Hello Summoner and welcome to my League of Legends ranked mode guide! Here, I'll be covering as much as I can when it comes to competitive play. From before hitting that start game button to heading into Summoner's Rift, I'll cover as much as I can so I can help you gain elo and get the border you've always wanted!
Table of Contents:
2. Setting up
a. Runes+Masteries+Summoner Spells
b. Solo or duo?
3. Champion Select
a. Ban+Pick phase
c. Knowing your team
4. Farming minions
6. Map awareness
7. Team fights
9. Team synergy
10. Death timers
11. Smart casting
13. Objective control
Let me start out by introducing myself: I started playing League of Legends shortly after it was officially released as the summoner name AsumingUnicorn (not AssumingUnicorn because I couldn't have "ass" in the name. I started playing ranked towards the end of season 1 and achieved silver as my highest rank at the end and got Judgment Kayle as a reward. Since I was new to the game, I didn't focus on any lanes.
Season 2 was the same where I played ranked towards the end and I got a little more competitive and got Victorious Janna. In season 2, I started to play top and mid more often so I mained champions who excelled in their lanes, were top tier, and stupidly overpowered. In my case, Vladimir was my go to champion to gain easy elo back in season 2. According to LoLKing in season 2 I played 47 ranked games and 32 of them were Vladimir with my highest rank being Gold 2 (~1450 elo) averaging about 180 minion kills per game and my kda being about 3.5 so I wasn't that amazing in season 2, but hey, we all start somewhere, right?
From here, I changed my name to Orchestra and along with my name change, I changed part of my play style as well. I tried out more lanes to diversify my skill so I was playing more adc and support style champions. After placing into Gold 1, a total of 72 games were played and my final placement was into Platinum 5 (~1800 elo). As a support, I averaged about 4 deaths a game, while having 12.6 assists per game and my final win-lose ratio as Sona was 18-6 which I thought was great as a new support lane player. Victorious Elise was a very nice reward for your effort if you were placed Gold or higher.
I had a lot more free time when ranked was in its 4th season so I had a lot more time to try out different champions of my play style. While I played top, mid, adc, and support, I veered as far away from jungle as I can, only playing if every other role was locked in and I was last pick. Although I was forced jungle, I at least knew a champion or two who weren't banned and I was able to do as much as I could've for having known little to nothing in a role I wasn't experienced at. 266 ranked games were played in season 4; most of which were Vladimir, a new support, Morgana, and Lulu.. At the end of season 4, I was stopped at platinum 2 and got the amazing Victorious Morgana skin to go along with my newly learned support (although a nerf came afterwards in season 5). As of the time I'm writing this, I'm sitting at Platinum 3 50 points after only having played 13 games of ranked play.
2. Setting up:
Create multiple runes and masteries pages for the main lanes you're planning to play for generic situations such as top vs ap (so you can focus mr runes+masteries), top vs ad (so you can focus armor runes+masteries), farm lane, etc. While supports should almost always go flash and exhaust, you can sometimes go flash and ignite if the enemy adc relies on damage while having little attack speed. Top and mid can go flash and teleport or flash with ignite, although flash with ignite is ideal for the mid lane while top gets flash and teleport to help the team before fights. As a reference, whenever I'm unsure of what to use for my runes and masteries, I go to ProBuilds to have a glimpse of what professional players do, but take it with a grain of salt because there are many situations as to when and how you build your champion as mentioned earlier.
b. Solo or Duo?
If you can't find a partner, solo queue is your only choice (obviously). However, when wanting to duo queue with someone, there are more than to finding someone you know is good. A good partner is able synergize with you very well. For example, you playing adc and your partner supporting you or playing top or mid while your partner controlling the jungle so he can get you ahead since both of you guys should be able to do well in your respective roles.
Being able to play the game as if you're brand new to ranked is the best way to play because you're not stressed from your previous game, your mind's not wondering about a loss from a previous game; about what you could've done better whether it be from the pick/bans or from a simple mistake someone did in a game. Focusing 100% on your game will help you become more successful in your games.
Although this might sound silly, it can also ruin your game. Making sure you're able to play without any distractions is the best way to make new partners and help you have a positive ranked experience. Making sure your internet is stable and ready to play (while hoping it won't cut on you mid game) will decrease the odds of having reported for a hiccup in your internet and you won't be like one of the many players who disconnect in a ranked game. Don't be hungry before a game as well because you'll just think about food and no one wants to think about food when you wanna gain elo! Instead, have a snack before playing. That way, it'll give you more energy to focus on the game as well.
