You just went 5/0/15 on Thresh and carried your team to victory. You made some godly saves, rotated well, pinged your team whenever you spotted the jungler and now you feel unbeatable, indestructible – you know you’re going to get an S and finally get your third mastery level 7 token.
Only when the game’s done there’s not a single S insight. Instead, you’re given an A- and left cursing out Riot for their inability to recognize your greatness.
We all know the feeling of not getting an S when we truly deserve it. As support players, we already have to deal with the lack of recognition from our team, and Riot not giving us our well-deserved S just adds another blow.
What makes matters worse is that more times than not those who definitely don’t deserve an S end up being the ones who get an S – your ADC, who was constantly getting caught out and was only saved through your sacrifices, gets an S. The jungler, who without your shot-calling would have given up free drakes, gets an S. But you? A measly B+.
So, what gives? Why does it feel like Riot just randomly gives S’s out, rather than giving them to the players who truly deserve them?
Despite how nonsensical getting an S rank may seem, Riot does have a system in place. Today, I’ll be uncovering this strange and mysterious system by revealing exactly how it works, and of course, how you can abuse it to get an S rank as a support every single game.
What Is an S Rank?
You’ve probably noticed how after every game you get given a grade ranging from D- to S+. This is a rating of your in-game performance. The higher the grade you get, the better (D- meaning you intend while S+ meaning you performed exceptionally).
If you get an S- or higher, you can get some great rewards. Here’s a quick rundown of what these are:
Mastery (Hextech) Chests
A Hextech Chest is basically a loot box you can earn when you or your premade party member manages to score an S- or above. When you open a Hextech Chest you’ll obtain one of the following in-game goodies:
- Champion skin shard (50% chance).
- Champion shard worth over 4800 blue essences (25% chance).
- Ward skin shard and 150 orange essences (11.5% chance).
- Emote permanent (10% chance).
- Summoner icon shard and 150 orange essences (3.5% chance).
If you get an Ultimate skin or Mythic skin, it’s automatically permanent (no orange essence needed to unlock the skin).
You also stand a chance of receiving:
- Gemstone (3.6% chance).
- Bonus Chest and Key (10% chance).
Besides you or your premade needing to achieve an S rank, there are a few other requirements when it comes to earning a Hextech Chest:
- You have to be playing a champion which you haven’t acquired a chest for yet. You can only earn one chest per champion per season. For example, if you earn a chest on Lulu, you won’t be able to earn a chest on her again until the next season begins.
You can check which champions you’ve already acquired a chest for in your collection tab. If a champion has a small chest icon at the top of their portrait it means you’ve already earned the chest for that champion.
- You have to own the champion you’re playing. If you play an unowned champion (renting a champion or playing a champion in the free rotation) you won’t receive a chest even if you or your premade party member gets an S.
- You have to have an available chest (you can find this information on your summoner profile). You receive a chest once per week unless all your chest slots are full.
(If you’re a new player, Hextech Chests and Hextech Crafting can seem pretty confusing! But don’t worry, Riot’s Hextech glossary explains everything you need to know.)
To unlock a champion’s maximum mastery level, you need to earn S’s on them. If you’re not familiar with the mastery system and how it works, here’s a brief summary:
“The mastery system is designed to recognize a player’s respective investment in a champion and uses skill-based progression to measure advancement. When a player wins a game, they’ll earn CP (champion points) toward mastery levels for that champion, and get rewards along the way. The amount of CP earned is heavily weighted by team performance.” (Taken from Riot Games’ support website).
There are 7 mastery levels in total. Levels 4 and above come with their own mastery emote, loading screen border, and announcement banner in-game.
While mastery levels 5 and below can be reached purely by playing the champion a lot, to reach levels 6 and 7 you need to score S- or higher in your games. To reach level 6, you need to score an S- or higher twice. For level 7, you need to score an S or higher three times.
Let’s be real: there’s a certain satisfaction in dominating your lane and flexing that level 7 mastery emote. It’s the ultimate way to show off your skill and tilt your enemies.
As mentioned earlier, to get that level 7 mastery to emote on your favorite support champion you’ll need to earn S’s.
How Does the Ranking System Work?
The rank you receive isn’t random – it’s based on how well you did compare to the average performance of other players in your region playing the same champion in the same role.
For example, if you play Morgana support your grade will be based on the average performance of all those who have played Morgana support in your region. If you do exceptionally better (in the top percentile) than the average player, that’s when Riot gives you an S- or higher.
