Stop Trying to Be a Pro: The Secret to Having Fun With LoL

Apr 30, 2016

For most of us, League of Legends is just a game.

For others it’s a job, or even a career. Pro gamers, streamers, Riot employees… These people’s primary source of income derives from League of Legends. LCS players play this game nearly every waking hour, and stream it live to their viewer’s entertainment. Riot and sponsor companies hype up major tournaments and events to glorify the esports lifestyle so that we keep consuming their content and potentially buy their products. And I love it.

But sometimes I burn out. I play too much and decide I need to take a break from League of Legends to recharge. I’ll still watch major tournaments and competitive games, but I’ll stop playing for a couple days. It’s usually after these short breaks in which I play my best. I’ll log in and queue up for a ranked game feeling very optimistic.

I want to win, but a loss won’t ruin my day. I’m not carrying any additional baggage from a tough losing streak. My focus is on this upcoming game, and nothing else. It’s this state of mind where I find myself winning most of my games. I’m not concerned about LP, or how many wins I need to enter my promos, I just want to play well in this upcoming game.

A Humble Reminder That I Suck

I believe a key reason I perform better when I’m coming off an extended break is that I push myself too far. I watch my favorite professional League players on Twitch grinding out 10 hour sessions day after day and I compare myself to them. I think, hey, if Sneaky can stream 8 hours of solo queue after scrimming all day, why can’t I put in 12 hours this weekend?

Because Sneaky is a professional, and I’m forever Platinum. There’s a lot of controversy over esports because strangers outside of our crazy world can’t comprehend how playing video games can possibly be stimulating in any way. They’ve never attempted to be the best in the world at any game. They don’t know the mental finesse required of top level players in order to avoid regression. The reason Sneaky can play for 5x as long as I can, at peak performance (top Challenger level) is because he’s developed a specific set of skills required of top players to succeed.

“I wanna do an ‘Azirsec’, but I don’t know how good I am at it…”. This play happens much differently when I try it.

I don’t have the time, the drive, or the skills to ever come close to being as good as Sneaky, or any other LCS player, but sometimes I forget this. I’ll watch hours of pro players streaming and see them dominate most of their games. It looks effortless. League of Legends isn’t a very mechanically demanding game, so when WildTurtle pulls of a 4 man Shurima Shuffle while playing his off-role in a high ELO game, it’s easy to underestimate the difficulty of what he just accomplished.

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Why I Play

During those first few games back after a break from the game, I remember the reason why I play. I play to have fun. Sometimes I get caught up in the best possible power pick in champ select. I chain together a big win streak playing only a single champion, but then it catches up to me. I lose interest in the game and tilt ensues.

I enjoy League of Legends most when I play the champions I enjoy playing. This should be a higher priority to me than abusing meta picks because I don’t need to climb ELO. It would be nice, and sometimes I really do want to win by any means possible, but most of the time my mental health is better off when I pick whatever I want to play.

With all the hype around the competitive scene, and how exciting it is to watch your favorite pro game pull of an insane play, it’s super easy to forget how many hours these players put in to become so talented. This can lead to serious disappointment when you jump in a ranked game and try to emulate a Challenger player without the core foundation of skills they’ve built for themselves over the years.

Next time you find yourself frustrated with the game, take a moment to consider why you play League of Legends in the first place. Maybe you don’t need to climb another division, but instead learn to enjoy the game again.

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Jamie Jacobs
Jamie Jacobs is a bot lane main who once won 17 consecutive Janna games. His favorite champions are Thresh, Kalista, and Bard. Jamie writes about competitive League of Legends and the professional gaming scene every week at Esports Edition.
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