General Guide by TheShinWire
Not Updated For Current Season
This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.
Not Updated For Current Season
The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.
ELO Hell - What it is and how to escape
This guide will cover what ELO Hell REALLY is (as supposed to what many people think it is) and give some general guidelines on how to escape it.
A note on the builds above: These are some possible ideas of characters + a start to a basic build you can use. I am sure you can find a more complete guide...somewhere. (read: mobafire.com, solomid.net)
2/22/2012: Added section on Supports
1/2/2012: Added Q&A, Added Dealing with the Troll
12/8/2011: Updated recomended characters "To Carry" and "To Tank" to more properly reflect the meta.
8/10/2011: Updated guide. Added more spacing and color for easier readability
8/9/2011: Wrote guide
What is ELO
ELO is a rating system organizationally invented to rank chess players. It has been used to great success in many competitive games to rate single player skill levels and skill levels of entire teams. However, It was not designed to rate an individual players skill level who plays in a team. So, it is not a perfect rating system for LoL. (That being said, it is probably the best, non-exploitable, rating system for LoL)
A Note: What is True ELO
Since your ELO in LoL does not perfectly reflect your real skill level (hence what people think of as ELO Hell) this guide will make a distinction of ELO from Ture ELO as follows:
ELO - the number in LoL that represents your approximate skill level. Used to pit you against other players with the same ELO.
True ELO - a number that represents your true skill level. There is no good way to calculate this number as it is always changing (getting better as you play and worse when you don't play). Ideally your ELO would always be the same as your True ELO, in which case 'every' game you played would be a really close, really long game, in which you would win and lose about half each.
What people think ELO Hell is:
ELO Hell is the shorthand of the phrase "Im stuck in ELO Hell". It is used to denote the feeling that "however good I am, I cannot win (and therefor increase my ELO) because the people on my team are so bad, they lose the game for me!"
ELO Hell is usually considered to be a ELO of 1300 and below (of course, the number depends on who you ask)
What ELO Hell Really is:
What "ELO Hell" really is is at lower ELO levels, player skill level is inconsistent. This results in games where it is more likely for a player with a True ELO higher then the average ELO of the players to lose more often than they would otherwise. ELO hell is an artifact of using the ELO system for LoL (a system it was not designed for)
So, I think I'm stuck. What do I do?
I'm glad you asked! There are several steps you can take to "escape ELO Hell". I would like to begin by saying: "None of the following suggestions are sarcastic (although they might sound like them)".
So, to begin we must first...
Idenify the problem
The first step is to identify why you are "stuck in ELO hell".
The first possibility is:
"You deserve to be there" aka "Your True ELO is the same as your LoL ELO"
This is probably NOT the case for you. Why? Because by virtue of reading this guide you are showing a desire to improve your skill level. So even if it is technically true now, by virtue of reading this guide your "True ELO" is going to improve, and therefor it will not be true by the end of this guide. So you can assume that this is not the case.
The second possibility is:
"You don't play enough games" aka "Just play more and get better!"
This IS probably the case for you, and in all likelihood, there is nothing you can do about it. Why? Because if you could play more, you probably already would be, and therefor not have this problem. Do not worry, this guide assumes this and will give you good advice on how to improve with the time you DO have. But just for reflection: If you think you are stuck in ELO Hell, you probably play less than 20 RANKED games/week, yes? There is a little you can do about this though. I wont get into learning psychology, but I will say: Playing 1 game a day, every day, is better than playing 7 games over the weekend, and none during the weekdays. One good way of looking at it is: your True ELO goes up every time you play a game, and goes down for every day that passes. If more than 1 consecutive day passes without you playing a game your True ELO goes down at an EXPONENTIAL RATE.
Now, onto suggestions and things you can do to improve your elo!
Step 1. Regular Playing
Play at least 1 ranked game every day.
