Friday, September 4, 2015

This neat trick lets you win more LoL matches

TARGET AUDIENCES: LoL Players, MMO/MOBA players, and my family & friends

Wow.

I have recently changed my approach to games/work/open-source. Including playing fewer video games.

OK, that wasn't a neat trick. (See: clickbait, and some parodies of it.) It was a hard 14-year lesson.

But I decided to play just 1 match of League of Legends (5v5 ARAM mode as the randomly-chosen character Zyra) last night. On my secondary desktop.

The entire match, I was distracted by work, open source ideas (Bureaucrax IMS on JBOSS BPM), and potential convos/presentations. Yet I did amazing!

KDA: 19/9/39
Massive Damage!

Here's what I did differently:
(In terms of generic MMO game jargon. To those who think this is all Greek, bear with me, or skip this 1st list.)
  • As I walked backwards for health, I watched the team fight/skirmish rather than my character. 
    • I focused on my surroundings rather than on a progress bar.
  • I'd cast my very powerful "ultimate spell", which has an instantaneous cast time, but has a long delay. During the delay, I did not focus on watching it so that I could ascertain whether it would succeed or not., Instead, I focused on re-positioning my character. After the delay, I observed whether it had any effect.
    • Think "fire and forget"
    • That video describes it as a "short delay". But it normally seems like an eternity! It is long enough for you to get ambushed if you do not reposition properly (which is likely because you have to get close to the enemies to cast it.)
  • I played against a character with an extremely tricky stealth move (Wukong), and the player was very good at faking it! He faked it part of the time, but not always. Yet I quickly recognized some of his patterns, and cast my basic spells in anticipation of what he was likely doing, rather focusing on saving my own hide..
    • I normally HATE playing against Wukong!
    • It was super-effective.
    • LoL Players: Remember that Zyra has AoE rooting & damage. So whether WuKong started faking 1 second ago or is still faking, he is likely without the radius/fat-line of your spells when they land.
  • I was not afraid to use my gap-closer (snowball) to maximize the effect of my ultimate spell. I instantly recognized each opportunity to do so, and acted on it.
    • Zyra's ultimate is extremely powerful, but you need to be close enough when you cast it. And the timing on when to affect the team fight with it  (hard CC + damage) is critical.
  • When we seemed to be deadlocked, I viewed the scoreboard and determined that Lux was the biggest threat. After about a minute of skirmishing, our Thresh hooked (pulled + CC'd) her successfully. I took advantage of the opportunity to kill Lux with the rest of my team. 
    • Lux had the highest KDA on enemy team, and Lux's frequently are the biggest threat.
  • Earlier, our team was flaming Thresh for failing to land hooks. So after that successful hook and subsequent killt, I said something like "gj thresh" and then "Lux had the highest KDA." He replied to the 1st message like "you too."
    • The team chat was more positive the rest of the match.
Also, in general:
  • I was more willing to take risks. These risks didn't always pay off, but they generally did.
    • To determine how much risk there was to a move, I relied on my previous knowledge and my sense of timing. 
    • What do I mean by "sense of timing"? It is very important in LoL. For example, the timing in terms of how long until enemies arrive back on the front-lines after dying and respawning. (The time increases throughout the game, and you have to factor in when each enemy player died.) Similarly how long until spells (powerful/flexible abilities) can be used by the enemies again.
    • Generic MMO Jargon: For example, I gap-closed and cast my basic spell combo on enemy players when they were presumably retreating through the bush (invisibly) after they blew their combo (visibly.) (I can do this because my gap-closer (snowball) also makes them visible.) There was a risk that I would not see all the other enemies when I gap-closed, or that they would arrive in time to help the retreating player, but eyeballed that risk by being observant enough.
  • I noticed opportunities for myself, or mistakes that the enemy players were making. And then I would capitalize on them within a split second.
    • Yet prior to that split-second, I was distracted!
    • Generic MMO Jargon: For example, I noticed when enemies blew all their spells and were on cooldown, and were probably escaping through the bush (where they can hide). Then I would gap-close with snowball (which also makes enemies visible) and cast my combo of basic spells.
  • I focused on surprising the enemy team, and was generally successful. 
    • It is easier to surprise enemies when they're distracted by your teammates. (Obviously)
  • I focused more on the positioning / actions of enemy players than my own positioning and resources (health and mana) throughout the match.
  • I focused on where enemy players (especially a lone Lux) were moving towards, and were likely to change their movement towards, rather than focusing on my position & their position over the next 0.5 seconds.
    • I remember when I first started driving. I learned to focus on the road far ahead of me, rather than the road right in front of me, in order to successfully drive down the center of the road.
  • I did not focus on what other players were presumably thinking of my playstyle, or whether any of them thought I was contributing successfully.
And perhaps best of all:

  • I noticed these changes in my playstyle after I subconsciously made them!

In League of Legends, I feel like The Goddamn Batman, but with s/death/failure/ :



Or perhaps I have Jedi Reflexes.

Of course I don't! Jedi Reflexes aren't real. But Batman is! (See below.)

Yes, the LoL servers were moved closer to my apartment (as well as the political/economic capital of the world.) Thus my ping dropped to 38ms. I noticed this early game after I flashed out of danger at exactly the right time. Yet I think I was more calculated/observant (paying attention to my enemies rather than my own health bar) when I made that decision.

And there were probably a few more changes I could list.

And yes, this post is specifically addressed to one of my friends.
(He screams in anger while playing LoL, and convinces himself that matches are lost, despite still winning afterwards about 1/6 of the time.)

It is also addressed to another friend. He doesn't play LoL. But he taught me that Batman has no super-powers; only super-wealth.

Batman also went on a "retreat" in the Himalayas, just as I went to Flock. It was even more awesome than my senior-year high school retreat!

And WE SUCCESSFULLY WON that match.

Even though 1 match isn't statistically significant, it was sufficient for me personally. Because I reflected on it.

And like usual, I still repeatedly forgot to activate my expensive item for 2.5 seconds of invulnerability when the enemy kitty jumped on me. I guess I'm not a Jedi, or Batman, yet.

And to my family members who often told me that I learned nothing by playing games:
Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah
-Mike

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