How to Play Ranked 5s - A Noob-Friendly Guide

How to Play Ranked 5s -- A Noob-Friendly Guide
by VVinrar & Forneas

Some of you may remember some guest posts by Forneas if you've been following A DIFFerent View before the launch of Reign of Gaming. Today, I'm pleased to announce that he has come back to assist me on writing a guide on how the everyday player can play Ranked 5s.  This isn't perfect, but I think it covers most of the information needed to play League of Legends to a higher level.  Any pro can tell you how to become a recognized team, but for players who aren't quite as good, we have a few underhanded tricks for you so you can deal with platinum players.

Most of us have probably watched some professional LoL games before, but only a select few of us have ever tried to take part in a League of Legends tournament. In fact, even Arranged 5v5 Ranked Games aren’t that popular. So I believe that our view on them, accompanied with information about public tournaments and hints on how to improve your team performance, may actually become quite an interesting subject to read if you want to play against try-hard teams with your friends. 

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VVinrar note: Since I only wrote part of this article, it may be a bit more opinionated than you are used to seeing from me, especially since English isn't Forneas' first language.


Back to Basics: Information that you don't need in Solo Queue.

Let’s cover some basics. As the name suggests, you probably won’t learn anything new in here if you played LoL for longer periods of time. Still, information from this part is something that everyone who wants to participate in tournaments or Arranged 5s must understand perfectly unless his plan is to get stomped.

  1. Voice communication is necessary. It's not just helpful but totally vital if you ever want to win against anyone remotely close to your level. It increases your team's to coordinate your actions by an infinite amount. Here is a small example from a team ranked game below:

    Now try to do the same thing without voice chat.

    Voice chat helps especially when someone says “I will dive” and proceeds to do it almost instantly.  You are not playing solo queue; when somebody makes a call, you should expect everybody to follow that call.  Different methods of Voice Over IP chat that you can use include Skype, Ventrilo, Teamspeak, and Mumble.

  2. Someone has to lead the team. In a team game, it's actually much better to make team mistakes than to let everyone fail on his/her own. In addition, there shouldn't be any resistance to the leader's decisions. As not everyone likes and is capable of leading a team, it may be a good idea to make everyone in a team lead it for 1-2 games and see who fits best. 
    As a leader you are supposed to make calls, decide on picks/bans, plan on which lanes should be ganked more often, etc. What vast majority of players do not realize at all or underestimate is the fact that taking this role upon yourself is generating additional mental strain during the game, especially when you have to be playing at 100% to not fail at your lane, so you have to get used to it.
  3. Do not rage. This time you are not playing with bunch of random idiots but with people you personally invited. Any criticism and summary of a game should wait until it ends. Then you can watch the replay and say, "we played like utter shit so we lost.” But only THEN.
  4. Know your teammate's strengths/weaknesses. Remember - I am talking about normal players, not pros. We have our weaknesses and have to be aware of them (if you think you don't have any, please don't play ranked). 
    --You know your mid laner doesn't roam too much? Then try to get jungler with good ganking potential or a top lane like Galio with teleport. 
    --Your bot lane generally fails when it is against aggressive enemies? Focus your attention there. There's no easy guide to this apart from playing a few dozen games with your team.
  5. Each player should be able to play at least 4 champions well, preferably champions with different play-styles and that counter each other. This way, you can get good and decent team composition without weak points that also has potential of countering enemy.
  6. Ignore the enemy ELO. We have replays when everyone on enemy side had at least +200 than our top Elo... And we won. Arranged games are not solo queue and ELO may be misleading. I have heard that it’s very important to know it beforehand's not. In fact, it’s counterproductive - what good is knowing that the enemy is 500 Elo higher than you are - apart from the fact that you will get scared of him and play passively? Or underestimate him if he is lower than you? 
    Instead of doing this, just play the first 4-5 minutes of the game, and you will know enough to assess the strength of an opponent. Also, no matter who you are facing, play at 100% from the very beginning. 
    By no means are we trying to say “Do not check elo at all!” -- Just don’t think you can get valuable data from solo queue data.

Advanced strategies and “anti-pro” tactics. 

  1. Sequence of picks and bans -  Never pick a solo lane first if you want any chance of winning. Even in solo queue it’s hazardous to do so, and playing in Ranked 5s/tournaments amplifies this danger by a hundred times. The reason is actually very simple and can be explained in just one word - counterpicks.  Basically, a good counter to champion is like bonus a 200 elo... and we are completely serious about it. No matter how skilled you are with Annie, you won't win a lane vs Kassadin unless he is playing on a gamepad with his foot. The same rule applies to solo top, and even bottom lane isn't completely free of this danger.

