My Foray Into Ranked League of Legends: Background

First post here, and it may be a long one. Bear with me.

My introduction to League of Legends was innocent enough. I was, at the time, working for a company that specialized in performing inventories for a wide range of clients. I had been specifically hired as part of the “travel team”; my team worked primarily for a single client, and traveled up and down the east coast to cover multiple stores in multiple states. The working hours, typically, were 5 AM - 3 PM, so there was a fair bit of downtime in between stores. Generally, we had rooms at the cheapest motel within driving distance. One day, while visiting a co-worker’s room, I noticed they had a game up on their laptop - not an uncommon thing. This was to be my introduction to League.

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It seemed basic enough. This was just after Aatrox had been released, and the co-worker was busily chatting with other co-workers over Skype about “how ridiculously overpowered (he was)“. I watched the game proceed for a bit, taking note of the map, the team movements, the killing of minions. It seemed interesting. It also seemed overwhelming. But there was a part of me that was interested - I’ve always been a fan of team-based games, while being deathly afraid to play them at the same time. A lack of a permanent social group means that my teams are almost always random, and that can go either way on the enjoyment level. I didn’t want to try the game out and be terrible at it, thereby inviting scorn from my co-workers (who already didn’t much like me); but I desperately wanted an “in” for a social circle. One weekend, home from work, I downloaded the client and logged on.

My first game out of the tutorials was, as one might imagine, not very good. I joined a 5v5 and found myself staring at the champion select screen, staring at the faces. Where’s Ashe?, I thought, given that she was, at this point, the only champion I was even passingly familiar with. I want to play as Ashe, where is she? Sadly, Ashe was not, at that point, on the free champion rotation. Warwick was, however, and my teammates suggested that I pick him and take the top lane. Sure, I thought, I can take top lane. No problem. The fact that this was my first-ever real game, or that I had no clue how Warwick worked, meant nothing. And with that, it was on.

(I’m pretty sure I was up against a Jax, and I’m pretty sure I saw this message a lot)

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I won’t go into detail about the game; partially because of how atrociously bad I remember it being, and partially because I don’t remember it (maybe I blocked it from memory). My teammates were none too happy with me, and the first inkling of doubt crept in. Unwilling to be deterred, though, I started another game, and picked a champion that looked “cool” - Vladimir. It took me almost 15 minutes to realize I had to manually drain life from people with his Q spell. Again, not the best game, and again, angry teammates. I retreated away from League at this point, wondering if it had all been a mistake.

One of my (other) co-workers, however, got word that I’d started playing the game, and she arranged for me to play a match with her and a few other people. They put me into the support role, told me to pick Nunu, and gave me very specific instructions - “Keep using your W on (that guy). Eat minions with Q when you run low on health. Use your E on (this person) in fights.” ... That was the extent of my instruction. But you know what? It worked. We won, and I felt like I had contributed... a little bit, at least.

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Fast forward, two years later. I’ve been level 30 for a while. I’m a free player - I’ve only bought RP once, and that was to purchase a skin for my then-favorite (and now second-favorite) character. At some point last year, I got away from playing 5v5s on Summoner’s Rift, due in large part to the lack of a regular team mentioned earlier. The toxic people that I encountered while playing the game were simply too much for me to take, and I retreated to the “safety” of ARAMs. There, if I did poorly, I could blame it on the champion I was playing (whether or not that was the case). People were more accepting of poor performance there. It became a haven; a place where I didn’t have to worry so much about how well I did. It became the only game mode, outside of the featured ones, that I would play.

But then it got boring.

I stepped away from League for a while, and when I came back, I found that I had the itch to play 5v5s on Summoner’s Rift again. Words cannot express how terrified I was to do so. One night, though, before I could stop myself, I had clicked into queue, and we were in the champion select screen. At least 20 patches had come out since I’d done a normal game. Trinkets were new. Items were new. Strategies were new. It was rough. But I told my team beforehand that I hadn’t played in a while, and you know what? They were supportive, and made recommendations to me, and even brushed it off when I apologized profusely for doing terribly. It was reassuring, enough so that I slowly got back into the habit of playing on a semi-daily basis.

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Now, I think it’s time to try out ranked matches. I’ve never played a ranked match before. Part of me is worried that people will be even more verbally abusive in that corner of the game; but part of me wants desperately to try it out and see how it goes. So, for the sake of posterity (and the possible entertainment of readers), I’ve decided to chronicle my time exploring the world of Ranked League. I’m planning on starting tomorrow, and will write reports about each match, including notes on my performance and my teammates. Ideally, I’m going to try to play each position except for Jungler (because I’m not a good Jungler). We’ll see how it goes.

Whew, first post is done. Thanks for reading! I welcome all comments and constructive criticism!

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