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  • published the article The “Worth It” Principle: How to Die Nobly and Effectively For Your Team

    Last week I talked about how solo queue has been affected by the season 4 changes to date and what is important in winning a game.

    Next I’d like to talk about a principle of the game that could use a bit more examination, one that is highly relevant to the season 4 issues I mentioned earlier.

    The principle of making sacrifices in a game is not new. This can be seen everywhere in regular sports. Basketball teams purposely commit fouls, using them as a resource. Baseball even has the term “sacrifice”, when the batter gets out but another runner scores or gets to another base. 

    Plus, the principle has to be brought to mind when someone says “worth it.” That is often said humorously, popularized especially from a spotlight video where a Rioter said (“worth it because I said so in chat”). But, from a serious analytical angle, it is or it isn’t.

    Posted in: The “Worth It” Principle: How to Die Nobly and Effectively For Your Team
  • published the article Friendly Reminder: Destroy the Nexus to Win

    Lately I've been losing a lot of games for the same reasons, including in cases where we were ahead. There’s a trend. It’s a bad one. And it’s one I suspect happens more often since the vision changes.

     That is the lack of focusing on pushing.

     Here are some situations that you might find frustrating:

    • Your team doesn’t have consistent vision of an area, or any area, or much vision at all
    • Your team doesn’t push
    • Your team’s carry does poorly and/or gets blamed for everything
    • Your team spends lots of time trying to get kills as the other team gets a larger and larger turret lead
    • Any of these situations happen and despite winning a teamfight or two when you hadn’t won anyway, it is too late to defend because it’s too hard to push afterward, especially with late game builds meaning your team has only trinkets and the support’s Sightstone for vision

    The reasons why this can happen I’m are something I’m not sure about. My theory is that with the larger jungle, poorer vision, and less punishing inhibitor deaths, there are many more longer games which leads to more people getting into “Robot Farm Mode” (RFM) where people aren’t playing League but a grindy MMO in the attempt to catch up in gold and levels. This leads to careless teamfights, poor defense, and, again poor pushing. I could be wrong on why it happens, but the why isn’t quite as important as the how to combat it.

    Posted in: Friendly Reminder: Destroy the Nexus to Win
  • published the article Itemizing for Late and Really Late Game as Support in Preseason 4


    No more PBE updates until the 5th! It’s quiet season.

    A common trend has been for games to go late and for even supports to be able to buy late game items (if not fully loaded). Because of this and the fact that items haven’t been hit hard recently in the PBE (no guarantee that will continue though!), a review of items on supports or items for their late game, team fight ability might be of use. Sometimes, you’re not used to buying a full build but supporting someone. Some choices are obvious, but there is a lot of room for variation, especially in the 5th or 6th items on a long game. So, for the sake of the late game, especially for supports, let’s take a look.

    Furthermore, at late game sometimes an item can be replaced. It’s not the majority of games but the percentage of games where I can buy an elixir or trade up for a better 6th item happens a lot. It’s unfortunate when a support has items that they can’t utilize effectively to do a support’s job.

    Locket of the Iron Solari

    Posted in: Itemizing for Late and Really Late Game as Support in Preseason 4
  • published the article Why I Still Take League of Legends Seriously When I’m in my 30s: a confessional

    Listen guys, runes haven’t come out yet. And there’s a good chance the stuff I right about will get patched out soon and, though there have been worse times, the meta (items, masteries, and champion pools) has already sterilized. Let me tell you a story about my relationship with League of Legends, and why I still play it. If you have ever been a fan of any of my articles you might take pleasure from hearing a little about me. Since I started playing League, I have had a kid, been diagnosed with a mental illness, managed other people at work, interviewed at Riot, started at Reign of Gaming, and considered quitting League a few times (or at least quit taking it seriously). Before I tell you about how I came to be a guy in his 30s that takes League seriously, let me tell you about how I got to where I am.

    Posted in: Why I Still Take League of Legends Seriously When I’m in my 30s: a confessional
  • published the article Solo Queue Heroes: Sucks to Be the AD Carry Edition

    What Works Right Now?

    Rather than go in-depth about each champion, many of whom you are already aware, I’d like to talk about what the solo queue meta looks like right now. What kind of champions win, how the roles have changed, and why, and with those in mind, then give you a list of the champions to pick and avoid.

    Right now, being a mage or a bruiser is the best thing to be. The masteries and meta favors this. Being an AD Carry is, in a way, the worst right now, because the changes have affected them the most negatively. Junglers and supports have more gold, and tops are harder to kill.

    It was already frustrating to play this role in solo queue because if your team didn’t get the proper cc and/or doesn’t peel right, you’re free food. If your team doesn’t push and you try to split push, the other team will usually kill you, and then your own team gets upset that you’re feeding during the League of Jungle Farm or League of Minion Clearing.

