Season One Ranked Journal


At the end of Season One in August 2011, Riot Games announced that they would be giving out prizes for those who had played Ranked games of League of Legends during the past year. These included profile pictures and forum badges for those players who had achieved each of the four tiers of Bronze (1250), Silver (1400), Gold (1520), and Platinum (1900) Elo rating. There were additional rewards for Gold and Platinum players, in the form of an exclusive Jarvan skin, and everyone who played at least one game received another Kayle skin. I had never played so much as a single Ranked game, hearing tons of horror stories about solo queue and the terrible atmosphere that existed there, but I figured that with mere weeks left in Season One, there was nothing to lose from trying it out and seeing how it went. I asked my friend VarisNox to duo with me in this experiment. Varis also had never tried Ranked games, and his expertise in playing AD carries was exactly the sort of help that a support main such as myself was looking for. We resolved to find out firsthand how well the Elo system worked.

In League of Legends, Elo points are awarded only for winning and losing games. There are no bonus points for having a good score in game - only the end result matters. While this has often been criticized on the forums, I don't see how Riot could set up the system any other way. It would only promote individual player score over working together to win a victory, which should always remain the main focus. Most Ranked games are worth 11-12 points up or down depending on the outcome, but the first few dozen games of Ranked mode are worth much more, as a way of raising or lowering new players more quickly to their correct rating. This meant that we could go up or down very fast indeed during our first ten placement matches. No pressure! I thought that we stood a good chance of reaching Silver tier (1400 Elo, top 10% of players) based on how we had done in Normal games. Varis wanted us to shoot for Gold tier (1520 Elo, top 3% of players). It was simply a matter of how well we did in those early matches, when we could earn as much as +50 or -50 Elo per game.

Our strategy was to try and duo together as AD and support in the bottom lane whenever possible. We had identified that Kog'maw was one of the strongest AD champs in the game at this point in time, and Kog was one of Varis' best champs. This was not generally known publicly at the time, and so we resolved to ride Kog'maw as far as we could take him. I would try to support with Janna whenever possible, Janna being one of the best supports and an excellent pairing with Kog. Janna's many disables (knockup, slow, shield) allowed Kog'maw to farm in safety, getting past his weak early game and allowing him to become a hyper carry later on. Whenever we could play this combo, we went for it. When that wasn't an option, we would fall back on our next best champion options. I would play Karthus in mid, and Varis would play one of the many champs in his stable of junglers. We hoped to avoid being forced into uncomfortable roles. This being solo queue, that was going to happen sooner or later.

Would trolls and poor performance derail our Season One experiment? Read on below, and feel free to watch the actual games themselves linked on my Livestream.

Game 01

Livestream Link:
Version: Talon Patch
Record: 1-0
Elo: 1200 (+50) = 1250

Comments: My first thought, both when playing initially and watching this later, was something along the lines of "wow, all of these players are terrible!" Varis and I were used to competing against players in the 1600-1700 Elo bracket due to our extremely high hidden Normal Elo ratings, and most of those games were draft pick matches with highly organized teams. Dropping into the realm of 1200 Elo was like stepping back in time, back to a day when everyone played random champions with no attention to details. Sivir mid? Alistar/Olaf bottom lane? Sure, why not! Anything goes! Making this game even more amusing, our Cho'gath player walked out to lane, then immediately disconnected and spent the first 15 minutes of the game AFK. (You did not recall to base when disconnected at this time, so he fed a free kill to top lane in the process.) Varis was forced to lane with Nocturne, and also cover all of the mistakes in positioning that our middle lane Zilean player made. He was running around desperately trying to cover two lanes at once most of the time. Meanwhile, my laning partner Tristana simply auto-attacked every minion, without trying to last hit them at all. This would have been a real disaster if the other team hadn't been even worse: Alistar and Olaf both auto-attacking as well, fighting each other for last hits, both of them getting extremely underfarmed. They were unaware of the concept of gold/10 items, it seems.

