Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Holy shit, Mortal Kombat II came out on consoles twenty years ago

It was 1993. A Taco John's; downtown Dubuque. With the drab and burnt orange color scheme of the West-Mex fast food dimly lit corner diner, the garish red and blacker-than-Noob Saibot's garb cabinet would have attracted my attention even if I had already been deaf enough to miss the aggressive promises issuing from the speakers.

Two softshell tacos, meat and cheese, but only easy cheese, with a dollop of mild sauce. And an order of nachos with the extra-large tub of melted "cheese", if Mom felt like I'd earned it or Dad was the one footing the bill.

Once the order was in, I'd hop over to whichever quarter-devouring device was ensconced in one dark nook. I was already pretty addicted to the faux-meat and processed cheese-like substance rolled in vaguely-almost-tortillas by the time Mortal Kombat II made its way to the Midwest. Even a $10 million dollar marketing campaign only buys so much real estate in the fly-overs, and that was still a year away for the console launch.

I'd fed innumerable Washingtons to a wide variety of blinking, chiming, confounding cabinets before MKII, is what I'm getting at. Gauntlet made an appearance at least once; Galaga before that. There was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cameo, but that might have been after.

Whatever the hook, dungeon crawling or space battles, none of them appealed to me quite the way the fighting game did. Trying to learn the moves, master more than the easiest Fatalities, defeat the slightly-douchesque high school kid who you knew had to have bought a strategy guide at some point. There was no end to the struggle for guru status.

And there was a story. Sort of. The expanded lore caught my budding writermind and drew me in like sunlight pulls…you know what, that was a terrible simile. Still a better love story than Twilight.
But nonetheless, I found myself desperate to understand more of the Kitana and Mileena relationship. Were they like actual sisters or if Mileena really was adopted would that mean it would technically be okay if well and Johnny Cage? Fuck that guy. You can finish the other thought the way the prepubescent boy in you would.

Liu Kang's struggle and de facto protagonist status, I'm not entirely ashamed to admit, made him Cena-like in my book. I do hope your brainlash shuffling between two wildly different pop culture eras wasn't too severe.

There was also the bit about turning into a dragon. Figuring out how to do that would have been the highlight of my pre-teen years. I settled, sadly, for living vicariously through the tie-dye and impressively-deep-pocketed-JNCO-clad high schooler as he polymorphed and nommed on nubs with his finisher.

MKII was replaced eventually, probably by a terrible rip-off like Killer Instinct. We started using the drive-thru more often, and I gave over more of my scrounged change to side-scrollers and shooters at Aladdin's Quarter-vortex.

But twenty years after the game was released on the Genesis my brother and I pooled our Christmas allowance to fight over opening on the fated holiday morning, I still remember the old, and thoroughly delicious if my initial depiction implied lackluster flavor, Taco John's, and the familiar siren's call when Scorpion tapped back, back, low punch.

"Get over here!" indeed.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"From His Royal Highness, the Grand Juror of Justice, His Most Esteemed Eminance, to the Plebeians"

In which I comment on the most terrifying horror story I've read this year. I've included the quotes I'm responding to, and you can read the wholething here. I've skipped some parts, but I tried to note them when I did.

"From His Royal Highness, the Grand Juror of Justice, His Most Esteemed Eminance, to the plebeians"

"It is also a terrible calumny; cops are not murderers." Wrong, cops who murder people are murderers. Being a cop doesn't suddenly imbue you with some kind of divine diplomatic immunity.

"Working the street, I can’t even count how many times I withstood curses, screaming tantrums, aggressive and menacing encroachments on my safety zone, and outright challenges to my authority." This is the paragraph that convinced me I was reading satire until my Twitter feed fed me humble pie by revealing that holy fucking shit this op ed is supposed to be serious.

"Challenges to my authority?" Wait, whaaaa? OMG, how dare someone possibly challenge your authori-tah, Most Revered and Infallible Peace Officer. Here's the kicker, your authority is vested in you by the citizens of the city, state or nation. You have no absolute authority. You enforce the laws of the people. When they disagree with those laws, they can actually change them. It doesn't happen often, obviously, what with the money all going to gigantamous class action suits and celebrity binge-drinking. But it could.

