Quality vs Quantity: The Age Old Question When it Comes to Getting Better

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To be good at League of Legends, a player must have many things going for them including awareness, game sense, mechanics, and so much more. What about the most obvious choice of them all - champion knowledge? Is it better to know 1 or 2 champions as well as you can possibly know them, or to just be proficient in 6-8 champions and play the match-ups / team compositions? I've seen the question 100 times when players ask how to get out of "elo hell" and have witnessed pros go about getting better in both ways. In a perfect world you would simply know 10 champions better than anyone else knows 1, but let's take a realistic look at the pros and cons of each approach.

Quality: Knowing a champion like you know yourself

First let's define what quality really is when talking about knowing a champion. This isn't a rudimentary knowledge of what a champion can and can't do and how to build them. Really truly knowing a champion is knowing what they can do in every situation against every opponent and every possible build when you are ahead or behind. This type of knowledge only comes from playing a champion hundreds upon hundreds of times and having experienced these situations first-hand.

Every player going into a game has a certain style they play the best with, whether it be defensive, offensive, push, pressure whatever it may be and for each role Riot has done a good job developing champions that fit each player niche. Players that become so good with these specific champions even start absorbing bans because their opponents start fearing the champion being seen at all. Very few hard counters exist in League of Legends, so even if playing an advantageous match-up, you can find yourself losing simply because that player knows his or her champion far better than you do yours.

This is compounded even more in competitive play. Absorbing bans is a fairly gigantic deal in League of Legends since each team only has 3 and anywhere from 2-4ish champions in a particular patch will be borderline "op." If a player has 1 or 2 quality bans that must be taken away, they free up their teammates to pick their most comfortable characters, or allow them to simply get champions that are a little better overall in a patch. League of Legends is a team game, and just because one person isn't doing amazing doesn't mean the team can't win (as anyone who has played solo queue can attest).

The cons for quality are quite obvious because you are wielding the proverbial double-edged sword. If your other champions are drastically different than your 1 or 2 "mains" it puts that much more pressure one everyone else on your team if you can't play them because they are banned / picked. Playing against people who know champions well that counter you can keep you or behind or even in competitive play seeing a 2v1 lane to stymie your advantage. In the competitive scene players will know if you have 1 or 2 particular champions that are drastically better and can prepare accordingly.

Quantity: Knowledge is Power!

What is quantity when it comes to League of Legends? It means being able to play a handful or more of champions at an above average level. You haven't spammed these champions in over a thousand games, but have played them all enough to know them well enough to excel. This refers to players who know generally all the strong champions for their particular role but aren't just wtfbbq outstanding with any specific one. This allows the player to be versatile and reactive to what their opponents are doing in order to put themselves in the best position to win. They know what their opponents are going to do so they simply react and play what does the best against them.

Just because you aren't supremely efficient at one or two particular champions doesn't mean you can't be successful. Players that have the ability to adapt their play-style and meld them to a number of champions are also huge boons to their team. Irelia or Nidalee don't fight in every specific team composition because sometimes you need a champion with strong initiation. Pigeon-holing yourself and by proxy your team requires everyone to build around you and the team to be very rigid. Teams that have to play a certain way with champions will always be easier to play against because the players know what is coming and can prepare accordingly.

All those cons about quality? Those are the pros are of quantity. It's impossible to ban out a player that has several champions up their sleeves and even more so, they can work with their teams to build compositions that involve double ap, double bruiser, double ad, dive or split compositions that suddenly has their opponents always wondering what is coming next. The element of surprise can be a huge factor in games, and not allowing teams to simply spend all their time preparing on one way to beat you is a huge advantage.

The cons for quantity though are the same as those quality pros. They never absorb bans because they would simply be wasted, but those bans have to go somewhere and are then directed at their teammates. Advantageous match-ups the quantity player picked into can be lane swapped and all of a sudden that advantage disappears. Not only that, if the "op" champions are gone from bans already this type of player almost has to counter pick their opponent, forcing their team to pick their own champions earlier thus opening themselves up to being counter-picked.

