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How to Get Better at Playing LoL: Climbing the Ranked Ladder

Written by: April M. Reid
How to get better at LoL

LoL is one of the most complex games out there, we already explained that in our League of Legends Beginner’s Guide. You have to learn the ins and outs of over 150 champions, keep up with an everchanging meta, and be a pro at both strategy and mechanics. Despite a playerbase in the millions, only a handful (0.013%) have reached the top.

However, climbing up the ranked ladder isn’t an impossible feat – even if you’re a “hardstuck” iron player. With the right approach and attitude, any player can see an improvement. Today, we’ll cover how to get better at all the fundamental skills in League, from last hitting and kiting, to warding and itemization.

How To Last Hit Better in League?

Last hitting – aka dealing the final blow to minions so you can accumulate gold – is challenging. You need perfect timing, exceptional focus, and great reaction speed. Of course, you also need to farm consistently while playing against an opponent that’s hellbent on punishing you for any mistake you make.

The best way to improve at last hitting is to practice daily. Before starting a game, jump into the practice tool, load up some minions and CS for 10 minutes. Write down your final score each time in a spreadsheet or diary, so you can keep track of your progress. Make sure to practice on champions you actually play – this will give you a better understanding of how each champion attacks, and how much damage they deal to minions.

Once you feel more confident – and are managing to hit at least 70 CS at the 10-minute mark – get a friend of similar elo rating to lane against you in the practice tool. This will help replicate a more realistic environment.

Below are a few more tips that’ll help you last hit efficiently:

  • Minion value: There are three different types of minions – cannon, melee, and caster – and each has a different gold value. Cannon minions are worth the most (60-90g), while caster minions are worth the least (14g). When farming, always prioritize securing cannon and melee minions.
  • Read healthbars: Clicking on a minion will show you its healthbar. Last hit the minion when its health is lower than the amount of damage your auto-attack (or spell) deals.
  • Farming under turret: You should also know how to last hit under turret. You can check our guide on how to CS under Tower in LoL for more info.
  • Don’t fall behind: Once it hits mid game, players tend to put farming on the backburner in favor of kills. However, 15 CS gives you the same amount of gold as a kill. And if your opponent has died multiple times, you’ll gain more gold from farming due to the “decreasing gold value” effect [3]. Make sure to prioritize appropriately – don’t sacrifice an entire minion wave to chase down a 0/5 Singed – and don’t fall behind in farming. Aim for at least 140 CS at 15 minutes and 210 at 30 minutes.

What is Kiting in League of Legends and How to Master It?

Kiting is essentially the process of creating distance from your opponent between attacks. It involves auto-attacking the enemy, then canceling the attack animation by moving immediately after the animation starts. The main benefit of kiting is that it makes it more difficult for your enemy to attack you, as you’re constantly moving away from them.

Professional LoL player Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk shows us exactly how kiting is done below:

Kiting requires perfect timing: if you move too quickly, it’ll cancel the attack entirely and leave your champion stuttering on the spot. Here are some strategies that can help you become a kiting pro:

  • Memorize your main champion’s attacks: Become familiar with the points at which you can cancel their animations without canceling the damage output.
  • Attack move setting: With the attack move setting activated, your champion will automatically attack the nearest in-range target, even if you don’t click on the target directly. In other words, it allows misclicks in the heat of the moment to go unpunished. You can switch on this option (and make it a toggle) in the client settings. Go to “game,” “gameplay,” then tick “attack move on cursor.”
  • Show attack range setting: Ideally, you want to always be at max attack range when kiting; it’ll allow you to play as safe as possible while dishing out the damage. The show attack range setting conveniently provides a visual indicator of your champion’s attack range. You can find the setting in the “interface” tab.
  • Use your champion’s kit: Movement speed buffs, dashes, flashes – don’t forget to use everything at your disposal.

When Should I Trade with My Opponent?