It is the height of arrogance and ego to look at the people you serve and say, "you all need to put yourself in my shoes" instead of "cops need to remember that they are human and aren't vicars of Christ and should probably put themselves in a citizen's shoes before they act."

Read it as satire, I promise the whole thing becomes a lot better.

I'll skip over the Checkers speech.

"Sometimes, though, no amount of persuasion or warnings work on a belligerent person; that’s when cops have to use force, and the results can be tragic. We are still learning what transpired between Officer Darren Wilson and Brown, but in most cases it’s less ambiguous — and officers are rarely at fault. When they use force, they are defending their, or the public’s, safety." You know, uh, in the overwhelming majority of cases, whenever anyone--not just cops--uses force, they're defending their safety. Actually, you can just substitute any other noun for cops and take out the reference to Darren Wilson's title, and this paragraph is still completely accurate.

"Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me. Most field stops are complete in minutes. How difficult is it to cooperate for that long?" Or, or, and I know this is a crazyradical idea, we could make sure that cops don't, hear me out, get to fucking shoot, taze, pepper-spray, strike or throw people without having a really good fucking reason. I mean, it's ludicrous, I know, but, I mean, we could try it. I'll even throw in an extra idea for free.

Sometimes, we won't know ahead of time if the cop's reason was good enough. There are split-second decisions that have to be made, and we have to trust police training and experience is enough to result in the right choice.

So what do we do? In the aftermath, if it turns out the reason was bullshit, we prosecute the cop immediately.  We respect due process, but no dallying, no clandestine IA case-building. Nope. Cop gets locked up like everybody else and goes into the justice system. Easy-peasy.

"And you don’t have to submit to an illegal stop or search. You can refuse consent to search your car or home if there’s no warrant (though a pat-down is still allowed if there is cause for suspicion). Always ask the officer whether you are under detention or are free to leave. Unless the officer has a legal basis to stop and search you, he or she must let you go." I get into this more a little later on, but this is a wonderful paragraph describing an imaginary place bearing little to no semblance of reality. My favorite part is where he specifically provides an exception for groping.

"Finally, cops are legally prohibited from using excessive force: The moment a suspect submits and stops resisting, the officers must cease use of force." This doesn't deserve anything more than a derisive, if hearty, LOL. But, I'll add one thing: this doesn't even make sense. If all a criminal had to do to make the cops stop was "submit" and cease "resisting," it'd be like the easiest fucking cheat code in existence.

I hate to gloss over it, but I'm going to go ahead and skip commenting on the paragraph where he makes everyone else's point for them without a trace of irony.

"An average person cannot comprehend the risks and has no true understanding of a cop’s job." Huh? Yes they can. It's not that hard. Also, policing is important and honorable work but it isn't coding in Java or running a foley studio. It's far more likely that cops have an over-inflated opinion of their job than "average" people lack "true" understanding.

"Hollywood and television stereotypes of the police are cartoons in which fearless super cops singlehandedly defeat dozens of thugs, shooting guns out of their hands." No they aren't. "Fearless super cops" who take down enormous mobs of baddies while sniping pistols from the criminal's hands? Those are rarely actual cops (I couldn't find any, but I'm hedging my bet). They tend to be, like, superheroes. You see the real cops around all the time, they're the ones sitting on the sidelines or holding up the yellow tape for the real star of the show.

"Real life is different." Oh, it so definitely is. Where you live, we've learned, cops don't regularly illegally stop or detain people, and if you ask them if you're free to go, they have to tell you. Oh, and they can't use excessive force. Sounds like a pretty cool utopia. Hollywood would probably love to hear about it.

"An average cop is always concerned with his or her safety and tries to control every encounter. That is how we are trained. While most citizens are courteous and law abiding, the subset of people we generally interact with everyday are not the genteel types." Okay. Full agreement here. The bad guys aren't courteous or law-abiding. They probably also don't recognize the word genteel. You showed them.