In the end, despite getting nothing from Cho'gath and almost nothing from Zilean (I did not see him ult to save someone even one time), Varis was able to hard-carry this one with a ridiculous Nocturne performance. Their team was entirely physical in terms of damage, and therefore Wriggles + Frozen Heart made Varis essentially unkillable. I followed Tristana around and helped her farm and stay safe from the enemy team, and even a fairly weak AD player can be effective when they are under no harass, plus their support bails them out of every mistake. Looking back on my own performance, I was surprised to see how much I had improved in the time since at support play. My ward coverage was often shaky in this game, the itemization was not as strong as it could have been, and my one death was due to very silly positioning. Still, it was an effective Janna game nonetheless, and the communication between Varis and me was an important factor in winning this one. Varis picked off a bunch of stragglers, we forced Baron and took it for free, then pushed for the win and enemy surrender at 30 min. If there was a key to this game, it was keeping a positive attitude amongst the other players during the lengthy 4 vs 5 period. No one raged or blamed anyone else, and the Nocturne/Trist/Janna trio carried the other two weak players to a (probably undeserved) win.

Game 02

Livestream Link:
Version: Talon Patch
Record: 2-0
Elo: 1250 (+50) = 1300

Comments: The previous game had a lengthy disconnect, but at least we had been in control the entire game. This one saw our team score first blood in mid, only to see it all run sour quickly thereafter. Top lane Lee Sin fed relentlessly, ending up 2-9 on the game and only getting the second kill in the final seconds. Our mid lane quickly was flipped around, with the enemy Brand taking charge and killing Swain many times over. Our Udyr jungler was outplayed by their Warwick jungler. At one point in time, the enemy team was ahead by 10 kills and had all of our outer towers down, with our team making no impression whatsoever on their base. For all intents and purposes, this game looked like it was a lost cause.

The saving grace was our bottom lane, where Varis and I were duoed as Kog'maw and Janna. We were far ahead in bottom lane, as the enemy team must have had some kind of argument in the staging room and didn't pick any AD carry. Instead they had two APs, Brand and Kassadin, and Kass ended up getting sent to bottom lane. In other words, Kog/Janna against Kass/Alistar. Umm... advantage our side. With ranged poke from Kog and Janna, there was little opportunity for Kassadin to farm, and their bottom lane largely proved to be useless. Our team hung around for the first 30 minutes, at which point in time Varis' farming edge began to take over, and he was able to eat his way through the enemy team. Fight after fight, Varis did everything and hard Hard HARD carried this game to a victory. He ended up Legendary with 14 kills against 4 deaths. Double buff Kog'maw, a terrifying sight indeed.

Looking back at this one, I have to admit that I was pretty bad in this game. My ward coverage was just inexcusably weak, rarely placing wards on the map and setting up Varis to be killed by a Warwick gank at one point. He could have farmed much easier if I had taken the time to ward up the side brushes and give us vision on Alistar. We missed a lot of CS that way. I also had some poor Janna ults throughout the game, including Flashing into the middle of the enemy team to ult and committing suicide at one point. This game honestly was all about Varis, not me. The one good thing that I did was purchase a couple of Oracles and use it to give us Baron control, and used Clairvoyance to scare the enemy team off of Baron twice. They took all of the early game Dragons and towers, but we took all the Barons, and that was the difference. Thankfully the enemy team was pretty dumb, and had no idea how to snowball their big early lead. They wasted time for a while, let Kog'maw farm up into lategame, and then all got shredded to pieces. This is not a particularly good support game to watch - too many mistakes. I'd like to think that I've improved a lot from this point in time.

