When the Party Rewards system came out, I got the chance to play with some of you in the #RedditLFG chat and had a lot of fun, and also got a lot of the same questions from you guys. I thought I would write up a little guide on the easiest way, in my opinion, to carry yourself to an elo that you have no business being in. Most of this should be pretty obvious, but upgrading your yellow trinket should be obvious, too, and I still see people in 50-minute games in Diamond with the base version.
The idea behind this is to become a one-trick pony. Cowsep is a fantastic jungle Yi and has no problem playing Master level games on the Korean server, but what if he’s forced to play someone else? What if Boxbox, the Riven god, gets put on Nami support? What if Azingy, the Lich King of the jungle, has to play AP Vi? (I’m kidding, of course – all of these players are wonderfully talented). My point is that you don’t have to be a Diamond-level player to make it to Diamond – you only have to be a Diamond-level Riven. Or Yi. Or jungle Karthus. Or whatever your heart desires.
Step one is finding your new champion. You want to find a champ that satisfies the following conditions:
You love playing the champ
The champ has a high win rate
The champ has a low pick rate
The champ is a flex pick
The first condition is the most important, and the other three are about the same level of importance. You want to find a champ that you’re genuinely interested in and that tickles your fancy. For me, that’s Heimerdinger. No matter what op.gg says, I maintain that I have a 100% winrate on Heimer, because whether I win or lose, I got to spend 20-60 minutes donging all over Summoner’s Rift. Who could be mad about that? If you love playing your champ, you’re not going to get tired of spamming them game after game, and you’re less likely to tilt after a couple of losses because you’re still having fun. So go through the free week champions and try different ones in normals until you find one that’s interesting to you. Check a league statistics site (I like champion.gg) to find the win rates for your champion. As of this patch, mid lane Heimer has a 54.52% win rate in games of rank Platinum and above, but is only picked or banned 1.56% of the time. For top lane, it’s a 53.71% win rate, picked or banned 1.3% of the time. There’s a few reasons that you want to find this combination of high win rates with low pick rates. First off, champions with high win rates and high pick/ban rates are not going to be available for play. Even after her nerfs, jungle Sejuani has a massive 56.11% win rate on 5.6, but she’s banned 68.73% of the time (and picked another 12.27% of the time, so there’s a likelihood that the other team will pick her if you don’t ban her). There’s no point to mastering her if you’ll never get to play her. Jungle Nunu, however, has a similarly large 57.79% win rate, but is only banned 0.24% of the time, so he’s a much better champ to devote time to mastering.
There’s another reason why you want to avoid champs with both high win rates and high pick rates. Champions with this combination are probably a bit overtuned, and so a majority of people who pick them up find success. These champs, or the items they rely upon, are usually the first to receive nerfs. Champions with a low win rate and low pick rate might receive buffs, but they might also be reworked, so it’s a gamble, probably not worth the time sunk into them. Stick with the high win rate/low pick rate combo, which means that the champ is either hidden OP or is balanced, with the summoners who main that champion doing well and the summoners who don’t doing poorly. Ideally, this champion is a flex pick, meaning that you can play it in more than one role. Instead of maining top lane, main Wukong and play him top, mid, or jungle. Instead of maining support, main Morgana, and play her support, mid, or top. This ensures that you’ll be able to play your preferred champion most games as long as you ask nicely. Finally, the best thing about playing a champion with a low pick rate is that people generally misplay their lane against you. Everyone has experience against jungle J4, and develops an idea of his damage limits. Then they play against top lane J4 for the first time and get crushed. By playing a niche champion, you gain the same benefits as a southpaw. Every matchup you play is one in which you have more experience than your opponent does.
Once you’ve picked your champion, it’s time to spam normal blind pick games. I recommend playing at least 100 games, or spending a month, whichever comes first. During this time, you should be on the lookout for any well-written guides. What you really want in a guide isn’t item builds or skill paths, these things can be easily found on probuilds.net or champion.gg, you want detailed information on every possible matchup you might run into (see Stealthlink’s Heimerdinger guide for the best example of this I’ve come across. This will become your new bible. Before every game starts, read through the matchup section to get an idea of what you’re going to be practicing this game. If you have time, pull up a site like carry.gg. The point of this is to determine whether or not your lane opponent is comfortable on that champion. If someone is a first time Azir player, don’t expect them to punish your mistakes the way they should. They might not have a lot of experience in the matchup, but you’ll only get an accurate representation if they are experienced on their champion. You very much want to be aware of this so that you don’t underestimate that champion the next time you come across the matchup. You should also use this time to experiment as much as possible. In what situations can you get away with building an early Luden’s? When can you buy a soulstealer? Is there any level 1 cheese that you can reliably do? If you can find a Master or Challenger player that mains your champ, try to find videos of them playing, even if it’s just on youtube, so that you can learn how to play a lane matchup properly or to see if there are any champion-specific mechanics that you need to know about.
For as long as you’re spamming those normal games you should notice your normal MMR skyrocketing. Op.gg will occasionally give me an estimation of a blind pick game’s MMR. Before I spent the month of Donguary practicing, my normal MMR was around 1750 when I wasn’t duoqueuing. Afterwards, it was around 2250, which was high enough to let me start practicing against Master and Challenger summoners playing warm-up games who hadn’t played enough normal games to increase their MMR, something which let me learn a lot about the game. Bear in mind that while it’s an awesome feeling to go on 10 or 20 game win streaks, it also means that if you start playing a new champion you should expect to get rolled. When you’re comfortably playing with people above the level that you want to get into (ex. if you’re doing fine against D3 and D2 players, it’s not going to be a problem to make it into D5), it’s time to start ranked.
In every single ranked game, I start with the following words: “Hi friends. Pref top or mid donger; I’m a one trick pony.” This is usually all I have to say to get one of those two lanes, no matter my location in the pick order. If it’s coming down to the end and there’s only top and support left, and the other person hasn’t said anything in chat yet, I will sometimes say something like, “Hey xxxx, do you mind if I top? I’m a pretty bad support. If you do, it’s np, I’ll try my best.” If that still doesn’t work, then play the role your team needs you to play and do your best without complaints.
If you do get your champion, though, make sure to take a break after each game to get some water, do some push-ups, or whatever. You don’t want to risk getting banned out by someone in your previous game, so anytime someone dodges or you finish a game, wait a couple of minutes before queueing again to ensure that no one is prepared for your pick.
Finally, if you know (based on the results of your normal games) that you’re good enough to promote, then don’t worry about the lp or the promo series results. A certain amount of this is based on luck, and the difference between a 50% win rate and a 60% win rate is just one game out of ten. So don’t focus on the individual games, because if you keep that 60% win rate and spam enough games you’ll rise.
TL;DR: Disregard meta, master a niche champ. Acquire freelo.