Performance is calculated in various ways. While Riot has tried their best to keep how they track performance on the down-low (they simply say they do so through “a series of performance metrics”), it’s pretty clear which aspects matter the most when it comes to earning an S rank as a support. These are:
If you’re playing support a high vision score is crucial if you want to get an S rank. Your vision score is determined by the amount of vision you give your team (through warding, placing control wards and using vision-providing mechanics like Scryer’s bloom), and the amount of vision you deny (clearing enemy wards).
However, you can’t just scatter wards and control wards while walking around the rift and expect a high vision score. Vision score takes into account factors such as how long your wards survive, how many enemies you spot and even the placement of your wards on the map.
Arkadian (former challenger player) goes into more detail about how vision score is calculated in this video:
This is pretty understandable: the fewer deaths you have, the better. You can finish the game with 20 assists and a few kills, but if you have 10 deaths you won’t be getting an S grade.
A common misconception is that kills are worth more than assists when it comes to securing an S rank. In reality, assists and kills have the same value. So no, you don’t need to steal all your ADC’s kills to get an S as support.
Kill participation is your contribution to your team’s total number of kills (measured through your kills and assists). Even if you have a perfect KDA score of 0/0/7, if your team’s total number of kills is 30, your kill participation is extremely low. Riot will recognize you didn’t actually contribute much so you won’t be getting an S.
Objective participation is another performance metric Riot seems to consider when it comes to determining your grade. Assisting in taking objectives like turrets, rift herald, drakes and baron will increase your chances of getting an S rank.
CS (creep score) and damage output are also factors the ranking system takes into account. However, if you’re playing support, these factors will have little influence on you getting an S rank – the system knows supports barely farm and typically don’t have a high damage output.
Of course, if you’re playing a damage-dealing support like Brand, damage output will have a lot more bearing.
Effective Ways to Get an S Rank as a Support
This is a no-brainer; placing wards thoughtlessly is the same as not placing wards at all. You’re not going to spot any enemies or enemy wards, meaning you won’t be increasing your vision score.
Where you should be warding is very situational. Every game will be different, and you’ll have to assess the game state and the enemy team’s movements. Generally, you should always try to place your wards near an objective or a high traffic area (where enemies are likely to go).
On top of utilizing your totem wards effectively, you also need to be buying control wards. Control wards are a great (and easy) way to boost your vision score. Make sure to buy a control ward every time you back if you have an item slot available and have enough gold – don’t just buy a couple!
Pro support player CoreJJ has a useful guide on how to ward effectively as a support (and in turn get a high vison score):
Remember to Deny Vision
The more enemy wards you reveal and destroy, the higher your vision score will be. You can reveal enemy wards with Oracle Lens or another vision-providing mechanic like the Scryer’s Bloom. You can also reveal and disable enemy wards with control wards.
A common mistake many support players make is using (wasting) Oracle Lens in an area which clearly won’t have any enemy wards lurking around. Every time you feel the urge to use Oracle Lens, ask yourself why. Has the enemy recently been in this area (and likely placed down wards)? Is it to spot out the enemy team? Is it to disable enemy wards around an objective?
If you can’t think of a single reason why you should use your Oracle Lens in that location, don’t use it – it won’t detect any useful information, so you won’t increase your vision score.
Always Be on the Lookout for Potential Kills
Every assist will bring you a step closer to getting an S. If you feel you’re not going to be able to get any kills in your lane, you don’t have to stay stuck by the turret while your ADC farms. Instead, you can roam and help your other teammates secure kills – you’re not just the ADC’s support, you’re the support for your whole team.
A good time to roam is when you’ve just respawned or recalled. Instead of heading bot straight away, head mid-first and see if you can gank the enemy mid laner. The mid laner typically won’t expect to be ganked by support who just backed; they’ll have their guard down, which gives you the opportunity to surprise them and catch them out!
Help Your Team Secure Objectives
If you want to get an S rank, you need to help your team secure objectives whenever you can.
Your jungler’s getting ocean drake? Roam and help them. The mid turret is inches away from falling? Roam and help the mid laner take their turret down.
Helping your team secure objectives also means making sure objectives like drakes can’t be easily taken by the enemy team. When a drake is up or about to come up, make sure to place a ward or control ward near the pit. This will deter the enemy team from attempting to take the drake. Even if they do try, it ensures they can’t sneakily steal it without being contested or punished in some way.
Avoid Making Risky Plays
While there is such a thing as being too cautious, when it comes to obtaining an S grade, caution is your best friend. A single death can be the difference between achieving an S- or achieving an A+. You need to play safe with calculated aggression; instead of making risky plays, wait for the enemy team to make mistakes and then punish them.
If you’re playing support, it can be tempting to go deep into the enemy jungle to secure vision. But if you don’t know where the enemy team is, you’re pretty much walking into a minefield – an enemy can jump out at you at any moment. Only ward in the enemy jungle if you know where the enemy team is, or your teammates are nearby and can back you up.