You think I'm kidding? This is how you LEARN. Independent of your ELO, if you play every day you WILL get better, and if you get better enough you WILL get out of ELO HELL! In addition, for every game you play, the closer your ELO goes towards your TRUE ELO. So this kills 2 birds with 1 stone, it both increases your True ELO and moves your LoL ELO closer too your True ELO. I try to do at least the following every day:
1 ranked game
1 win of the day (so, either win my ranked game, or play a Co-op vs AI after loosing the ranked game, just for the win)
Step 2. Pick a Character
This has 2 parts to it:
a. Pick A (as in 1) character.
b. Pick a good character for getting out of ELO Hell.
Step 2a. Pick A (as in 1) character.
Yes, you might not always get to play that 1 character. But you will probably play them at least half the time. If you know 1 character really really well, you will end up winning most your games with them. Try to make it a character that's not picked or banned very often. But most importantly, pick a character you enjoy playing and you are naturally good with.
Step 2b. Pick a good character for getting out of ELO Hell.
There are many characters that are good for getting out of ELO Hell, and many who are NOT. It could be the case you have just been playing the wrong characters.
Things to look for in a good "anti ELO Hell" character: (Note: no character has all of these, but some have most)
The character has a lot of HP / armor / magic resist / escape skills. Basically this character is hard to kill.
Reason: Independent of how good you are and how well you are doing, if you die, your opponents get money and you cannot help your team. Just the facts of life.
Good examples: Tristana (jump), Garen + Jarven(armor/magic resist), Dr. Mundo (hp), Gragus (damage reduction + dash)
2. Lane Sustainability
Ability to stay in your lane safely early game without having to back. Most important early game. (aka pre lvl 6)
Reason: If you don't have to back, even if you are getting harassed by your opponent, you can go into the late game quicker and you can farm creeps easier.
Good examples: Taric/Nidalee (heal), Nasus (passive lifesteal), Morgana/Akali (passive spellvamp), Gragus/Mundo/Garen (passive health regen)
3. Strong Late Game
Ability to be effective into the late game
Reason: You are in "ELO Hell" you can't count on being able to win in the early/mid game. Having a strong late game is always a huge plus.
Good examples: Jax/Akali (solo enemy team), Master Yi (backdoor towers), Mordekaiser/Singed (can keep all lanes pushed), Kog Maw (extremely high damage)
4. Easy time farming
Easy time getting last hits on enemy creeps (or you are a jungle)
Reason: You need money to win the game. The most CONSISTENT way of getting that money is to kill enemy creeps.
Good examples: Mordekaiser/Brand/Kennen/Morgana (good low lvl aoe's)
5. Hard unconditional CC
Has at least 1 (and ideally more) form of hard, unconditional Crowd Control. Forms of hard crowd control are: Stun, Suppress, Fear, Knock up, Forced movement(such as pushes and pulls). Unconditional meaning that they will always work, as supposed to a CC that requires certain conditions to be met before working (such as brand's Q needing them to be on fire) (or cc based on skill shots, such as anivia's Q) <note: technically poppy/vaynes push is still considered a hard, unconditional form of cc even if it doesn't knock them into a wall (in which case it is even better)
Reason: The benefits of a Hard unconditional CC are too numerous to list here. The main reason this is especially important in ELO Hell is that you can use it to punish mistakes made by your opponents. (example: they tower dive you, they overextend)
Good examples: Fiddlesticks(fear), Annie(stun), Alistar(knockup AND Forced movement), Malzahar(suppress)
6. Ability to do sustained damage
Ability to do damage over a medium period of time. This is a combination of being able to deal good damage and be able to LIVE while doing it.
Reason: You cannot count on your teammates to properly focus priority targets during team fights in ELO Hell. So at the very least you want a character that can live through the beginning of the fight, and still deal damage by the end.
Good examples: Karthus(passive, can die at the beginning of a team fight and still deal damage + ult), Jax/Akali (late game with a GunBlade, have enough spellvamp/lifesteal to heal up a good deal of the damage dealt to them + high damage dealers), Signed (tank + poision), Mordekaiser (tank + lots of aoe's), Swain (ult = healing + sustained damage), Vladimir (sustained damage + lifesteal), Ryze (tanky + spamable skills + heal with spellvamp), Nidalee (heal + ult)
7. Ability to take a solo lane. (including jungle)
You can hold and succeed in solo top, mid, the jungle, or a 2v1 lane.
