Averting a Crisis Before Minions Spawn

I should not have been anywhere the Blue Buff, but in Solo Queue you always have to put the team first – that’s what a good support does. My team just happened to consist of an Amumu, so I knew that an invade was a very real possibility. As it would turn out, an invasion was the least of my worries.

My champion, Zyra, had barely put her roots down near our Blue Buff when I first saw our Zed venture up into the other team’s jungle. Ok, I thought, he’s just going to take a quick look around and come back. Nope, before I could say anything, he had decided to face check up into the bush below the other team’s Red Buff. I’m not sure if any of us wanted him to find someone there…but he did.

I know what you are thinking, and I was thinking the same thing. The other team was probably getting ready to invade, and Zed had just found them all in sitting in their bush. I feared the worst, but instead watched as my top laner came face to face with the enemy top laner, a Xin Zhao. “Oh thank goodness,” I remember thinking. “Now Zed can just trade damage and walk away.” Well he did trade damage, but he did not walk away.

Zed had decided that he was going to fight this Xin to the death, and Xin had the exact same thoughts. I would like to tell you that I was busy trying to calculate who would win this fight. The truth is that I was just watching the duel in stunned silence, along with probably everyone else in the game. What snapped me hard out of that silence was when I realized that Zed was not going to win the fight, and he was not going to run.

A level one Zyra without boots does not run very fast, but i willed my champion north towards the battle. Just as Xin struck the death blow on my ally, I flashed into the bush and landed my snare. Xin Flashed away as my snare expired, but as I watched with baited breath, my last auto attack chased after him for the kill. Situation saved.

You would think I would have felt happy; I just remember feeling relief. Solo Queue is a delicate balance of egos and momentum. A First Blood given up for nothing can easily create the kind of doubts and unhappiness that would lose a lane, and ultimately the game. By picking up the kill, and getting my fallen comrade an assist, I maintained that delicate balance. I made sure Zed could declare “worth” and move on with his game. A game we would later win.

Next time you’re sitting around, waiting for minions to spawn, remember to keep your eyes on what your teammates are getting up to. Who knows, maybe you will also be called upon to make a sudden play. A little bit of map awareness, combined with a good Flash and an OK skill shot, can easily mean the difference between suffering defeat and averting a crisis.



Man Dropping on their Dreams

I like to frequently post clips of awesome League of Legends plays for you guys, but it is kind of rare that I get to be part of said clip. Well this amazing Baron steal just so happens to be a) amazing and b) one of the voices screaming in the background just happens to be yours truly. So give it a watch. It’s proof that even us low level amateurs can make some incredible plays!

Protatomonster’s Top 5 Plays of the Week – Featuring Thresh and Karma

Happy Friday to everyone. If you’re getting yourself psyched to play or watch some League of Legends this weekend, check out this week’s awesome Top 5 Plays from Protatomonster. I am a huge fan of Thresh and Karma, so I could not resist sharing this.

“Advice” From a Pro

If you like sarcasm, and you like League of Legends, you are going to want to click on the link below. This is one of the best things I have read in a while. Also, if you read through it and realize that you are actually doing a lot of what the author is saying you should consider changing your ways, please and thank you 😛


AFK’ing (Mentally) from the AFK

It was going to be a tough lane bot. Myself, on Fiddlesticks, and my friend, on Kog, against a Caitlyn supported by Janna. Caitlyn is easily the most poke heavy ADC in the early game, and Janna was just going to make her hit that much harder.

The lane started out exactly how I envisioned. Cait and Janna poked away while my friend and I tried desperately to keep up his CS. Our saving grace was that Janna insisted on coming in for some hard poke and I was able to fear her long enough for us to put down some decent damage. This didn’t exactly save the lane, but it made it so that we could exist in it. The Cait poke continued, relentlessly, until finally they were able to snipe me under tower. It was a death that should not have happened, but I was hoping that they would mismanage the tower agro and I could get a fear off that would lead to an easy kill.

