before the enemy can.

Practicing last-hitting is boring, but it’s usually the reason why you already have a BF sword and the enemy’s fighting you with nothing but a Doran’s Blade

Ideally, you need to be able to kill around 90 to 100 minions by the time the game reaches 10 minutes. Unfortunately, having that much CS while also trying to attack and defend against enemy champs is almost impossible. Good players can consistently get 7-8 CS per minute, but you can always hone your last-hitting skills to get it higher.

FACT: The phrase “Flame Horizon” refers to a situation where a player (usually the top laner) has 100 or more CS compared to their lane opponent. The term was named after Lee “Flame” Ho-jong, who was known for dominating opponents this way.

  1. Play without enemy champs and try to reach about 85-95 minions by the 10-minute mark.
  2. When you can do that consistently, try to do the same thing with one AI lane opponent. Focus on survival and last-hitting minions.
  3. Repeat the same thing, but this time try to attack or kill your lane opponent as well.
  4. Repeat steps 3 and 4, except this time against two AI opponents.

With enough practice, you should be able to hit close to the ideal CS in most matches. Of course, you’ll still be bound to miss out on a few minions every now and then, but you can make up for the loss by killing the enemy, preventing them from getting their own CS, or getting objectives. As long as you’re earning more gold than your lane opponent, you should have the advantage.

“Maining” Champs the Right Way

The more you spend time playing a specific champion, the more comfortable you will be when using their abilities. This is especially true for high skill cap champs such as Lee Sin and Azir where advanced spell sequences or maneuvers require a lot of practice.

Being able to outplay enemies with high skill cap champs is so satisfying… plus you get to win more games.

However, focusing on a single champ could be the reason you’re losing more games than you think. After all, what happens if your main gets matched against an opponent that hard counters them? Even worse, what if your champion gets picked or banned by the enemy team? You’ll end up playing at a major disadvantage either way.

Barring a few (infamous) one-trick players, people who climb the ranks tend to have about three or four “mains” for their primary role and 2 or 3 picks for their secondary role. The chances of all your go-to champs getting picked or banned are very slim so you’ll always be able to play with an option you’re comfortable with.

Developing Game Sense

Some players would argue that having good mechanical skills is the most important thing, but you will never climb the ranks without developing good game sense. In fact, we’ll go so far as to say that good game sense is even more important than the previous aspect of the game. Think of it this way: your game sense helps you choose the right action while your mechanical skill allows you to perform it.

The Minimap

One of the most powerful tools in the game is neither an ability or item, but a part of the interface: the minimap. By paying more attention to the minimap, you’ll be able to avoid ambushes, track down or isolate targets, and even control the flow of the game. Surprisingly, a lot of players even in Diamond division don’t use the minimap as much as they should.

Image result for lol minimap vision
The minimap, with a few recommended warding spots for each role.

The best way to train your eyes to look more often in the minimap is to remind yourself to look at it once every few seconds. You don’t have to stare at it; even a brief glimpse should be more than enough to tell you of what’s happening:

  • Check if a teammate or enemy moved away from their lane (possible ganks)
  • You can check if any key objectives are up and ready to be contested
  • Decide if your teammates are ready to converge for a team fight
  • See if relevant parts of the map are properly covered by wards

With enough practice, looking at the minimap while actively farming CS or even fighting an enemy champion will be second nature.

Warding

The only way to make your minimap more useful is to reveal more of it, which means you need to place wards in crucial spots:

  • Parts of the river or jungle that are often used as jungle routes
  • Bushes that can potentially serve as ambush spots
  • Areas near the dragon and baron pits, as well as red and blue buff spawns

You should always buy wards even if you’re not playing as a jungler or support. A good rule of thumb is to use your spare gold to purchase one or two wards every time you go back to the fountain.

The enemy team will also try to ward the map as much as they can so you have to be careful when traveling through the jungle or setting up a gank. If you’re a jungler or a support player, you have to train yourself to use Oracle’s Lens before securing an objective or regaining ward control over an area.

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/BcQm0XQCcP4/maxresdefault.jpg
Deny the enemy team of your vision with Oracle’s lens, especially when preparing for a gank.

Matchups and Meta

Understanding the game’s meta will help you know which champs and strategies are stronger than others. More importantly, you can anticipate what your enemies will try to do, giving you the chance to counter them.

Because the meta keeps changing, the easiest way to keep track of it is by regularly checking champ and team composition tier lists. If you can get your teammates to cooperate, you can have the advantage as early as the pick and ban phase.

Picking strong “meta champs” is good if you’re already familiar with them. However, you have to remember that playing a champ you’ve never tried before could put you at a disadvantage. Of course, having a good grasp of the basics will help alleviate issues with unfamiliarity.

Decision Making

Decision making is what separates the good LoL players from the great ones because this is where your game sense will compliment your mechanical skills. You may be able to perform an elaborate combo, but knowing when to execute it could be the difference between winning or losing a fight.

Let’s pick a scenario as an example:

You’re in the top lane, with the minion wave pushed closer to the enemy tower. You saw the enemy jungler moving to the bottom lane (via your minimap), with your own team’s jungler too far to help. Your teleport is up so you can jump in. Will you go in or not?

The right answer depends on a ton of factors:

  • Does your lane opponent have a good wave clear that leaving the lane could give him the chance to catch up?
  • Do you have enough HP/resources/abilities to be able to contribute to the team fight?
  • Does the enemy team have the level and item advantage over your team or will your presence even out or turn the battle in your favor?
  • Will joining the fight be worth the risk of losing your lead in the top lane?

If you don’t know enough about the situation, jumping into the fray could just result in you giving the other team an extra kill and your lane opponent catching up. The opposite could also happen and you could lose the opportunity to increase your team’s lead even more.

Failing to properly asses the situation can lead to a disaster, as this reckless teleport from KT Ssumday shows.

How to Be a Better LoL Player – Conclusion

Some aspects of the game such as teammates and sudden shifts in the meta are beyond your control, but mastering those that are within your grasp will go a long way in your journey to the top of the ranked divisions. We hope this has helped you learn more about the game and good luck in your ranked matches!

Jan Custodio

Jan Custodio

Jan is an avid PC gamer and an FB Gaming streamer. His favorite titles include Starcraft, Doom, For Honor, and Warframe, but he also enjoys playing popular Esport titles including League of Legends and Rainbow Six:Siege. When not playing PC games, Jan watches professional wrestling, building gunpla, and riding his motorycle.

Latest articles for League Of Legends

All articles