    Warning - beware of unobvious counters that may remain unnoticed until it’s too late. For example, picking jungle Udyr as 2nd pick (what actually isn’t bad choice itself) versus... multiple champions with dashes. It will lead to zero ganking potential and may result in decreasing your overall team performance. What to do in this situation? One solution may be to make Udyr go top and trying instead to use junglers like Nocturne, Maokai, Jarvan that can counter these abilities. 

    Now let’s move on to bans. After reaching a certain level, you should be well aware that every champion in this game has counterpicks. For instance, banning Kassadin may be stupid in arranged game as someone from your team can just play Pantheon/Talon/Galio. The same rule applies to Shaco - his strength lies in defeating uncoordinated players that don't ward their lanes - so basically everyone in solo queue games. But a full premade with voice chat and good map awareness? Yeah, you should see the difference. In fact, you can even leave some champions unbanned to provoke your enemies into picking them and then proceed to punish their overconfidence for using a solo queue champion.

    In tournaments it's also possible to make directed bans. You always have a bit of time to check your enemies profiles. Maybe someone has 400 games as Kennen and only 500 rankeds altogether? Ban him. If you are feeling confident enough, you can even aim all 3 bans on one person to heavily impair his/her abilities to play.

  2. Mind games - We hate champs like Kennen because they can go almost anywhere. And your enemies will hate them too. Picking without knowing which lane your opponent is in really makes this game harder. Even ONE bad decision at champion select can instantly make you lose the game. In fact, such situations can even be seen in top level plays; see CLG vs Fnatic: 

    As stated by Shushei after game ended, they expected Galio to go mid....

    And we can use it too. It’s also one of the techniques that can level the battlefield even if enemy is much more skilled than you. If our in-game skills are inferior, we should try and confuse our opponents into what we want them to believe, instead of what really is going to happen.

  3. Team composition - As it's NOT solo queue, the options are a bit more diverse - no one will yell at you if your support is Anivia or roaming Alistar. Unusual options may totally catch opponents off guard. In ranked 5s, we've even gone up against Shurelia playing Fiora in mid lane -- we lost even despite ghosting her stream. Of course, do not try it randomly and try your strategies beforehand in normals/duo queues etc.
    Also, you should try to find perfect balance between getting some decent counterpicks and having good synergy with your team.  Decision making and speaking with other team members on the champ select screen can come really handy in there.  Generally speaking, what we want to focus on depends on your team's players. 
  4. Level of activity - The biggest difference between lower and higher Elos is how much do they do given the same amount of time. Counterjungling, roaming, farming, harassing; top players won't waste even one minute of the game. Fortunately for us, they actually start with the same amount of gold, damage, hp, etc. Your chances of winning will be decreasing as the game progresses though if the other team is better than you. To put it bluntly, we have to make up for our personal weaknesses in making plays by having good decision making and leader that can enforce some actions. Just do what you can. Believe it or not, it generally works really well. And even if you do lose in the end, what sounds better to you - a slow and painful loss or being defeated after doing absolutely everything you could and just getting outplayed? Just compare these two pictures:

    2k elo op! And yes, this screen sure is old!

    Yes, we still lost...But at least we didn't give up...this was versus a full 2k team again.

    Question: How do you force some plays when game becomes too passive? Every lane is warded and enemy is slowly outfarming us!

    Bad answer: "Let’s all group at mid lane and push push push. Or force dragon. Now."  This way of forcing the enemy to react is really dangerous. You would be leaving all of the other lanes unprotected and focus your attempts on only one place, especially since the enemy may be more skilled than you and may want to force a teamfight...this will lead to an instant bigfatGG.

    Better answer: Hit them where it hurts the most. Get your jungle or support to buy an oracle. Render gold spent by enemies on vision worthless. It easily disturbs the flow of the game as everyone will need to become careful of incoming ganks which can become really effective. Faking barons and dragons may also be good idea in some cases.
    Note: Fake doesn’t mean to actually do it. We want to get into situations in which we are likely to win and really, dragon/baron spawn locations are suicidal if played correctly.

  5. Jungle and Invasions - There are two mistakes one can do at level 1. Firstly, invading no matter what. Secondly, failing to protect their own jungle.

    To start, not every team comp should try level 1 fights. What wins at level 1? CC. If your team lacks it: Do NOT try to go and kill  people in the enemy jungle. It’s very easy to lose the game at this stage if something goes wrong. To maximize your chances, try picking CC based skills on as many champions as possible (for example, Janna’s Q, Ahri’s E, Udyr and his Bear Stance...the options are endless). Also, consider bringing Clairvoyance - Heal/Exhaust are generally considered better spells in Solo Queue but if we want to catch players off guard, we have to know their positions first. 

