In retrospect, I should have known from the very first moment. We had found our way into the ranked draft champion select screen. Haggard warriors, all of us, ready for another spin at the roulette wheel that is 900 Elo.
The champ select doesn’t go particularly horrible. We each voice our opinions of who should be banned. The “captain,” true to form, ignores the valid offerings in favor of banning whoever pissed him off last game (Ban Lulu but allow Kass? Okay buddy.) Multiple people inform the room that they want to play top lane by simply typing “top” into the chat. We then have the quick round of “I Called It” before everyone actually gets down to business.
I should have seen it coming. It’s so clear when I look back. The last player to choose has developed a curious habit. As each other summoner chooses his role, Mr. Lastpick exclaims into chat, “can I be that?” “can I be AD carry?” “oh, I’d like to mid.” For the most part he’s shut down, but when it finally gets to his turn he decides to insta-lock Twitch and claim the title of jungler.
I was the jungler.
I was second pick. Had smite. I didn’t call jungle, but I did inform the players that it is one of my stronger roles and we came to a consensus that it would probably be my best spot. This Twitch, however, feels he could fill the role better. And he isn’t taking no for an answer. The rest of the group is telling him, CAPSLOCK ENGAGED, that he needs to switch. He was supposed to be support. How can he ruin our game already? It hasn’t even started!
I cave in fairly quickly. I offer him the jungle and opt to play support jax (which never, ever works). I reason to myself that a jungle twitch can probably cause some serious problems for the other team, and I’d rather have him in the game than suffer the handicap of trying to win a 4v5.
The game starts. at 00:01 into the match, Twitch /alls some vital information.
“I leave pls don’t report.”
An Ally Has Disconnected.
I laugh. We play. We lose.
The next game is equally humorous. As the same generic solo queue drama takes place in champion select, we’re able to pick up a jungle Rammus and everyone is feeling pretty good. Then, our last summoner picks a Volibear and changes one of his spells to smite. “Jungle or troll” the bear informs our group. I chuckle to myself as the match starts.
Here’s the comedy. Volibear starts off to the jungle. He’s actually a fairly competent player. Our Rammus, we assume due to anger issues, disconnects from the game at the ten second mark. After about ten minutes of 4v5ing, the Volibear leaves too. Before Voli leaves, he murmurs into the /all chat “fucking trolls.” 3v5, we do our best to stave our oppressors from victory but it’s basically the virtual Alamo.
It is honestly enough to drive a person mad.
For those whom have absolutely no idea what what I’m talking about, let me explain. In the free-to-play RTS game League of Legends, a player must ascend through levels 1-30. This climb, which is more or less your boot camp, helps prepare you to dive into the wondrous world of ranked games. After playing a few ranked games, you will be assigned an Elo score which determines your relative level of skill.
The best players in the world of League of Legends have Elo rankings that soar into the 2000 mark. I am on the other side of that coin, having made my way into the lower drudges of 900 Elo. This rating is synonymous with something called “Elo hell”.
I should make one thing clear. I deserve this Elo. I am a 900 player and I have come to terms with it. I know my weaknesses and I’m trying to improve. What I want to make abundantly clear is that I am not here because of leavers or other people. My track record is mine alone and until I improve as a player (and possibly as a person) I will forever wade in this so-called Elo hell.
Of course, being constantly plagued with AFKs and trolls is not helping.
But being at this stage has turned me into a League philosopher. Any time I don’t spend grinding away at the solo queue I find myself reflecting on the matches and the people. I drift into meditations of how I got there, how others must have gotten there, and what “there” is, exactly.
“What IS ‘there’?”
My best definition is that it is a virtual prison. It’s Shawshank. Everyone who is playing got to this level, but none of them are to blame. Very few are able to acknowledge that they had any role in it whatsoever. Hell, the first 500 words of this article is basically me blaming other people. It’s intuitive to fault others when you can. I feel that this faultless mentality is one of the key element to keep a person at this level. If you can’t see yourself doing things wrong, you have no visibility of what you need to improve.
Then, of course, there are those who don’t want to improve. I know in my last League article, I mentioned Feeders as some sort of mythological creature that doesn’t exist. I was wrong. I’m sorry. They do exist; AFKers too. Recent experience would dictate that they are somewhat abundant.
These people have gained solid footing in the recesses of my mind. What makes them tick? Why do they do what they do? What causes a person, ten minutes into a game, to decide that it’s over for them and to just straight-up leave?
Frustration is the first element that jumps to mind. These poor souls are unable to guide the chain of events that occur in the game, so they take the only action available to give them some sort of control. They leave. Rather than sit through agonizing moments of what they consider a lost game, they decide to go do something else. In a way, it’s probably good for them. If you are getting frustrated enough that you cannot handle the video game you are playing, it is probably best for everyone if you take a time out. I just wish your timing was a bit better.
The other thing to consider is that those who persevere are the ones who succeed. Without getting too “motivational poster” on you, quitting is just losing faster. I tend to enjoy playing through until the Nexus explodes. There is always the chance for things to turn around. All it takes is one Baron or one good team fight. Sometimes it takes a bit more than that, of course, but you giving up at the 13 minute mark completely obliterates your chances. You go from some chance to none. If you want to get out of Elo hell, you need to stay in Elo hell first.
Then, of course, there are the comedians. Some people genuinely think it’s funny to get everyone’s hopes up that perhaps they’ve finally found a good game only to drop out at the last second or see how many times they can sprint to the enemy’s fountain. I get it. The Internet will always have a handful of people who derive pure enjoyment from the suffering of others. The only thing you can do to stop them is to take the time to report the offenders and hope the tribunal does its thing. Even better, start taking part in the tribunal by reviewing cases (you can improve the community AND earn IP!).
Another thing that I experience in every game (EVERY game) is that no one is polite. As Studio put it “[These people] hate each other”. It is nothing short of astounding, not to mention the way they talk! You would think the entire League of Legends community is comprised of illiterate twelve year olds.
If there is one common trait I have noticed, it is that in-fighting on a team does nothing but hurt your chances. What you are doing is taking a bad situation and making it worse. In-fighting simply takes a 5v5 game and turns it into a 1v9. When you have to deal with a set of people for twenty to fifty minutes, why not just be civil? I guarantee you’ll do better if you work together.
As an aside, another funny thing I’ve noticed is that when you get a group of five strangers who are all incredibly polite, ready to work together, and in general have positive spirits you will be on the worst team in history. I think there’s some connection between kind people and bad players. Somewhat paradoxical, don’t you think?
Obviously obtaining tips on how to improve should not come from me. However, I think those who wish to improve need to reflect upon the subject of “how we got here”. I know I would like to improve and these are just a few of the somewhat blatant insights that have arisen for me. As much as your gameplay matters in League of Legends, I think your attitude is equally important.
I’ll see you in hell!