Reason: Money wins games. Solo lanes get more money. You make a bigger impact on the game if you have more money. So you should be in a solo lane.
Good examples: Karthus (mid), Akali(solo top), Warwick(jungle), Nidalee (solo top or 2v1 top <sometimes>, of course, i dont think anyone can really hold a 2v1 lane vs some champion combos)
Step 3. Last hit (a quick story)
I have an example that shows one of the biggest things that separates the pros from the ...not pros.
Back when AP Alistair was a big thing, but not a broken thing (ap ratios on Q, W, and E at .55, .75, .40 if I remember correctly) there were people yelling on the league of legends forums that AP Alistar was OP.
To their defense was a pro player who was streaming one of his games. He was playing AP Alistar vs Orianna mid. At a certain point of the game (it was pretty early) AP Alistar walked up to the Orianna at full health and did his combo to instantly kill her (for those of you who dont know, it is, "hit w, then immediately hit q" <and he probably got an ignite of and 1-2 auto attacks>).
To counter this, other people said "well, he's a pro, so of course he can do those crazy kills" in which the first group said "well, i guess I'm a pro too, cause i can hit w + q too!". Then the forum mostly devolved to incoherent bickering. So, the question was: is ap Alistar broken?
The answer: no (ok, maybe a lil' bit cause they did nerf him since then, but not as bad as you think). So why is it ok for an Alistar to 1 shot an Orianna? (and no, "because Alistar is better is NOT the answer") Its not, all things being equal. But ya know what, we already know all things were not equal.
Wana know how?
Its because the AP Alistar was a pro.
"So?" you might ask.
Well it means 2 things:
First Alistar was probably a level above Orianna because he has lane sustainably and she does not (he can heal, she can only shield).
But the main thing is Alistar probobly had 1.5x last hits that Orianna did!
(ok i dont KNOW that to be the case, but i do know, that given equal levels and equal money <and Orianna not going glass cannon mid vs an AP Alistar which would have been stupid of her> there is at no point in time that an AP Alistar can 1 shot an Orianna at full health)
which brings me to my point:
Step 3. Last hit (for real this time)
One of the most important things to learn in LoL is how to last hit well. And by this I mean get the last hit on all the enemy creeps. No, let me say that again. And by this I mean get the last hit on ALL the enemy creeps. Yes all. EVERY SINGLE ONE!
At least, that is the goal you should always be working towards. It wins games. I guarantee if you practice with a character in a Custom game for an hour and just try to get as many last hits as possible (without pushing your lane, aka ONLY get the last hit). You will have a noticeable improvement on your gameplay.
To put another way. At Dreamhack, the LoL tourament in Europe. One of the European teams (aAa) almost single-handedly won several of their games on last hits alone (if you watched them, observe how they are ahead in money at times when they are a kill or two behind). In fact, I would say that getting the number of last hits is the single biggest indicator of a players skill level!
Step 4. Winning your lane
Ok, so you have picked a character that can mid or solo top (if you are the jungle, your job is to make sure EVERYONE on your team wins their lanes, so have fun with that ;p) Now you have to win your lane. But what does that mean?
It means you made more money in your lane then your opponent. The winner is ultimately who kills their opponents tower first, but as a measure of skill before that point it is who is making the most money. How do you tell? Hit tab. There you can see how many minion kills you have, and how many your opponent has.
YOU ALWAYS WANT YOUR NUMBER TO BE BIGGER THAN YOUR OPPONENTS.
If your opponent has an easier time killing minions than you. what do you do? Harass them harder so they have to return to base, therefor denying them some last hits. "But what if I kill them" you might ask. Kills are worth 15 last hits, and assists are worth 7 (ok, yes, not a perfect correlation, but for the purpose of this exercise, that's what we are going with). The first tower to fall end the "winning your lane game" Whoever got the tower, add 10 last hits to his score and then total it up.
