Pro level games are very educational, and if you haven’t watched any I’d encourage you to just to see how effective playing works. Even better, the LCS is on regularly, so you can see strategies and ideas evolve. Even if you only catch one game, as long as it’s not one of the few where a team tries something radically different (fewer than 10%, I’d say), you’ll get a gist for how to play.
While it’s very useful, I’d like to caution you against using LCS play to badger other players or to make it the only guide to how you play.
First off, you are not in the LCS, and you never will be. Second off, casual play and solo queue have different rules and situations—you are not communicating or playing as tightly, nor picking and playing off of hours and hours of strategizing and analysis.
So, if you’re an arranged team at high-level play, fine. Watch the videos intensely.
For the rest of us, I’d like to suggest which things you should and shouldn’t take.
Things to take from LCS
How to teamfight: my last three articles had some advice on how to do teamfights. You can see a lot of those principles in action from watching LCS games, especially teams that do teamfights well. I recommend watching Gambit.
Item legitimacy: every season the teams figure out what the best items are. Locket on Jungler, Spirit Stone, Blade of the Ruined King, Bulwark. Some items are never purchased.
Items are pretty simple—there are always items, sometimes items, and never items. After a few games, you’ll know what those items are.
Combos: one of the great things about watching a lot of teams that take hours every week experimenting and thinking of champion compositions is that you get to see how those combos shake out. Ziggs and Jarv ults? Cool! The old Shyvana/Orianna combo from last season? Indeed.
I don’t literally mean AOE move combos, I also mean how well champions work with other champions on their team. We have learned much of Thresh recently, for instance.
Things to take with Caution
Champion picks: there is a reason that Elementz did two different lists, one for pro and arranged play and one for solo queue and casual play. The frames of playing are very different.
There are some champions that are great in solo queue that aren’t great in arranged play, and vice-versa. Some champions require much more teamwork to play with and against.
If you disagree with this, think of one issue: don’t you hate it when someone sees a champion being played in LCS and then thinks “oh that champion wins easily” and then doesn’t know how to play or what to do with that champion? Or, perhaps worse, when someone says “no one plays that champion at LCS” even though you are very good with that champion and have a high win rate with him?
Don’t be that guy.
Item builds: this doesn't apply as strongly as above, but how to build a champion isn’t something you should rip straight off from LCS.
First, you should understand why people are building champ the way they build them. If you are playing as Zed, yeah, Blade of the Ruined King is a great item on him. He needs to kill everyone and he’ll need that item vs. tanks.
But guess what! Maybe in your game no one is tanking, or no one is stacking that much health, or you get fed really hard. In an LCS game, a Zed knows he’s gonna have fatties to deal with. In your game, you may not. It may be better just to get a Bloodthirster or Last Whisper first.
I saw a Zed rush Blade of the Ruined King really hard when he was losing to a Shen and a bunch of squishies. He should have chilled out and stopped after he got Cutlass, but he just rushed it. Well, he didn’t start doing any better.
Another thing to consider in casual play is that teams often don’t know how to teamfight. If you are a jungler or a top, you should consider getting a damage item and not going straight tank so that you can clean up and destroy the whole team. A Lizard Elder, Triforce, Black Cleaver, Rod of Ages, Rylai’s, Liandry’s…something that will help you get turrets and enemy champions down. Conversely, you may need to prioritize defense when playing as mid carry.
“Counters”: which champions counter which is something people have a hard time understanding. First, certain sites built on crowd wisdom have people thinking incorrect things and making shallow, single-point arguments about which champion to pick vs. which.
Furthermore, when teams in the LCS play, they try to pick both to complement their own team while countering the entire team. When you pick a champion, you want to pick someone that fits both of those purposes, and while the LCS is good for showing some team compositions and ideas, it does not explain how a lane matchup works. An LCS lane matchup can be built on stalling, map pressure, or under the assumption that the jungler will gank (or not, if it’s built on easy stalling and stalemating.) These factors just won’t matter as much, and chances are your team won't even realize what they are.
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