3. Champion Select:
a. Ban+Pick phase
The ban/pick phase is one of the most important parts of the game. In order to ban the right way, knowing the meta is critical when banning champions, especially ones that are just recently released. Counter picking is also a really good way for a lane to have a smoother laning experience. For example, the other team picks an adc with no escapes first like Miss Fortune or Varus. You can counter pick that champion with one that can close in on them and lock them down such as Corki or Tristana. Having a champion that counters theirs can outweigh them and give you an advantage.
Making sure you have the right runes and masteries for your opposing lane could help you win your lane. Also, not forgetting to switch it after every game if you're playing different roles could be vital into winning in your lane because there will be times where you forget to change your runes and masteries and your summoner spells from a game of aram when you get into ranked. As I mentioned earlier, referencing to a pro player and their builds can give you a much clearer insight on what to have for that particular champion.
c. Knowing your team
Communicating is key in every social environment. While you don't have to introduce yourself to your team when every game starts, getting to know them can be helpful. Communicating with your team during champion select and asking what roles they're better at can help the pick and ban phase go by a lot smoother. That way no one will get a lane they aren't good at.
There comes a time where you'll be faced with a troll on your team. While writing this guide, I was playing a game to have more insight on what to write. Sure enough, I had someone who was quiet the whole time during champion select and during the game. After his second death, he immediately quit the game. Needless to say, we were panicking as he was our mid laner; a very vital role in carrying the team. At first we thought about surrendering at 20 but I always say the game isn't over until the Nexus blows up. So we kept playing the game, waited for an opportunity for us to make some plays and we came back and won the game. Although winning isn't guaranteed, you'll only be setting up yourself for a loss if you surrender. Never give up and never surrender even if you're down a player.
4. Farming Minions
One of the key elements into helping you win a game is farming minions. If you missed a minion, you might think it's no big deal and that there are going to be a lot more when the game keeps going. But if you miss more, they start to stack up into hundreds of thousands of potential gold loss. While it is to focus on the minions, you should also keep your eye on your opponent(s). What's the right way to farm minions while harassing your opponent? Trading minions would be the best way. How do you go about doing that? Well you want minions and your opponent wants minions too. In the case that you both have ranged auto attacks or both of you have melee auto attacks, you'll both be able to easily trade while poking each other down if the opportunity comes to it. An important note would be to not always auto attack a minion in order to ensure lane neutrality. Let the minions fight each other off until the very last hit. That way, both junglers aren't sure whether or not to help that lane out. Having some practice in a 1v1 scenario with your friend in a custom game helps you with different situations you'll be facing in the Rift. 50 gold from a cannon minion can lead to an item; an item can give you an advantage; an advantage will lead you to victory. Keep that in mind as it's the little things that adds up.
Harassing is important through the phase of the game. It's especially important when the game starts as it can give you quite a lead in your lane. To help you harass, the ban+pick phase would help you greatly. While this doesn't apply much to the bottom lane as both adcs should have ranged auto attacks, this is more towards the middle and top lane. For example, Irelia vs Rumble. Counter picking Irelia with Rumble can give you a heavy advantage in lane. Rumble can poke Irelia from afar even when both of their auto attacks are melee. Rumble can use his rocket blasts or flame spitter to push the lane or burn Irelia down while Irelia can only hope to farm as much minions as she can. Poking bit by bit off their hp leads to them going back which gives you the ability to freely farm in your lane provided that their jungler won't be substituting their top lane while they're gone. Be careful not to harass in the early stage of the game because if the minions are focusing you, they'll do a greater amount of damage when you're low leveled.
6. Map awareness
If you die by someone who isn't in your normal lane, who do you blame? When it comes down to it, most of the time it's your fault. Always look and observe the mini-map to see if all the champions are in their respective lanes. If the jungler isn't to be seen anywhere or if they haven't been scouted in a while, be extra cautious when wanting to push your lane. Having the mini-map size a little bit bigger than the default size can help because all you need to do is look at the icons of the enemy champions on the mini-map.
