Coming to terms with your skill level...Summoner's Journal

Coming to terms with your skill level...

I hate these Bronze teammates! I should be in Diamond! (Sound familiar?)

We all struggle with being told we're not as good as we think we are. Competitive video games are often harsh reminders of our own shortcomings. There always is someone better than us, regardless of how good we may be. Competition, whether video games, traditional sports, spelling bees, pie-eating, or cooking (love me some Iron Chef), brings out the best and/or worst in all of us.

When it comes to League, it is hard to keep in mind how many people actually play the game. Riot Games estimates over 100 million players actively play each month (Sept 2016). Of those about 70% find themselves in either Silver or Bronze; 20% find themselves in Gold; with less than 10% spread out between Platinum, Diamond, and Challenger. Keep that in mind when looking at the total players. Thats 70 million between Bronze/Silver, 20 million in Gold, and less than 10 million players in the tiers above that (about 2 million of which find themselves in Diamond [thankfully the estimate gave us a nice round number which to do our math with]).

Which brings us to the personal part of my writings, I find myself stuck in Bronze, again. I watch LCS, I watch streamers, I watch my friends play at higher levels than myself, in normals I can hold my own against Gold players, but when I play Ranked...I consistently wind up stuck in Bronze.

This is a bit hard to deal with. Growing up I would watch Soccer regularly. I loved the sport, playing it, and watching it. I remember as a kid thinking “I can be as good as those players one day”. I would play whenever possible, same goes for Golf “Oh, that can’t be too hard to be that good” I thought, while shanking shots left and right into the tall grass “I’ll get better as I get older”. At some age however, I realized the skill involved to become a professional was beyond my grasp and grew to accept that.

Video games never really presented me with this issue. Younger me knew nothing about a competitive scene (they weren’t nearly as big nor well covered as the LCS), in video games. I played with friends, enjoyed my time-wasting hobby, and moved on to the next thing in my day. I wasn’t very good at them, had friends who were much better, but never really saw them as much of a competitive thing. All this changed when I started playing League, and especially so about 2 years ago when I started actually watching competitive League.

I was introduced to a whole new world of video games. One which treated “gamers” like celebrities, and allowed entire business models to explode around the thought of people watching others play a video game.

While I play League ranked as often as I can, which is less than I would like, yet more than I probably should, I keep in mind how much a competitive game changes your mindset while playing, and always try to put a desire to have fun above anything else. So I keep a few “truths” on my mind whenever I play.

  1. Your opponents and your teammates are around your skill level. They should make the same decisions as you, leaving a need to either outskill or outbuild them to succeed.

If you’re in bronze, you’re most likely playing against bronze level players. “But what about all the SMURFS?!” I promise, you play against a hell of a lot fewer smurfs/”unranked to Diamond” streamers than you think you do. Because you play against similarly ranked individuals, the game stresses minimizing mistakes and capitalizing on risks/advantages. Which brings us to #2.

  1. Don’t be afraid to use your flash or other abilities aggressively.

You ever watch a pro/streamer land that Thresh flash-hook? Or Gragas land that Flash-e? Rakan with the shield-flash-ult-knockup? The pros hit these because they take the chance to (and because they’re really good). Don’t be afraid to attempt something like this. You’ll probably fail, but those times you hit will demoralize the enemy team and put you at a huge advantage.

  1. Are you winning for sake of winning or the playing for the challenge involved?

You win a lot more than you think you do. It’s much easier to remember the losses than the wins. Just is. Look at your last 20 games played. Guarantee you either remember the losses more than the wins, or thought that you lost more than you actually did. Remember, League is still just a game. When it stops being fun, maybe take a step back.

  1. And finally...while every game is on the same map, played with the same equipment, not every game is the same.

It took me a long time to get away from building the same exact items every game. Each game is a unique experience and will almost never mirror previous matches. Taking something from every game played, and applying those lessons learned, or tactics will always increase your ability to win games; however, it must be remembered that you won’t always be able to win the same way you did last game. Being able to adapt and recognize the correct lessons to apply will elevate any player.

Good luck on the rift. See you, summoner.