    What to do if your team isn’t strong at early levels? Defend your own buffs, we still have bushes advantage in which we can hide and in worst case situation, if we see 5 people coming to steal our jungle, we can go and take something from theirs. Furthermore, it’s not like you can just enter like a boss and make a 5-0 exchange even with massive CC and tankiness; there is always a risk of losing. That’s why the enemy may be reluctant to invade when your entire team is guarding. So remember to always stick together at the beginning of the game, regardless of whether you invade or defend. In worst case, you will miss 1-2 cs if going back to lanes takes too much time. In the best case scenario, it may be enough to secure an advantage big enough to win the match if played correctly.

    Protecting your own jungle and invading later on also require a bit of practice. The key word in both cases is: WARDS. Yeah, you will need them. Under no circumstances are you allowed to just randomly go into enemy jungle in an attempt to steal buffs. Oh hell no. But it can be done in different ways - if you knew where the jungler started, you should also be able to tell his clear time and respawn time on buffs with fairly good accuracy. Warding these spots a bit ahead of this time may be crucial to effective counterjungling. Do not attempt it alone; get your teammates to help you.

    Here is an example of good invading from a Go4LoL.

    Good positioning, high CC team comp (Udyr, Janna, Ahri), catching enemy in perfect situation.

  6. Objectives - The objective in League of Legends is to kill the enemy nexus. It is possible to be 50 kills behind and still win as kills themselves won’t win them game. Generally speaking, there are 4 main strategical objectives you should be especially aware of: Towers, Dragons, Barons, and Map Control.
    Do not waste time and always remember about them. If you just aced the enemy team, go for baron/dragon/towers...whatever. On the other hand, when the game enters passive mode, do not forget of what you have to do and try to exploit enemy defenses. Sooner or later the team with less focus will do the mistake of leaving the tower unprotected or sending 1-2 people to bottom lane 30 minutes in when Baron is up.

Now that you know everything: Tournaments

Most professional tournaments are off-limits to the non-cybernetically augmented part of humanity. Nevertheless, there are some places in which we can play and have some fun.

Date: Every week on Sunday, monthly final on Saturday.

Chances of Winning: Zero
Yes, zero. Players below platinum level won't be able to win at this tournament. And even they will need really good team and entering tryhard mode to do it.  On the other hand, it's probably the only tournament open to public in which we can test ourselves against really good players.  If you don't care about losing a lot but want to get better, Go4LoL is the tournament for you

Time needed - Even if you are sure you will be out after 2nd or 3rd round, you should still prepare at least 3 hours of time. Every week, ESL site bugs out for at least 15 minutes when Go4LoL is supposed to start. Then some players won't appear on time too (btw - after 20 minutes of waiting you are allowed to play 5v4, that's actually one of few official rules worth remembering :D)

What to expect - Everything. From level 20 summoners with no runes playing Shaco and Evelynn bot lane to 2000 elo players that alone have more games played than your entire team. Generally though, past 3rd round, only the latter type of player survives. And if by some wild chance you meet someone else by then, it only means they are pros on smurfs.

Screenshots - Remember to take screen of picks, bans and final results of a match. Because absolutely everyone can take part in Go4LoL some people may think it's fun to try and cheat.  You don't want to be disqualified if the other team claims something different than you.

5on5 ESL Open Ladder

Basically speaking, you can't win it as it's ladder, not normal tournament. The level varies but most of the time it's versus normal players and only a minority of people there are platinum level.

Mandatory games - 2 games a week are mandatory and arranged by random matchmaking. I suggest to talk with enemy team leader at least 3-4 days before real event to make sure that given hour suits everyone. Quite often though... game won't start AT ALL as one of the teams stopped participating and weren't removed from ESL yet. (btw, it's quite hard to leave this ladder once you've entered it ;))

Link to all:


 +1 on Reddit :)

I hope you enjoyed reading our blog post, please comment below!
-- VVinrar and Forneas

For more of my work:

-- Find old posts @ the RoG forums.
-- Look out for new posts on Thursdays and Sundays!
-- Find my Item Efficiency Spreadsheet at

If you have any questions, feedback, suggestions, or requests:

-- Feel free to find me in the "A DIFFerent View" chatroom on the NA server.
-- Leave a comment on this post.
-- Contact me at [email protected] or on my Twitter.



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