"You don’t know what is in my mind when I stop you. Did I just get a radio call of a shooting moments ago? Am I looking for a murderer or an armed fugitive?" Uh, I hope I know what's in your mind when you stop me. Presumably it's whatever offense you just saw me commit. I assume you're considering the full ramifications of what you're doing, how it will impact a citizen of the city, state, or country you police for. You know, things like that. If you're supposed to looking for a murderer or an armed fugitive, I would hope that you'd be, I don't know, doing that maybe? Instead of stopping me for no reason since, keep in mind, I'm not the murderer or armed fugitive.

"For you, this might be a 'simple' traffic stop, for me each traffic stop is a potentially dangerous encounter. Show some empathy for an officer’s safety concerns. Don’t make our job more difficult than it already is."  Okay, I get it. I could be the murderer or fugitive, so that sucks for you. How do I help make your job less difficult?

Is this the list?
·         Don’t argue
·         Don’t call names
·         Don’t tell me that I can’t stop you
·         Don’t say I’m a racist pig
·         Don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge
·         Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary
·         Don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me

I'm actually fine with most of it. But, uh, one thing. That falls apart as soon as we get to the whole protesting thing. As a human being, I can and should do everything on that list in the court of public opinion if a cop fucks up and then an entire police department massively fucks up.

What follows is a series of what I call, "duh" statements. It's pretty obvious why.

"Community members deserve courtesy, respect and professionalism from their officers."

"Every person stopped by a cop should feel safe instead of feeling that their well-being is in jeopardy."

"Shouldn’t the community members extend the same courtesy to their officers?"

But, oh shit, the sentence didn't end there, did it? "…and project that the officer’s safety is not threatened by their actions?" Uh, what? WHAT? You are wearing body armor and carrying a fucking gun. You also have a shit-ton of training that the writer of the op ed kept referencing as if the instructors were angels beamed down to pass on their halos to the exalted officers walking this earth. Unless I am considerably more well-armed than I have ever been in my life, there is no action I could possibly take that would truly threaten a cop's safety.

If I tackle you and start punching your face, okay, a reasonable person would concede the point. Heckling you? Calling you a racist pig? Telling you that you can't stop me? Screaming that I pay your salary? Even, god forbid, walking up to you? You notice what all of those things have in common? Not a single one of them could possibly be interpreted to threaten the safety of someone paid to carrying a fucking gun and authorized to use it for apparently any fucking reason according to this piece.  

Nope. None of them. Not threatening at all. Not even a little bit. Not even if I was black.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

IX. Teamfighting


This is another large section, but don't worry, it's also the last. I've broken it into three phases, to provide a more effective play-by-play. There's been an underlying theme running through this whole blog: you are going to instantly start winning more games if you play better as a teammate and as a team. 

Teamfighting is where all the other sections come together. 

Think of your favorite teamfight memories. That chained CC where the enemy backline was on lockdown for six seconds of face-melting burst from your team's midlaner and marksman. Health bars disappearing as you all sliced through the enemy team.  

That happens when a team maximizes its synergy and everyone knows their role. It's a beautiful thing, I'd say if this were a 1950s B&W drama and not a blogspot site. Here's how you can make sure it always happens.

1) The Vision Game

Before any teamfight breaks out, a good team is going to secure vision of wherever the assault is planned. Proactive deep wards enable picks and skirmishes in narrow corridors where the team that seizes initiative can have a powerful advantage. The jungler and support should both have Oracle's by this point, and you 
can set up traps on the enemy side of the river as well as your own.

Moving as a unit is important while you clear wards during the mid and late game. Because of the possibility of a teamfight at any point, you need to be ready to react to a surprise engage. Generally, stacking your team so that the squishiest member is between one frontline tank, the other squishies and the other tank or offtank is preferable when moving through unlit areas. Know which way you want to scatter if you're facing any sort of AoE that could wreck a clumped team.

One last note on warding: don't be afraid to toss out a ward because you think someone else is about to. While it can be a minor waste of resources, there are a few situations in which it's beneficial to have multiple wards in the same location. As Sun Tzu never said, "You can't have too many wards on the battlefield."

2) The Engage

In solo queue, an aggressive, surprise engage can lead to by-the-book teamfight victories. Because of a general lack of cohesive tactics among solo queue players, the team that seizes the initiative can often springboard that into a clean ace with little more than an extra split second of entering "shit-we're-in-teamfight-now" mode. 