Game 03

Livestream Link:
Version: Talon Patch
Record: 2-1
Elo: 1300 (-50) = 1250

Comments: This one was a pretty incredible game. We got off to another "fun" start, with our top lane Warwick running out to lane, disconnecting, and then giving up a free first blood to the enemy team's Irelia. This forced our jungle Nasus (heh) to go lane top, where he immediately fed two more kills to Irelia. Things were no better in mid, where our Clarity Orianna (baller!) was losing the lane to their Teemo. Fortunately things were better in our lane. Once again, the enemy team's bottom lane was a mismatch of champions, with an impotent Singed/Nidalee bottom lane facing our own Kog'Maw/Janna pairing. This meant that Varis could free farm in no danger whatsoever, and if we had gotten anything at all from the other lanes, it would have been the formula for a successful game. We knew we were in trouble when Varis was 4-3 on the game, and the other two lanes + jungler were a combined 0-9. Not getting a lot of help. I was running between lanes constantly trying to keep them from being pushed over as our teammates died, while Varis kept farming bot and killing the enemy team. Nearly all of his deaths came from being dived 2 vs 1 or 3 vs 1 under his own tower, since we had no pressure anywhere on the map. It was all we could do to prevent from being snowballed out of the game.

Amazingly, we actually did have a chance to win this one. Their team took all but one Dragon, and several uncontested Barons, but foolish overaggressive pushes allowed us to pick them off and counterpush, taking some of their towers for the first time. Varis was doing about 95% of our team's damage output, and ripping the enemy team a new one. We were nearly able to take their mid inhib tower, only to see our allies get picked off once again, and have the push stall out. Varis finally made one mistake and was caught, with their team taking two of our inhibs and a nexus turret while he was reviving. After that we simply had too much damage to our base, stopping them multiple times but never able to counterpush. The last few minutes saw Varis do his best Leonidas impression, killing endless hordes of enemy minions and champion after champion, before finally succumbing to a deluge of enemies. You really should click that link and watch the final few minutes, it's amazing to see. Varis finished with 20 of our team's 25 kills, along with 4 more assists. He literally was the whole offense. Our top and jungler finished a combined 2-18 on the game. Just needed some kind of help there, and we could have won this game.

Even though we lost this game, I played vastly better than in the last ranked match. I had one death in 50 minutes of play, and covered the map pretty darn well, keeping our jungle warded up throughout the game. That was one of the only reasons we had a chance, as they never bought an Oracle and we had great vision of their team movements. While I certainly could have played better, this was a solid Janna support game. The two of us were not particularly disappointed after this loss. We knew that we had played very well, more than well enough to win, and that kind of effort would translate into victory with all but the most incompetent of teammates. Two of the other three champions on our side had literally given us nothing, with Warwick disconnected for most of the first 15 minutes, while Nasus fed huge sums of gold to the other team. In any normal scenario we would have been victorious. It was reassuring, in a way. We were getting every bit of the solo queue nightmare here: lengthy teammate disconnects, massive teammate feeding, useless allies, and so on. But we still won two out of three games, and nearly won the third one despite all odds. If we continued at the same rate of play, we would win most of our games. I felt more confident after this game, not less.

Game 04

Livestream Link:
Version: Talon Patch
Record: 3-1
Elo: 1250 (+50) = 1300

Comments: An easy game. We had the first two picks, and grabbed Nocturne for Varis and Karthus for me. We felt even better after seeing the summoner choices for the enemy players: two Exhaust/Ignite pairings, and their highest-rated player took Heal/Teleport on Sona. Only two Flashes on the entire team (and no Ghosts) to deal with the fear tether from Nocturne. My one concern was the enemy Le Blanc, since she is a hard counter to Karthus as a champion. This fear was reinforced when we noticed that Le Blanc started with a Doran's Ring and 45 AP. That meant a full AP runepage, designed for early game killing power. My goal for the game was to play defensively, willing to give up some minion kills so long as I could avoid getting blown up by Le Blanc. I was confident that Le Blanc's terrible scaling into lategame and lack of team utility would offset any early game farming edge that she was able to achieve. This proved to be correct.

The result was a passive farming match for the first 15 minutes in mid, exactly what I was hoping to achieve. Meanwhile, Varis roamed around the map picking off kills any time his ultimate was off of cooldown. I could use Karthus ult to affect those fights anywhere on the map, and scored a couple of kills in this fashion. Although Le Blanc did roam around the map and pick up some scattered kills, I zoomed far out in front of her with my superior ability to farm minions, and once I had Rod of Age + Deathcap, I was able to score many kills in the teamfights. Two different times I was focused down and died, only to score a susequent triple kill after dying. We had complete control of the map objectives, taking every Dragon and the game's only Baron, and great warding for vision. This turned into a stomp, with the two of us picking up 24 kills and the highest gold totals in the game. It's a very good example of how to carry a game in solo queue.