The enemy pair returned to lane full of confidence, but my Kog and I weren’t there. The other team’s jungler had decided to steal our blue and we had swept up to help our jungler. The enemy Skarner tried to make a run for it, but simply ended up running in circles after a healthy dosage of my Fiddle fear.

We returned to lane, and Cait continued her barrage against us. They even managed to pick up a kill on Kog at the end of a nice play where her and Janna escaped with only 50 health between them. It seemed like this would continue, but there is one thing that our opponents underestimated – a 2.5 second fear. As Cait prepared a peacemaker for my Kog, I calmly walked up and feared her. My Kog unloaded with his full combo and I hit my exhaust and silence to make sure that escape was not an option. It seemed like the Janna might make it, but a quick crowstorm into the bush ended that hope. You can imagine how happy my friend and I were. We had taken a tough early lane and transitioned it into a winning late lane, just like you’re supposed to. Just when it seemed like everything was finally going our way, our Ziggs decides to stop playing.

I don’t know what the final straw was. He had been complaining about basically everything to that point. Maybe the jungler took some of his CS in the mid. Maybe he didn’t get quite as many blue buffs as he thought he was entitled to. Maybe his lack of kills, which was surely the rest of our team’s fault, was finally too much for him. Whatever it was, just as we were finally turning this game around, he was gone.

This scenario is usually the deathblow for your team. Even if you stand a fighting chance, many people will simply stop playing and let the inevitable come. Our team chose not to. The spirited defense we put up actually lasted for another 30 minutes and left us with a significantly higher number of kills than the enemy team. To be fair, they helped us out by refusing to group and letting us pick them off. A lot of the credit must be given to our guys for never giving up. Our Wukong was so intent on trying to make things happen that he didn’t even notice that our Ziggs was gone until 10 minutes after he had vanished. I guess that should also say something about the Zigg’s play.

We have all gone through this. Someone fails to load, loses their connection, or flips out and intentionally quits. I’d like to give you some strategies to overcome the AFK, but even when you have a good strategy they rarely work because a) numbers really do matter in LoL and b) usually a good portion of your team will, subconsciously or intentionally, give up. This makes putting together any kind of resistance strategy difficult, and you will likely just end up even more frustrated when your team fails to take appropriate action.

What I will suggest you do is take pride in the game you play. Remember, you are not expected to win a 4 v 5. Heck, even picking up kills in this scenario becomes difficult. So when you get a kill it is a pretty significant accomplishment. You learn the art of the pickoff. You really appreciate the need to ward every corner of your side of the map in order to know exactly when their is an opportunity to strike, and you get a great opportunity to learn how to juke to your character’s maximum potential.  You can even try out a slightly different build, or max something new that you might not have otherwise maxed. Basically, you can give yourself something to work on or take away from the game. If you don’t, you will just be wasting that time.

By the time my game was over, I’m not even sure that I remembered to report Ziggs. It helped that I was playing a normal game and not a ranked game, but when it comes down to it, AFK’s are something you will never really have control over. What I did have control over was the work that I did. I warded hard, I pealed hard for my ADC, and I incorporated some heavier AP items into my build  that I would not normally have picked up. I played a good game, and actually managed to relax and have some fun instead of dwelling on it.

Even when there is LP on the line, I have adopted the same strategy. In a 4 v 5, there is no pressure. How many times can you say that in a ranked game? No one expects anything of you, so why not do something amazing instead of sitting around feeling sorry for yourself. AFK’ers may take away your chance to win, but they do not take away your chance to have some fun and become a better player. If they AFK because they are unhappy, I challenge you to ignore the unhappiness that they are trying to leave you with. If you play smart and play to learn something from the experience, you will be infinitely better off than the AFK’er who will be locked in their cycle of poor play and results.

AFK’s, and the losses they cause, are something that you cannot avoid. You could give up, or even AFK yourself, but that solves nothing. Set yourself goals that you can accomplish, and try to hit those goals before the game ends. A good game is more than just a win. It is the feeling that you have played your part well and accomplished something that you can take with you into your next match. AFK’ers can take away a lot, but they cannot take away a game well played.