Having a tanky initiator who can competently engage a mid or late game throwdown is so beneficial, I'd say that learning how to do it right might have a better effect on your ranked tier than any of the other topics I've covered in what will eventually be this 15,000+ word opus.

As initiator, you're playing the minigame "catch-the-squishy," trying to create positioning mistakes with your aggressive dives and feints towards the backline. Your goal is obviously to isolate or crowd control-lock one of the opposing team's damage threats. 

But, and this part is often forgotten because it's dangerous (or useless) at the highest levels of play, there are situations in which engaging on a tank or off-tank can be the right move. For example, if a damage threat shows in a different lane, or if any champion without a teleport rears his or her head in any lane away from where your team is standing off with the enemy.

In that situation, going in on a tank is still fine, because you're 5v4, and even blowing a few cooldowns is worth making it a 5v3, which is statistically unwinnable for the downsized team (don't tell Uzi, I know).

2b) The Counterengage

As a result of the same issues I raised in the opening of the Engage section, the ability to counterengage competently and effectively is almost as valuable as being able to start a fight. It loses points because counterengaging implies that your team has already taken a substantial amount of damage after the initiation, and so the counterengage is inherently weaker than perfecting your engage. 

Still, doing it well means hitting Mikael's on the caught-out target and speed-boosting him or her to safety. Or it can mean separating the assassins and fighters from the tanks and other squishies, allowing your team to jump on isolated members of the enemy team.

Timing is everything for counterengage, too early and they have follow-up gap-closers. Too late and your carries have already been deleted. Depending on the champion you choose, your counterengage is going to be about either preventing damage (shields or heals) or re-positioning (displacement effects, crowd-control). 

If you plan to re-engage, preventing damage is usually going to be an initial priority to insure you have the health bars to brawl in a prolonged skirmish.

3) Who's the Beatdown?

I'm borrowing a concept from Magic: the Gathering of all places for this third section. This is the part where the frantic button-spamming and mouse-clicking happens, and one of the easiest ways of improving your standing is through knowing how to win once the CC starts chaining and the AoE starts raining. 

I've mentioned it over and over again, but I'll bring it up here, too. Knowing your role wins games.

Assassins and fighters built for damage need to be gapclosing to the backline and blowing up or zoning the ADC, AP or AD caster. The support and tanks need to peel and protect their marksman and other squishies. And the sustained DPS or AoE needs to position immaculately and pump out the damages.

I'll repeat this again here from earlier: if you are the marksman, or you are playing alongside a marksman, please keep in mind that the person they need to be shooting is the highest priority target within safe distance. 

Don't like that your ADC never seems to attack the enemy carries? Practice creating firing lanes or safe zones for them to position into in order to isolate those less-resilient champions. Practice peeling and bodyblocking. If they can't position correctly, the team can reposition around them, as well.

That leads into the last point. It's no one individual's fault if the teamfight goes south. That's why it's called a teamfight and not a ZionSpartan. The concept of who's the beatdown applied to teamfighting is understanding tempo and aggression. 

Does your team have an item or experience advantage? You need to be aggressive and dive harder than they are expecting. Keep in mind that a raw gold advantage that hasn't been translated into items does not signal that your team is the beatdown--you have to consider base stats and relative skill.

If you aren't the beatdown, then you need to identify defensive schemes that will minimize the opposing team's current strengths. Baiting a turret dive with a mobile damage dealer might be worth pulling the tankline back a little. 

Or maybe it means investing more in wards to make picks and avoid roaming death squads.

In any case, teamfighting in solo queue is often wild and chaotic and decided as much by misplays as great maneuvers. That only increases the value of practicing and mastering the art of synergy, as you'll see results immediately, reinforcing the benefit of the work you put in. 

VIII. Baron Nashor

Baron Nashor

This section is real simple: Baron Nashor doesn't exist in solo queue. Baron, and the Exalted with Baron Nashor buff granted by defeating him, is designed to provide a strategic incentive to skirmish in the mid-late game. Specifically, having the buff allows you to push objectives and dive turrets effectively when coordinated well. That last part is important. 