    Mundo and Shyvana are strong again, and a fully stacked and fed Mundo and Shyvana, who are not countered by the appropriate mage and/or bruiser (and they often aren’t), is a nightmare.

    To be awfully, awfully reductive, supports got buffed, jungling got slightly buffed (overall, not every type), top got buffed (defense masteries), and mid is about the same. All of this, along with vision changes and other mastery changes, leads to carries feeling weaker than before.

    However, this doesn’t mean you can’t win as an AD carry, as Sivir’s win and ban rate currently attests. It just means you have to think of the carry differently. The role has shifted, just as others have.

    A carry is still good at pushing down turrets. A carry can still do a lot of damage to the enemy team. And a carry can kill a lot of people. It’s the one-on-one, the hotshot stuff, the getting fed and destroying everyone bit that’s been toned down. You don’t have to do that to win. Right now, games go longer. The vision changes have players feeling more paranoid about getting caught and losing. The inhib changes mean a single lost team fight or inhib isn’t the end of the world. Comebacks happen more often. With more fights, and less of them being aces, pushing will take the cake. That is one reason why Sivir and Ziggs are ridiculously strong right now. They have great map reach and they can do a lot for their team even after they lose a lane.

    Posted in: Solo Queue Heroes: Sucks to Be the AD Carry Edition
  • published the article Are You Using the New Vision Ward Yet?

     Raise your freak flag pink ward

    Have you figured out what the new Vision Wards are for? Have you really grasped what the vision changes were for and what you should do now? I think many people, myself included, have been frustrated by a lack of vision on their team and by a sense of frustration, a sense of “I don’t know what to do any more, this is stupid.” Reminiscing about the “old days” might follow. Ooh, you’re on your way to feeling like an old man.

    First, you have to truly understand how vision has changed before you can understand how to use pinks, and how to ward. So I’ll try to explain what has really happened.

    In the old system, vision was actually not strategic in the slightest. If items were starcraft units, wards would be the unit that decides the game, and whoever has more of them wins. Does that sound interesting or fun to you? Whoever had oracles and more wards, especially pink ones, simply controlled the map. That was it. You bought your vision victories. The old vision system, put simply, was vision domination through gold superiority. The new system can’t be about dominant vision due to the nature of pinks. You can only have stronger vision. The new vision system is about making deliberate, strategic decisions. If you can stick wards everywhere, there’s nothing to worry about. But right now, you will never have that ability no matter how much gold you get. So now, if you didn’t think about it much before, you should now.

     How to Use Vision Wards, i.e. Pink Wards

    Posted in: Are You Using the New Vision Ward Yet?
  • published the article How the 3.14 Patch Changed Player Behavior and Other Reasons to be Optimistic

    This week’s article is more optimistic. No more hating on Wriggle’s--you probably see enough of that when someone actually builds it in game.

    So, there’s the theoretical and technical changes. We’ve drooled over those for ages, had plenty of time to read about it, see videos about it, see it on the PBE, or read posts about the upcoming changes. There’s the obvious information: supports aren’t ward bots and can fight more like the other members of the team; most people agree the jungle and jungling isn’t in a good place; Eve is awesome; the brushes are streamlined, simpler and smaller, and a little buggy; double Relic Shield was the only thing bottom lane should be starting for about three days. We’ve gotten to actually experience it.

    I have enjoyed this patch so far despite its flaws, but I couldn’t figure out why. Sure, support is better for most people, but I’ve been playing jungle and mid more, and top and carry just as much, so I can’t attribute it to that. And most have not been happy with the jungle changes, and while I hear less about it, it seems being a marksman is more frustrating too.

    But now, it’s been here for about two weeks, and I’d like to point out some of the more subtle ways the game has changed, at least at casual play. When the game changes, so do the minds, attitudes, and social rules for the players. I have some theories about what those  attitude and behavior changes are; I think some of the game’s tuning was obviously off but the overall play between casual players has changed in ways we wouldn’t have thought possible, in ways that aren’t obvious. The psychology of the game has changed, and for the better.

    The biggest three changes were vision changes, support changes, and jungle changes, so I’ll try to use these to make a case for some causes and effects.

    It's a bit long, so if there's a section you've made up your mind about or don't care about, skip around.

    Vision Changes

    Posted in: How the 3.14 Patch Changed Player Behavior and Other Reasons to be Optimistic
  • published the article Everything you need to know about the mastery changes for (Pre)Season 4

    I’m not going to go through every single mastery change--that is easy enough to see here. However, the big picture takes a bit more time to figure out, so I’m going to cover that so you know how the game has changed. I’m going to cover it tree by tree, then cover an overall view and review the “garbage” points (which, thankfully, are fewer than Season 3’s).

