How I got to Diamond in 3 months (League of Legends)
I. How I got to Diamond (My story)
II. General Advice
III. Gameplay/Mindset Advice
I. How I Got to Diamond In 3 Months
Getting Stuck in Platinum
Way back in (I think it was) November, I managed to move from the Gold Tier into the prestigious Platinum Tier in League of Legends. Needless to say, I was ecstatic. I felt that after all the ranked games that I played, I was finally at a Platinum level and a strong player in the game. However, it turned out I was completely wrong. After entering the Platinum Tier, I proceeded to lose game after game after game. It eventually got to the point where I was getting lower pick priority than gold 4s, whom, in theory, I was fairly superior to because of my ranking. At this point I was gaining about 3-5 LP per win, and just when I had managed to win 3-4 consecutive wins, a single loss would put me back to 0.
Needless to say, I was mortified. I came to realize that although I had managed to get to the Platinum tier, I was only platinum in name only. It wasn’t a thing I actually deserved. In reality, I was a gold the whole time, and that had never changed. You always have those games where you see someone and wonder how they managed to get carried up to your tier, and in my games, that player was me.
The New Account
In my despair and irritation, about 3 months ago I created a second account which is now my main account, “SeasonsCall”. I quickly leveled up to 30 in about a week and prepared to hop back into ranked, a fresh start on a fresh account. After winning 8 of my 10 promotional matches, I got placed into Silver II. In about 20-30 games, I got my way out of silver and moved back into the gold league, the level I always was. Gold was a bit tougher, but after about 40-50 games I managed to move up into Gold I from Gold V. Confident and ready, I started spamming ranked games with Platinum V right in my sights. After about 100 games of wins and losses, I was still in Gold I, but nowhere near Platinum V.
It was at this point that I started doubting myself. I wasn’t getting promoted nor was I getting demoted. I was stuck. The worst part was the fact this all was happening in Gold I, nearly the same place I got stuck in on my first account.
It was around this time that I was starting to realize that although I was playing a lot of games, I was never improving. All phases of the game felt the same as they did 100 games ago. Even though 100 games ago I told myself I would play to improve, it never happened. It was at this time that I realized I needed to change.
A Change in Mindset
My change in playstyle was, dare I say, drastic. In all honesty, at the beginning I was wondering why I even bothered doing it. I was dying a lot more often, feeding a lot more, and getting a lot more threats from teammates saying that they would report me. About 200 games later, my efforts began to bear fruit. Although I have no concrete evidence, everything about my play felt better. I felt more in control of laning phase and started getting more kills and less deaths. Although my overall win percentage stayed the same, I felt that I had more control of the game than I did before. (I will discuss exactly what I changed later in the article.)
Racing to Diamond
After another 80ish games, I started to see drastically improved win rates. Although I might have just gotten lucky, I began winning game after game and very quickly got placed into my promotionals, where I went 3-0 and got promoted into the platinum tier.
Although it was an extremely long journey, after about 450 games, 400 of which were in Gold I alone, I managed to get my way into the Platinum tier.
From this point, there really isn’t a lot to say. I just continued doing what I did in Gold league, and after about 200 games I made it into Diamond. After 697 ranked solo queue games, I did it. I got into the tier where all the “cream of the crop” lie.
Where I am at now (gg SGU patch lag)
The road to Diamond was a long, tedious road that gave me an immense amount of satisfaction upon completion. Now as I tread toward my new goal, Diamond I, I have come to respect the system that Riot has put into play for the Ranking Ladder. Although at first I thought the system did not work and made no sense, I have come to realize a different conclusion. The system works extremely well for solo queue players like me.
Players that manage to climb up the ladder with their own power slowly but surely grow substantially as a player as they climb. Whenever I play smurf games in Gold or Silver or Bronze, everything just seems so easy. I see hundreds of opportunities and openings that I never saw before I managed to achieve a Diamond rating. It is through these smurf games that I am able to fully respect my Diamond achievement, and am able to fully realize how much I have grown as a player.
II. General Advice
Understanding the Limits
Every champion in the game has limitations. There are things some champs can do that others cannot at all points in the game. Understanding these limitations is the most important thing to becoming a better player.
For example, let’s take an assassin like Zed or Talon. Almost every player knows that they are capable of dealing insane amounts of burst damage. However, one thing many lower level players do not know is that they cannot brawl with a bruiser early game. Throughout levels 1-5, if a brawler like Xin Zhao, Riven, or Renekton gets into Zed or Talon’s face, Zed or Talon almost surely will die. In fact, most assassin type champions are built for the purpose of doing insane amounts of burst damage to priority targets. While these champs do a lot of burst damage, they have very low sustained damage. If a bruiser type champion can get into an assassin’s face before they maximize their burst potential (level 6), the bruiser will usually wind up winning.
