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General Guide by Madmack

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Madmack

Madmack's Tips for Solo-Queue Ranked Games

Madmack Last updated on February 25, 2011
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Team 1

LeagueSpy Logo
Top Lane
Ranked #43 in
Top Lane
Win 50%
Get More Stats

Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

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.


Brute Force
Improved Rally

Offense: 0

Strength of Spirit
Veteran's Scars

Defense: 21

Expanded Mind
Blink of an Eye
Mystical Vision
Presence of the Master

Utility: 9

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What is this guide about/not about?

It seems that some people come to this guide with some misconceptions and so I would like to take a moment to alleviate some of those misconceptions.

What its about.

1. A few tips on solo-queue ranked gameplay.
2. Some understanding of what Rating Means.
3. Some basic helpful tips for in-game play.
4. Some basic tips for pre-game.
5. Ever evolving.
What its not.

1. Comprehensive.
2. A "know-it-all" mentality guide.
3. An attempt at an "epic" guide.
4. Something overly serious.
5. A "complete" guide, there will be changes and updates over the course of time.

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But what about (insert here)?

Okay, so I hope that you guys are able to gain some useful information and tips about ranked game-play from this guide. However, I know that not everything is covered here. SO! If there is something you wish I would add to this guide that is currently not here please leave a comment to let me know.

Cheers! :)

- Madmack -

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How does your Rating Work?

Okay, so everyone wants to know exactly how the Rating system for ranked games works. The answer is simple, I have no idea. HAHA!

Just kidding, I have compiled some information and useful resources that should help explain to you the basic concepts of how your Ranked Rating works.

Concept #1:

Read this:

And more importantly, this:

Concept #2:

1200 Rating is the mean. This means that out of all the players out there, if you took an average of everyone's ratings, you should come up with 1200, in true bell-curve fashion.

Concept #3:

(See Graph Above) Okay, so I don't have all the #'s but I did some preliminary number crunching and my estimate leads me to believe that the Standard Deviation for the ELO System is approximately +/- 150. What this means is that most people are going to have a score between 1050 - 1350. Any score within this range is considered "average."

If you fall below 1050 you are now 1 standard deviation below the mean and you are probably in need of some improvement of your skill as a LoL player.

If you are above 1350 you are now 1 standard deviation above the mean and will probably begin facing tougher competition and less "noobs."

Concept #4:

Everyones score is relative to everyone and anyone else who has ever played a ranked game. You can look at it this way if it helps: In order for your ELO to go up, someone else's ELO has to go down.

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That's complicated, can you simplify it for me?

The only way to improve your Rating is to win games. Your Rating will be improved based upon the rating of your opponents. If you defeat opponents with lower average rating than your team, you rating will be improved only slightly. If you defeat opponents with a higher average rating than your team, your rating will be improved a bit more dramatically.

The opposites of each scenario are true for losses.

I do not know the exact calculations for your rating to go up or down, but I have personally had anywhere from +/- 10-25 for a single game win or loss.

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What happens if I leave or queue dodge?

Rating is lost for both leaving and for queue dodging. This is evidenced by the fact that my current Rating is 1256 with 57 wins 43 losses and 5 leaves. Normally with a 57 win 43 loss record you would tend to expect a rating in the 1400's, however (see the about author section) because I have 5 leaves my rating dropped for each leave giving me a 1321 total rating despite my +14 positive win/loss record.

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Okay, I understand how it works, how can I improve it?

The following sections will focus on how to improve your rating through ways that you can control. I am perfectly aware that there are going to be games with people who have shoebox computers that can't keep them in the game. I am also perfectly aware that there are some people who are completely terrible and will probably never be good at LoL that will end up on your team. But what good does it do you to focus on those things?

Let's stick to focusing on what we can control and go from there.

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Work with your Teammates.

The initial setup phase for ranked games is considerably longer than it is for unranked games. This will allow you plenty of time to chat and strategize with your teammates. Things that you should discuss:

    1. Who will be consistently buying wards?
    2. Who will jungle?
    3. Who will Tank?
    4. Who will play an AD Carry?
    5. Who will play an AP Carry?
    6. Will you attempt to gank the other team's jungler?