Stick With the Ally Who’s Fed
If you want to get an S, you need to have high kill participation and be stacking up those assists. The easiest way to do this is to stick with the player who’s fed.
The fed player is always going to be on the hunt for picks, and they’ll likely always be involved in any team fighting. Sticking with them guarantees you’ll have high kill participation: not only will you get an assist every time they successfully pick someone, but you’ll also be present whenever a team fight breaks out.
Communicate With Your Team
If your team is able to react in time to the enemy’s movements, chances are, they aren’t going to get caught out and feed, meaning there won’t be a fed enemy getting in the way of your S rank.
The purpose of warding effectively – besides increasing your vision score – is to allow you to spot enemies on the minimap and track their movements. Make it a habit to check the minimap every few seconds and relay any life-saving information to your allies.
If you see the enemy jungler heading towards mid, warn your mid laner. If you realize the top laner is missing and likely rotating, make your team aware so they play cautiously and don’t overextend.
You should also communicate with your team if you notice the enemy can’t contest an objective and it’s free for the taking. For example, if drake is up and the enemy bot lane just backed, or the enemy jungler is busy attempting to gank your top laner, tell your jungler to take drake and assist them. Don’t forget that objective participation is crucial for getting an S, so be on the lookout for any opportunity to obtain an objective.
Last Resort: Play a Support Champion in an Off-Meta Role
Technically, you’re not exactly playing support if you play a support champion in a different lane. However, if you’re having no luck getting an S on a specific support champion, a “cheat” way to get an S is by playing in an off-meta role.
Remember: your rank is calculated based on the average performance of other players playing the same champion in the same role. So, if you play a champion in an off-meta role and do even just reasonably well, the likelihood is you’ll get an S, as most people who do play the champion off-meta probably int.
With this strategy, you don’t need 20 assists or exceptionally high vision score to get an S. You can simply survive, help out with objectives and get kills when you can.
- If you’re going a support which goes the Resolve path, make sure to use the Demolish rune. This will let you take turrets down quicker.
- Remember to adapt your build based on the enemy team’s comp. I’ve seen plenty of support players build the same items every single game. If you’re doing this, you’re not assessing the enemy team and considering how to counter them. Adapting your build to counter your opponents will guarantee you have the best chances of survival when fighting them. This will naturally translate to fewer deaths, meaning a greater chance of getting that S rank.
- If you’re hoping to get an S as a support, your positioning needs to be perfect throughout the game. Without good positioning, you’ll have less opportunities to gain the upper hand, and you’ll also be more vulnerable to the enemy team’s attacks; if you’re always dying by face-checking bushes, you’re not going to get that S.
- Play with some friends. It’s a lot easier to stay alive if you have a friend on call to warn you straight away when their enemy laner goes missing. Your friends can also protect you to ensure you don’t die (worthy sacrifices!).
- Although I’m encouraging roaming, that doesn’t mean you leave your ADC alone in lane if they’re at 30% health and up against a Blitzcrank and a fed Draven. You might as well just hold up a sign above your ADC’s head saying FREE KILL HERE. It’s certain death. Only roam when your ADC is safe. If your ADC is constantly being killed in lane, you’re going to have to fight against a fed bot lane who will probably one-shot you and ruin your perfect KDA (and also ruin your chances of obtaining an S).
- Take the Zombie Ward rune for an easy way to increase your vision score.
The Most Annoying Support Champions to Lane Against and How to Beat Them
There are some support champions we all dread, fear even. They make us question Riot’s champion design team, make us question why we play League. Playing against them feels like torture, and when they appear in champ select we’re always tempted to queue dodge. But it doesn’t have to be all pain and suffering. Despite how annoying they are to lane against, there are ways to beat them.
Today we’ll be taking a close look at the most annoying support champions in League and the best ways to counter them and render them useless. If you take these tips and tricks on board, the next time you see these champions in your game you’ll be the one annoying the hell out of them instead (well-deserved revenge!).
Blitzcrank, The Great Steam Golem
Ah, Blitzcrank. One of the most beloved champions in League, even more so than Teemo! Playing against Blitzcrank is super fun and pretty much freelo. His 1150 range hook is completely balanced; easy to dodge, 100% fair. Right…Right?
No. Of course not. We all know I’m lying to myself (and lying to you). Trauma does that to you. After all, Blitzcrank is the support champion that haunts you in champ select, then your game, then your defeat screen, then your sleep. In fact, he’s probably a regular guest in all your nightmares.
Why did Riot invent this knock-off transformer – an automaton with none of the charm? And why, why on earth did Riot then increase his hook to a ridiculously unfair length? No one knows, but we all suffer.