Game 05

Livestream Link:
Version: Talon Patch
Record: 3-2
Elo: 1300 (-50) = 1250

Comments: We lost this game on the champion select screen. Everything went horribly wrong in staging, and for once not due to people raging in solo queue. We had first pick, and Orianna was the clear strongest champ in the game during this patch version, so Varis went ahead and took Orianna. There were two problems with this, however. First of all, Varis had barely played Orianna and AP mid was one of his weaker roles. Secondly, this pick prevented me from playing AP mid, where I would have been much more comfortable. I don't think I even owned Orianna at this point, and I had no idea how to play her. We could not have traded the initial pick. Following this initial mistake, our next two teammates grabbed Ashe and Singed. OK, no problems there. This left support and jungle as the remaining two roles. What I should have done here was called for support, and left our final player to jungle. Instead, I tried to be polite, and asked him which of us should jungle. He told me "go for it", which I assumed meant that he wanted to play support. Now at this time I had only planned to jungle with two champions in ranked, Warwick and Gangplank. We had banned out Gangplank, and Warwick was picked by the other team. This meant that I had to fall back on Rammus, a weak underplayed jungler in this patch. Not good. Finally, our last pick "support" player revealed after I locked in that he didn't own any normal supports, and he took Garen. We ended up with Varis mid on an unfamiliar Orianna, myself in the jungle with an underpowered Rammus, Singed in top lane, and the beastly Ashe/Garen pairing in bottom lane. The results from there were predictable.

With all that said, we did still have a chance at this game. The first 25 minutes were very close, and we were able to take the first two Dragons. I started out 1-0-3 and was involved in four of the first five kills, while Varis had the most farm in the game. Their team was just as disorganized as our team, and we had the chance to take advantage of that. The biggest problem was our lack of ward coverage; we had no support at all, and I was the only one warding the map. This meant that we were playing in the dark most of the time, and suffered deaths that could have been easily prevented. Our Singed player pushed the lane constantly and never bought any wards, then raged at the rest of the team when he would get ganked and die. Typical solo queue behavior. The game was lost due to one really bad fight in mid, where our team split focus and failed to kill anyone on the enemy team. At this point, we had a clean disengage and could have backed for the loss of a single tower, but our teammates dove back in again on low health, all of them dying, and then the subsequent 5 vs 2 push against Varis and me took out all three towers in middle lane. They returned to get middle inhib soon afterwards. With our team on the defensive, they snuck a free Baron and then proceeded to clean up all of the teamfights from there. In particular, their team had a Lanewick player who was completely unkillable, and since none of us had really seen Lanewick before, it was something we weren't prepared to deal with. Eventually we were slowly pushed out of the game as the enemy team took a second Baron and all of our towers.

This game was a major regret, since we definitely could have won this one. Did we have horrible, feeding teammates? Yes, 0-7 Singed and 2-6 Garen. Did Singed begin raging and blaming rest of the team? Absolutely. But that was still no excuse. Winning in solo queue is about carrying the team to victory, and Varis and I simply did not do that. We were both pretty good, but pretty good won't cut it. You have to be able to carry three or four other baddies to a win; this kind of an effort simply wasn't good enough. It was our fault that we didn't win. In particular, I failed to get off some Taunts that would have scored additional kills, and might have been able to snowball the game in our favor. I was caught twice, leading to needless deaths. I never bought an Oracle, which might have flipped the vision issue in our favor. I really regret not getting an Oracle or pink ward for Baron; with their team so split, we probably could have forced Baron and taken it for free, which might have turned this game the other way. And I definitely should have known more junglers, instead of being pushed into an unfamiliar role on a weaker champ. So while we could have spent the game's aftermath raging about solo queue feeders, it was more productive to recognize our own failures, and think about how to fix them in the future. We needed to make sure we were on the correct roles, and do more to carry the team to a victory, whether that was getting fed in the laning phase or doing a better job of controlling map objectives. This game simply hadn't been strong enough from the two of us.