Yes, in the middle of the game, as soon as the lane's tower you were assigned to goes down, I want you to stop for a second and see who won that lane.
Yes, you can still "lose" your lane even if you got their tower first.
Your goal, to get out of ELO Hell is to always...ALWAYS WIN YOUR LANE!!!!!! I almost guarantee you if you always win your lane, and if you can also help 1 other lane with THEIR lane, you will win 90% of your games (yes, i know, helping someone else win their lane means you have to win your lane quickly, which is not always a good idea, as it forces you to overextend, but i was just giving an example) Just food for thought.
Step 5. Dont die
No, really, don't die. At all, if you can help it. I know it sounds weird, but if you have 15 kills and 10 deaths, I consider you to be a detriment to your team.
Because if you have 15 kills in a ranked game you probably have most of your teams kills. If that is the case, and you have 10 deaths, that means your life goes like this: re spawn, get 1.5 kills, die.
YOUR SPENDING MOST OF YOUR TIME DEAD.
Meaning your team is falling behind in map control and eventually, you will probably lose the game, even though your KDR is positive!
So my advice: don't die. Don't take stupid risks. Don't tower dive unless you KNOW you will get the kill WITHOUT DYING. If you EVER tower dive someone and die, it was a mistake, NO EXCEPTIONS (ok, 1 exception: you got 2 or more kills)
Step 6. Initiate Team Fights as your Role Dictates
So, the game is coming to a close. Your team and their team are standing off, poking out at each other. You both know a battle is coming. Suddenly, the fighting begins! You charge in hoping for glory and...wait...
What you should really be doing is what you are supposed to which is:
Tank, Offtank, any other character that can take a beating for a little while: You are the one who should charge in and try to absorb as much damage as possible while trying to keep as much damage from your allies as possible. It is ok if you die.
Carry, any character that does a lot of damage and dies easily: Run. At least at first. You want to make sure you are not a tempting target for anyone. You do lots of damage, but only as long as you are alive. So wait until the main wave of damage is over and then go in and kill! It is ok of you die AS LONG AS you get at least 2 kills. (yes 2, not 1)
Any character with a hard CC: You should save your hard CC for 1 of 2 targets. An enemy that is about to damage (note: I said damage, even if its not enough to kill) one of your carries (which can include you if you are a carry) or, an enemy carry. It is ok to die as long as you use all your hard CC's.
Step 7. Learn
The most important step and the easiest and fastest way to get out of ELO Hell.
Learn from your mistakes.
Learn from your successes.
Learn how far you can extend with your character before you have "overextended".
Learn when it is worth it to switch with a teammate that has a hard lane.
Learn when and where to place wards (hint: "always" and "in bushes" comes to mind. You can also find lots of really good ward placement guides if you just look).
Learn all your match ups as good as you can. (so, if your Nasus with merc treads and an trinity force and your vs an Akali with merc treads and a gunblade, who wins?, answer: I have no idea, I play Singed~~~)
But most importantly:
Learn how to have fun. No, this isn't because its "just a game" and "games are for having fun". You learn faster if you are having fun at it. The faster you learn the faster your True ELO rises. So, having fun is important to getting out of ELO HELL!
(and if your having fun, it might not seem so much like Hell)
Bonus: Dealing with the Troll
So...Trolls...they suck. A lot. They are everywhere. And that's why they get a section. This section will (hopefully) help you deal with trolls and have a better gaming experience.
1st: Do not troll EVER! No, let me say it again: DO NOT TROLL EVER!!! Why? Because if YOU troll then you WILL lose you current game. And you put your entire team in a bad mood. Consider this: You troll. Now your team is in a bad mood. Next game: all the people who were on your team are now in a bad mood and troll in their game, putting all their team members in a bad mood for THEIR next game. Next game: you are queued with a few of those people. So you have inadvertently put people on your team in a bad mood without ever having played with them. You have trolled yourself.
OK. First there are 2 types of trolls. Dealing with them is different, so first you need to identify what type of troll you are up against.
Type 1: The True Troll.