When used by a team that can coordinate turret aggro, maintain their formation, and focus down squishy backline targets while allowing the marksman to whittle down the tanks and utility roles, the purple buff is really strong. Realistically, the solo queue team you're on does not have that level of sophistication. At Diamond or Challenger levels, you may have the game sense to organically orchestrate that kind of play, provided everyone has bought into their role and is equally adept at performing it.

With that in mind, contesting the Baron buff in solo queue is almost never worth it. If you've built any sort of item or experience advantage, it is definitely not worth, as a semi-coordinated five-man push is going to secure at least two turrets if not an inhibitor past the 25 minute mark. You will also normally have the opportunity to grab dragon and purloin buffs from the enemy jungle.

The exception to the rule: There are actually two. You should always encourage your team to grab every free Baron you have served up to you. That's a no-brainer enough I almost didn't include it. But I'm specifically referring to clean aces, or four-for-ones or other incredibly favorable trades that result in you having smite and the carries needed to burst down His Majesty Highness, the Baron of the Rift. A two-for-two where you "know they went b" is not the situation I'm referring to.

The other is when, serendipitously, your whole team happens to be around Baron, at full health, when you catch them with their Armor/MR shredded and health bars half-missing, still attempting to slay the royal wurm. If you can't push towers and secure inhibs, because you all happen to be on top of the enemy WHEN THEY START BARON, then you're good to go in with that Crowstorm, that Unstoppable Force, that Assault and Battery. 

But read that last part again. If, WHEN THEY START BARON, one of you is botlane or getting blue buff, or farming away at those Mini Golems, then you all converge wherever they are and grab as many turrets as you can. Period. Especially if you have an item or experience lead.

Baron TL;DR: Don't bother with the beast in his pit. Take turrets and inhibitors instead. Most solo queue teams can't coordinate effectively enough with the Baron buff, and it's more likely that they'll throw than succeed with it so long as your team is prepared for the siege.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

IV. Laning

Yes. I'm aware I skipped ahead two chapters. Those are coming soon. 


Big bold letters inscribed on the sky in flaming font a mile high: NO ONE ON YOUR TEAM IS FEEDING. 

If you take nothing away from today's blog, remember those big bold letters whenever the urge to bemoan a teammate's peculiar affinity for dying on the enemy side of the river rises. Dude isn't feeding. You don't have a counterargument. He's not. He got beat. Maybe it was a lucky crit like he said, maybe he just doesn't know the matchup as well as he thinks. It doesn't matter. Maybe the jungler showed up. IDGAF. Still isn't feeding.

I'll say it again: dying three times in lane isn't feeding. You know that, I know that. It's annoying, and that guy probably feels horrible, but he's not feeding. Five kills? Approaching it, especially if he didn't secure shutdown gold in exchange for the fifth death. But probably still not feeding.

Intentional feeding is beyond incredibly rare. Thanks to Lyte's umpteen posts on the subject we all know the actual rarity, but even anecdotally, it happens less often than finding an extra McNugget in your six-piece. I've played close to 4000 games of League, and I can distinctly remember an intentional feeder popping up a total of 3 times. I've probably blocked out truly awful games, and let's say my memory is worse than Guy Pierce's at the beginning of Memento and say it's 10 times as common. That's still not even 1%.

Unfortunately, thanks to the sheer volume of games played each day, I know there are some players who see intentional feeders a lot more often than I do--and I could see it a bunch of times in a row at some point--but as a general rule, it's fair to say you should probably go back to that whole defaulting to trust thing and give them the benefit of the Yeah-I've-Gotten-My-Ass-Kicked-By-A-Fucking-Teemo-Before-Too.

Rant over.

Once you've gotten over the feeding fallacy, you can focus on the most salient part of laning. Beating your opponent in gold. That's it. Reduced to its skeleton, that's what you've got to do in lane to contribute to a win. Make more money. Warren Buffett up here in the Rift. If that means outfarming them through careful zoning and harass or just better last-hitting, great. Do that. If you can pick up more gold by counterjungling and dueling the enemy jungler 'til he's scared to set foot in his own forest, awesome. Do that. If roaming or aggressively teleporting for objectives or 3v2s means that you'll end up with a fatter stack than the guy on the other side of the river, fantastic. Do that.

