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.

…Is it?

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!

  • Awesome article. Thank you for writing it. Sadly, I, the person who completely agrees with you, is the only person that is going to read this. The trolls/afkers and the others that should be reading this, would never take the time of day. All that being said, I still thank you good sir for doing what you can to improve the community.

  • Vedant

     I am also in ELO hell. I find myself to be a good player and am stuck in ELO hell partially due to the fact that  I did not realize there was a dodging penalty in ranked (I have lost about 200 ELO solely from dodging). Last month I was at 890 ELO with -2 wins over losses. I am now +7 And stuck at 1120.  My usual motto is not to blame the teammates, but there is a point to when it IS their fault. I lost 3 recent games due to the fact that the first two started as 3v5’s. The most recent game started as a 4v5, 10 minutes in the udyr reconnects and sees that the bottom lane (consisting of me/Ezreal and supportperson/Lulu) is carrying quite efficiently considering the score was 20/7. The udyr was under the impression that he could easily kill the people that Lulu and I were effectively denying, even though he came in 10 minutes late. After going 0/10 and making their vayne(one of the WORST carries to feed) shoot up from 0/7 to 8/9 udyr proceeded to exit the game. Considering the enemy vayne was fed and it was a 4/5 with only one person on the team fed off of minions/kills, me/Ezreal, our loss was imminent. We could have won the 4/5 without that udyr. Long story short, blaming teammates is a bad thing to do considering that is human nature. But, there is a point in which it IS their fault.

    • Anon #00010101010101

      After about 100 games, you should be around where your current ELO is.  You need to be in the mentality of “I need to carry” or “I need to become better to carry”.  If you can’t carry yourself out of your current ELO, quite frankly, you deserve to be at w/e ELO your are at.

      • Kenoplaya28

        Because as we all know, support players need to carry themselves through games

        amrite gaiz?

  • Qieryll

    “I think there’s some connection between kind people and bad players.”

    This provides a key insight when you consider ELO as a sort of aggregate handicap score.  There is a simple explanation for the trend of very unskilled players who are polite and helpful at the same ELO as trolls and ragers who are more versed in game mechanics – these sets qualities are having the same net effect on the player’s chance to win the game.

  • Tobias

    I just completely understand you … I’m at 1000 Elo and I see these situations every game … there is just one point I disagree with you ( I guess you said one can come out of Elo Hell by himself). I don’t see this … I used to play top and support and at first I did pretty bad ( That’s why I came there) but I improved and now I normally win my lanes … the problem in Elo Hell is that NO ONE plays safe and everyone gets caught everywhere ( and of course the enemy ad carry gets fed ^^) So even if you had an advantage early you will lose games due to your team … I can just hope that I am good enough to get a better Elo in Season 3.

    • Terribad

      You can get yourself out of Elo hell. You just have to admit that you can improve, and then improve. Literally every good player I know (I’m currently 1800 and play with a lot of 2k+) won almost all of their first games by going something like 20-0. If you are very strong mechanically and pick something that can carry then you will dominate (personally I played a lot of Ezrael and shut down their bottom lane, stole their blue and repeatedly ganked mid and top etc). If you improve your mechanical skill you will get out of “hell”.

  • ZamboniThunder

    Really interesting article – thanks for writing it! I thankfully was able to start around 1100, so I haven’t ever experienced anything quite that bad before. Now that I’m in gold you don’t get sooo many trolls, but they do happen from time to time. When it does, I think it’s best to just kind of accept that you’re going to lose, and then try to at least win your lane. It can still be good practice, even if it ends up bringing your elo down.

    Unfortunately there quickly comes a point when the other team becomes nigh invulnerable and you can only do so much, but still try to make those 20 minutes count for something.

  • Snowy Dark

    While I agree that the mindset helps contribute to one’s elo hell problem, I think that solo queue (especially at low elo) is like playing a game of chance. Sure, you can win your lane almost every game if you’re good, but what will you do if your mid and top have a combined score of 2/18? I’m currently around 1k elo, down from approximately 1200. I am happy (well, not happy but willing) to admit that I played badly in several of the games that got me there. However, when I need to support the AD carry that pushes to their tower and ignores the gank which i pinged at 5 times because I saw them with my ward, there isn’t much I can do. Now, one could say that only happens on rare occasion but it seems to me that 4 out of every 5 AD Carries that I try to support either do stuff like that or get 20 farm in 15 minutes.

  • Agentelmo111

    Watch the high elo players. usually there is no back and forth arguing, and if someone is being an ass, they ignore it.  If you make one mistake in the beginning of the game, even if both parties were at fault, availability heuristic kicks in for the rest of the game.

  • Transpiercer

    if ur down there in low elo ur there for a reason; you don’t understand the mechanics required to win. As a platinum player I can say I’m almost 95+% winrate when I play on my friend’s accounts below 1500 elo; through mechanics alone you can outplay your lane enough to win by almost double gold by 10 minutes. If ur jungling, thats even better; you can win every lane and deny the enemy jungler by knowing the enemy jungler’s position and which lanes are gankable. 

  • Changenpan

    Most low lvl League players would like to think that the lanes are the most important aspect of the game. It’s actually the jungler and the support that holds the team together. a 900 elo carry with a 1500 elo support will definitely beat a 1500 carry with a 900 elo support. (as long they know how to last hit decently)

    I was in 900 elo before, people are completely retarded. Play an aggresive mid game jungler and carry your team to victory in 20 minutes. It doesnt matter if they first pick the “OP champs”. If you are first pick, pick lee, or even rammus. And then gank the hell out of every lane until every lane is fed, and you win =D.

  • Rapist

    Laughing at the “ban lulu, but leave kass”. Kass isn’t the end all be all of middle lane.

    • Andrew Herman

       kass is the end all be all AT 900 ELO. doesnt take a genius to realize that.

      • Hey

        Talon beats kass easy

  • Guest

    As a support main (just got over 1500) I find it’s just as important to try and make everyone laugh / smile as it is to play well. Give everyone a reason to try and they almost always will. There will always be the exception, but it’s rare enough not to stop my climb.

  • Siege2

    I am mad cause you drag me down.

  • Xamotaa

    Amazing article, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m at 1010 elo. If you’d like to journey thru hell together, hit me up. Summoner name is Xamotaa.

  • To leave ELO hell you just need to stop playing ranked. With nothing at stake all  is left is the actual game, players are more relaxed.

  • Radu

    i started doing ranked after 500 wins, got to 1600 real fast and i’m trying to specialize in more roles, like counter picks and team composition. 

  • Hello Brendan, I read all your articles in video games and I appreciate them all much because they contain good humor AND good explanations :D. On topic, I must say I agree with you wholeheartedly. I think that if people are all hating each other in their own team, it’s because they hate the fact that LoL is a team game. I mean they just all hate to depend on other people they don’t know, or don’t understand, or don’t I don’t know what lol. Maybe it’s because the game itself doesn’t say hard enough it’s a team game before anything else, meaning if you have to sacrifice for the team there’s no hesitation to have (and that’s the way I play “accessorily”). What I know is that many players want to be the carry of the game to be a sort of star, but what they forget is they are a star only because everyone is behind them to support them correctly (even though in LoL there is no true “star” in a game). Otherwise they wouldn’t have half the kills they do when they win the game. And anyway if they they want a game where the carry is the only important player and all others are only there to support him, they should go play Heroes of Newerth.

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