    Offense Tree

    Tanks that dip in Offense deal less damage. Offense is a less friendly tree for tanks. This is the first and biggest change to understand. Jungle Amumu and Sejuani had 8% penetration. Top bruisers that went 9/21/0 had 8% penetration. Those masteries were replaced with a flat 5 damage and 8 AP, which are nicer for early game action (especially on ad tops), but the longer the game gets, the worse a non-damage-building-21-defense champion will have it as far as dealing damage goes.

    Offense is nicer for dipping for cooldown, as Sorcery now gives 5% instead of 4%.

    In fact, there is less free penetration overall and for carries, the offense tree simply isn’t as good. Instead of 8% penetration, it’s 6%, and there are no flat points in addition. Here’s an old Season 3 calculator. Put 21 points in Season 3 and 21 in Season 4’s. And no, Warlord with 6% armor pen is not better than 5 armor pen and 8% armor pen. If you get 200 bonus AD (that’s when you have almost 300 base), that’s an extra 10 damage. 2% / 5 flat penetration is worth more than that. 

    Posted in: Everything you need to know about the mastery changes for (Pre)Season 4
  • published the article In Season 4, which gold support item will you take?

    While the changes aren’t finalized, the gist of what supports can and will be taking should be on your mind before it makes it to the live servers. This is true even if you don’t play support, as you don’t want to be the inevitable guy who complains about a support taking minions when there’s an item where you WANT the support to take a few minions.

    A support is inevitably going to take one of three items. The amount of gold and utility gained from them is too efficient not to do so. The issue, is, which to take? And when? How important is it to upgrade them?

    Spellthief’s Edge, Frostfang, and Frost Queen’s Claim

    The style that this item lends itself to is pretty obvious; more mana regen, more damage, and more gold for dealing damage. You’ll have to make sure not to accidentally take CS, and you’ll have less defense and less sustain (unless, notably, you have a heal, in which case the AP and mp/5 will work for that).

    The sustain weakness isn’t as bad because of the new mastery’s Alchemist and Biscuiteer. Alchemist makes health potions 10 times as effective, and Biscuiteer gives 20 health and 10 mana, making health potions 33% more gold efficient, with each health pot giving 185 health instead of 150. With the lack of an option to use Coin with this item path at the same time, the health pots help alleviate this burden.

    Posted in: In Season 4, which gold support item will you take?
  • published the article Is there hope for Wriggle's Lantern in Season 4?

    There’s a lot going on on the PBE right now, and as Gentleman Gustaf remarked to me, it can seem futile to comment on season 4 changes since they are very likely to change soon. While I mostly agree with this sentiment, I’m still going to for two reasons: first, some people like to follow and discuss what changes are going on as they happen, and secondly (and more significantly) some factors won’t be changed as much as others. For example, there is no free % penetration in the mastery tree. It seems very unlikely that that will change.

    Or, today’s topic, which is on the new jungler items, mainly, Wriggle’s Lantern. While the numbers may be tweaked, it’d have to be a major tweak to invalidate any current discussion, the likelihood of which will be pretty slim.

    Here’s a picture:

    If Wriggle’s looks like it will give you crazy jungler-clearing power, the answer is yes. Even a casual test drive of this sucker will give show you insane clearing power on anyone that uses basic attacks.

    Posted in: Is there hope for Wriggle's Lantern in Season 4?
  • published the article At what point do the changes benefit Ahri?

    There are a lot of changes this patch. Among some of the largest are the changes to Ahri. Here are the notes:

    First off, Essence Theft is not as nerfed as it seems. Under her old ratios, if at level 4 you hit a level 2 Orb of Deception (which, notably, is her only unchanged ability) on 6 minions and you had 42 AP, you’d have 35% spell vamp on 65 + .33 AP magic damage and 65 + .33 true damage per minion. Except, you only get 33% Spellvamp on AOE abilities (foxfire, incidentally, does NOT count as this but the best way to use her passive is to Q a minion wave and hope you get a champion). 

    79 damage x .35 x .33 is 9.2 health per minion hit. Multiplied by 6, that is about 55, unless it’s processed as 9 each time, then it is simply 54. But that is each way, so it’s 54 from true damage and 54 minus resistances, which would probably, on minions, be minor. An even 46 would mean a flat 100. 

    Posted in: At what point do the changes benefit Ahri?
  • published the article The Lag Tier List

    Recently I’ve gone up two divisions and just qualified for a promo for a third, and it was through an almost absurdly simple principle: I had better internet.

    It’s obviously much safer to talk about this in writing than it is during a game. During a game, people don’t want to hear about your lag as an excuse right after you die, though some reason people will appreciate it hearing it before a teamfight starts, if it has suddenly changed for you.