Let’s be real: we all hate Blitzcrank (and if you’re a Blitzcrank main, shame on you). Now, although laning against him feels like torture, it doesn’t have to be. Despite how impossible beating him in lane seems, it is possible.
To beat your opponent you must first “master” their ways. Here’s a brief look at his (totally balanced) abilities:
Mana Barrier (Passive): When Blitzcrank is at low health, he gains a shield for 10 seconds based on his mana (amounts to 30% of his maximum mana).
Rocket Grab (Q): His Q is his famous hook; a grab and pull ability that then stuns for 0.5 seconds. It has a cool down ranging from 20 seconds (at level 1) to 16 seconds.
Overdrive (W): A 5-second attack speed increase and movement speed up (overdrive mode), then a 30% slow which lasts for 1.5 seconds.
Power Fist (E): A basic attack damage buff followed by a 1-second knock up.
Static Field (R):
Passive: Basic attacks apply a mark to the target. If the target is hit by three marks, they are shocked and get hit by damage.
Active: A big AoE silence (lasts for 0.5 seconds) which also destroys shields and deals hefty damage.
How to Beat Blitzcrank
Play a Hard Engage Support
In champ select, if you’re blessed with seeing the enemy lock-in Blitzcrank before you’ve picked your champion, instalock a hard engage support like Leona or Alistar. The obvious reason for this is that’ll you’ll be less squishy, so a single hook won’t feel like a death sentence (F to all the mage supports).
However, the other reason for this is that when you do play a hard engage champion, getting hooked by Blitzcrank actually gives you the upper hand. As a hard engage support, you’re always going to want to get close to the enemy ADC to all-in on them (in most cases you win a 2vs2 fight). When Blitzcrank hooks you he’s actually bringing you much closer to his ADC, giving you the ability to engage on them with ease.
Put simply, by picking a hard engage to support you’re negating all Blitzcrank’s early lane pressure and rendering his kit useless.
Tip: If you hate playing hard engage supports, you could also pick Morgana. Morgana’s spell shield gives immunity from any CC, meaning it can cancel out Blitzcrank’s hook. Blitzcrank’s kit relies on him hitting his hook; if he can’t land his hook, he’s pretty much just a walking pile of rust.
When you’re playing against a Blitzcrank, how your position matters greatly. Typical positioning in the bot lane involves always being near your ADC and sometimes a little further forward than them. This enables you to put pressure on the enemy bot lane (you’re in range to poke or engage on them) but also be close enough to your ADC so you can protect them if needed.
However, if you try to position like that when you’re up against a Blitzcrank, you’re only increasing your chances of getting hooked. Instead of positioning based on your ADC’s movements, you need to be positioning based on your minions’ movements. This is because Blitzcrank can’t hook you if there’s a minion in the way – he’ll hook the minion instead. So, if you’re always positioned behind a minion, you’re going to be safe from the grip of his hook.
Of course, you always need to keep a close eye on Blitzcrank’s movements and your minions’ health. A good Blitzcrank player will always try to position their hook at an angle where they can grab you from behind your “shield” minion, or they’ll wait for the exact moment the minion dies. If you see Blitzcrank changing his positioning, or your “shield” minion close to dying, you’ll need to change your own positioning accordingly.
Ward the Bushes
We’ve all been there: we walk into lane seeing no Blitzcrank in sight. We relax a little and step forward, thinking we’re safe. And then in an instant Blitzcrank hexflashes out of a bush and pulls us into a swarm of enemies, and the next thing we see is a dark, grey screen.
Blitzcrank is constantly going to try land a cheesy hook, and the bushes in lane allow him to land all the cheesy hooks he pleases. However, if you ward the bushes, you’re always going to have vision on Blitzcrank meaning he can’t jump out and surprise you.
Hit Level 2 First
Blitzcrank is famous for his level 2 powerspike. If he lands a hook at level 2, you’ll have to use at least one summoner spell to escape, and even then it’s still very likely you’ll die (unless you’re a hard engage support, of course).
But if you hit level 2 first before Blitzcrank does, you’ll have the advantage. You can quickly poke him down, so when he does eventually hit level 2 he won’t be healthy enough to all-in you; it’ll be too risky, and he’ll have to retreat and play safe.
Soraka, The Starchild
If you’re not a support main, you’re probably wondering how on earth Soraka can be on this list. She doesn’t have a hook, she doesn’t have a hard engage and she doesn’t deal hefty damage like Brand.