This is a troll that is determined to troll you independent of what you do. This is the person that insta-locks revive teleport eve and says in chat "The next 20 minutes of your life are MINE"
Frequency: These types of trolls are very very rare (much to peoples disbelief). But once they start trolling they closely resemble type 2.
Solution: Well, for this game...your screwed. Report this person after the game AND ask your opponents and team mates to do the same. The Tribunal works! but only if you report these kind of people. Oh!, and make sure to /ignore them. They are not worth your time to even listen to.
Type 2: The Troll by Morale loss.
This type of troll only emerges when the particular player on your team loses enough Morale to decide to troll. The amount of Morale a player has is typically correlated to their age (as in younger members of the community tend to get demoralized easier and consequently decide to troll)
Frequency: Very frequent - extremely frequent (Depends on ELO, Time of Day, and Day of the week)
Solution: Keep your teams morale up. Complement players on their good work. Don't just say "gj", specifically tell them that you were impressed with something they specifically did. If bot lane gets ganked for over extending, sympathies with them that "that jungler is really strong". Then tell them that you will buy them a ward "to help stop that stupid jungler" (and then really buy them a ward) If you yell at them for over extending, they will not learn, but they might learn when they see the jungler coming for them and then back off. Most importantly: apologies for everything! If you die, give your team a little, "stupid mistake, sry for dying". If your feeding, a few lines of "God top lane is destroying me. Im sorry for feeding like a noob guys." If you kill steal, even if you were the person who should have gotten the kill (aka the carry instead of the tank) still throw out a "sry for the kill steal" Begin nice prevents trolls.
Avoidance: As trolls are more frequent in the younger audience, you can avoid more trolls by not playing during the young players peak hours.
Weekends: yes all weekends. I find there are 4-8x as many trolls all weekend long, Friday - Sunday
2-5 pm: across all timezones, so if you live in the PST: (GMT - 8:00) that means you are (probably) paying on the American servers and you have to consider across 3 time zones (for the majority of players) which means 11:00 am - 5:00 pm. I find these are about 2x as many trolls
Additional advice: If you have just had 1-2 ranked games with trolls, declare it as "Troll 'o clock" and stop playing ranked for an hour or two.
Bonus: Supports in ELO
Supporting is one of harder ways to get out of "ELO Hell". Mainly because it is hard to have a dramatic effect on the game. If you are forced to play a support (and everyone is at one time) you have 2 options to you:
1. Play a very passive support and basically stick to your bot lane partner like glue. You are effectively an extension of them. This works well if the best person in the game is your bot lane partner and you are therefor just making him better.
2. Play a VERY aggressive support. Alistar/Blitzcrank/Leona/Lux, someone with a LOT (2+) of cc. Your job is to take no CS and FEED KILLS to your bot lane partner (or just get kills yourself). You have to dominate your bot lane with just good positioning and outplaying. This is probably one of the hardest things to do in the game, but you CAN CARRY YOUR TEAM IF YOU DO IT! (for example, a support Lux can keep control of the bushes in bot lane without wards, has good harass, and once she hits 6 she has a spike that can take off 2/3 of both enemies hp, hopefully your ad carry can do the other 1/3)
Q & A
Here is a bunch of random questions I have received from the comments (paraphrased from the actual questions to be more general)
Q: Isn't it worse to go 5/5/0 then 0/7/10 because 0/7/10 is worth less money due too death penalty?
A: Maybe? I would say that it is never worth dying, because a dead ally is not helping your team. In addition: assists now start reverting your death penalty so 0/7/10 and 5/5/0 are probably worth the same gold.
Q: Ranked games are full of trolls! What do I do?
A: Yes, there are a lot of trolls in ranked games. But remember if you are not a troll, then there are 4 players on your team that can be trolls and 5 people on their team that could be trolls. Just keep trying to play, you will have more troll-less games than your opponents if you play enough. (also see the section Bonus: Dealing with the Troll)
I hoped you enjoyed my long (wow, very long), guide on how to get out of ELO Hell. Please Rate it if you like it and I might post more in the future.