7. Team fights
When engaging in team fights. It's important to know if you have the lead or not. There are many questions to ask if your team should go in for the fight or not. Does everyone have their activation items ready? What about summoner spells? Did Karthus already use his ult a minute ago? Because if he did, his ult won't be up for another minute and a half if he still has 0% cool down reduction. Knowing when your enemies' and your allies' cooldowns and their readiness to fight is very important. As I mentioned before also, communication is key especially in team fights. Knowing who to prioritize first, whether it be the front lane or if you can assassinate their carries before a fight can lead to a winning team fight. Knowing when to disengage a fight is just as important as knowing when to fight. Don't be too greedy to kill that tower after having traded off successfully in that last team fight. Assess the situation to see who's still alive and know what to do next.
Trinkets are a newly introduced item that can give player a huge advantage. Always remember to buy a trinket when the game starts and know when and where to place it. The Vision Totem provide a free ward every minute or so depending on what type of upgrade it is. This can help you with laning so you know when to push or when to fall back if an enemy is coming near. Oracle's Lens can help rid the enemy of your location so you'll be able to hide in the shadows while your enemy is waiting in hopes that they won't get ganked. Farsight Orb is like a long range ward lasting a few seconds, but can help you know what an enemy is doing such as Baron or a group waiting in a bush for an unsuspecting ally to kill. Whatever trinket you pick up, remember to upgrade it as the effects are much greater and remember to use it often.
9. Team synergy
Going back to champion select, it's always better to have champions who go well along another. There are countless combinations your team can have. You can go with team composition that focuses on engaging the enemy team. You could have a team who protects certain carries known to kill enemies fast like Kog'Maw. It's also important to know what the composition is in the professional meta. The current tank meta is one to observe as tanks in that meta are a valuable resource in the team where gold invested into health or defensive items are cheap and give a better outcome than buying something on the offensive side. While perfect team synergy is more likely when you're playing in a 5v5 ranked scenario rather than solo or duo queue, a normal team composition in the tank meta would be having a top lane champion who does damage while building mostly health or defensive items such as Vladimir or Irelia or having a jungler such as Skarner or Sejuani; because the tankier they get, the stronger they become even if they're building only defensive items.
10. Death timers
A little piece of advice that you might not know would be pressing the tab button to open up the game summary. If a champion dies, pressing the tab button gives you the insight to see when your opponents will be back up. This is especially important when you're about to close the game by killing their Nexus. Knowing when your opponents are going to respawn can help give you that extra poke on their base if they're going to be dead for a while. It can also help you when you should back off so you don't give your opponents the advantage from you or your teammates staying too long.
11. Smart cast
Smart casting is a nice way to shoot your skills off in an extremely fast way if you know your champion very well. It reduces the effort to press on the key where the spell you want is, aim where you want to shoot the skill, and left click. In order to change your skills to be smart casted, open up the options menu and go to hotkeys. Under hotkeys, you'll see all of your skills. Beneath each key for your skills there are arrows. To activate smart cast on your skill, click on the arrow underneath that skill like how I did here. Notice my w key isn't highlighted. That means that skill isn't ready to be smart casted. Not everyone smart casts, so use it only if you know the reach of your skill or if you prefer to press a key once.
With the new ping system, communication between teammates is a lot easier than what it was before. Without having to type, you can tell your teammates numerous things; you can tell them to move on to that location with a generic ping, you can tell them to fall back indicating that no one is nearby to help, or you can ask for help without typing a single letter. Pings are a useful and fast way to help your teammates out especially when indicating that an enemy isn't where they usually are at. Effective pings can save lives and help you win games, but try not to ping too much or your teammates will mute you.
13. Objective control
Knowing when to take towers and dragons rather than fight can give you the advantage to the whole team. For cases where the enemy team is taking out a tower (preferably the top lane), changing your focus to the dragon can be a great trade off no matter what tier of dragon you're getting. If the other team is trying to take out a tower, you will want to take out one of theirs as well. Keep in mind of everything that's going on in the game and not to be too focused on taking out the objective as it can be a risk if you're attempting to take down a tower but aren't successful in doing so and it hits you a few times and an enemy champion finishes you off. In the case of a dragon fight, ward nearby areas to know when the enemy is coming and communicate with your team if you should attempt dragon or not. If your team hesitates and aren't sure if you should go for it or back off, the miscommunication can lead to a messy fight.
I hope my guide gives you an insight on what should be worked on. Good luck on your journey to challenger!