Understanding the limitations of all of the champions will allow you as a player to take full advantage of when those champions are weakest, and allow you to act with caution when yours are weak as well. This information make it a lot easier to win lane, whether it be by counter picking or outplaying the opponent.
Level 2 / 3 advantage
Another thing many lower ELO players do not take into consideration is the immense advantage you gain by leveling up, especially in the earlier levels. Being level 2 or 3 while your opponent is level 1 is a massive advantage. Not only do you have higher base stats, but you also have access to more abilities.
For example, let’s take a look at a matchup like Lee Sin vs Xin Zhao. In this kind of lane, both champions have the potential to kill the other the moment they hit level 2. If Lee sin hits 2 first, he can immediately Sonic Wave/Resonating Strike over to Xin Zhao for decent damage and throw out his Tempest/Cripple to slow down Xin Zhao while beating him up with auto attacks. In this scenario, what can Xin Zhao do? He is still level 1 and (most likely) has a point invested in either his Three Talon Strike or his Audacious Charge. There is no way he is about to out-damage the Lee Sin, especially with Cripple’s attack speed debuff.
However if Xin Zhao hits 2 first, he can immediately Audacious Charge followed by a Three Talon Strike to deal immense damage to the Lee Sin. Lee Sin has no method to escape from the Audacious Charge unless he leveled up his Safeguard/Iron Will first. If he invested in any of the other skills, he has no method of escaping from Xin Zhao unless he flashes away because there is no way that Lee Sin will manage to out-damage the Xin Zhao.
Do not forget about minion damage! Fighting in your opponent near large enemy minion waves is typically not a good idea. Although caster minions may only wind up doing 10-12 damage a hit, when there are 5-6 of them hitting you at once that damage quickly adds up. Use this information to your advantage! For example, if you are playing Singed, if your minions are hitting your laning opponent Fling him into your creep wave! You don’t even have to fight with him afterwards. Just fling him behind your creeps and run away letting your little caster minions do the dirty work.
Get those Objectives!
Taking objectives such as Dragon and Towers should have a significantly higher priority than chasing a couple champions for kills. I have seen many games while smurfing where people are too busy chasing other champions to take down towers, and that action would lead to us getting killed, getting a few kills, or getting nothing at all. Killing as many champions is not the objective of the game. The objective of the game is to destroy the enemy Nexus which you can only get to by destroying buildings.
Kills also grant your team a lot less gold than an objective would. A normal kill (that has no bounties or feeding penalties) would result in 450 gold for your team max (kill + assists). A dragon gives every team member 190 gold, and an additional 25 to the person who killed the dragon. 190*5+25 = a whopping 975 gold for your team. More than twice the gold you would get for a kill. I'm no math major but that sounds pretty worth it to me!
III. Playstyle Advice
Score doesn’t matter
A lot of players in all divisions (including diamond) are fairly picky about scores. Players like these think that your score displays how much you are doing for the team, which is both true and not true at the same time. In solo queue games, the real MVP is the one allowing the team to get objectives. Have you ever thought about why the 10-1-0 Lux is carrying the team? Well, let me tell you that it is not because of the fact Lux has a score of 10-1-0. It is the fact that, because she is killing everyone on the other team, your team has an easy time taking turrets and dragons.
Score’s irrelevance becomes more apparent when you look at games where somebody is fed, but that person is not taking objectives. Just because a player has 10 kills doesn’t mean that your team is winning. The game isn’t won by constantly killing the enemy players, the game is won by destroying the enemy nexus. If your “carry” makes absolutely no progress in taking down turrets, then the “carry” isn’t carrying, that is a fact.
Go Ham! Feeding is Learning!
Here it goes, you might want to coin me a heretic right now because I am going to tell you, feed to learn. There is no faster way to understand champion limits than to go completely crazy with the champion a couple times. Understandably, this degree of reckless play will likely lead to feeding for a couple games. When going crazy with a champion, you constantly poke at the boundaries of what is doable and what isn’t, which allows you to feel out the champion’s limitations significantly faster than if you played scared. I mean, how else are you going to figure out that Champion A beats Champion B at Level C without trying it out yourself?
Playing recklessly also applies for when you are behind. Some champions can easily decimate others even if they are several levels behind with the proper play. For example, a level 6 Zed or Khazix can defeat a level 9 Riven if she uses her skills to farm creeps. As long as you have some degree of damage, the fed Riven can get blown up before her abilities come off of cooldown! Don’t be afraid to try new things!
The Most Beneficial Games Are the Ones You Lose
Although you may think losing is bad, in reality it is a really good thing. When you lose there are always reasons why you lost. By identifying those reasons you can effectively prevent them from happening in future games.
The best example is losing your lane. If you lose your lane, you need to identify why you lost your lane. Was the other player's champion stronger than you thought? Did you get outplayed? Did you get ganked by the jungler? These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself when you lose your laning phase. When you find the answers to these questions you improve as a player because not only do you understand the champion limits more, but you understand what you can do to fight against them.