Game 06

Livestream Link:
Version: Talon Patch
Record: 4-2
Elo: 1250 (+50) = 1300

Comments: This game also looked like it had disaster written all over it. Varis went top with Singed, and found himself facing an unexpected 1 vs 2 situation when their team failed to bring a jungler and sent Caitlyn + Jarvan to his lane. Our bottom lane was running a Vayne/Morgana pairing, neither one of them playing support, both of them trying to last hit minions. That lane started the game 0-6 and Vayne began typing "GG" messages in the chat, basically giving up on the match. The final picture above is misleading in this regard; Vayne had 10 minion kills at the 11 minute mark, and both of our bottom lane champs were almost completely useless. Varis was getting denied in top, since he could not go away from his tower to farm against Cait/Jarvan. There was serious potential here for a ragefest and another loss.

Instead, we took steps to swing this game in our favor. Varis made sure to avoid dying, which would have cost us top tower and snowballed the game away from our team. I had the best matchup, facing up against an inexperienced Lux player. I was able to kill her at level 6, and keep pushing the lane after that, so that she lost farm under her tower. This also allowed me to start doing some roaming, heading top to gank Varis' lane a couple of times and relieve pressure. We killed Cait, then got another kill a bit later, and Varis was able to start breathing again. At one point, Varis teleported to bottom lane and picked up four kills, two of them immediately and then another two delayed kills as the enemy team foolishly kept chasing after a low health Singed. Meanwhile, I kept farming mid and ulting into fights elsewhere on the map, scoring garbage kills this way as the enemy players forgot that there was a Karthus in the game. I knew we were in good shape when I had 150 CS and no one else on their team had broken 70 CS. The farming edge soon told the tale, as I had Rod of Ages + Deathcap shortly after the 20 min mark, and with nonexistent magic resist on the other team, they started going down in a hurry. Our other saving grace was our Lee Sin player, who did a good job of counterganking lanes and controlling both junglers. The enemy team lost their morale and surrendered at the 26 minute mark, even though no one had taken an inhibitor or a Baron. I did not expect the game to end so soon.

It might look like a routine game in restrospect, but this one really could have gone south in a hurry. Two of our three teammates were utter deadweight, with Vayne and Morgana padding their scores at the end after the rest of the team had snowballed them ahead with global gold and assists. The other three players, ourselves and our Lee Sin, carried two largely undeserving players to a victory. Once again, Varis and I had the two highest gold totals in the game. This was a great example of how solo queue games can swing one way or the other quickly; Vayne and Morgana were screaming at one another early, and then were all smiles and politeness later on, after the other three players had put them ahead. Funny how winning versus losing affects the attitude so much...

Game 07

Livestream Link:
Version: Talon Patch
Record: 5-2
Elo: 1300 (+50) = 1350

Comments: This was the only game where we picked up a free win. Their Caitlyn left the game after about 5 minutes and never returned. I have a lot of respect for the rest of the enemy team, as they gave it every possible effort. But it wasn't enough without having their AD carry present. Their area of effect (AOE) team comp could have been very deadly in a fair match, and they pulled off some nice combination Amumu/Sona/Annie ults during this match. In the end, the game concluded when our Trist and Kayle players went top and split pushed all the way to the Nexus, while the enemy team pushed mid and didn't bother to recall. There isn't much to see on this replay, and not much commentary to make.