Closing Thoughts

At the end of the day both approaches can be successful and it boils down to what type of player you at heart are. Are you someone who is able to play differently according to your opponent, or is your strength in excelling at particular strategy that simply works for you? In an ideal world everyone would have both, but it's not always that easy. Professionals especially train hours upon hours a day and still only know the same two or three champions sometimes, or still never have that one champion they are absolutely outstanding at.

What do you think RoG'ers? Which style works for you and which is the best to have in general for both competitive and solo queue play?


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29

Comments

  • #30 Mr0ck

    I main top lane and I can play a lot of champions really well. My 'mains' are Olaf, Malphite, Shen (started playing them before all three were basically instaban, but luckily Olaf's open now). When I play them, I understand their limitations so well that I will hardly ever lose the lane, even with jungle pressure. I can pick up kills easily, I can farm flawlessly, all because of understanding.

    HOWEVER, that understanding also translates to other heroes, which is why, when I moved from NA to EU I decided to play all new top laners, and I've been very successful. I played Renekton, Riven, Rumble, Singed, Darius, Vi, Irelia, Garen, Mordekaiser and probably a few others, all to great success, even in ranked.

    But then there are those games where Malphite isn't banned and I just feel so, so sorry for my opponent. Tanky AP, dat dmg >.< I can't believe they actually buffed his E AFTER people were talking about how he needs a nerf.

  • #29 Cerbereth

    Thanks for this article I have pondered this question a lot. I personally pick 4 champions for each role and thus practice with 20 champions. Still I really only end up playing 5-10 of those most of the time. I don't know if I have a champion that I could be said to be truly amazing with I guess I need more practice to get to that stage.  

  • #28 heymaa

    This is also focusing mostly on our own proficiency, whether we are incredible at 1 champ or good at many. But neither really matters if you don't know anything about your opponent. Now that the game is fairly older, players have more knowledge, but I still occasionally get teamed with someone who feeds simply because they didn't know the opponents ult or passive. 

  • #26 Krethak

    Knowing many champions is pretty important i think. For example laning against Leona and Vayne. Leona can chain cc the shit out of you while Vayne is stacking her Silver Bolts, dont forget those sunlight procs from Leonas passiv! Dont forget that Dianas Ultimate has no cd when she ults you while you are affected by this moonlight from her q. Or this Darius who gets movement speed for every bleeding stack on you. "Oh look! Nidalee is tossing her spear towards us, i just run back and.... ouch"

    Knowing these little things is crucial. And often some friends ask "Why did this just happend? Why is this guy so fast? THIS DAMAGE?!" Only thing about this is to act properly, so dont run away from those spears just step aside and watch it fly. Wish i would do this from time to time. ^^"

  • #25 DonYagamoth

    Overall I think a mix of both is the best way to go. Know 3-4 Champions in and out, but be able to play 20-30 different champions on a reasonably high level. Pick one of the 3-4 Champions when you are 1st/2nd pick, pick one of the 20-30 champions to fit your team/needs/counter opponents.

    My own approach is - if you know how to play every single Champion on a good level, you also know their strengths and weaknesses much better to play with and against them. Knowledge is indeed power.
    I think I have a similar approach as Elementz - I'm mechanically not on the level my Elo(~status) would suggest, but since I know so much I can generally be upfront in research and invention, surprising enemies and making them play at an inherent disadvantage, because they don't really know what they are up against.

  • #24 henkjehh
    Quality will be the best until VERY high in competitive play like IPL or the World Championships. Then quantaty at a high lvl will be good.
  • #22 Saintmount

    Well, I started off being one of the Quality players, sticking to very few and trying to excel at those. However, I then changed to become a Quantity one, and I feel that it is quite an advantage. Being able to adapt to every team comp really helps in winning and it allows your quality players to choose those champs they need, without it hurting the team a lot.

