The Summoner's Guidebook: My goals in League of Legends

Whenever I enter a League of Legends match, I have a few goals set in mind. Of course, winning is a goal, but that's not the only goal. My agenda tends to be a lot more long-term, relative to other LoL players.

We've talked a lot about meta lately, and it tends to be a hot topic with Season 4's preseason patches shaking up the meta quite a bit. There are a lot of reasons to justify not playing meta. There are also a lot of reasons to take risky decisions that might not pan out.

My first goal: Get better at League of Legends

No matter what the game is, my long goal is pretty much always to get better at the game and at games in general. When I go play other games, I'm often a bit amazed at how well I can multitask and be alert of things happening around me. It's a skill I picked up from LoL, for certain.

This goal means that I am OK with losing if I gained something from the game. It also means that I tend to get annoyed when teammates don't surrender a lost game. Since the only way we can win in that situation is if the enemy team throws away the game, the only skill it really trains me for is how to make a comeback. Let's be real here: If there's one thing that I am kind of good at, it's gaining control of a map after my team wins a fight. If the enemy team throws hard enough that it lets us come back, I pretty much always do. I don't really need to practice that skill.

If I'm laning, it's sort of rare to actually be in a matchup I actually know. I tend to try slightly risky things and play overly passively if I think that's the right thing to do in the matchup (testing my theories). Sometimes it works out, but sometimes it doesn't, and I try to identify whether I got outplayed or the matchup is just hard (and why it's hard). If I'm in mid lane, I just try not to lose and hope my other lanes can carry me. I've pretty much given up on trying to be good at that lane.

I also try to read into my teammate's matchups, though I really don't put too much stock into them. My teammates do tend to win if they play into a favorable matchup, but about half the time a teammate plays into a bad matchup, he or she wins anyway. I can take some credit there (jungle power!), but most of the reason is that skill is a much bigger factor than champion selection.

I like taking risks sometimes. I tend to be a dive-y jungler (not a word I made up), meaning I tend to make risky tower dives. This is something I stole from pros, actually. Pro players make aggressive tower dives, and I know that the reason they do so is that they have been in the situation before and know they can win. The only way I can know what is a safe dive is if I practice it, and that also means learning the bad dives too. So sometimes I throw away double/triple kills to the enemy (which sometimes loses the game), but the knowledge was useful.

My second goal: Win

Winning is obvious. Everyone wants to win. Sometimes (frequently?) I choose to avoid making a "learning decision" because I feel the risk of giving away the game is too high. Winning is also the most universal reason for everyone else to play. My team wants to win, so by making decisions with winning the game in mind, I'm not also ruining the fun for my team.

Every decision made should be done with winning the game as a goal. Experimenting is good (my #1 goal!), but if that's not a big factor in the moment, do what wins. For some people, that's playing meta picks, playing counter picks, and undertaking more "generalist" play. For a lot of people (most people?), doing what wins means playing what is comfortable.

Some matchups are impossible if the enemy plays correctly. But platinum players in particular are not always deserving of the rank they carry. People don't play perfectly, and below the diamond level, people tend to fluctuate wildly between "way better than I am" and "how did this guy get out of bronze?" If you've won with something in the past, I would say that in the vast majority of situations, it's better to just stick to your guns. Yes, this could be mid lane Nocturne or something, but I don't judge.

In fact, I tend to favor the teammates who take "weird" picks. If I have a Fiora or Quinn or Soraka top against a Yasuo, I usually go into the match thinking that Yasuo will lose. It's no surprise that he's the flavor of the month, but I feel that most of it is undeserved. I'd rather have a weird top lane pick that makes my laner feels comfortable rather than seeing a Riven pick just because she's good.

My third goal: Have fun (globally)

My third goal is to find things to write about in this column, and my last goal (after having fun) is to get IP for unlocking stuff. However, I am pretty sure that those two goals are pretty self-explanatory. Having fun is anything but self-explanatory. There are 19 writers at Massively, and if each of us wrote an article on fun, we would have 19 different explanations on the topic. I think there might be a few with some small overlap.

Having fun is the obvious goal, but let's do a rewind: Goal #1 is actually "have fun" for me. I have fun when I'm discovering new things and developing my skills. When I notice that I'm better at something that I used to suck at, it's really rewarding and makes me feel good.

Aside from that, I try to be really positive in my games. I've dialed down my rage about 3000% since I started writing this column, and while I sometimes get frustrated at people, I almost never express it in-game. I also try to be really positive at the outset and supporting no matter what happens. I always try to be cordial to my lanes and congratulatory when things go well. The only time I ever show irritation is when Debbie Downer decides to get all negative in my team, and even then I usually just politely tell my raging teammate that attitude isn't very nice. I mostly do it because the response is usually something report-worthy.

See, I have fun even if my team is losing as long as I learned something, but not everyone is so easy to please. Being nice helps make everyone on my team smile! And a smiling team is better at bouncing back in the face of a loss. It all comes full circle.

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.
This article was originally published on Massively.