These are all important topics to discuss right off the bat when you're going to play a Ranked Game. Also, you need to be able to play multiple champions at a high level if you're going to play a ranked game. In a perfect world you should be able to play at least 3 of 4 different types of champions.
    1. A Tank.
    2. An AP Carry.
    3. An AD Carry.
    4. A Support Champion.

The reason you need to be able to play multiple types of champions is because you do not know what your teammates will be able to do. Let's consider some examples of why this would be important.

Ex/ 1

So far for your team you have Malzahar, Kennen, Akali, and Rammus. If all you are able to play is a tank or an AP carry, your team will probably loose do to its makeup. Malz, Ken, Akali, and Rammus all deal primarily AP damage. Therefore, the opposite team will be able to counter you easily by getting magic resist. You should, with this team composition, pick a heavy AD carry. Champions like, Ashe, Miss Fortune, Master Yi, Pantheon, Sivir, Tristana, etc. would all be good choices in this scenario.

Ex/ 2

So far your team has Pantheon, Mordekeiser, Poppy, and Tryndamere. Just by looking at this team makeup you need to ask yourself and your team a couple of questions. First, is Mordekeiser going full out tank? If not, you should probably pick a more straightforward tank like Rammus, Shen, or Malphite. If he is, you might want to consider an AP Carry. Though poppy and Mordekeiser deal AP damage, both are primarily burst damage, and require melee range. AP carries like Karthas, Malzahar, Anivia and Cassiopeia are all good choices to fill a more consistent ranged AP carry role.

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Building your Champion the Right Way.

For every single game, there is no 1 right way to play/build a champion (though there are some definite wrong ways). Each game presents its own variations, and you must be able to adapt and vary your build depending on the circumstances.

The Tank:

Let's consider how you should go about deciding your itemization for a tank. A tank is probably the most fluidly built champion in all of LoL because he is very situationally dependent. You never want to play a tank and go into a game with the mindset of, "Okay, I already know how I'm going to build." The reason for this is that you HAVE to consider what the other team has at its disposal.

If the enemy team is heavily weighted towards AP you should get significantly more magic resist than armor, items like Force of Nature and Banshee's Veil, offer significant protection against magic damage.

If the team is heavily weighted towards AD, you should get significantly more armor than magic resist. Items like Thornmail and Frozen Heart will give you significant protection against teams that focus heavily towards Attack Damage.

When facing more balanced teams, there are items that will give you protection against both damage types. Items like Aegis of the Legion and Guardian Angel will give you this dual protection. Additionally, assuming that you're not facing champions that feed on hitpoint stackers (see below) items like Sunfire Cape and Randuin's Omen will allow you to mitigate AD damage while increasing your hitpoints to absorb AP nukes. Warmog's Armor is an example of an item that provides no mitigation, but will drastically increase your hitpoints allowing you to eat several more attacks.

In my Shen build above, you can see that the teams I probably faced were significantly weighted more towards AP than AD based upon the gear that I have selected.

Also, you should be very careful of specific champions. Malzahar and Kog'Maw thrive against champions who stack a lot of hitpoints. Therefore, items like Warmog's Armor should be avoided. Additionally, watch for Madred's Bloodrazor as it will do similar damage to you if you select an abundance of hitpoint items.

The Attack Damage Carry:

Each time you build an AD carry, there are a few things you want to consider. First, what are the average hitpoints of the opponents you are facing most likely going to be. If you see 3 or more high hp champions (3000+), which would include almost all of the champions categorized as tanks as well as several melee dps like: Xin Zhao, Olaf, Udyr, Garen, Jax, Renekton, or Trundle; then you must get Madred's Bloodrazor to counter them.

Another key item type for an AD carry is items with lifesteal. The Bloodthirster is a great lifesteal item choice for many AD carries as it provides up to 25% lifesteal and 100 attack damage. However, depending upon certain builds, there are other viable lifesteal item choices. An item like Stark's Fervor is an excellent team item, and will prove to be a valuable individual champion item as well, often I would recommend that you communicate with your team about Stark's Fervor and if noone else is getting it, it is definitely an item that can give you an edge in team fights. Whatever the situation, an AD Carry should usually have some form of lifesteal.