But if you’re a support main, you’ll know exactly why Soraka is one of the most annoying champions to lane against: her powerful healing means any poke you land on the enemy ADC is only fleeting, her AoE damage feels never ending and her silence prevents you from engaging properly. In other words, she makes every lane the most boring, frustrating and tilt-worthy gameplay ever. So tilting, in fact, you’ll often find yourself engaging just for the sake of something to happen, to save you from the boredom. And when you do, you’ll always lose (death by bananas).
Salvation (Passive): Soraka receives increased movement speed when running towards low health allies.
Starcall (Q): An AoE ability which deals damage and slows enemies. If she hits an enemy with this ability, it then gives her healing and movement speed.
Astral Infusion (W): A point and click ability which heals allies. When it heals an ally, it costs Soraka some of her health.
Equinox (E): Similar to Starcall, Equinox is an AoE ability which deals damage, though instead of healing Soraka and granting movement speed, it silences all enemies within the AoE. After 1.5 seconds, the AoE zone then “detonates”, dealing additional damage and rooting all enemies still in the zone.
Wish (R): Soraka heals herself and all her allies, with even greater healing if the player’s health is below 40%.
How to Beat Soraka
Pick a Support With Hard CC
The main weakness of Soraka’s kit is that she doesn’t have any hard CC nor an ability which allows her to disengage easily. This means if you pick a champion with hard CC and catch her out, you’re guaranteed to kill her, or at least make her use her summoner spells.
Leona and Nautilus are both champions with hard CC that greatly counter Soraka; Leona’s ultimate allows her to stun Soraka from afar, and then engage on Soraka while she’s stunned. Nautilus can similarly CC Soraka from a distance with his knock-up ultimate, and then use his hook to engage.
If you’re laning against Soraka you should always take ignite, no matter what. Ignite – besides dealing true damage over time – also applies a big healing reduction to the target. If you all-in Soraka and ignite her, her ultimate won’t be able to save her as the healing from it will be severely reduced.
Similarly, if you all-in the enemy ADC and ignite them straight away, any heals Soraka attempts to use on them will be less effective, meaning your damage is more likely to leave a mark on their health bar.
Focus Her in Fights
Soraka’s scaling when it comes to healing is monstrous. She gives her team tons of sustain, almost to the point they become indestructible. However, she herself is squishy and an easy target. By killing her off early, the enemy team will have far less sustain, so you’ll finally be able to deal damage to them without having them healing back up in an instant.
Ask the Jungler for Help
Sure, getting the jungler to gank your lane is a big advantage when you’re up against any matchup, but when it comes to Soraka, jungle pressure is crucial. As mentioned earlier, Soraka can’t disengage easily. If she’s overextended in lane and she gets ganked, she’s basically a sitting duck. This is why you should always ping your jungler for assistance – they’re sure to pick up a few kills while you and your ADC can gain major pressure throughout laning phase.
Pyke, The Bloodharbor Ripper
Pyke is everything you hate combined into one champion: stealth, sustain, a hook, a stun, great roaming potential, and even Darius’ good ol’ dunkin’ ult. There’s no worse feeling than managing to kill four enemies, only for Pyke to suddenly jump out of his camouflage and ult you and your allies one by one.
Put simply, Pyke is an all-round pain to deal with. And yeah, sure, his hook isn’t as ranged or as fast as Blitzcrank’s, but considering all his other tilt-inducing abilities, he’s a worthy contender for the most annoying support champion. In fact, in a survey that asked over 10,000 League players who they thought the most annoying champions were, Pyke was actually voted the most annoying support.
Gift of the Drowned Ones (Passive): When camouflaged, Pyke can regenerate health based on the amount of damage he has recently taken.
Bone Skewer (Q): A hook which Pyke charges up (during charging period he is slowed by 20%). If Pyke successfully lands the hook, the enemy is pulled towards him and slowed. If Pyke does not charge up his hook, it simply thrusts out and damages those in its path.
Ghostwater Dive (W): Pyke goes into camouflage mode for 5 seconds and gains bonus movement speed.
Phantom Undertow (E): Pyke dashes to a target location, leaving a phantom behind him. After 1 second, the phantom returns back to Pyke, stunning and dealing damage to any enemy champions it dashes through.
Death from Below (R): Pyke marks a location with an X, then strikes this location. If he hits any enemies on low health it executes them and resets his ult cooldown. The last ally who assisted in the kill (if applicable) also gets a “cut” of the gold bounty. If the ultimate hits enemies who aren’t low on health, it simply deals damage.
How to Beat Pyke
Focus the ADC in Lane
Despite how frustrating Pyke is when he manages to hook you, he doesn’t actually have any poke abilities to help his ADC deal “chip” damage throughout laning phase, nor can he shield or heal his ADC. This means if you play cautiously around Pyke’s hook and focus on poking the ADC down, you’re always going to come out on top.