That Weird Thing you do to Win Ranked Games

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!


I was the Player who was Trash

You all know the guy i’m talking about. The guy you are fighting in top lane who announces, 15 minutes into your game, that he has won your lane and that you are trash.

You kept up with him in CS, you’re tired, and you are regretting that you went with Nidalee at this time of night, but you do not feel that you have lost your lane. You got an assist on first blood, and a second kill, but that is because your jungler “camped top all day,” and now this “gentleman” has declared you to be “trash” and is coming to take your turret. The fact that his ADC has come top to help him doesn’t make you any less trash.

At this point in the game, I was tempted to tell him off. I was tempting to declare, for all to hear, that the lane was even, I wasn’t trash and things were going to turn around. But I’ve written about this before. I know that all chat is just another excuse to distract yourself from the task at hand. All chat is the place you go when you can’t make a difference, and I was going to make a difference.

I gave up the turret easily enough, but dropped something even more important – pings. As I kite my way backwards, throwing javelins as I go, I see the first of my teammates begin to arrive. It is time to fight. No more poking with spears, into the top tribush I pounce, swiping away at anyone who comes near. Miss Fortune vanishes, too slow to realize she has come too far and is low enough health that my Takedown destroys her. Jax doesn’t realize the fight is lost. He moves to confront me, but I have built a Warmogs and I am far too tanky for him to burst down. Sadly, the same cannot be said for Jax, and my team destroys him.

Olaf, who moments before declared for all that I was trash, has come charging in with Jax. With the important targets gone, I turn my attention to him. My damage, reinforced by my team’s, is far too much for him to handle. As the rest of his team gets cleaned out of the tribush, he has been running. This top lane tough guy now doesn’t want to be anywhere near me. As my team surges out of the top tribush, Olaf has already been running towards the top bushes. He thinks he might be safe, as my team heads left towards the enemy turret, but I am not done.

My bushwhack reveals the left bush. Seeing nothing, I immediately fire a Javelin into the right bush to see if I can spook my prey. Had he stayed still, Olaf may yet have lived. He did not stay still. He runs right, moving out of the top bush and up the lane, past my destroyed turret. He has enough distance that he may be able to make it into our jungle and freedom, if he were fighting anyone else. I am Nidalee. I am the player who is trash. I am the player who has lost my lane and doesn’t even belong on the same field as this guy. I am not going to let him escape.

The distance between us vanishes. With each pounce I grow closer. He darts into the bush above double golems and makes one last hard juke to the left. If I let him go, my team may catch him. But this chase has become personal. I am hurting no one on my team. I am leaving no objectives to waste, and I see that Olaf is prepared to die – but not to me. I have always loved a good Nid javelin. Tonight, I was tired. I had not been aiming my Javelins well. This latest one flies from Nidalee as my heartbeat goes up, and Olaf goes down.

My team moves on to the top turret. Olaf had dared me to take it, when I was trash, and now we do. His team proceeds to throw themselves at us and die in ones and twos under the turret. Silly fights. Unimportant fights. Fights that I win for us, because I am tanky and the damage is done. For one glorious instance, I have been able to use a Nidalee javelin to take down all that I hate in this game.

When the Olaf continued to call me trash, despite my 10-0-5 score, I didn’t even bother to reply. He continued to insist that he won his lane, and I just felt bad for his teammates who he was likely blaming for the loss. If I was smug, I was only smug for one or two sentences of text. I had objectives to help my team to take. I had an ADC to feed and protect, and when all of that was finally done, I said my good games and I wished the other team the best heading forward.

I am in no way trying to tell you that I am some kind of saint. I am not always humble, nor do I always avoid the temptation of all chat. What I want you to share in is the idea that you can focus on playing your own game, you can play your own game better and you can make a difference for your team.

I want you to hunger for and taste the same kind of sweet victory over the dark side of League of Legends that I did, even if only for a moment. I was the player who was trash. I became the player who made a difference, and won the game.