Okay, moving on to other topics important to an AD carry is armor penetration. Every single champion in League of Legends comes "out-of-the-box" with at least some base Armor Penetration. Making sure that you have runes like Greater Mark of Desolation Greater Mark of Desolation and Greater Quintessence of Desolation Greater Quintessence of Desolation will greatly increase your base attacks to begin every single game. Additional Armor penetration such as Last Whisper and The Black Cleaver, should be considered whenever you face enemy champions who begin to stack additional Armor to protect themselves against you.

The Ability Power Carry:

An AP Carry is probably one of the more difficult champions to play effectively in LoL. I say this for a few important reasons.

#1 - An AP Carry is often the squishiest member of the team.

#2 - An AP Carry usually requires excellent skill combination and usage in order to be effective. (That's not to diminish this requirement for other champs, but lets consider the relative effectiveness of the auto-attack of an AP champion verses that of an AD champion.)

#3 - An AP Carry must pay attention to multiple champion stat goals. (i.e. Cooldown Reduction, Ability Power, Magic Penetration, and Mana-Regen.)

I want to go ahead and focus on each of these issues for a moment and address them. AP Carries truly are very squishy. There are some ways to beef them up, but this will often inhibit your ability to do absolutely sick damage, which is typically your primary responsibility. When playing an AP carry, you should usually focus on your positioning to stay alive early game, and as the game progresses, you may begin to purchase items that will increase your survivability.

Rabadon's Deathcap can often be the first major item purchased for most AP carries. The reason for this is that no other single item will give you as much killing power, and early/mid game your ability to deal massive damage cannot be missed. AD Carries typically take longer to evolve, and so as an AP carry you should dominate most of the early killing blows. Again, Rabadon's Deathcap offers no survivability, so while your damage will be through the roof, you must focus on positioning in order to keep yourself alive. PLEASE NOTE: Due to the recent change in price, this item is less viable as a first item choice. It will be important that you gage your gold generation and purchase accordingly.

As the game progresses, items like Rylai's Crystal Scepter, Abyssal Scepter, Rod of Ages,and Zhonya's Hourglass, will give you both Ability Power and added survivability.

In regards to #2, a requirement of excellent skill combos, there really isn't too much to be said. You must learn the appropriate skill combinations in order for an AP Carry to be effective. As an example, I think we have all seen the Anivia who Frostbite's before chilling a target. Or the Karthas who Requiem's every time he dies regardless of the enemie's HP. Needless to say, I'm not going to go through and tell you every skill combo for every champion, there are lots of guides you can read here for that. But, I will say that if you don't know the right skill combo, you're screwed no matter what item builds you use, or how you position yourself, or whatever.

In regards to our #3, AP carries definitely have a lot going on in terms of important champion stats. Total ability power is pretty obvious, so I won't take a lot of time to focus on this, but I will take some time to discuss both Cooldown Reduction and Magic Penetration. Mana Regeneration is an issue worth discussing, but I have decided to not tackle it at this time as I believe it to be a more easily solved issue.

The Maximum Cooldown Reduction that you can attain is 40%. Cooldown reduction is accumulated through runes, masteries and items, and isn't overly difficult to attain. Some champions will benefit more from higher cooldown reduction than others. However, when your damage depends on casting skills, I think it should be pretty obvious that the quicker you are able to cast your skills as an AP carry, the better. Here's a list of ways to attain cooldown reduction (not all options are listed).

Cooldown Reduction List
Greater Glyph of Focus
Greater Glyph of Celerity
Greater Quintessence of Focus
Greater Quintessence of Celerity
Mastery - Intelligence
Mastery - Sorcery
Ionian Boots of Lucidity
Deathfire Grasp
Nashor's Tooth

In addition to cooldown reduction and ability power, you must also have appropriate magic penetration. The appropriation of Magic Penetration is somewhat situational, but a base amount through masteries and runes is almost always going to be required.

There are very few instances when an AP carry should not have Archaic Knowledge out of the offensive tree. And it just so happens that I cannot think of when those instances would be. This mastery is extremely vital to playing an AP carry. In addition, runes like Greater Mark of Insight and Greater Quintessence of Insight will also give you great additional magic penetration and are usually standard on most AP carries.

