Esports News UK editor Dom Sacco finally waves goodbye to the murky depths of low elo League of Legends. He explains why in this waffle-tastic opinion piece.
League of Legends is one of the best games I've ever played.
It's given me some of my highest highs in gaming. Winning 4v5 against the odds after one of your teammates rage quit and getting promoted to the next division. Getting your first Pentakill. Losing the match for 40 minutes but stealing the victory with a sneaky backdoor.
League is full of unique moments that somehow continue to surprise and delight, even some four years after I first began playing.
When explaining LoL to non-gamers, I often compare the Rift to a football pitch. It's the same field of play each time, but every match is different - there are lucky moments, some games that are so close and exciting right to the death, others are complete massacres over in 20 minutes.
"I'm now one of those bad pundits who has no sporting ability, but makes up for it with sub-average reporting and the ability to annoy any living person in the hunt for a story."
But while it's one of the best games I've played, my God it can be one of the most infuriating.
By its nature, playing solo in a 5v5 team strategy game is so uncertain. One senior esports executive laughed at me when he asked if I still play solo queue and I said yes. He said it's like playing roulette - and he's right.
I used to think the random/pot-luck aspect of the game was only really the case in low elo. But I was wrong. As I follow many Diamond/Master/Challenger players on Twitter, I see them post some shocking scorelines every day.
A 3/22 bot lane or a 0/10 Yasuo top-lane. They can crop up anywhere. Washed up UK jungler Tyrin recently posted this meme on Twitter and it sums up almost every League of Legends match in Silver IV for me:
When your 0/10 ADC respawns after solo splitpushing for 20 min pic.twitter.com/eqxypdPtkU
— Tyrin (@TyrinLoL) June 17, 2017
You can play the best you possibly can and make almost no mistakes, go on a five-win streak one evening, then a six-loss streak the next.
Because despite the promise of almost every YouTube LoL content creator out there ([insert champion name here] is so OP'!), ultimately the actions of nine others will almost always have a bigger influence than you ever can on a single match.
I am elo hell
I've been in matches we're I've gone 20+/0 with my main champion Vi and failed to win because of poor teammates, or disconnections or simply because the enemy team were better than us. Some I've lost because of my own mistakes of course. And on the flipside, I've been in matches where I haven't played that well and my team has carried me.
That's the nature of the game.
UK League of Legends veteran Tundra once told me in a coaching session (below) that as long as you win 51% of your games, you'll climb elo and improve your ranking. And he's of course right.
I know I can climb, if I stuck it out and put in the long haul. But last week, I lost my final three matches in a row and got demoted to Silver V. Again. In all three matches, all of my lanes lost (of course you can say I had a part to play in this too, but my kda is very rarely negative). In another game, I went 15/7 but went up against a Diamond smurf and lost.
I don't mind smurfing - I learn a lot when I come up against a smurf on the enemy team or have one on mine. But it's another unlucky factor that for me ruins the game's appeal. I guess I've just finally tired of the random aspect of the game.
I've got to the point now where I have a little one to take care of, a day job and running Esports News UK in my spare time. It leaves me with little downtime. Unfortunately, League of Legends is such a mammoth time-sink and no longer suits my lifestyle.
Sacco's Silver Stories?
It's a shame, because I had hinted at running a series of 'Sacco's Silver Stories' videos after the above content, and some of you had expressed interest in this. I had planned on getting some live Evelynn jungle coaching from Tyrin and making some 'Sacco and Smickles' highlight videos.
But even if I still wanted to, I just can't warrant putting in hours and hours to climb a few divisions in Silver anymore. I'm missing out on so many other great video games. And because of course there's no pause button, it's not fair on my family if the little one needs tending to and I can't because I'm in the middle of a game.
Nor is it fair if a dramatic UK League of Legends news story breaks and I'm ironically too busy playing the game to write about it. It reminds me of World of Warcraft (my previous favourite game), which I quit for similar reasons and, although I have fond memories, never looked back.
Even after writing all of the above, I still feel like I want to play some League of Legends! I had a blast playing in Team ENUK vs Team Casters in our 24-hour charity stream earlier this year (see below), and particularly enjoyed ganking Excoundrel in the mid-lane!
I can hear some of you cry: "But Dom, why don't you just play flex or duo queue in ranked?!'"
Well, I'm not always online at the most sociable of hours, which means the people I enjoy duo queuing with in my elo aren't always online when I'm free and ready to play.
As for only playing normals or ARAMs, I just don't enjoy them as much. There's less pressure, there's less at stake and that's less fun for me. I enjoy having elo on the line when you're in a ranked match.
As for those suggesting I buy a boost, it's too easy. Cheating would spoil the fun.
'The Moose' of UK esports
No. The Gold dream is over, lads. I'm hanging up my gaming keyboard for my typing one. I'm now one of those bad pundits who has no sporting ability (see above), but makes up for it with sub-average reporting and the ability to annoy any living person in the hunt for a story.
I think I'm probably like a much less known version of football reporter Ian "the Moose" Abrahams from TalkSport, the guy in the video above. He can't kick a ball and I can't kill a Braum.
Let's admit it guys. Like the Moose, I'm just here for the free food at press events, the shameless selfies and to hang around with much better players than me to make myself feel better.
Before I go, I want to say a few words about my favourite champion, Vi. She is a fantastically designed video game character, a gangster rat-turned renegade enforcer, with bright pink hair and two giant robotic fists.
Vi pulled me through many difficult matches and I had a lot of fun carrying games with her (saying that, I played 350+ games with her and only had a win rate of 57%)!
I would love to see Vi used more on the pro stage, but I understand why she's not picked regularly at the top. I think I've only seen her picked once in the UK scene too, which is a shame. Maybe she'll have an unusual buff in the future and will be OP for a while, who knows.
— Dominic Sacco (@Dom_Sacco) 26 October 2016
I'd also like to give a shoutout to one of my longest-known IRL friends Tahm Kruise in Gold IV, and ex-UK esports Smickles in Silver 1. We duo'd and had a lot of fun together, and had some really great win rates.
Oh, and lastly, to those of you who laugh at my Silver elo, I learnt the other day that statistically, most ranked players are Silver.
So if you're a Silver League of Legends player like me, congratulations, you are average. Hey, I can live with that!
To all my fellow Silver scrubs, Good-Vi.
TL;DR: Git gud. If you can't git gud, quit playing League of Legends and write about players who are better than you. So that's what I'm doing.
P.S. To my wife Hazel, if I ever consider re-installing League and try to convince you it's a good idea, you have permission to spam link this article to me until I stop.
P.P.S If enough of you want Sacco's Silver Stories to become a thing, I'll ignore my wife and consider reinstalling League again. But I won't play often.
P.P.P.S. I'm on holiday right now so I won't see any messages you send until a week's time. Just thought I'd let you know. Can you tell I'm finding it hard letting League go?
Image source: MonoriRogue Deviant Art: Casual VI (used with permission)