After all, even if Pyke manages to land his hook and all-ins you, if the enemy ADC is at low health from all your poke, they won’t be able to step forward to assist Pyke with dealing damage. He’ll either have to back off and play safer or risk his life trying to win a 1v2.
Another reason why you should be focusing on the ADC is because of Pyke’s sustain. When you deal with damage to Pyke he can easily regain the health back because of his passive. By poking Pyke you’re basically wasting your mana and time. Instead, focus the ADC, as apart from their potions they’ll have no means of regenerating their health.
Warn Your Teammates When Pyke Roams
It’s not a surprise to see a Pyke main roaming everywhere constantly (even top lane) in an attempt to secure some kills and get the other lanes ahead. Pyke has tons of roaming potential – his Ghostwater Dive ability enables him to sneakily and quickly roam.
The easiest way to counter the pressure Pyke brings through roaming is by communicating with your team. If he’s missing from bot lane, ping your team straight away so they have enough time to react and position safely.
Avoid his Death from Below Ultimate
Yes, Pyke’s ultimate may be a copy of Darius’ ultimate, but there’s one major difference between them: Darius’ ultimate is targeted, Pyke’s isn’t. This means there’s potential to dodge out of Pyke’s ult – a potential which you can exploit to turn any skirmish in your favor. After all, to win against Pyke, dodging out of his ultimate is crucial; you’re not only going to save yourself, but you’re also going to prevent Pyke from getting a reset, meaning he won’t be able to use his ultimate on any other low health ally.
The easiest way to avoid Pyke’s ult is by using flash or a dash (support champions with a dash ability include Rakan, Braum, Bard, Alistar, and Nautilus). Due to this, you should always try to save your flash or dash ability for Pyke’s ultimate.
You can also cancel out Pyke’s Death from Below by picking a champion like Taric or Zilean. Both of these champions’ ultimate ability to make their ally (or allies in Taric’s case) invulnerable. If Pyke tries to cast his ultimate on a low health champion that is invulnerable, it’ll render his ultimate useless and stop the reset.
Buy Control Wards
Pyke’s camouflage is a hassle; you can’t properly fight against something you can’t see. But that’s where control wards come in handy. A control ward grants vision of Pyke when he’s nearby, even if he’s camouflaged. By investing in control wards you’ll be able to limit the areas in which he can sneak up on you without being seen.
As Pyke is a big roamer, you should always try to place a control ward in the river. This will increase your team’s chances of spotting his pathing before his gank attempt occurs.
Laning against these three support champions sucks. There’s no doubt about that. But hopefully, these handy tips and tricks on how to fight them will at least leave you with a win rather than a defeat screen. Just remember, summoner, no matter how annoying they are, never tilt; there’s always a way to beat them. It just requires a little patience and careful play.
Will Becoming a One-Trick Pony Help You Climb?
Some players whole-heartedly believe having a one-trick pony (OTP) as a teammate is a curse; they’re not versatile, they’ll ruin the team comp and they’ll surely int if they don’t get their OTP pick.
Others believe having a one-trick pony on their side is a blessing – guaranteed mechanical skill on their champion, unfazed by counter matchups and likely to carry the game.
If you’re considering becoming a one-trick pony player, you’re probably the latter: you believe a OTP is a blessing, and now you want in on the action.
But should you really take the plunge and dedicate all your time to mastering solely one champion? Is the pay-off worth it, or is the hate one-trick ponies face well-deserved?
Today, we’ll be taking a close look at the pros and cons of one-tricking when it comes to climbing up the ladder, so you can know for sure if the one-trick life is right for you.
What Is a One-Trick Pony?
A one-trick pony is generally defined as “someone or something that only has one talent or trick they are capable of performing (Grammarist).” In League, a one-trick pony is someone who plays exclusively one champion. No matter the circumstances, they’ll instalock this champion.
While OTP players are inexperienced when it comes to other champions, they play their one-trick champion extremely well. After all, they play hundreds of games on them and commit all their time to mastering their kit and playstyle.
Keep in mind maining is different from one-tricking. You may main a champion, but that’s not the limit of your champion pool, you simply prefer playing that champion.
Why You Should Become a One-Trick Pony
Becoming a one-trick means you’ll know the ins and outs of your champion. This gives plenty of benefits, all of which will definitely help you climb up the ladder (particularly in low elo). Here’s a close look at the benefits:
You’ll Have Godlike Mechanics
It takes a lot of time to learn every champion’s mechanics. Even if you’ve been playing the game for years, you’ll never fully master each champion’s kit and playstyle. You’ll always have moments where you misplay a combo or miss a game-changing skillshot.
