The Power of Positivity – Guide to Solo Ranked

Introduction

You want to boost your solo rating, and of course the only way to do that is to win solo ranked games. “But how can I do that,” you say, “when my team is always full of [insert insult here]?”

This is a guide that will help you in a much more thorough way than situational advice such as ‘play x hero on y lane versus z enemies’.
This guide will teach you to how to have the largest influence possible on any given solo game, show you the importance of being positive, and teach you how to apply this to your own games for the final goal of not only a higher win-rate, but a more enjoyable experience for both you and your allies!

The Importance of Positivity

‘Being positive’ can seem like an abstract concept. “Okay, so I don’t flame my team – is this going to give our team a global attack speed, damage and armor buff?” No, of course not. It does much more than that.

Behind every hero sits a player. That player has a conscience that plays a much bigger part in his over-all performance than most people seem to realize. Sure, there’s skill, there’s knowledge, and there’s experience. But how come you regularly crush randoms in a given match-up, whereas if you face a pro player in the same situation you wet your pants and fail to do so, only to afterwards explain the failure as an example of why he is a professional player and you’re not? Believe it or not, a lot of that is owed to your mindset and nerves. Many pro’s aren’t that good, not individually at least.

Let’s take another example from pro teams – why are the players there so comfortable with taking risks, trusting their intuition and shaping their own style? Because they hold no fear of their team, they are not afraid of letting them down, disappointing them or pissing them off. The team relies on them and they rely on their team – there is no room for negative judgement during a game, and knowledge of this gives players comfort and freedom to play to their fullest potential.

Of course, the majority of the player-base rarely faces pro players, so excuse me if you cannot relate to the above anecdotes. It is, however, a clear example of the impact your conscience can have on your ability to play well. So, how can you apply this to your own games? Make your random pub allies feel comfortable. Do not ever flame them, do not ever question their decisions, because if you do, they will too. This leads to them doubting themselves, which leads to indecisiveness which is akin to having delay – one of the most punishable traits in the game. So next time you see someone building an item you don’t like, following a skill-build you think is not optimal, or moving around the map in a way you deem inefficient, take a second to think before you point out your concerns to them. There is a small technical difference between the following sentences:

  1. “Oh my god, this Luna is not going BKB!”       
  2. “Luna, why are you not getting a BKB?”
  3. “Luna, I think a BKB would be good for you here.”

Essentially, all three mean the same, but the effect they have on not only the Luna but your team is colossally differing.

Option 1 is the worst – by not addressing the Luna directly, you are implying that person cannot be reasoned with. This is not only insulting to that player, hurting their confidence and having the aforementioned effects on their performance, but it gives everyone on your team the impression that the situation can no longer be helped and that all that is left to do is complain and whine.

Option 2 is less bad, however it is still very bad compared to option 3. I have a feeling most people think this to be the right option, or at least go for this one most often. Not only does this create doubt as I mentioned above, it immediately puts your ally on the defensive as they feel pressured to explain their decision. Even if they had realized themselves that the decision was bad, the chance of them replying positively to such a question is close to non-existent. Now you have created a rift in your team, between you and that player. They may not consciously decide to do anything about it, but sub-consciously you can bet split-second decisions will be influenced by what you have said. Why should I help/save/listen/follow the guy that is criticizing me? Such a thought coming up in the Luna is not unlikely at all. Furthermore, the rest of your team may take either side which magnifies the problems.

Option 3 is ideal. It doesn’t matter whether the enemies have 3 disables each that are all negated by BKB and you think Luna must be below 2000 MMR for not realizing that, and in fact it doesn’t even matter whether she follows your advice or not (however, when you put it this way it is a lot more likely that she will), as long as you have tried to convince her.

So let’s say you went with option 3 and said it in the best possible way, but Luna still isn’t getting a BKB. It’s really easy at that point to go into rage mode, complain, whine, consider the game lost, some people even grief. But that won’t get you to 6k. Let’s talk about what you should and should not do.

In-Game Application

You should not mention what happened 10, 5, or even 2 minutes ago. History is never relevant during the game – only in replays. Many players have received the advice of thinking about what they did and what they could’ve done better, yet fail to execute this idea properly.

First of all, this is only applies to you personally – never should you try to point out what someone else could’ve done better. Why? Because there is no way they are going to learn from you, a random pub, criticizing them while being not so great yourself. They can also notice they died in a stupid way, whether you point that out or not. The vast majority of the time they are not going to start making better decisions or playing better during the same game you are in right now, so by ‘teaching them’ you are in fact only coming off as an arrogant asshole, lowering your chances of winning by distracting and demoralizing everyone, including yourself.

Secondly, analyzing how the game went is for replays. That’s when you have all the information at hand, and can make proper deductions. It’s very easy to say someone should not have been farming out on their own 5 seconds after they get ganked and killed. Everyone can see that after it has happened, and discussing all the circumstances that lead to that happening is to be done either on your own or with your team after the game is over, while studying the replay. What can truly help is to warn your team of things that may happen or are happening. Let’s see if you are getting the picture here.

  1. “Wow, Troll just took uncontested solo Rosh, we should’ve known.”
  2. “Guys, Troll has been missing for a while, he might be taking Rosh.”
  3. “They have a Troll, he will probably try to solo Rosh quite early. Let’s be prepared to contest the Roshan when he goes for it.”

