Don't call my "Main!" Generalization vs. Specialization

 

    

     Hello, Emeraldw here with a question.  What do you "Main?"  Are you a Jungler like Stonewall who roams around scaring laners and being a jerk to the enemy in his jungle?  Are you a loveable and adorable support player who everyone constantly underestimates your impact on games?  Or are you a greedy AD carry that is always avoiding his fans on the other team?  Have you ever joined a game and people tried to call a role or champion regardless of the selection order?  Well, they do so because they think they have "Mained" that role.  They have spent their time learning a specific role/champion to be as good as they can be at that one specific role.  But is this the best way to improve?  Do you get the most out of the game by specializing or is it the best way?  I want to examine the idea of "mains" and if they make a stronger or actually make us weaker.

     There are many opinions on this.  A large amount of people would likely claim that specializing is the best way to go and improving ELO.  Elementz made the comment once that playing only one champion is probably the fastest way to raise your ELO.  I personally love Morgana and could raise the amount I win by a great amount if I only ever played her.  But does that really make me a better or stronger player?  This article is going to focus overall on why we shouldn't specialize.  I think the desire to specialize is already there when we pick champions we always want to play and roles.  But there isn't enough incentive to play everything.  So I will go over why trying to be good at everything will actually make you better at everything and you will grow as a player. 

Don't hog the spotlight!

      I went into a game where the 5th pick of the game had to go support (like usual).  He made a claim however that struck me as a falacy.  He claimed he "mained" mid and top.  Why would this stand out in my head?  The answer goes back to when you ask kids what role they want to play on a sports team.  They always want to be the guy on the center stage.  A quarterback in football, the pitcher in baseball or forward in basketball.  They score the points, make the plays and are generally regarded as some of the most important members of the team.  So why wouldn't you want to be them? 

     The problem with claiming to main top and mid is simple, they are some of the most sought after roles in the game.  In Solo Que, even at the highest ELO, mid, top and AD are often picked first.  Despite the clear and obvious advantages to picking later in the order.  The solo lanes are areas where they can make a large impact on the game without having to work or rely on others.  Most view the lanes as a form of 1v1 where you can face your opponent alone, despite the fact this is a team game.  So there can only be two people in those roles and everyone wants them.  So if you really want to get better at the game, learning to play every role well is essential.  You cannot always be the guy in mid.  Being able to say "I play support well and if you really cannot do it (like when they claim they bought zero supports....) then I will."  I have done this for moron fifth picks that claim to ruin your game if they have to be support.  So when you consider what you are going to main, remember that you cannot always be the pitcher.  Someone has to be the outfield and everyone on the team wins games.  

 

Are you really Specializing?

    Have you ever asked yourself what it takes to really "main" a role or champion?  Stonewall is the pretty much the ultimate example of what it takes to know a role.  The man has a rating system for every champion in the game in the jungle.  He has jungled every single champion and makes videos for it.  Let me ask you something, for your main champion, do you know your damage values at various ranks?  Do you know their scaling or cooldowns?  I am willing to bet money that you do not (I don't!) and that is fine.  We generally just play the game, but Stonewall takes the concept further.  He really truly gets jungling and knows what it takes to succeed.  When I look at what he does for jungling I realize how silly it is for many of us to call mains on anything.  If you really want to main something, look to Stonewall and players like Ego Ignaxio.  They have put the time and effort into learning just one thing.  It shows in their play and I respect them for it.  

 

Diversity is the spice of life, and the source of better play

     Learning to play one thing well is great.  But learning to play everything well and then go back to your specialty will make you better.  LoL is far more about strategy, positioning and teamwork than it is about individual champions.  The real beauty of teams like Moscow 5 is not in what champions they play, but in how they play so well together.  Every time I watch them play, I realize the strength of their team.  As such there is a strong kind of general skill that is there irregardless of champion or role.  Scarra is a fantastic AP mid player, but I would bet $100 he can jungle/support/top/AD better than most people reading this, even on champions he does not know well.  And the reasoning for this is simple, he knows the game.  Not just the AP mid game, but the game of each player on his team.  He might not know the best builds for champions, but can fudge a working one together based on general knowledge of the items and other champions.  Now I do not know if he has always been an AP mid player, but for the rest of us, learning each role helps expand our skills overall to make us better.  All that orb walking you learned to use as an AD?  Can work as well on AP champions and supports.  Keeping track of jungle spawn timers when your jungler doesn't can help everyone keep track of objectives.  When you walk a mile in another man's shoes, you realize just what your missing out on in your own play.  Spend some time learning something your bad at and not just play your middle Mordekaiser all day.

Jack of all Trades, don't have weaknesses, and weakness feeds the strong

     To quote one commentator from a stream: "Eventually you come to realize that League of Legends is not about getting kills, it is about not dying."  Deaths in League of Legends hurt.  And people who cannot play a role or champion well will feed those who do.  Imagine picking Darius for the first time against an experienced Vladimir or Kennen.  You might have played Darius once or twice but never against these champions.  You know how bad it could be, but suddenly ten minutes in you've died 4 times and their destroying your team.  If you had taken the time to learn Darius, top lane and his match-ups, you would still have a rough lane.  But you might not DIE and give your opponents 300 extra gold, free farm and deny yourself.  Do you know how often when I practice my AD I lose my lane due to my support being much weaker than the enemy duo?  It is amazing the impact of a good support and bad ones will lose you lanes.  But good ones make me go 6/0/0 on Vayne by twelve minutes with a Tristana so far behind she was scared of my support.  Learn those things you hate, get decent at them.  If only so you can help avoid feeding the more experienced.  

 

Take Away

     What I really want everyone to take away from this article is really this.  Playing only one thing will make you better at one thing, but doing more will make you better at everything.  Elementz once claimed that playing only one champion will raise your ELO.  But does that really make you better at the game?  I argue no, a variety of experience when playing or learning anything is more powerful than a lot of singular experience.  You cannot learn every champion in the game, but learning a good variety for each role will make you a more well rounded player.  So when you run into a moron 5th pick with no support/jungle/whatever, you might be able to take over and prevent the horrible fate you can see coming at champion selection.    

    

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