  • #21 cottonycloud

    I stuck to Master Yi when I started playing, and branched out to a couple more champions. After I just played all the champions during free week every week. Don't pigeonhole yourself into a few champions and play what you feel like playing.

  • #23 K0stra

    Iether i missed something or you missed the point of the artice. One war or the other one of us missed something.

  • #20 MerryLane

    My problem with this article, is that you actually talk about "pro" players.

  • #19 ShockOne

    I literally just posted a thread about this about a week ago, and I'm going to go with 2-3 champions per role.

  • #18 Migotliv

    It's refreshing to know there are advantages to quantity over quality. There was a time when I was really worried about not finding my Mains yet.

    I have some favourites but I still haven't discovered my true style, I'm getting there though, narrowing the field slightly. Till then, I am practicing everyone new from rotation when possible, and I find that after a couple weeks when they're free again and I return, I'm usually better with a certain champ, from playing with other ones.

    There is also a lot to say about knowing a champion in order to play against them. Even if you're a die-hard player that sticks to one champ and role for maximum efficiency, having played other champs enough to know about their mechanics, limits and weaknesses (range, cooldowns, mana troubles or squishiness?) can give you an edge in an otherwise equal match up.

    And of course, always learn from your betters when possible. The first time I saw Lee Sin dashing to wards, I was impressed but Lee Sin takes a bunch of IP to unlock, then I discovered Jax could jump to wards with Q and was a lot cheaper. I've been practicing that trick ever since when playing Jax (and it gets even better if you carry Wriggle's plus SightStone on you). You never know what new trick awaits for you to pick up.

  • #17 LightEcho

    Quality is definitely the way to go for solo queue since it can turn non-neutral picks into neutral picks, and god help them if you get a counter-pick. At the end of the day you can only bring one champion into the game you better bring your best.

    Mind in competitive a breath of champions is far more valuable because counter picking is more common and team comps will be more coordinated as opposed to kind of thrown together. Generally people who can only play 2-3 champions competively get pigholed by the ban phase into playing a specific champion, and worse you can;t really build specific comps because whatever comp you run needs to function with those few champions that they play.

  • #16 Mockstar

    I'm definitely stronger in a certain poke-poke-burst playstyle, so I lean towards champions that do that effectively. AP Nidalee, Ahri, Draven, Eve, these are my mains and the champions I lane best with because I can sit back and poke the enemy out, or I can take advantage of a stupid opponent by bursting them down.

     

  • #15 jim1608

    I'd leave the suggestion to play champions that have similar mechanics but diferent roles.

    Like, say, playing Ez, Nid, Cait, Lux, Blitz and Ahri. They are all skillshot based champions, so you can play as AD AP and support with similar champions. Like Ez and Lux having longrange snipe ults. You train their mechanics without having always to play at the same role. That way you will ensure quality and quantity at the same time. After you've mastered the mechanics of them you can fix ONE of them as a main go to the next group.

    Say, you mastered them but liked Lux more. So you will have her as your main for AP/Support and then will start learning bruisers with similar mechanics. If you ever NEED to play Ahri, Ez or anyone else, since you kept playing with Lux it won't be much difficult to do.

    Keep doing this until you have a fine group of Mains with different mechanics you master while also having the knowledge of how to play a lot of different champions

  • #14 exacerberus

    Knowing at least 3-5 solid champions per role (possibly included some AP junglers/toplaners in case the necessity/opportunity of 2ble AP comp arises) is overall a good balance between quality and quantity.

    Yet Stalin would strongly disagree: "Quantity has a quality all its own."

  • #12 Keleyr

    I have found champions that I really think is fun to play for ad, mid, jungler and support. So these are my "mains" that i try to get good at because i think they are fun to play.

  • #10 Isysar

    Good article, and good comments.

