It's the time of the year when I get to sit down and reflect a bit on how I've grown as a League of Legends player. Last year I had made some pretty big jumps in skill, especially in the realm of Dominion skill. This year I've kind of shifted my focus to SR. Also, I got a little more involved in the community, but not enough. That, I hope to change.

Playing more stuff that you play

Disappointingly for a lot of Dominion players who read these articles, I haven't been talking about it much lately. The big reason is I've been playing it a lot less, and unfortunately it's because the game mode isn't very popular.

My solo queue time in Dominion is kind of long, for starters. Once you get to any sort of respectable level in that game mode, queue times start to get obscene. I end up having to wait 5-6 minutes for games on CS, and that's not so good.

But the queue time isn't the only reason. The real reason is that not enough readers actually play Dominion. My goal as a writer is to engage you guys, and sometimes that means making concessions about what I do in-game. If I play CS all the time, but no one else really does, it doesn't help things even if I find CS to be a more fun map. I really wish that more people played it, but there's not much I can help on that front other than tell people to play it.

So for those reasons, I started playing a lot more Summoner's Rift. Around this time last year I increased my SR playtime from basically zero to 5-10 games a week, and I've been more or less keeping that volume up. I've been playing a little less since Season 3 ended, but I'm just at more of an ebb right now, and I still play a few matches of SR a week plus quite a few ARAMs and some miscellaneous other game mode matches.

I'm not sure why I switched from being an ADC main to a jungle main. I'm inclined to believe that part of it is because jungle is so infrequently filled, so I just naturally ended in the seat rather often. I also think I realized that I could impact the game more from that role, but I think it's mostly that jungle is rarely picked and teams really deserve someone who mains the role.

Despite my playing ARAMs more, my laning mechanics have gotten a lot worse. I was never particularly good at solo laning, and as my Elo increased, my prospective opponents have gotten better. Because most of those wins came from jungling, I was usually getting matched against someone who destroys me. I can still win my lane as ADC, usually because my support is amazing, one of my lane opponents is terrible, or my jungler gives me some early help.

On the other hand, my jungling has gotten pretty solid. I'm not sure where I stand skill-wise, but I do win quite a bit, and when I lose, I rarely feel that my opponent outplayed me. Those matches do happen, but because there are fewer jungle mains, it's much more frequent that I am up against someone who is not great in the role.

Instead, my big threats to winning come from losing early lanes, and I've gotten better and better at either making that not happen or dealing with it even if it does. If one lane is doing poorly but the others are doing well, it tends to be OK for my team. It does help that I tend to match my enemy jungler for lane presence or at least make it very hard for him to farm. If he shows somewhere and I can keep him from scoring a kill just by pinging, I can steal a bunch of his camps and generally be a nuisance. I've started doing early dragon steals, mostly to see what I can get away with and when. The answers right now are "a lot" and "all the time."

As a jungler you learn how to transfer power to your lanes, and that has come up quite a few times when I've played as support. Even if I'm not a jungler, an opportunity roam to mid lane can really help that lane get ahead. My increased map awareness also keeps me alert to my jungler's presence and get in a better position to help turn things around.


And the community too

I'm not really good at social networking, I've found. It's not that I don't want to, and I have met a lot of cool people from the LoL community now. It's more that I have no idea how annoying I'm supposed to be to other people, and it's hard for me to keep tabs on those sorts of things. So even though I've met pro players and bloggers and YouTubers and devs, I am really bad at keeping in touch.

My goal for this season is just to get to Platinum, but it probably should be something related to networking. Gaming goals are easier for me to manage than difficult and nebulous things like "community outreach." I wouldn't even know where to start in that respect. I think I'll stick to just getting better at the game.


The real big change

Probably the biggest thing that is new this year is my attitude. I'm a guy who plays a competitive game and writes about it for a living, so there is always going to be some elitist jerk in me. However, I decided midway through the year that I was just going to change that and be a nicer human being.

As I've mentioned in the past, I don't really express my rage at my teammates, but that doesn't mean I don't get mad at them, just that I never really let them know. However, that isn't really a step forward. The key has been to just not get mad and to do my best to be a force for good in the community.

The reason is pretty selfish: It's because I win more! Being nice wins games. Teamwork OP, or so Riot says. It's pretty easy to spend a little effort to be nice, and the results are usually profound. People like you more, you get more honor, and they add you to friends and ask to queue with you. I can recognize the impact in other multiplayer games too; people want to add me as friends and be on my team.

As usual though, pretty much all my improvements are because of the Guidebook and the neverending pursuit to find things to write about. Ultimately, I'm at my best when I'm teaching something, and hopefully the lessons I've learned last year have helped a few of you learn too.

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.