We could debate how to define a winning lane along a number of different axes. But whether you think killing the enemy champion, taking the outer turret first, or having a fifty CS lead qualifies, you should know that come teamfight time, the best way for you to contribute to the victory screen is with an item and experience lead. However you come across that.

I'm not going too in-depth with each lane. Contrary to popular belief, there's a lot you need to learn organically as you play. But I have collected three tips for each lane, culled from the vastness of the interwebs in the form of pro player streams, analyst guides, and tournament reviews.

Top Lane

1) Know if you are building for diving the backline or tanking on the front, and know before the game even begins. Don't just assume the jungler or support is going to be able to peel and soak damage. And if you do plan to build for dueling and split-pushing, make sure the team is onboard. If they aren't, none of you are going to have a good time.

2) Focus on farming and winning skirmish trades, but if you have to prioritize one, concentrate on the CS. With the buffs to Teleport and the general level of sustain among viable toplaners, you can afford to come out on the losing end of trades--especially if they are missing minions to hit you. Whether you're going damage or defense, your build is expensive. Farm up.

3) Pay attention to the rest of your lanes. If dragon is a possibility, you'll separate yourself from other toplaners by knowing when to be around the pit and managing your lane minions to avoid missing crucial gold.  The same goes for countering 2v3s in bot with Teleport, or roaming mid after shoving for a surprise gank. Your team's top lane champion is often thought of as an island, and that's true to some extent, but it's actually more like a lumbering, floating warship that can make its presence felt well inland from the coast.

Bot Lane Support

1) Zoning. The act of positioning your champion in such a way that approaching the minion line to farm results in your opponent getting zapped with a fusillade of damage. Proper zone control can make a lane considerably easier (or considerably more difficult, if the enemy support is winning the zone war).

2) Vision control. Fortunately, the actual warding part of the vision game is usually helped out by the rest of the team in the 2014 season. But you can get a leg up on other supports by practicing de-warding, and using dangerous deep wards to carve out small advantages for your team

3) Building for utility can make a huge difference in solo queue. Some supports still try to build like an off-lane AP carry. Zyra, Morgana and Vel'koz can pull it off, but it still means sacrificing the ability to turn a teamfight with a well-timed Mikael's, or chase down fleeing foes with a speed bump from the Talisman of Ascension.

Bot Lane Marksman

1) Positioning is a real thing, but it's widely misunderstood. For one thing that hardly ever gets pointed out, positioning is highly relative. As you climb while playing marksmen, you'll hear about "bad positioning" and "great positioning" in somewhat disproportionate numbers. The TL;DR of positioning as a marksman is that you need to stay out of range of assassins/dives/burst while still DPSing as much as possible. Finding the right angles and maneuvering with your team instead of trying to force them to work around you will lead to more victories.

2) When your team is shouting about focusing the right target, they are not talking to you. This is an important lesson to learn as a marksman but it's equally important to understand no matter what role you play. 

Remember the first tip? You can scroll up about a millimeter on your mousewheel if you've forgotten already. Because positioning is paramount, you need to shoot the things that are safest for you to shoot. Is that backline Tristana shredding your tanks? Well, the team can try and rotate around to get you an angle on her, but it's still the responsibility of the assassin/AoE/fighter to take her down. If you try and dive in because everyone is screaming to "focus the ADC," you're going to die, and then Tristana is going to finish what she was doing.

3) It's damage per second, not damage upfront. If you're playing marksman as if you were an assassin or mage, you're not right-clicking enough. Learn your animation timing, practice kiting as often as you can, and don't ever forget to right-click on bad guys.

Mid Lane

1) There are a lot of mid champions, and even more midlane strategies. Understanding your goals entering into the laning phase, however, is a universal boon. Always have one. It can be to keep your opponent heading back to base every three minutes. Build a fifty-CS lead by twelve minutes. Whatever your goal is, modify it for the matchup and adjust your tactics accordingly.

