Coaching to Gold: Why you should play easy champions

League of Legends is a video game, and that means it’s meant to be fun.

We want to play the champions that we enjoy the most, whether that be because of their abilities, aesthetic, or the lore behind them. This is what motivates players to have zany picks, and is the reason behind some of your favorite one-tricks. However, climbing the ranked ladder is a different story. Ranking up can be a cutthroat and unforgiving experience, especially at the higher levels.

With that in mind, it can be hard to reconcile the competitiveness of ranked games and your desire to have fun. We’d all like to bust out the Zed and jump from shadow to shadow like Faker, but constantly losing due to the high skill cap of the champion can be a depressing experience. This is why, during your attempts to just climb the ranked ladder, you should play the simplest champions possible.

“Just play Annie” has become a bit of a meme, but there's a reason for that. There are important reasons behind this advice that make it more likely for you to not only win the games where you play easy champions, but win games of League in general.

First things first, winning is fun. Winning in a competitive environment generally gives a sense of accomplishment through outplaying your opponents on different metrics. That provides a base level of satisfaction which is doubly true when you are winning more often than losing. The other aspect to winning is feeling better about how you're playing and being more receptive to what you can learn about the game.

Let's take a look at three ways playing an easy champion can help your overall in-game performance.

Learning Mechanics

Easier champions give players the opportunity to delve into more complicated mechanics without sacrificing their quality of play. Using summoner spells effectively, using item actives, and being able to control your character enought to do basic combos are pivotal "micro" elements to being a player that can succeed.

Item actives in particular are the most telling difference between players who succeed and those who don’t. Riot has publicly acknowledged that item actives aren’t used often, with the old item “Deathfire Grasp” being used 1% of the time it was purchased. If you can be part of the 1%, you can be the difference between your team winning or losing the game with things such as a clutch Locket, or a great Zhonya’s distraction.

Knowing the game

When you need to pay less attention to your character, you can learn the more intricate aspects of the game. That way, you can actually improve on basic aspects of general gameplay that will help no matter what champion you're playing.

You can learn the key parts of your favorite role, and how to ideally play particular styles that are crucial to a good team composition or winning a particular matchup. Tanks are great examples of how to play the game in an easier way in order to understand what good positioning is and what good types of snowballing are. Utility AD carries are similarly great for that purpose.

Translating easy to hard

Putting your nose to the ranked grindstone can be frustrating, and sometimes the LP your heart desires comes from that Poppy pick instead of Yasuo top. However, the knowledge you gain from the game generally, whether it's from map awareness, vision, itemization, or knowing matchups, will translate very well to when you do have the ability to focus on learning a champion.

A little knowledge goes a long way, and taking a break to play easy characters will give you the chance to bolster your knowledge so that you can be more successful with the champions that you love playing. With that in mind, you can start playing those champions and have a greater chance at winning and making it to Gold Elo.

Gabriel Zoltan-Johan is a news editor at theScore esports and the head analyst for the University of Toronto League of Legends team. His (public) musings can be found on his Twitter.

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