Clearly option 1 is bad, option 2 is better and option 3 is best. Of course, if you are inexperienced these things may be difficult to analyze or conclude before they have actually happened. However, that does not mean you should resort to option 1. You can think that for yourself, draw your own conclusions, but if you want to win, do not type that to your team.

Every single moment in the game is to be considered only presently: what farm and levels does every hero have, where are they positioned right now, what are they planning on doing, how can they be countered, etc. There is absolutely no reason to dwell on what has already happened. Don’t even mention past wrong decisions such as who went on which lane, what item and skill-build they went for, and who made what mistakes.

Things like “Because Rhasta died so many times, this Slark is now super fat.” are some of the worst things you can say. Not only do you make the Rhasta feel bad (making him play worse), you demoralize your entire team by making them think Slark is now some unstoppable force that became so in a manner they couldn’t have influenced, encouraging them to lose hope. They will essentially think of the Slark as a mess that Rhasta created and they have to clean up. Now the team is also set against your poor Shadow Shaman.

The truth is that it doesn’t matter when or why the Slark got his farm and levels. What matter is how much farm and experience he has right now, so that you can decide how to appropriately deal with him. Can you reliably gank and pick him off? Can you survive if he jumps you with his ultimate? Can you burst him down after his ultimate? Can you outfarm him and hope to outcarry him later on in the game? These are the actual useful questions that should be going around in your head, not a judgmental finger looking for someone to blame for your incapability of dealing with a given situation.

Surrendering

“We fucking lost!” – No, you didn’t. I don’t like coming up with statistics, but I’m pretty sure that over half of the ‘finish fast pls’ calls are made earlier than 30 minutes into the game before the tier 3’s are even taken. If you’re playing a pub, there’s no reason not to play until the end. The game is never over until either the tree or throne goes down, or you give up. If you aren’t going to play, just abandon and don’t waste people’s time. It’s that simple.

A big aspect of this problem is the fact that it’s essentially a quagmire – people give up as soon as they fall behind, so they don’t learn how to play from behind because they never try, and then every time they fall behind they are more likely to give up because they are clueless about how to play the game properly when they’re not ahead.

“But surely I can give up if the enemies have megacreeps, 6 consecutive Roshan kills, a 40,000 experience and a 60,000 gold lead with all their tier 2 towers still up?” No. Take 6 minutes of your time to watch the pleasantly edited video below.

“But you only won because the PL sold everything and bought 3 rapiers, they would’ve won if he hadn’t done that!” That’s the point – the enemies are players too, they can get arrogant too and they can throw the game too.With the advantage they had, it was not unreasonable of PL to think the game was in the bag and he could go for whatever he wished.

The point still stands – the game is never over until either the throne or tree goes down, or you give up. Countless times I’ve had people on my team claim the game is over and not worth playing. Despite the team’s best efforts to convince them otherwise, they continue playing but are no longer trying; they take stupid engagements, make dumb decisions, no longer play their hero properly, buy suboptimal items, etc. They drag the team down to a loss. And in the end? “See? I told you there was no way we could win”.

I don’t understand why people do this. Perhaps they think their teammates will consider them smart and knowledgeable because they were clever enough to know the outcome of the game before it happened. I sincerely doubt anyone ever thought to themselves “Wow, that guy said we’d lose and we did, he must be a really good and knowledgeable player”. The truth is, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. The game is not over just because the enemies are a certain amount of kills, towers or gold ahead. The game is not over because you just got teamwiped or you just lost a set of barracks. The game is only over because you gave up on it. So, I repeat. Never give up, never surrender. If you don’t feel like playing, abandon and spare your teammates’ time. And next time do not queue up unless you are certain you can sit focused through an entire game.

Lastly, some general tips on boosting winrate

  • Don’t play when you’re tired

This may depend a bit on the person, but generally when tired your map awareness and decision-making takes an enormous hit and you play well below your regular skill level.

  • Take a break after a loss

Don’t angrily insta-requeue after a loss, your negative emotions will likely carry over to the next game and increase the likelihood of losing that one as well.

  • Switch things up after several losses in a row

Try some more relaxed mode you don’t care so much about winning or losing – AD, bots, or even party ranked if you don’t care about your party rating.

  • Play heroes with a lot of impact

Avoid passive farmers, especially junglers. They require a held back and protective playstyle and generally much more coordination over-all which is unlikely with a team of 5 randoms. Also, your team is less likely to work with you if you expect them to create space and protect you while you farm for 30 minutes. Even if you do end up jungling, make sure to contribute as much as possible as soon as possible.

  • Communicate with your team

Don’t expect someone to read your mind and understand your whole thought process from several frantic pings – use voice chat or type and let your team know all your thoughts and intentions. This greatly empowers teamwork and makes all kinds of coordination more successful, as well as reducing flame since most of it rises from miss-communication.

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4 comments on “The Power of Positivity – Guide to Solo Ranked

  1. Stasimir says:

    Nice guide, it helped me a lot already. I still got a few problems to keep the team together when they flame each other or anyone instapicked mid even thoug another guy already pinged it. This most likely ends up in duolaning mid where one will start to feed because he doesn´t get anything. Can you add some tipps for situations like these?
    Greetz Stasimir, currently 4,5k

    Like

  2. Feak says:

    This is moving! Good work! and thanks

    Like

  3. xRusty says:

    good stuff

    Like

  4. […] SlashStrike’s Guide to Solo Ranked – psychology to survive and succeed in ranked play. […]

    Like

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