League of Legends: Getting Ready for Ranked

1. Some of you know the main reason I’ve been playing League of Legends is eventual ranked competition. This is not so I can say “I am the greatest gamer ever” or some other ridiculous thing. I am curious as to how team strategies work and how elaborate they can be. I also want to be attentive to what makes good team play besides strategy – main thing I’ve learned is that a positive personality goes a long way. Riot Games’ “Honor System” has done a lot of good in that last regard. While most people are totally fake – it’s not hard to tell they’d curse you out if they didn’t have to worry about being reported – the people who want a better gaming experience have become more visible and are making friends and allies quickly.

2. What I’m doing to get ready for ranked games is getting familiar with more champions. I bought Soraka to learn support and Amumu to be a better tank. The support role is one where you shouldn’t be getting kills of champions or minions. You should be healing and buffing the team continually and especially at critical times and keeping deaths low. You should be placing wards, which give you visibility of other parts of the map. A good support line is something like 0 kills, 3 deaths, 12 assists. I’m still not really good with Soraka – when I get good, Starcall, her aoe attack, will be deadly and I’ll use her Silence (the “Infuse” skill cast on an enemy) effectively. But in the games I’ve played with her I’ve kept deaths down and prolonged teamfights and laning through heal and mana buffs.

“Support” is a role; “tank” is a type of champion that’s helpful in teamfight and in particular situations. I’m struggling to lane with Amumu. Not killing enough minions normally means being behind on items. However, most of the people I’m playing are overaggressive and frequently get killed by my tank, who has two local aoe’s (W & E) skill. So Amumu has been terrific for me – lots of wins, few losses, and I’m learning how to make him impenetrable as I almost always have a pick of items.

The plan is to learn the jungler role with Shyvana and buy a few more support and ranged champions and familiarize myself with their play (Sona, Tristiana, Lux and Leona might be the only ones I get). There are two champions I’ve decided not to play: Kog’maw and Rengar. Both are way too powerful and when I’ve steamrolled teams with them, it’s because the people on those teams have been very careless. Then I’ll start Ranked and see how much more I have to learn, after some more Draft games. I’d like to know how many champions I need to be decent with before Ranked; last hitting is an art particular to each champion and does involve a lot of muscle memory.

3. Having Katarina as a main has really taught me a lot. The reworked Katarina is hard to use. Playing with Annie and Amumu recently, I had forgotten just how hard they can hit compared to Kat (answer: a lot harder). I don’t know the numbers, but you trade off a lot for Kat’s uniqueness. And I have to say, I really like how Kat is built now. I just wish she had a little bit more hitting power. I think scarra’s game with the reworked Kat tells a lot. Given what position he’s in for the kills he nearly gets, it’s less his opponents are terribly evasive and more that Kat might need a bit more damage.

That having been said, I love the mobility and uniqueness of Kat as of now. That she can ult and stay invisible in the bushes – my goodness, that’s just amazing. Hit an opponent with everything and be hidden? The one-second boost of mobility on the W skill if you hit a champion – it’s like you have a manual blade rush where you can go around stabbing everyone on the battlefield. The laning with Q and W gets sweet with a little bit of ability power. Kat pushes minion piles like no one else I’ve seen, save Shyvana. And Q, Bouncing Blades, is a great skill. It keeps opponents off balance and requires some precision to use.

Riot did a lot right with the rework. Still, it is very frustrating at times playing Kat. I’ve had some beautiful games with her recently, the best one being a 13-3-13 gem where I dominated my mid lane, got champ kills and cs, bought awesome items, went and ganked in other lanes and razed turrets. It was a zigzag that happened so quickly that it felt like a straight march to the enemy nexus. However: one of the reasons I was able to rack up the kills early is that the only person Kat can reliably damage early game is another Kat. I fed off a clone who had no idea what they were doing.

I’ve had other, great games. But most of the best ones have extremely quiet lines for an assassin. Lines like 1 kill, 10 assists. And perhaps the most telling thing about the new Kat’s weakness is when the enemy decides you are a liability and goes out of its way to gank you repeatedly. Granted, I didn’t fight on the best teams in those situations. But I was by far the best player on those teams and was dying repeatedly with almost no other recourse.

I’m going to be that much more mobile with my main. I think I can make her that much more deadly. Still, transitioning into other characters from her is mainly learning how they last hit. It does feel like the game’s that much easier, because Kat’s that tricky to play.

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