Your skill and knowledge.
Individual skill can often feel less effective in games that revolve around teamwork and team-orientated goals. However, it is this that allows for more skillful or more knowledgeable players toshine. By using personal skill, or knowledge of the game, one can often create disparities between oneself and the opposing team.
If you’re able to last-hit consistently and considerably better than the opponent you will easily find yourself in a gold advantage that can often decide fights based on items alone. Similarly being able to chain combos and abilities to successfully solo-kill the enemy consistently, can also lead to differences in gold and levels.
Alternatively, by using game knowledge and understanding such as knowing when to be in the right places for objectives, or to push certain advantages can also be advantageous in creating map-pressure that forces the enemy into chaotic decision-making, ultimately giving your team much needed relief and presenting the enemy with unrewarding options. Warding is extremely important because vision increases your knowledge of the game. Upgrading the green trinket immediately at level 9 increases your team’s vision tenfold and relieves the pressure of the support’s sightstone. Pink wards last forever, or until cleared, so don’t be greedy!Be sure to spend 100g on it each time you have an open slot and no pink on the map.
Smalls steps in the micro and macro game allows for larger domino effects.
Practice with better players.
This can sometimes be difficult to arrange, as matchmaking often tries to balance teams, but by continuously practicing against/with better players you will soon understand why there is a difference between you and them.
There will probably be a difference in play-style at first, but after a few games you will understand how to adapt to certain situations and why there is that change. Certain play-styles that usually work on a casual level do not always work on a serious level. In many games, there are options of custom pub games that allow for any participants – often including several highly skilled players – this can be extremely beneficial. Adding/messaging higher ranked players and asking for assistance is also a step in the right direction if the person is available and willing. This doesn’t directly link to SoloQ but can be used to DuoQ.
I don’t recommend using DuoQ unless you and your partner have synergy to make up for the increase in enemy MMR. Wanting a partner is not uncommon; I think most people do search for a partner as it statistically decreases the chances of an AFK on your team even more, but there’s little benefit if you and your partner cannot or do not communicate on a level that can place the enemy at a significant disadvantage. Playing as jungler and solo lane, or duo botlane are good examples of using synergy to an advantage as it allows for continuous, direct communication.
All information is important information.
Watching SoloQ streams can often be more informative than just watching LCS/LPL/LCK. The professional circuit is obviously something you would want to watch, in fact you should be watching it if you want to get better, but you cannot expect the same level of competence or understanding of gameplay in SoloQ.
Instead, watch streams of pro players or challenger level players in SoloQ where they explain situations in depth and the decision-making required from the SoloQ perspective where things are less organized than in ranked-5.
Another tool for information would be various subreddits. The subreddit r/summonerschool is especially informative and helpful, even if it doesn’t directly relate to things you’re looking for. I cannot stress the amount of times I’ve read seemingly random things about champions I don’t intend to play, but it still provides valuable information when I face said champion or have them on my team.
Using sites like op.gg to see ingame info regarding your team and the enemy team gives a lot of information that can often make or break the early game before even loading into the game. If you’re jungling look out for players on losing streaks and try to tilt them. If the enemy you’re laning against has scaling runes try to push early advantages and trade more before they scale. If you’re up against an enemy with over 200 games on said champion at a 70% win-rate, respect that and expect difficulty in lane, but adapt accordingly.
Picks and Bans
Pick things that you’ve practiced, like and are good at. There are always going to be champions seemingly “better” than others due to Pro Play or FOTM-fever, however this does not mean they are the only champions playable. If you’ve practiced and placed the effort into learning everything about the champion then you’ll do considerably better than picking something because it’s “op” or because you want to “counter”.
The next step is to never pick something just because it “counters” the enemy. If you play the champion and understand why X counters Y, then by all means play the champion. But don’t pick solely to “counter-pick”. It’s only at a higher elo where players abuse the power in countering the enemy, but even then there are so many “one-trick ponies” that invite those counter-picks because they’ve practiced long and hard enough to make the “counter” less effective.
Onto banning: if you’re worried about getting countered when you first pick as a mid-lane, then use your bans to take away counters to your champion in the banning phase. This lessens the unnecessary stress you place on yourself during lane because of the fear that you’re “countered” and there’s no way to win. This is applicable at all levels of the game.
In picks and bans, understand what champion you, your team and the enemy are picking. Using this for-given knowledge, you will begin to learn when certain champions are better than others. Picking a late game champion and then wanting to rage because you went 0/2/0 in lane against a Lee Sin maintain the same farm means you don’t fully understand picks
Honestly, I believe this is the most important part about climbing the ladder. Positivity breeds success. Going into a ranked game with the mind-set that you’re going to perform well and win the game is a good way to go in. However, things don’t always go smoothly as hoped and many times you don’t win.
If it’s a case of an ally member not performing well, understand that flaming or simply pointing out mistakes is not going to help whatsoever 9 times out of 10. They can see they’ve done badly; nobody needs anyone to point out the obvious, even if things are made out in good intention. Instead of using past tense to try and correct mistakes, use the present or future tense to share general instruction. Instead of complaining that your jungler missed-smite, understand what happened regarding the miss and try to make sure the enemy isn’t in position for the next dragon or that wards are cleared/placed correctly beforehand so your team are aware of what to do next, not what was messed up earlier.
It’s important to understand that you’re playing with people that will be affected by things, just like you. So if it’s a case of you not performing well and people flame, ignore it. If you’re the type of player that takes things to heart, like me, then press the mute button. I used to think “if I press mute I will never see if the player is telling me something helpful”, but more often than not a flamer will only continue to flame, so press tab and mute them immediately. If you spend your time focusing on abuse and writing ‘smart’ comments as to why they are wrong, then you have less time to focus on getting back into the game.
The winning mentality always starts with you. By complimenting each thing done right more things are done right and people develop a good atmosphere or sense of understanding. Even if it’s going to be the only time the 5 of you are on a team are together, and that you’ll never played together again, this is all the more of a reason for it to be a good experience for all.
Also, remember to be especially self-critical. If you have a mind-set that you’re good, you’ll never get better. Analyse the games you lose to find out why. Analyse the games you win to find out why. There is almost always something you could and can be doing better, however slight it may be. Do not give up on being a grinder.
I hope this has helped you in any sort of way!