How to Evaluate Your Solo Queue Teammates

 "I Lost Because of My Teammates"

In almost every single game, someone is going to call a teammate bad. If it's not someone on your team, then it's someone on the other team commenting in all chat. There are a lot of different reasons why people get mad at teammates. A common point that has been made is that if you lose, you should look at yourself first. There's an old psychological principle called the Fundamental Attribution Error that states people explain their own decisions and behavior by situations and circumstances, whereas they'll then explain others' behavior by attributing bad characteristics to them. This is most easily seen in driving: some guy cut you off, what a jerk, but when you did it, you had a good reason, oops, sorry, you didn't mean to anyway!

It's easy to see how thas translates to queuing with strangers. Everyone has fed or had a bad game at one time or another. But when you do it you've got an excuse, when someone else does it it's because they are bad. And yet, you are both at about the same elo. Coincidence? Nah, nope, couldn't be, right?

Criticizing teammates increases the likelihood a game will be over. It is extremely unlikely that any criticism or bashing will help. Most of the time, when I see, say, some top lose horribly, at least one of three things happen:

  1. They get criticized, the team starts arguing, the chances of losing are further increased.
  2. They don't get criticized, and they say nothing, because they know if they criticize someone they will be listened to due to their own feeding.
  3. They will get in an argument with the jungler (if the jungler has made an effort, the likelihood that this happens decreases.)

A player's own poor performance, if bad enough, will leave him quiet. He knows he's doing bad if it's bad enough. For other situations though he can be doing bad and he won't recognize it.

I won't deny that feeding a lot of kills isn't the only way to perform poorly. But if criticizing people leads to more losses, then criticism, however justified, needs to decrease.

That's why I'm going to make a list of common things people criticize teammates for and then practice denying ourselves of the Fundamental Attribution Error by defending these people. If you can start making excuses for your teammates the way you can for yourself, it'll help you a lot. Have you ever had a jungler say "I didn't gank that lane much though" or a top say "Sorry I'm losing guys" or someone at bott say "my bad" about a play and note how much better it makes you or the team feel? The only person you can ensure will behave that way is you. Let's begin.

KDA

This is one of the most common and of course justified ones. If KDA is bad enough the person is doing something wrong, period. Sometimes the KDA is overblown though. I've seen junglers called bad for being 1-3-5. What if 3 of those assists were awesome, and got kills for top, mid, or the carry that wouldn't have occurred otherwise? What if the other jungler is 1-2-4 or 2-3-2? How much worse would the jungler be in that situation?

One time I was playing with Diff as Gragas in mid. I did well in the first 6 minutes, made a ton of bad plays, was behind on cs anyway despite starting well, and took too much tower damage early due to a recall or two from those bad plays. No one criticized me because I was 2-1-1 and the other mid was 1-2-0 or 0-2-1 or something like that. Was I still doing well? Not really. Acceptable maybe, but not great.

KDA, even if a legitimate metric, is not the only metric, and does not tell the whole story.

Creep Score

This is probably the other most justified metric, which is why Riot added it to the upper right of the screen. Again, there are other things to consider. What are the reasons for lack of cs? Were there bad ganks or fights that a teammate insisted on (especially the jungler or support), and you go to save someone and miss one or two waves pushed to your tower because of it? Should you stay at the tower for the cs and not help a buddy, or go and lose the cs? The score is on you but the responsibility is on someone else.

The most common and the stupidest time this is done is when flat-out comparing ads. This will show how much damage they will be doing compared to each other but it is not necessarily indicative of skill or even the ability to cs. It doesn't tell you about their post-lane fighting ability. It doesn't tell you what the gank ratio is from mid or jungle and it doesn't tell how smart the support is (it can be a sign of how bad a support is, but you can't tell if you haven't been looking at the lane). Armorless support has to recall early. You get denied more cs as the carry. U mad cuz u bad bro? No bro, I'm mad cuz you can't evaluate teammates properly. Face smilie.

If someone is so far behind on cs (say 50) as part of losing on kda, then yeah, they're probably bad. Note it to yourself, remember your teammates probably think the same thing and remember that the less you say, the more the person can concentrate. No matter how bad he is, you still need this person for teamfights, and criticism leads to lack of concentration and most people don't have the discipline to mute.

Build

Also a legitimate complaint of course, my own pet peeve is when a jungler or top does not build enough Armor or MR and either melts or leaves the fight in 5 seconds. When that happens, I will actually say "please build armor" or "dude you need MR, their mid is really farmed" in a way that suggests they haven't done anything wrong, this is just something we need to do, like let's get dragon or let's ward that or let's gank so-and-so. This is one of the few comments that people don't bristle at. This is about the only exception I'll give myself too.

When it comes to more specifics, I don't go beyond that. ADs and APs might build poorly but they're still going for damage. The middle of a game is no time to theory-craft. Even if you could prove it within a conversation, the effort leaves you at your keyboards. If a person chooses wrong items they probably have wrong runes, and you can't change that. What is purchased is what is purchased. People don't understand how their builds don't work. Talking about it never works with the one exception noted previously, and even that doesn't always work.

Champion Pick

I have a list of about a dozen champions whom I just despise. Most are "low-tier". I always grit my teeth when I see them on my team. A lot of people don't have a wide range of champions. Best to let mid play his Fizz or top play his Pantheon and do acceptable or even not feed-as-hard than pressure him into playing a champ he sucks with or worse, a champ he doesn't own, then he just picks what he wants anyway and has a chip on his shoulder before the game even starts.

In champ select, if a person looks versatile I'll encourage them to make good choices for the team and say "need more tanky", or "top and jungle both squishy, do you play taric/ali/leona", or "I don't think we could protect a cait, typical more mobile ad probably a better idea." Soft encouragement not directed at anyone can work, and it very rarely backfires.

In game, champion pick should never be discussed because it's unchangeable. Let that person figure out himself that his choice was bad. Focusing on winning gets you a "real" win (because you're good and deserve to win, right, right?) and him his "fluke" win (because of his crappy champ). Then you won't have to see him again as you will surely keep going up and he will surely go down.

Match History

This one is so stupid. At one point my Zyra's record was 28-15 and a guy in champ select said "don't go Zyra I saw your Zyra it's bad". He wasn't in my last games. Turns out he saw my ONE bad game from my match history. You don't want to do that to anyone.

Bad Play

This one is kind of legitimate, but it's so fuzzy. I find a lot of bad plays are due to lack of harmony. You could've dived and it would've gone well, or you could've done something else? Typing can be hard. It's hard to be on the same page. Sometimes there's more than one good (or bad) play.

One bad play doesn't mean a lot of bad plays. And again, if someone keeps making bad plays, swearing at them won't change it. Play around them. Use them as bait. Split push away from them. Try to find who the equivalent moron is on their team and pick one off, making it a 5v4. There are other things you can do.

Keep Motivating

I'm not saying never should say anything to your teammates. And I'm not saying you won't--that feels impossible. I am guilty as charged, just as anyone else. But sometimes I catch myself. Sometimes, you can turn a game around. Solo queue is more disorganized than you give it credit for.

This is the crazy thing: you could've simply lost because of some small mistakes, or because as a team, they played better, not because someone is bad. If you leave it at that, you'll win and enjoy more of your games.

Here's a great video of badness.

Best,
Old Man Eyebrows

This week's eyebrows:


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