If playing ranked games in League of Legends has taught me anything, other than how to hate my fellow gamers, it’s that everyone seems to believe in little things that they think will help them win. Tonight, I was thinking about how I approach ranked and how some of what I do is very calculated and other things I do are basically just hunches that I have.
I don’t think I am the only one who does this, because I have heard about some pretty funny stuff that others do. Some people refuse to play with duo quers or duo que themselves. Others refuse to try their hand at ranked on the weekend, believing that there are too many silly weekend LoL players who will bring them down. Is there any evidence to back any of this up? A little bit. Duo que’ing will get you placed against higher elo opponents (to some extent) and with more players playing on the weekend there certainly is a better chance of you getting someone crazy. But, ultimately, these things cannot be consistently proven to get you more wins.
Other people develop calculated strategies for heading into ranked games. Some people master a single champion and use it to dominate their games. Others believe certain roles are easier to carry games and they focus their efforts on mastering a handful of champs for those roles. Some sage individuals, such as my friend Nhan, work on becoming masters of calm. They develop ways to deal with the negativity and lack of focus that dominate solo que and are able to obtain victory through patience and gentle guidance. These ways of approaching ranked games definitely involve a lot more thought, practice and often yield more tangible results than the myths above. But even the best thought out approach to ranked can be ruined by being placed into a game with a rager or troll.
I have, lately, found myself using a combination of these approaches. I knew that playing a position I was uncomfortable with tended to freak me out, so I have made an effort to gradually learn to do a passable job at every position. Yes, I remain most comfortable on support or top, but I no longer panic when asked to play jungle or mid. I know I will never be a great ADC, but I have even played it just enough to know that I can do it if Voyboy were to come down from Curse and offer me a million dollars.
I also have a few “gut feelings” about ranked that I follow. I believe the best time to play ranked is early in the morning when, hopefully, it’s only the hardcore folks who are awake. Even if they aren’t hardcore, my hope is that they will at least be too tired to waste their time raging at me. I also won’t play ranked games on the weekend, if I can help it. Is there any science to support why I do this? Not really. It’s just a feeling I have, and I like to go with it.
It’s the same when I go to a casino. I know the odds are against me. I know nothing I do can really change that, but if having a certain routine or playing at a certain time makes me feel more comfortable or makes me feel like I have a better shot, I will do those things because they allow me to be more relaxed, be more confident, and actually have fun – which is why I’m there.
It’s the same with LoL. Our fates will always rest, to a large extent, with the matchmaking computer. No matter how hard you train, practice, or meditate that is a fact we will always have to deal with. So you know what? Do those calculated things. If you are going to play ranked, you will be doing yourself a huge favor if you go into it prepared. But you should also never be afraid to trust your gut. If you feel like you should only play ranked on even days, or never duo que, or wear all red clothes while playing, I say go for it. If it makes you comfortable, if it allows you to relax, and if it helps you have fun then you should never be afraid to do it. There will always be too much dumb luck involved in this game for you to avoid doing those quirky things that help you enjoy yourself.
I know most of you have awesome and well thought out strategies for approaching ranked, but I do not want to see comments on those. What I do want you to share with me are those crazy or only semi proven things that you do when you play. Do you have some kind of good luck charm? Do you only played ranked at certain times or with certain people? Let me know. It’s always nice to know I’m not the only one who is undefeated when he has his lucky stormtrooper doll on his desk, and I certainly will never say no to having more sources of dumb luck on my side!