Game 08

Livestream Link:
Version: Talon Patch
Record: 6-2
Elo: 1350 (+50) = 1400

Comments: We had the first two picks for this game, and went with Karthus and Nocturne again. Urgot went mid, and that left us with a strange bottom lane pairing of Blitzcrank and Sona. We expected Jarvan or Garen to be jungling, only to find on the loading screen that no one on the other team had taken Smite, and they had no jungler. I offered to take the 1 vs 2 lane in top, since I had plenty of experience in running Karthus in those matchups. When queuing with less experienced friends, we always ran a jungler and often saw teams that didn't, and I usually took the 1 vs 2 lane. When in this situation, the key thing to do is buy time and not die. It's OK to miss some farm as long as you stay alive to benefit from the extra experience gain, and keep your tower up. The tower will go down eventually - you can't stop that - but the longer you can keep it alive, the better. I ended up facing Caitlyn and Garen, who were thankfully not smart enough to zone me properly. I was still able to farm minions, and only my own poor last hitting prevented me from getting more minion kills. I sat in lane doing my best to farm and keeping them off the tower, while Varis roamed around the map getting a few kills with Nocturne ult and raided both jungles for gold and experience. We had a few unsuccessful ganks in top, where Varis and I tried to kill their Caitlyn and Garen, only to see Garen turn things around and score kills against us. This was a bit of a tactical mistake; even during a gank, the lane was only 2 vs 2, and we had no significant advantage. We were better off having Varis go after the other lanes, where we could fight 2 vs 1 or 3 against 2.

The key play in this one took place at Dragon. Varis scored the first Dragon uncontested, and there was a fight for the second one. The enemy team tried to do it without bothering to use a pink ward/Oracle to remove our sight, and we had full vision of their Dragon attempt. Our team arrived at the perfect moment, Varis stole the Dragon with Smite (no jungler on their team, remember), and then we went 4 for 1 in the following team fight, all of their champions low from tanking the Dragon. We took towers on the subsequent push, and that broke the game wide open. All four champions in bottom lane were horribly underfarmed from splitting minion kills, but our Blitz/Sona pair was scoring kills over their Kennen/Jarvan pair. We also had a huge edge in summoner spells, with only one player on their team taking Flash. (0-6 Jarvan with Heal and Fortify? Uh, ok...) With superior farming numbers, two Dragons, and more global gold from tower kills, we were snowballing ahead. They gave up with another early surrender at 25 minutes. Despite spending most of the game in the 1 vs 2 lane, I had the most CS in the game. Once again, Varis and I had the two highest gold totals.

Game 09

Livestream Link:
Version: Talon Patch
Record: 7-2
Elo: 1400 (+46) = 1446

Comments: This was a game where everything went right. Varis and I had the first two picks, and chose to go with our Kog'maw/Janna bottom lane pairing. We hit a huge stroke of luck when our final pick jungler was able to grab Nocturne, whose dominance in solo queue had been amply demonstrated in past games. We were up against a silly bottom lane pairing of Ashe/Nidalee, with Nidalee not really playing support and continuing to take farm away from Ashe. Many people argued that Nidalee would make a good support because of her heal, but this game demonstrated why that wasn't the case. Bottom lane Nidalee can do two things: heal and throw spears. That's it. With wards in the side lane brush, the spears are pretty easy to dodge, and they scale horribly into the late game unless Nidalee is taking minion kills and building AP. It didn't work in this game at all, and Varis free farmed the lane for close to 20 minutes. He ended up with 224 CS and the highest gold total in the game. Their jungle Warwick tried to gank our lane several times, but I countered his ult with my own Janna ult every time, and the combination of wards + Clairvoyance gave up all the vision that we needed. All of our lanes ended up winning their matchups, turning this game into a stomp. Their team surrendered after we took Baron, with our team holding a commanding lead. It was an absolutely perfect Kog'maw game: farm uninterrupted during the laning phase, then use that gold to murder everyone. I kept Varis safe while he farmed, and then added vision, Oracle, and Janna's crowd control package in the midgame teamfights. Very easy game both in terms of our laning matchup and the excellent help provided by our teammates.

