I've been playing a lot of ARAMs inbetween Dominion matches lately, and both game modes give rise to the same problems: impatient players who are too hungry for blood. Killing enemy champions is given a lot of incentive in LoL, and players often put themselves in awful situations that end up putting their whole team at risk of defeat just to get a single kill. This "blood in the eyes" phenomenon is pervasive across the entirety of League, but it is especially common in ARAM.
This week, I'm going to look at this kind of selfish behavior and cover some ways you can focus on more team-friendly actions. No, this doesn't mean giving me all the kills. It just means playing for the benefit of everyone and not just for your own personal pride.
Separating "selfish" from "smart aggression"
I put a lot of emphasis on passive play in the Summoner's Guidebook because all players start out playing too aggressively, but that doesn't mean that all aggression is bad. Sometimes a tower dive means the difference between a bonus 300 gold and an opponent merely being forced to base. Both are good outcomes, but that gold, along with the enemy's long respawn, puts you much further ahead.
The problem with tower dives is that towers are deadly. Even Dominion turrets are rather dangerous, and the turrets on other maps are devastating. You must be at a massive life advantage to win an actual fight under a tower, and an opponent who has an escape tool can easily turn the situation around even at very disparate life disadvantage.
Ask yourself this: Does my opponent have a way to stop me from attacking? Does my opponent have Flash, a shield, or a heal he can use to stay alive? If the answer is yes, then you should not dive. If the answer is "I don't know," then you should also not dive. If you don't remember when the last time your opponent used his summoner spells was, then you are asking to die if you tower dive. Remember summoner timings and use them to your advantage.
Sometimes more than one character might be on your side. In that case, you need to consider whether the defender(s) have a way to deal with multiple attackers and whether a Flash will get the defender to safety. Again, Flash will cut a dive short and may result in your death if you extend too far. Other things to be wary of are AoE crowd controls such as Sona's or Orianna's ultimates. If you don't know whether these things are available, don't dive!
Remember that if you force an enemy back, you are automatically at advantage since the opponent isn't getting farm or experience. A kill in lane can be a big advantage, but the risk-reward ratio for attempting a tower dive is usually not worth it.
One thing that greatly frustrates me in ARAM is the use of the term "tryhard." It implies that focusing on making the best plays is somehow bad. The term is common everywhere (including other games), of course, but it is especially common in ARAM because nobody takes ARAM seriously. I don't take ARAM seriously either, but I do my best to win even if the games are "for fun." Why?
I have fun when I'm doing my best. I have fun when I'm putting forth real effort. Making a claim like "it's just for fun lol" is just a shield to avoid responsibility. Nobody likes losing. Games are less fun when I'm doing my best and some joker dives the enemy team constantly and causes my team to lose. If I am going to lose, I want to be out-played. Nobody wants to lose because a teammate wouldn't stop suiciding while trying to get kills.
Again, I find nothing wrong with losing because the enemy played a better game. Those games happen all the time for me, and they encourage me to do better next time. Losing a game because someone threw it away only makes me frustrated and less likely to play in the future.
Although unranked games and custom games aren't "serious" and can certainly be "for fun," we really have to remember just what kind of fun we're having. When you play for the team, everyone has fun. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose; that's the nature of PvP. However, if your team does its best, there are fewer hard feelings.
Recently, I've been playing a lot of matches in which my opponents complimented me after the game. They would say things about how I was difficult to deal with or how good I was at avoiding attacks. Likewise, when an opponent displays superior skill or is especially frustrating for me to play against, I give him the same respect. I don't feel "bad" playing against those kinds of players. Honestly, losing those games is kind of encouraging because I probably learned something from the loss.
However, a lot of games are lost simply due to the fault of one person playing awfully. This is frequently due to over-aggression; people see an engagement and just dive in, flailing away with attacks and hoping for the best. While sometimes this is the best thing you can do (I play Poppy, so I know a little about charging blindly into battle), most of the time discretion is better. These players hurt their entire team, and when it comes to the post-game, it's hard to feel good. You feel as if you could have won if Singed had not continually thrown his life away diving into enemy ambushes.
When I play in ARAM, I'm doing it for my whole team, not just for me. If I'm playing a tank, I don't engage until my opponents make a mistake. That way when I engage, my team feels good about the fight -- plus we have a better chance of winning it. If I'm playing a melee DPS, I wait for a battle to start before going in, even if I have no way of contributing to a zoning war. Throwing my life away before the actual fighting starts is worthless and will just drag my team into a bad situation. If I can get some kind of unanswered harassment in, I do that, but I try to avoid things that might cause my team to wipe. I'm OK with an assist if it means that the enemy's main DPS is zoned out while I continue to help win the remainder of the teamfight. Kills aren't the most important thing, even in a fun game. Making sure the game is fun for everyone is.
Selfish play hurts everyone's fun, both your teammates' and your opponents'. It's great to play and have fun, but ruining the game for everyone else is not OK. There are games where that kind of play is encouraged, but League of Legends isn't one of them.
We understand what it's like to climb the skill ladder in League of Legends. The Summoner's Guidebook teaches you the tools you need to get a competitive edge. Whether you're climbing the ranked ladder, playing Draft Dominion, or getting crushed by intermediate bots, every enemy has a weakness. And every Thursday, Patrick Mackey shows how you can improve improve on yours.