I have one secret to climbing the ladder. Listen to this video.
Now that we’ve gotten rid of all of the people too cool to listen to Taylor Swift, what do I mean by that?
I mean that most people are afraid of solo queue for reasons that don’t exist. I get asked to duo queue a lot, sometimes by friends, sometimes by fans, sometimes by random people who added me from Spectate Live. To almost all of them (my teammates at Funk Overload are the *only* exception), I say something like this:
Sorry, I don’t really like to duo all that much, unless I know you well already.
There are two reasons that people commonly give for duo queuing, the Doublelift Defense and Flamer Fear.
The Doublelift Defense
To hear these people talk, they’re budding LCS stars held back by their teammates, and duo queuing allows them to climb by giving them a teammate they can count on. This reason is simply ridiculous. If the person you want to duo with can climb, and you can’t, doesn’t it stand to reason that they are doing something better than you are? At least they’re not up for relegation. The only reason you should want to duo with them is to learn from them. Most likely, however, you’ll simply end up being carried by them.
A friend of mine recently came to me with a worry:
I have seen a lot of friends stop playing this game because it just doesn’t feel fun anymore to them. They have all pointed to the community, that they don’t want to play the game because they feel slightly targeted if anything goes wrong.
Two Sides of the Same Coin
Do you see what’s wrong here? On the one hand, players who are obsessed with duo queuing are worried about bad players. Simultaneously, they’re worried that their allies will think *them* bad players, and criticize them. In other words, they’re creating the very problems they fear.
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Solo Queue
The same friend went on to tell me:
So I started playing a few games with mute all at the start of it
And I played so much better, and had so much more fun
This was actually a regular habit of mine. If I got any indication that the tone of the game would be less than positive, I did not hesitate to mute everyone. Not just the offending parties, everybody. Why? Because toxicity spreads. Even if all I had to see is my teammates arguing back at the toxic player, I’d rather see nothing, because I had almost nothing to gain from chat. You could argue that I was missing out on information from my teammates by doing so, but honestly, what information were they telling me that I couldn’t get from simple game skill?
We need to group now. I’m strong right now. Their Draven is fed. They might be at baron.
These are all skills I need to develop as a jungler and as a player anyway, and relying on my team for them can only inhibit my growth as a player. In my opinion, the only thing I can get from chat that I couldn’t get from getting better at the game is summoner spell cooldowns. And let’s be honest, nobody enters flash timers in solo queue, except to complain about the jungler flash ganking them.
Some people may see some contradiction here. After all, I’m *extremely* critical of myself when I play. Anybody who watches my stream can confirm that “I’m so bad” is my most uttered sentence. So why would I avoid critique from others? Because solo queue does not offer constructive criticism. The guy who attacks your decisions in game isn’t trying to help you be a better player. Regardless of what he says, he isn’t trying to teach you anything. He is trying to attack you so that he can feel better about losing.
Apple Got It Right: “i” Comes First
So here’s the revelation. Solo queue is not about your team. Solo queue is about one thing, and one thing only. You. Now, you may have different goals in solo queue, but odds are, self-improvement, climbing the ladder, and fun rank among them. And you should be focused on yourself.
Gentleman Gustaf, are you saying I should be a selfish player, take all of the buffs, and rage at my teammates because the game is about me?
Not in the least. The “you” to be focused on is your play, your improvement, and your ladder. That means you don’t need to be upset at how your teammates are feeding, because they aren’t you. That means you shouldn’t care that your teammates flame you for that death in the enemy jungle because they aren’t you.
To accomplish that, you need to block everything out. I’ve been told when I stream that I play like I’m in the zone, like the game’s happening in the background and I’m just casually talking about it. That’s the way it should be. Like with any sport, actively thinking about what you’re doing will probably only make you over-think your choices and choke when it matters. Instead, you need to be able to perform passively, without thinking about it.
Grace Under Pressure
Last season, I was on two teams that played against – and beat – challenger teams. It was when I started playing in the competitive 5s environment that I realized that my mute heavy strategy was actually holding back my improvement, by preventing me from learning to deal with adversity. When my emotional state faltered, I went on tilt, hard, and ceased to become effective.
Dealing with solo queue forces you to confront those emotions, and learn to shake them off. Ultimately, that is the advice I have to give. You have to realize that – short of Diamond 1 – you will never play with your allies or opponents again. They are not a part of your life; they are not a part of your future LoL play. For all intents and purposes, they – and anything they have to say – do not matter.
So don’t dwell on your teammates. Don’t rage at how they play and don’t take to heart anything – constructive criticism aside – they have to say. Just shake it off.