Game 10

Livestream Link:
Version: Talon Patch
Record: 8-2
Elo: 1446 (+43) = 1489

Comments: We had the first two picks and again elected to go with our Kog'maw/Janna bottom lane composition. We set things up to trade Fiddlesticks for Kog'maw with the last pick, and without seeing Kog on the champion select screen, the enemy team picked a bunch of melee bruisers. Exactly the sort of champions that Kog'maw excelled against! They had no ranged ADs to poke back against Kog. The biggest concern was our own bottom lane, where we were up against a dangerous kill lane combination of Sion/Blitzcrank. That could have been very bad news, if they properly leveraged Sion stun into Blitzcrank grab. Indeed, Varis made a mistake early on and gave up first blood to the enemy team when he was grabbed and stunned under their tower. Fortunately the two of them didn't work very well together, and we were largely able to farm in peace, with my wards keeping vision on the side brushes. After that initial first death from Varis, we both kept a clean sheet and did not die the rest of the game.

This one got off to a bit of a bad start. Varis gave up first blood, and we started out behind in the other two lanes. Both top and mid died early on, and they both had lost their tower by the 15 minute mark. Enemy team also took the first Dragon, and I was very concerned that they were going to start snowballing us out of the game. The turning point came with a big fight in bottom lane, where their team was grouped up trying to push over our bottom tower, and we were able to countergank their push with a Fiddlesticks ultimate and lots of damage from Kog'maw. We went 4 for 1 and took their own bottom tower, which induced the other team to start raging at one another in all chat. Master Yi started split pushing and ignoring his teammates, and Blitzcrank left the game entirely and did not return. No idea if it was a rage quit or what. From that point, we easily took Baron and pushed into their base, and they surrendered after the mid inhibitor went down. This was a game that we won largely because the enemy team couldn't coordinate together and take advantage of their early lead. They all went to pieces and began screaming at each other, at which point they lost any chance to achieve victory. I'm guessing that Blitz left because of the toxic environment on the other side. In any case, with ten games completed we now had official rating, both of us sitting just below 1500 Elo. One more victory would be enough to take us to Gold tier.

Game 11

Livestream Link:
Version: Talon Patch
Record: 9-2
Elo: 1489 (+45) = 1534

Comments: This was probably the most nervous I've ever been playing a League of Legends game. A win would take us to our desired goal of Gold rating, while a loss would mean needing at least two more wins, possibly three more wins since our Elo gain would drop as our placement games ended. We were fortunate to have the first two picks, and once again went with our bread and butter combination of Kog'maw and Janna. We were faced up against a bottom lane pairing of Ashe/Zilean, the first time that we had seen an actual attempt at an AD and support pairing. The skill level here at roughly 1500 Elo was noticeably better, with more logical laning assignments and better farming stats from everyone. But Zilean was still a poor support pick, and this game demonstrated why in great detail. Zilean's time bomb harass was mostly blocked by Janna shields, and didn't scale at all with the lack of AP on Zilean. He could not heal or shield his Ashe support, and we had no trouble farming the lane in safety. Varis dominated Ashe in lane, taking close to a 50% edge in minion kills and eventually snowballing to the point where he could easily kill Ashe 1 vs 1. His Wriggles/Infinity Edge build also worked better than the Madred's Bloodrazer we had been using in many of these matches. Probably should have started with boots + 3 pots though, as we got very low on health early in the game without the ability to heal.

That left it up to our teammates to see how the match would go. We caught a break when their Morgana disconnected for the first five minutes of the game. While she came back fairly quickly, this meant that their jungle Gangplank had to cover top lane, and Morgana was never really able to recover from the early farming disadvantage. Sion ganked bottom lane and scored first blood for Varis, and that got us off to a great start. Even though we were winning, our other three teammates kept arguing over petty trivialities; I was praying that no one would rage quit or start feeding, and thankfully no one did. Their anger was completely nonsensical, as we were dominating the game. With our team crushing top and bottom lanes, we were able to take the first two Dragons, control the map, and eventually take Baron. I had most of the key spots on the map warded, and picked up an Oracle around 20 minutes, although I don't know if I ever found even one of their wards. (Even my one death to a Gangplank gank was easily avoidable, as he walked over a ward and we failed to notice him.) This one snowballed hard, and we ran over their base before the 30 minute mark. Success!