    No doubt someone with a superior connection will remark that it’s a person’s fault for not having a great connection, but this isn't an option for everyone. People on the East Coast have it worse than people in the West. People in Europe have it worse than in North America. People in North America have worse internet overall than people living in Korea, Japan, or other areas in Asia. Some people like the game in live in rural areas, or can’t afford it, or are under 18 and aren't able to get it, even if they had the money for it, because no one will take ownership of an account for it. Still others deal with Comcast, Century Link, or Time Warner monoplies or whoever the lame ISP of the day is.

    Posted in: The Lag Tier List
  • published the article Will League of Legends start to decline soon?

    League of Legends’ possible bubble

    This is the worst time of the year for someone like me to be writing: Worlds is over, but Season 4 previews haven’t really hit the PBE yet. There’s three weeks to be hitting ranked to try to get Season 3 rewards, but I spend a lot of time writing about trying to win ranked anyway, and with few changes occurring it’s simply a quiet time as far as theories and advice goes.

    So, now’s a good time for me to do some speculating on where League is right now and where it is headed. It has been four years since it released; challengers like Dota 2 and Smite  have since released and another, EA’s Dawngate, is in beta, and yet another, Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm (previously known as Blizzard All-Stars), is in the works. The MOBA space is large and in charge, possibly the largest competitive genre, possibly larger than MMOs. It used to be that World of Warcraft and MMOs were the default games du jour, the game that everyone played, used to play, or knew someone else that played it.

    League feels like that game now, and World of Warcraft certainly doesn’t. Of all the MOBAs, it probably still has the largest presence. Dota 2 is very very large, but it’s hard to measure just how many people play it worldwide; 555,000 are playing it right now, but how many users do they have? Russia alone plays much more Dota 2, and China may as well. But since most readers here are American and non-Russian European I’ll guess that League is bigger.

    World of Warcraft still has 7 or 8 million subscribers. Next month it turns 9 years old. It was always an inevitability that it would change and that its base would gradually shrink until the servers close. One day that will happen for League, but it is still a very long way away. But to many, the technical point of the death of a game isn’t the important part—it’s when the game begins to decline. And for League of Legends, that point might be happening soon.

    World of Warcraft’s point of decline is somewhat debatable—the peak was either in vanilla or the first expansion, the Burning Crusade, but most agree the decline definitely happened by the time Cataclysm, the third expansion, had been out for long. For some, the second expansion Wrath of the Lich King, or some point during it, is when the decline happened. That expansion released four years after WoW’s initial release.

    That is where League is right now.

    Posted in: Will League of Legends start to decline soon?
  • published the article Anti-Guides: Zed

    There are a lot of bad Zeds. There also a lot of good Zeds. And a good Zed always makes you want to tear your hair out once he’s torn YOU out.

    A good Zed can farm like crazy safely if he’s having a hard time, push like crazy if his lane’s empty or he has the advantage, and can dive teams, pick someone off, and then get back out, without getting chased down. He also ganks, roams, and dives extremely well.

    This leads people to irrationally fear him; others are ignorant of his capabilities (saw a lot of bad Zeds, perhaps) and lose the lane permanently early, leaving you wondering what to do.

    Worst Case Scenario: extremely mobile guy who can combo anyone in 4 seconds, even the tanky guys, who also chew through turrets with impunity, without fearing any one or two people on your team. A scary Zed’s ultimate is ultimately a “delete target member of enemy team once casted” button.

    Annoyance rating: 8

    Solo Queue rating: 8

    High-Level rating: 8

    Things that are generally good vs. this champion: Zhonya’s Hourglass, seeker’s armguard, armor-stacking (until he gets his LW at least), health-stacking, barrier, mobility, strong burst, exhaust, Quicksilver Sash (if he has magic-wielding teammates), shield / buff abilities

    Posted in: Anti-Guides: Zed
  • published the article All about Support Annie

    Admit it: you’ve seen the support Annie at Worlds and wanted to know why and how it works. Or perhaps you’re a League hipster who will grumble, “I already knew about that.” Regardless of who you are, let’s take a look into the deep, wide, fun, Tibbers-sponsored world of support Annie

    Overall assessment

    Annie is a great at harassing during the lane phase and at all-in fights. She is most similar to Zyra, providing cc and AOE burst on a level that even without items (the definition of a support), can help swing the the tide of a fight or even serve as a soft initiate. Her ultimate and W can stun multiple enemies all game. She has a hard time against meaty, tanky, high cc teams and champions and her ability to stay in team fights for long diminishes as the game goes on. She has a great time against teams with only one tank or in situations where her team wants it to be a “crash fight”, the kind where all 5 crash into each other instead of trying to poke or pick someone off (though, with the right teammates, she doesn’t have to do this).

    Her strong early and mid games are best used to snowball, keep objective control, or push hard. It’s very important you get some sort of advantage in this way, because it’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to do more than use all your spells once and a Disintegrate a second time when it comes to late game fights, even more so if you do poorly or even average in the earlier parts of the game. This tends to be true even in solo queue. 

    Posted in: All about Support Annie