2) Take Wraiths. If it's the enemy Wraiths, that's even better. Investing in a ward for the Wraith camp bush on the enemy side is always worth it, even if you never steal the gold. If you have to, take your own Wraiths. Most junglers have very fast clear times now, and with an additional camp on the far side of the map from the Wraiths, with careful timing, you can make sure you get a Wraith camp for every Wraith camp your allied jungler smites down. The extra gold is relevant, but even more relevant in mid-tiers is the extra ticks on your CS count. Building up 4 bonus minion kills on your score every 55 seconds can make it look to your opponent as though they are falling even further behind than they actually are.

3) Make the effort to understand how much damage your abilities do, especially in terms of a full rotation of skills. You don't have to get to Faker's Zed level, but basic calculation of approximately whether or not you'll kill your target in a teamfight or duel can boost your mana efficiency and cooldown management. The good news is that you probably already have an instinctual understanding of the damage you do, so it's just a matter of converting that to real numbers you can subtract from your enemy's health total until you've got enough damage to reduce it to zero.

Jungle Tank

1) The two main styles of jungler are different enough to warrant two sections here. As a Tank, the jungler is still responsible for objectives and crowd control. Because you will most likely have less damage than a carry-style jungler, knowing your opponent's "Smite+X" combo is even more important than it is for Jungle Fighter champs. You or someone on your team needs to hit the bad smite-wielder with CC the instant the objective hits that number, so you can pile on a bit of extra damage and use your weaker combo to finish it off.

2) Mobility boots are your best friend. Tanks who play in the jungle are much slower than their Fighter counterparts. That goes for movement speed and the time it takes them to kill off monsters. For that reason, ganks and the resulting gold are crucial for Tanks. Investing in mobi boots means getting around the Rift faster and creating more opportunities to killsteal your carries.*

3) Bringing that chainable CC hugely benefits your team if you can do it. If you're more of the meatshield-type, don't neglect picking up extra health. Ruby Sightstone's stats are a lot more attractive when you've got the Spirit of the Ancient Golem.

Jungle Fighter

1) So, when the Live Design team stated their intention to bring back carry-style junglers in the preseason, I'm not sure they envisioned Feral Flare's broken release state. But the item has stabilized now, and junglers who want to be clawing and stabbing their way in to the back lines have some solid build paths and strong options that include or ignore FF as needed. That's not much of a tip though, so here's one: many of the strongest duelists and damage-based junglers don't even use FF. But if you are going to, make sure the team is onboard with the plan in champ select. At the very least, explain how you'll use the Feral Flare to secure objectives and map control, along with swifty or mobi boots to wreak some turret-pushing havoc in the mid and late game.

2) That was a little long. When building damage, know your role in teamfights. You'll likely pick up some tank stats along the way, and you need to use those to initiate and burst the opposing carries with your AD as fast as you can. You need to count on your team to follow up. As a reminder, when it comes to your team, default to trust.

3) You are building for counterjungling, so make sure you do it. Opposing jungler shows bot and you're near upper red? Snag his wraiths or wolves, because you're not making it down there in time to contribute. Always leave a ward. When counterjungling, if you can, it is usually better to clear the camp entirely so that you have the timer and your counterpart doesn't. If you remembered to leave the ward, you can time the camps respawns to initiate a duel, or just take advantage of his poor positioning.


Worthy of its own section. The infamous killsteal. Whereby a champion blows all of their abilities to secure a +1 to the K part of their KDA. Oh, you thought I meant whenever a champion that isn't thought of as a primary carry kills an enemy that other allies were attacking?

Yeah. Hate to break it to you, that's not KSing. It's probably not the best strategy, either, but the vitriol spewed in solo queue should the support dare to press Q one more time while the opponent running away is at low health is astonishing.

In general, it's better to get extra gold on to champions who are going to be dealing damage in mid and late game. The addition of assist streaks only magnifies the effectiveness of this. But, damn. Gold in lane is gold in lane. Remember what I said way back at the beginning of this section?  Each lanes' goal in the early game is to generate more gold and experience than the opponents in that lane. Gold on the support still counts for bot lane, and gold in the jungler's purse still counts towards gold from the jungle.

If you're playing one of the non-damage roles, then by all means try to avoid getting kills that could be taken down by damage-dealers. But don't make it a bigger deal than it is. We've got more important things to do, like win the fucking game.