Our experiment went better than I ever could have hoped, and we both reached Gold status in only eleven games. We went 9-2 and legitimately could have won the other two games as well. Varis carried hard nearly every single game, and I did pretty well in the games where I wasn't playing support. We played every different team role as needed, concentrating on a few of our best champions for sure, but were always willing to be flexible. We rarely saw a true support from the enemy teams that we faced, the current League of Legends metagame still not penetrating down to most of these players in Season One. Supports can be a little bit like offensive linemen in American football, in the sense that it's difficult to quantify their impact on the game in numbers. Sure there's assists, but they don't really tell the whole story. A good support player will be warding the map constantly, helping the jungler control the neutral buffs on the map, here in Season One using Clairvoyance to track the enemy team's movements, and so on. None of this gets reflected in the standard Kills/Deaths/Assists (KDA) numbers, and with supports not farming, minion kills are similarly useless as a stat. It's hard to evaluate how important my ward coverage and frequent Oracles purchases were in these games, but I have to believe it made a big difference. In nearly every game we were able to win the teamfights, often after very poor laning phases, using superior vision to pick the right engages. We also were very active in forcing Dragons and Barons any time we had the advantage, which teams frequently fail to do at lower Elo levels. Probably the best way to evaluate how well the support did their job is to look at the numbers on their AD carry. Here's how Varis and I did, broken down in table form:

VarisNox Champion Kills Deaths Assists Minions Killed Gold Earned
Game 01 Nocturne 13 0 4 182 11.5k
Game 02 Kog'maw 14 4 5 252 18.2k
Game 03 Kog'maw 20 7 4 302 18.7k
Game 04 Nocturne 12 0 10 120 11.4k
Game 05 Orianna 2 3 2 257 11.3k
Game 06 Singed 9 3 5 89 8.0k
Game 07 Brand 4 3 6 175 10.9k
Game 08 Nocturne 6 3 10 115 8.1k
Game 09 Kog'maw 5 0 5 224 10.5k
Game 10 Kog'maw 6 1 4 190 10.4k
Game 11 Kog'maw 6 0 6 178 11.1k
Total   97 24 61 2084 130.1k
Per Game Average   8.8 2.2 5.5 189 11.8k

Sullla Champion Kills Deaths Assists Minions Killed Gold Earned
Game 01 Janna 2 1 10 32 6.8k
Game 02 Janna 1 4 13 30 11.4k
Game 03 Janna 0 1 15 48 8.9k
Game 04 Karthus 12 4 8 195 12.1k
Game 05 Rammus 1 3 3 109 8.9k
Game 06 Karthus 5 2 12 187 9.8k
Game 07 Janna 0 1 7 12 6.7k
Game 08 Karthus 4 1 7 124 7.4k
Game 09 Janna 0 0 10 7 5.8k
Game 10 Janna 0 0 10 6 6.1k
Game 11 Janna 2 1 11 11 7.5k
Total   27 18 106 761 91.4k
Per Game Average   2.5 1.6 9.6 154 / 11* 9.6k/ 7.6k*
* Support / Non-Support

Our success at the end of Season One served as a personal validation for me. It demonstrated that I wasn't full of nonsense in my YouTube videos, and that I did know what I was talking about when it came to game mechanics and big picture strategy. These games also proved the lie of "Elo Hell", the notion that players stuck in the 1200-1300 Elo range are actually great players being held back by the feeding and trolling of others. This is an extremely common sentiment in the official League of Legends forums, but it simply is not true. While there are always some games that can't be carried, such as our Game 03 above, most of them are very much within your control. We had plenty of feeders, ragers, disconnected players, and so on. We still managed to carry the team to a victory in nearly all of these games. Yes, it was a small sample size, but look at the numbers put up by Varis. We weren't getting lucky and being dragged along to wins. We were winning our lanes in every match, and hauling along our teammates with us, often kicking and screaming, until we forced the other team to surrender. That is how you have to play to rise in Elo, and that's exactly what we did.

Final thanks to VarisNox, without whom I surely could not have pulled this off. We'll be back again, seeing how far we can make it in Season Two.