However, if you’re a one-trick, you’ll be dedicating all your time to mastering one champion, meaning you can hone your mechanical skill on them to perfection.
As Bruce Lee once said, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” If you practice one champion “10,000 times”, mechanical misplays will become a thing of the past, and you’ll be a force to be reckoned with: you’ll always land your poke and know exactly when to take trades. In turn, this means winning lane and dominating fights will be a breeze, since your opponents are likely to make mechanical misplays which you can abuse with your perfected skillshots and combos.
Know How to Play Against Any Matchup
Every champion has a counter matchup. If you’re playing Thresh, a Morgana who can spell shield your hooks can destroy you completely. If you’re playing Rakan, a Janna who can interrupt your engage can render your kit useless.
But if you’re a one-trick, you’ll know exactly how to outplay even the toughest of matchups. You’ll have played against counters hundreds of times, so you’ll know from trial and error what works against them and what doesn’t.
Knowing how to play against any matchup also means you can seriously help your team even before the game’s begun. In champ select you won’t have the need to ban a champion you hate playing against, because, after all, you know how to play around any matchup. Instead, you can ban a champion your teammates want banned, so they won’t have to face a champion they hate. Plus, since you have no actual counters, you can always first pick for your team to prevent your teammates from being counter picked.
Can Focus on Macro
As you’ll have mastered the mechanical side of your champion, you’ll be able to concentrate on the macro side of the game a lot easier than a player who isn’t comfortable on their champion. For example, if you’re not having to focus on making sure your skillshots hit, you can instead watch the minimap and track the enemy team’s movements.
The more macro awareness you possess, the better control you have over the outcome of the game; you’ll be able to make effective calls and smarter plays, all of which increases your chance of winning.
Know Your Limitations
Knowing your limits is something which can only come from practice: the more you play a champion, the more you sharpen your intuition and the better you’ll be at judging their limitations.
While players with a wide champion pool often struggle with knowing their limits, one-tricking a champion means you’ll be able to gain a high understanding of your limitations. As you play one champion over and over, you’ll get used to how much damage they can tank and how much damage they can deal at all stages of the game. You’ll become aware of when their power spike is, and when the best times are to engage and disengage.
Knowing your limitations means you’re less likely to make careless (and costly) plays, so you’ll have a much easier time winning your games and climbing up the ladder. As Lee Sin wisely says, “those who do not know their limits will never reach their potential.”
Adapting Effectively Will Become Second Nature
A true one-trick takes the time to research extensively what items and runes are best suited for their champ, and also tests various builds to see how they play out in game. This means if you become a one-trick (and commit to learning your champion inside and out), you’ll have the experience and knowledge to know how to itemize properly for any situation. You’ll always know the right items to buy to counter the enemy team, and which runes will increase your chances of survival throughout the game.
Why You Shouldn’t Become a One-Trick
While one-tricking can make climbing a lot easier, it does have some big drawbacks you need to be aware of.
Autofilled or Banned = Sure Loss
The most obvious drawback is that if your champion is banned, or you get autofilled in a role you can’t play your champion in, the game is pretty much a sure loss. While you can queue dodge to avoid these types of scenarios, you won’t be able to queue dodge when it truly matters: when you’re in promos.
It’s demoralizing to go on a loss streak, but when you’re a one-trick, it’s utterly devastating; you’re losing on the champion you spent thousands of hours supposedly mastering. This can cause you to become incredibly tilted and even make you want to give up playing League completely.
Plus, if you’re playing one champion over and over again, it’s going to feel painfully monotonous. At some stage you will get burnt out.
Lack Understanding of Other Champions
One-trick players might know how to survive against any matchup they come across, but ultimately, they won’t always know how to effectively punish their opponent.
If you only play one champion, you won’t have much knowledge on how other champions work and all the nuances of their kit, like their ability cooldowns.
While this won’t really matter in low elo, this ignorance will be your downfall when it comes to high elo. High elo players won’t be making easy to spot mechanical misplays, nor will they play carelessly. You’ll need to know first-hand how other champions work to truly understand how to win against them.
Can Ruin Your Team’s Comp
Again, this is another problem which really only arises in high elo. In high elo, a good team comp is crucial; everyone will be playing to a good enough standard, to the point where team comps can be the deciding factor between winning or losing the game. Even if you’re the best at your champion, it doesn’t matter if your champion has little to no synergy with your team.
Risk Tilting Teammates
If your team decide in champ select your OTP champion isn’t the right fit for the comp and ask you to swap, but you then instalock your champion, they’re going to get tilted. In their perspective, you’re being unreasonable and going out of your way to trash the team comp.