Knowing when to trade with your opponent can be pretty tricky – if you don’t know the main things to consider before making a trade.

  • Sustain: If you have more sustain than your opponent, it’s normally worth trading with them, even if they deal more damage. This is because while your opponent can’t recover from the damage you deal, you can regain your health back. Over time, you can chip away at the enemy’s healthbar and force them out of lane.
  • Keep track of the enemy’s abilities: If your opponent wastes abilities, take a trade – they won’t be able to retaliate until their abilities are back up.
  • Item or level advantage: If you have an item or level advantage over your opponent, you’re much more likely to win the trade.
  • Minion wave: Try to only take trades when you have more ally minions than your opponent does. Minions deal a lot of damage, especially during the early stages of the game.
  • Mana: Always check your mana supply before going in for a trade. You need to have enough mana to dish out all your damage, as well as enough mana to use any escape-type abilities (such as dashes) if needed.
  • Analyze the Matchup: If you’re up against a hard matchup, you should play defensively and avoid initiating heavy trades. However, if you counter your opponent, you’re going to want to harass them as much as possible. You also need to think about which trading style benefits your champion the most – short or lengthy – and adapt accordingly.

Controlling the Waves – Managing Minions

Managing the minion waves allows you to dictate the pace of the lane and apply phenomenal pressure. There are three main ways you can manipulate the lane in your favor: freezing, slow pushing, and fast pushing. Each has its benefits and is better suited to certain situations.

  • Freezing: Freezing causes the wave to settle and stay (“freeze”) underneath your turret. You can achieve this lane state simply by last-hitting minions. Freezing forces the opposing laner to overextend, making them vulnerable to ganks. It also allows you to farm more safely, since you have the protection of your turret.
  • Slow pushing: Slow pushing means making a wave gradually push down the lane. As more minion waves catch up and accumulate with the slow pushed wave, it’ll eventually form a large wave that deals hefty damage. Create a slow push by killing the caster minions in your opponent’s wave. Slow pushing makes it harder for the enemy to push out the lane, giving you time to recall or roam elsewhere.
  • Fast pushing: Fast pushing involves pushing the minion wave as quickly as possible so it ends up under the enemy’s turret. The best time to fast push is when the enemy laner has died or recalled while you’re still in lane; their turret will kill the minions, causing them to lose out on gold and XP.

What is Map Awareness and Why is it Important?

Map awareness is an understanding of what is happening around the map – such as where the enemy team is and what objectives are up – and playing with this information in mind. Good map awareness allows you to make effective calls, catch out enemies, and avoid ganks.

The fastest and most effective way to improve map awareness is to keep your eyes on the mini-map. Make it a habit to look at the mini-map every few seconds – you can use the map awareness exercise video to help you out [4]. You can try out these techniques too:

  • Stick to unlocked screen: A locked screen severely hinders your field of view, making it harder to keep track of the events happening around the map. You can unlock your camera in-game by clicking on the “camera” icon next to the mini-map. If you find the transition to unlocked screen difficult, you can try semi-locked mode instead, where you toggle between locked and unlocked screen by pressing the space bar.
  • Keep track of objectives: Don’t forget to regularly check objective timers (drakes, rift herald, and baron). You need to be ready for an objective before it spawns, ideally a minute and a half in advance. This will give you enough time to spend your gold, set up vision, and push out minion waves.
  • Play mechanically simple champions: Simple champions make it easier to pay attention to the macro side of things, since you don’t have to focus on landing flashy combos.
  • Up the ping volume: You should be able to easily hear pings; they can alert you to all kinds of information, including your teammates’ intentions, where enemy wards have been placed, and if laners have gone missing. You can adjust ping volume in the “sound” settings.

Where Should I Place Wards in League of Legends?

Effective warding will reveal the enemy team’s movements, apply pressure, and allow you to secure objectives with ease. Where you should place your wards is situational: each game is unique, and you’ll have to consider the state of the match. However, it’s usually a good idea to place wards around objectives or areas where the enemy team (especially the jungler) are likely to path through. High traffic areas include rivers and the mid lane.