Items that are usually chosen for additional Magic Penetration are as follows:

Void Staff
Sorcerer's Shoes
Haunting Guise.

If every enemy champion starts getting significant magic resistance, Void staff will make a significant difference in your damage output.

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Using Wards, where should I place them?

There used to be a great sight wards guide in the League of Legends Forums, but I can no longer find it to link to it. So anyway, my little map here will have to do :).

This picture is modified from the original which can be found here:

If you right click the image and then select "Open Image In New Tab" You will be able to see it in its full size. I apologize that it's hard to read at the reduced size.

Here is another image provided by Gobiel, thank you for providing this Gobiel :)

Okay, so let's talk about these individual ward placements. I want to begin by stating that this is by no means a comprehensive list, however it should give you a good starting point when thinking about wards.

Ward #1 is just about at max range away from the Dragon while still being able to see him. You also want to try to get the two crosspaths that lead up to purple team's side.

Ward #2 is also at max distance from the Baron while still being able to see him, you can also get two crosspaths in the wards sight when properly placed, both of which will lead to the blue team's side.

Ward #3 Should be placed at the bottom of the bushes. This will give you full sight of the bushes and also give you the 1 crosspath. Additionally, you want to place it low in the bush so that you see them coming from farther away. Additionally, you're more likely to catch champions like Eve and Twitch who haven't stealthed yet as they will often begin their stealth on their approach to the bushes.

Ward #4 is a good one for when the blue team has destroyed mid tower. I forgot to add it to my image, but similar placement on the opposite side of the map is true for when the purple team has destroyed mid tower. You'll want to place the ward at the bottom and to the outside of the brush for maximum effectiveness.

Ward #5 is very powerful because it gives you vision of the blue buff and 5 crosspaths. This may not be the best ward for early game unless you're trying to harass a jungler, but after the first layer of towers have been destroyed this becomes a very powerful ward. For maximum effectiveness, the ward should be placed at the apex of the brush.

Ward #6 should be placed at the apex of the brush, thus giving you 3 crosspath vision and Lizard vision as well. This is a great mid/late game vision ward or for harassing a jungler.

Ward #7 is just an all-around good ward. It gives you 4 crosspaths and vision of the wraith camps. This ward will help you set up ganks and prevent from being ganked throughout the game.

Ward #8 is a great ward for the late game. Whether you're defending or pushing, a ward here will greatly assist you with spotting champions in retreat or a team lying in wait for a gank.

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About the Author

Let me give you a brief overview of my time playing League of Legends, so you understand the point of view I am coming from in writing this...

I played League of Legends for well over a year now, though I don't remember my exact start date. I played consistently all the way up to level 30 and continued for approximately 2 months after that. I had somewhere around 250-300 wins, when I took a break and stopped playing League of Legends all together. When I took a break, there were still normal game stats. :)

Upon my return, almost 5 months later, the game had changed significantly. There was now something called "Ranked Games". I thought, "Well this looks cool." And so I queue'd up for it right away. Unfortunately, this was when I learned my laptop was dying and would overheat whenever the video card was being taxed significantly.


I managed to get 3 losses that I barely played in and 5 leaves. You guessed it, my ELO was shot.

Anyway, enough QQing. So, I have decided to tackle this Ranked game business again, and see if I can get my rating back up to where it should be. At the time of writing this I have 57 wins and 43 Losses, with a Rating of 1321.

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What's with the Champion builds?

These are the 5 champion builds I have achieved the most wins with at the best win/loss ratio.

You will notice that 1 of them is an AD Carry, 2 are AP Carries, and 2 are Tanks. The individual stats are as follows.

Shen - 11 Wins 4 Losses
Malzahar - 13 Wins 4 Losses
Sivir - 4 Wins 1 Losses
Udyr - 8 Wins 3 Losses ( This Udyr build I can take no credit for, I learned all I know from this guide: )
Karthas - 2 Wins 0 Losses (Only 2 and 0 but they are the 2 easiest wins I've ever had playing ranked. If your team comp allows you to pick Karthas, my recommendation is that you do it, easy wins.)

The goal of this guide is not to teach you how to play any of these champs, just to give you some examples of champions that have given me success in ranked games.


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