Learn to farm well
Farming is one of the benchmark skills necessary to advance in League of Legends, though it can seem unusually unimportant. Champion kills are tantalizing and gratifying, and focusing on tiny health bars and squashing them with precise autoattacks doesn’t seem as immediately worth it.
In truth, being good at farming is one of the best ways to be better than your opponent. In games where your opponent is focused on massacring you, they’ll often lose farm opportunities in trying to take you down. Staying safe and keeping your farm up can give you a gold lead, experience lead, and deprive your opponent opportunities for kills. They’ll fall behind, be forced out of their strategy, or become more aggressive and put themselves in increasingly dangerous positions.
In lower action games, farm will be the only way to gain a leg up on your enemy. While one creep may not seem like a mountain, it a couple dozen lead in CS can mean an early item against your opponent.
Perfecting your last-hitting and timing your backs will up your CS, get you more gold, and always give you at least one advantage over the enemy laner. Learn your champions’ basic attack damage and attack speed, and pay as much attention to waves as possible.
Be cautious of OP or counter-pick champions
Many League of Legends players without a focused champion pool will gravitate towards popular, overpowered (OP) champions or champions known for countering their opponent. Abiding by this mindset could cost you, though.
Let’s elaborate. Choosing a champion that’s currently strong, perhaps overpowered, is not a bad decision in and of itself. What can be problematic is having no familiarity or skill with a champion, but picking it nonetheless because it’s hyper popular or a one used to high success in competitive play. There are few moments in this life where a champion will be genuinely freelo (read: free ELO). Typically, the seemingly “OP” champions require a deep understanding of their mechanics, or at least some practice.
In the same vein of thought, picking a champion known to “counter” your enemy can become an unnecessary handicap. Unless you’re familiar with the counterpick, you’re more likely to perform worse with an unfamiliar champion than you would with a practiced hero that may not dominate the matchup on paper. If you’re skilled enough, you can even play your best champions into an unfavorable matchup.
The League of Legends ranked system is a well-aged equation that relies on a simple statistical pillar. Though the outcome of a match will be dependent on some factors you cannot control, like your teammates or the opposing team, you will end up in your true skill rank eventually.
It works like this: If you play consistently well, then your team has one guaranteed player of skill who will make good decisions and play at their maximum skill level. The enemy team has 5 players slots up to chance, which can be filled with players above or below your skill level. Your team, provided you are playing at your peak ability, has 4 player slots left up to chance, and one guaranteed player of appropriate skill (you). The rules of random assortment mean that even though you may get lower-skill teammates that ruin your climbing, the enemy has more of a chance to get them.
Your team has a higher probability of winning against the enemy if you are playing at a higher skill level than your rank, aka trying to climb. You should then be able to climb as well as you play given a large enough grouping of games. Theoretically.
This statistical placement doesn’t always feel right when you’re in the midst of a LoL losing streak or a couple of heart-wrenching defeats. But, if you keep playing at your best, you ought to see just opportunity to advance. Climbing ranks is only a generous sample size away.
And generally, this principle is good to keep in mind so that you can….
Avoid tilt at all costs
A player who is “tilting” is typically one who has suffered a loss, and due to the stress, plays poorer in their subsequent match or matches. The stress of a loss can cause decrease in focus, increased aggressiveness, muddled decision making, and a snowball effect arising from all of these negative qualities.
Tilt psychologically real, so keeping a clear head and a positive (or at least neutral) attitude will ensure you’re playing at your best and increase your ranked climbing efficiency.
Tilt is extremely difficult to spot in your performance; even if you feel relatively okay, subtle effects can accumulate. Remember that if you find yourself in a frustration losing streak, whether you feel aggravated or calm, it’s a good idea to take a breather.
Take breaks as needed, stay positive and focused, and always be willing to recognize when you are your own worst enemy.
Play with friends
Queueing up with friends in League of Legends is a great way to earn bonus IP, but also a strategy for climbing ranks. Ensuring you’re working with a skilled team, playing with people who understand each other’s strategies and playstyles, and facilitated communication can all be benefits of going ranked without strangers.
A duo or a small team can synergize their picks and play styles, sometimes creating killer bot lane combos or perfecting their team engage. Playing with friends also means you’re more likely to get the majority of the team on some sort of voice chat application – be it Skype, Ventral, or TeamSpeak. Not only can you communicate faster and more clearly, but you’re likely to spend less time getting angry at each other. Maybe. No guarantees on that.
Keep in mind that the new League of Legends queue system will prioritize matching pre-made teams with other pre-made teams. Expect to meet an opponent with formidable organization and similarly cool friendship powers.
Learn to build properly
Proper item building, aside from STAY BEHIND YOUR MINIONS, is one of the earliest lessons you’re likely to learn in League of Legends. This is mostly because it’s easy for other players to see your build and criticize any shocking departures from logic, though this has become somewhat less of a problem after Riot made it impossible to buy multiple boots.
Ever since Riot revamped the store with an improved suggestions page, you can follow their suggested build for a generally accepted set of items and stats.
You’ll also need to pay attention and build for your situation. There’s the basics: armor will be effective against a strong Attack Damage team and Magic Resistance will defend against powerful mages. More complex situations may dictate you give up a higher damage item for a niche piece like a Quicksilver Sash, which can be a save against high crowd control teams. Try to build for your needs, keep an eye on the enemy’s stats and build, and you’ll be well equipped to earn your ranks.