If your teammates are tilted your chances of winning the game will go down the drain: they’ll likely make poor plays and start a flame war in /all chat. That leads us nicely on to the next drawback:
You’ll Definitely Be Flamed
As a one-trick pony you’re going to be flamed a lot more than other players (especially if you’ve instalocked despite your team wanting you to pick something else!). If you play poorly on your one-trick champion you’ll be bombarded with question mark pings and lovely comments in chat like “how are you so bad when that’s the only champ you play?”, and “700k mastery points but 0/3? Uninstall GG”.
At the Meta’s Mercy
There’s nothing worse than spending hours and hours mastering a champion, only for Riot to announce they’re reworking them or nerfing them to oblivion. It means everything you’ve learnt – and those hundreds of games and days spent in practice tool – was all for nothing.
Plus, if your champion receives a big buff, you’re still not going to have a good time. It will just cause your champion to have a high ban rate. Even if your champion isn’t banned, players will be picking your champion a lot more, meaning you’ll likely have your OTP champion taken from you if you’re not first pick.
Whether your champion is reworked, or becomes downright unplayable due to a hard-hitting nerf or buff, you’ll be left mourning the loss of your beloved champion.
Will Becoming a One-Trick Help You Climb up the Ladder?
One-tricking a champion can definitely help you climb up the ladder. You’ll have mastered everything there is to know about your OTP champion, meaning you’re likely to outplay your opponents and not feed. If you’re comfortable mechanically on a champion it also allows you to concentrate on the macro aspect of the game. With good macro, you’ll be able to spot opportunities to carry your games to victory, as well as warn your teammates of ganks or rotations to help them avoid getting caught out.
However, there’s definitely drawbacks when it comes to one-tricking. For example, if your champion is banned and you can’t queue dodge because it’s a promo game, you’ll probably int on any other champion you play and lose the game. Moreover, if you’re the type of person who gets bored from repetitive tasks, one-tricking will probably feel like torture and it can take the fun out of the game completely.
The effectiveness of one-tricking can also depend on your elo. While one-tricking a champion will certainly help you climb up the ladder in low elo, in high elo one-tricking will often feel incredibly limiting and can actually make climbing harder. Nevertheless, there are quite a few players who have managed to reach challenger purely through one-tricking (such as Tyler1 and BoxBox).
Ultimately, the decision is down to you – do the pros outweigh the cons, and is one-tricking something you’ll truly enjoy?
Picking the Right Champion to One-Trick
So, you’ve decided the one-trick life is right for you. In that case, there’s a few things you need to consider when picking which champion to one-trick.
There’s no point in one-tricking a champion which is perma-banned in champ select. You need to make sure you pick a champion which doesn’t have a high ban rate. The champions with the high ban rates tend to be those which have a high play rate and are strong in the meta. You can check the ban rates for each champion here. As a guideline, you want to pick a champion which has a ban rate less than 10%.
Of course, the meta is constantly changing, and champion ban rates can vary depending on buffs and nerfs (remember when Kassadin became so broken he had a 95% ban rate and was literally unplayable?).
Nevertheless, even though the meta is fairly unpredictable, you should be safe if you choose a champion which doesn’t have an overly high play rate and is consistently considered a mid-tier champion (mid-tier champions are unlikely to be nerfed or buffed).
If you’re a one-trick, autofill can be your worst enemy. However, if you pick a versatile champion (you can play this champion in an “off meta” role without it being unplayable), being autofilled won’t feel like a death sentence.
For example, while Malphite’s meta role is top, he can be played in every other role. However, if you one-trick Yuumi and get autofilled a role that isn’t support, it will be extremely hard to play her without going 0/5 (just imagine Yuumi jungle. Pure suffering).
Not Likely to Be Reworked
When considering which champion to one-trick, try to keep away from older champions, and pick a relatively new champion to one-trick. This pretty much guarantees your champion won’t be reworked.
Not Regularly Played in the Professional Scene
If you’re planning to one-trick, you can’t pick a champion which is commonly played in professional games. There’s always going to be plenty of players who get “inspired” and want to play the champions the pros’ are playing, meaning you’ll have a hard time securing your champion in champ select!
Fun to Play
One-tricking a champion involves playing that champion over, and over, and over. You need to pick a champion you truly enjoy playing otherwise you’ll quickly get bored.
At a psychological level, if you’re not enjoying the champion you’re playing you’re not going to put any effort into improving – you won’t be motivated enough because practicing this champion will feel like a chore.
Don’t pick your one-trick based on factors such as it looks “flashy” or it’s meant to have a high skill cap (calling out all the Yasuo one-tricks!). Pick a champion you connect with. A champion which feels right, and one you can’t imagine yourself ever getting bored of.
Good luck out on the rift, summoner.