Every time you feel the urge to place a ward, question why you feel the need to put it there. Will it give vision of an objective? Are the enemy team likely to path through here? If you can’t think of a single reason why your ward should be in that location, don’t place it there. Wards are a finite and valuable resource, and you should treat them as such. You should also…

  • Buy Control Wards: Control wards spot hidden enemies and render enemy wards useless. You should be buying multiple control wards every game, no matter your role.
  • Practice ward tricks: There are plenty of “ward tricks” in League that are worth mastering. Often, these tricks allow you to place deep wards from safe distances. Skill Capped’s video guide covers the main ones.
  • Deny enemy vision: While it’s important to place optimal wards, it’s equally important to clear out the enemy team’s wards. The less vision your opponents have, the easier it’ll be to make plays, ganks or roams without being intercepted. The sweepers (oracle lens) totem will allow you to disable and locate enemy wards. Use your sweeper in areas the enemy team have recently been (and around objectives).
  • Consider safety: if your team is severely behind, deep wards in the enemy jungle are usually too risky to pull off.

How Do I Itemize Effectively?

Itemization involves adapting your build with the enemy team and your champion’s goals in mind. Itemization can be difficult to master. You have to know the ins and outs of the item shop and be capable of assessing the game state. You also need to be familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of each champion.

  • Read up on your laner’s kit: While waiting for the game to load up, it’s a good idea to look up your opponent’s champion. Make a note of the champion’s kit, and consider their weaknesses and win conditions.
  • Learn what each item effect does: Magic penetration, cooldown reduction, ability haste – there are tons of different effects that items can give you. Familiarize yourself with all of these, and you’ll find it easier to make optimal item choices.
  • Watch professional games: Pay attention to how the pro’s vary their build each game, and, most importantly, consider the reasons why. You can find professional games and streams on twitch.tv or lolesports.com.
  • Use resources: Sites like Blitz.gg, U.gg, and op.gg show you each champion’s highest win rate builds [8][9][10]. U.gg even allows you to find the most optimal build based on matchup. While useful, remember that these sites can only provide a framework for you to build upon – each game will be unique, and you may need to buy different items depending on how the match plays out.

Becoming Untiltable: Having a Winning Attitude

Even if you’re a pro at macro and micro, there is still one more vital skill you need to master: a strong mental. A negative attitude will only serve to hinder your climb to the top; it’ll leave you feeling frustrated and demotivated, which will no doubt cloud your judgement and cause you to make careless plays. If you’re spreading this negativity to your teammates as well – aka spam pinging or flaming in chat – you’ll be tilting your teammates too.

Of course, staying zen and keeping a positive mindset is easier said than done – so we’ve gathered some tips that will help make you an untiltable player:

  • If you lose a game, close the client and take a 15-minute break before continuing.
  • Use the /muteall if you get tilted at the slightest provocation.
  • Accept that the climb isn’t an upward path. You’re going to have ups and downs, but as long as you keep improving as a player, you’ll eventually get to your desired rank.
  • Remember that you can always learn from your mistakes. Making mistakes might feel awful in the heat of the moment, but they have immense value: they reveal your weaknesses, allowing you to easily identify how you can improve as a player.

Is League of Legends a Pay2Win Game?

League of Legends is a genuine, free to play game. Nothing you can buy with real money will make you a better player. Just recently we wrote a guide on what sorts of things you can buy with IRL cash, and answered how to check how much money you’ve spent on LoL.

A Final Word Before You Start Your Climb

Climbing in League can feel like a grueling battle, where the odds are constantly against you. However, by maintaining a positive attitude and improving at the skills we’ve discussed above, you’ll no doubt turn the odds in your favor. Slowly but surely, you’ll climb your way up and reap the benefits of all your hard work. GL and HF!