    @EYEtriforc3 - I like your strategy of knowing 3 top/mid/jungle and 2 supports. I'm also quite bad at ADC so I appreciate your honesty. Let us band together as "We suck at ADC" players! :)

    I think what EYEtirforc3 suggests is a good idea; learn 10 champions really well but try to "main" 1-2 of them. This is a team game; you can't play what you want the whole time, so you should know how to play something in every role. Imo, you should have played every champion at least three times (BUT DO IT IN BOT GAMES/normals please). Do this so you can get a feel for how the champion works and what it's like to play them.

    Personally, I'm not that great of a player, but I spend a huge amount of time reading guides, watching streams, analyzing data and thinking about League. When I do play (admittedly quite rare(excluding bot games. I have over 1k of those :D)), I've had a hard time in the past with wanting to play every champ. I spread myself too thin and aren't competent enough of the 60+ champions I'd like to play.

    As a new years resolution actually I've decided to narrow my champion pool down to 10% of the champion pool. With the release of Vi (110th champion), that means 11 champions to work on and master. I'm preferring champions that can used in many different roles, but also trying to focus on two to really get an expert handle on.

    So, it may sound like I'm mimicing EYEtriforc3, but I thought of all this prior to reading his post or this article for that matter. I think that's a solid way to approach playing the game.

    Last edited by Isysar: 12/18/2012 3:33:32 PM
  • #7 EYEtriforc3

    If you wanna go high in soloQ and not be an ass at the same time i think the optimal way is to learn 3 of each possition, or three champs for top mid and jungle or something similar.

    Personally im going with 3mids,3tops,3jungle,2 support

    And i avoid ADC by saying the truth, that i suck at it.

    I always say that i pref mid/top tho so in the majority of games i get to play that but incase i dont i got backups witch im decent with.

    And also very good to have a couple of junglers/support incase people dont wanna swap and your first pick, its hard to get swaps going in my low 1400ish elo... :/

    11 champs in total, not that hard to learn, if your like maining 2 champs, dunno how many matches a dude needs to know a champ 100% ? :D

    Also, i think alot of people underestimate knowledge, lets say i play 5 games with one champ and i face champX in top lane, honestly i think id have WAY better chances if i just played 2games with my chance and 1 game with that champX, the best way to counter someone is to know very well how theire abilities works ect, play ALOT of champs in normal and then your few "mains" in ranked, thats a good way to get good fast, atleast thats what i think

    Last edited by EYEtriforc3: 12/18/2012 3:18:09 PM
  • #9 trulygenericname

    Quote from EYEtriforc3 »

    If you wanna go high in soloQ and not be an ass at the same time i think the optimal way is to learn 3 of each possition, or three champs for top mid and jungle or something similar.

    Personally im going with 3mids,3tops,3jungle,2 support

    I always say that i pref mid/top tho so in the majority of games i get to play that but incase i dont i got backups witch im decent with.

    And also very good to have a couple of junglers/support incase people dont wanna swap and your first pick, its hard to get swaps going in my low 1400ish elo... :/

    11 champs in total, not that hard to learn, if your like maining 2 champs, dunno how many matches a dude needs to know a champ 100% ? :D

    Sadly, you can boil it down to even less.  Many roles have "safe picks" that work with nearly any team comp you see in solo-queue and are hard to counter.

    Need an ADC? Play Ezreal every game (Versatile and super-strong).

    Need a Support? Play Sona/Zyra every game. (Versatile/Hard to counterpick)

    Need a Jungle? Play Lee-Sin. (Versatile and super-strong)

    Need a Top? Play Shen (Or some flavor of the month like pre-nerf Rengar).  Unfortunately, Shen is banned so much, that this is becoming difficult.

    Currently I think mid requires the most diversity of picks.  Part of this is how much Season 3 has been shaking things up.  Part of this is just due to Champion design.  So you might have to learn a few champions here. 3 or so, just to cover the AD caster/Lategame AP carry/midgame roamer meta.

     

     

    Also, it helps to play 1-2 matches with every champion, just to get a better feel for how they work when you fight them.

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