Know your limits
It crucial that League of Legends players develop a talent for quick and accurately reading what matchups and encounters they can win. This is arguably the trickiest skill to master, but one with great benefits.
If you watched competitive League of Legends back in the days of M5 and Gambit, you probably at witnessed pro player Alex Ich wreck some faces. He thrived off of being able to assess fights faster than anyone on the field, and it yielded him great success with assassins and general team decisions.
Start with the basics. Don’t take on numbers greater than your own unless you’re ahead. Don’t engage the enemy if you or your team is ill-positioned, underleveled, behind in items, etc. This will require you to be aware of these factors, and of the relative advantages of each team, in a second’s notice.
Aside from attention, one of the best ways to learn your limits is by experience. Enough time with a champion, winning and losing, will give you a good feel for their damage outputs at each level, their advantages with various builds, and generally when you can come out of a 1v1 on top.
There aren’t many concrete calculations to offer you here, but know this is something you must learn. *wise, distant chimes*
Watching the map is one of the fastest ways to quickly improve your playing, and sadly one of the most forgotten skills. Usually LoL players don’t glance around often enough to notice a champion missing from their lane or to spot an incoming gank before it’s too late.
Watching the map saves lives. It saves so many lives. Make a habit of checking the mini map often and quickly, noting the locations of both your teammates and the enemies. This will keep you from initiating a fight without key members of your team. This will give you an idea of the enemy jungler’s general routes. This will clue you in to incoming enemy rotations. This will give you maybe a spare second’s worth of notice before the incoming Rengar, and you will be thankful for it.
Watch the map, for yourself and for your team. You’ll be informed, and in case your team isn’t watching, you’ll be able to inform them as well.
Take advantage of vision
Map awareness becomes even more powerful when you’re playing a strong vision game. Warding often and warding intelligently is key to upper level play, and can play a big part in climbing ranks all the way from Bronze to Challenger.
League of Legends’ wards have changed an absolute ton over the past years, and as a signal of new times, this section no longer needs a paragraph dedicated to convincing non-support players to buy wards.
Everyone gets a vision trinket at the start of a match that can be upgraded to specialize in distance or some sort of sweeping. Now all that’s left is to remember to use your new warding powers.
There’s a lot of different opinions on optimal ward placement, and for the sake of shifting metas, we’ll keep it to general strategies.
Warding is ideal for spotting enemy movements, whether it be a jungler’s route or a team converging on a dragon. Objectives make good watch points. A warded buff will let you spot a jungler’s general position, and possibly offer you a chance for a buff steal or invade. Vision can also keep you from losing larger objectives, and you should have some sort of vision around contested points like Baron or dragon around when they are likely to be taken.
Wards can also be used less specifically to gain general area control. Take for example, warding the enemy’s route to the dragon pit rather than the pit itself. This gives you more preemptive information, allowing you to zone out enemies from their entry points and intercept their arrival quicker.
On top of all that, vision is also your best protection from ganks. Placing wards in or around lanes, or in particularly risky brushes, will help you spot enemies that leave their lanes or an approaching jungler.
There’s plenty of ways to ward off a gank, whether directly within a nearby brush or at a farther vantage point. Keep note of where the enemy jungler likes to appear from, or where your laning apponent likes to scurry off to, and ward accordingly. Enemy junglers with invisibility, like Khazix or Rengar, require wards further within the jungle, as they are likely to go invisible as they approach your lane. Junglers like Jarvan IV can jump over walls, bypassing typical routes and accessing brushes more sneakily. There’s a variety of strategies, and always be aware of where your vision will best serve.
Communicate what you see
Life was pretty hard before the new ping system. There was only a blue “HERE” ping and a yellow “CARE” ping. Now pings can be quickly used as warnings, MIAs, OMWs, and HELPs. And there’s still the good ol’ blue and yellow dot pings.
With these in hand, you should constantly be aiding your team, either by calling MIAs, signaling danger, asking for help with dragon, or otherwise. Collaborating, especially when you’re not in a premade team, is crucial to moving up in ranks and competing with well-organized and experienced players.
Keep your cool when communicating as well. Spamming or angrily messaging demands or derisions is more likely to frustrate your allies into playing worse, stress them out unnecessarily, or cause them to quit entirely. On the other hand, helpful advice and calm organization improves gameplay for everyone.
Communication allows you to translate your skills to others. You can point out an unfavorable matchup after noticing a CS gap between your teammate and the enemy. You can call out when you see the jungler on a certain side of the map. You can coordinate rotations and call for defense of a tower in need. Information is key, and communication is the way to spread it.
Learn to critique yourself
The goal is to never stop improving, and the only way to improve your League of Legends ability is to take a productively criticizing view of yourself. At one point or another, unless you are the megalord of climbing ranks, you’ll likely hit a wall in your progression. Getting over it will require you recognize that you are not rank climbing megalord, that you do make mistakes, and that you can get even better.
Rewatching your games or even watching others play can help you spot poor decisions and missed opportunities with much more clarity. Being able to do this with a level head will let you learn from every mistake and master your playstyle and decision-making.