1. Pimp my settings.
2. Oil up my mechanics.
1. Pimp my settings.
In the previous two installments, it’s been thouroughly discussed how playing to win means creating as much advantage as you possible can. Well, good news, there’s a few easy ways to create advantage through optimizing your settings.
Let’s take a look.
First of all, there’s the video options. These settings should be optimized for maximum fps and maximum visibility. As far as fps or frames per second is concerned, you want two things: A stable fps rate, and as many frames per second as possible. To learn why, it’s imperative to understand how the human eye processes images. Here’s a laymans explanation from Wikipedia as to how our visual imagery comes to life:
Basically, this means that at 12 fps, your eyes see individual images, imagine this like being in a dark room with a light flashing at steady intervals. At 24 fps, you see a continuous image, sort of like looking at an animated gif. Anything higher than that is better, because a higher amount of frames per second equals higher fluidity for the illusion of motion.
The effect of higher fluidity is that it feels like time is being slowed down. This is because as new images come faster, the speed at which your brain receives information updates used for deciding what your next move will be, is increased. This increase serves as a sorts of slow motion effect, making the game effectively easier to play than at lower frame rates. In the dark room, as the amount of time that the light is on per second increases, the impression of the image being chopped up decreases.
However, imagine the light suddenly flashing completely at random. The room’s going completely dark for both extended and shortened periods of time. The equivalent of having an unsteady fps rate. It’s like skipping through timezones in terms of how slow or fast the game feels. Not only is it harder for your brain to adapt to the constant switching in gears, it also makes things more difficult for your muscle memory.
Imagine trying to jump over a wall using a wriggles lantern ward into safeguard when you’re low health and being chased as Lee Sin. While also keeping an eye on your minimap. Now imagine trying to do it while your fps drops from 80 to 21 right before the ward comes out. Quite a bit harder when a lot of visual information suddenly becomes unavailable.
Right, so we want a steady, high amount of frames per second. Luckily, League of Legends has a fair number of video options ready to help with that. First of all there’s the option to get automatic settings. When you're playing to win however, you go for custom settings. Resolution should be set to whatever the native resolution of your monitor is. I personally use 1680x1050. The Windowed Mode setting is personal preference really, use whatever works best for you.
The quality and shadows options should be set to medium, this trades in some eye candy for increased visibility while maintaining a smooth look. It’s the golden path of aesthetic and performant visuals. Fast terrain is for low performance pc’s only, though I wouldn’t recommend using it since it warps the way the map looks. Frame rate cap has several different options, try experimenting to find out what setting gives you the highest stable fps. For some reason, High works better than Stable on my system. Vertical sync locks the frames at the vertical (up and down) refresh rate of your monitor when enabled, but also reduces performance. It’s generally disabled in your GFX card's drivers, and in the game options. That concludes the video options.
Next up is the More Options window. That one has a few really interesting settings, namely Use Movement Prediction and Line Missile Display. Use Movement Prediction is an option shrouded in myth. Thanks to the awesome people at reddit, I've been able to get a very detailed explanation of exactly what goes on. BooleanFiasco is due credit for this amazing breakdown on how client-server interactions in League of Legends work.
2. Server receives the position, calculates a route for the player, then sends that back to the client.
3. Client receives the route and begins moving along it. At this point the client will "simulate" the movement of the character and send updates to the server.
4. Each time the server receives a client update it will do its own movement simulation and, if it disagrees with the client, send the client a correction.
5. Client receives a correction and updates its position to match the one on the server. This way, the server is always authoritative.
Where Movement Prediction comes into play is step #1 and 2. Instead of waiting for the server to generate the route to the new position, the client immediately generates its own route and starts moving along it. The new order of operations looks like this:
1. Client receives mouse-click input, translates that into a position on the map, then calculates a route to reach that position and simulates the first tick of moving toward it. It then sends the goal position and its new simulated location to the server.
2. Server receives the position, calculates a route for the player, then sends that back to the client. The server also looks at the client's simulated movement and, if the server disagrees, sends a correction.
3. The client receives the server's path and location. If the server's path disagrees, the client replaces its own path with the server's. It also corrects its position to match that of the server so that the server is always authoritative.
So, the reason Movement Prediction is helpful in high-latency environments is because it trades moment-to-moment accuracy for responsiveness. Instead of clicking and having to wait 300-400ms for your character to actually start moving, your character starts moving immediately even if it might be wrong. The reason you experience popping with Movement Prediction enabled is due to your client guessing wrong and having to correct its position to the one the server tells it it should have. The important thing to note about this is that Movement Prediction is entirely client side - it has no effect whatsoever on what the server thinks or does. Because of this, it cannot change the outcome of anything you or anyone else does in the game. It can, however, create visual errors like popping and misplaced particle effects in a sufficiently laggy environment."
In short, this basically means that you should disable Use Movement Prediction, because it makes your screen actually display information that your client guessed, instead of waiting for the correct information from the server. It will look and feel a little less smooth, but the accuracy of the game data will be greater.
Enabling Line Missile Display gives you a shapely range indicator for skills that fire a projectile traveling in a straight line, such as Ashe’s Enchanted Crystal Arrow, Ezreal’s Mystic Shot, and Anivia’s Flash Frost. This is obviously extremely useful when learning to aim such skills. If you practice using them often enough, their limits will be imprinted on your minds’ eye, prepping you for the next step up in spellcasting: smartcasting.
The final options dialogue where we find noteworthy settings is the key bindings dialogue. Three commands available there are highly useful, yet underused. Smartcast, Player Attack Move and Play Stop Position. These have significant strategical use, and as such chapter two is dedicated to them.
The Level Up Spell keybindings are faster and more precise than clicking the correct spell, and should always be used. The same thing goes for Selfcasting spells, for exactly the same reasons. Anything that you can accomplish by using the keyboard instead of the mouse is typically an advantage. Use the mouse for controlling the camera, moving your champion, and aiming skills. For everything else, there's the keyboard. Think of it this way, would you rather be able to quickly Self Cast a heal or shield using your keyboard, or would you prefer having to do it with your mouse, which you also need to use for moving backwards or forwards?
Center Camera on Champion is a useful command, but the key binding is redundant as doubletapping the Select Self key has the exact same effect. This technique also works for skipping through allied champions using the Select Ally # bindings. Toggle camera lock is something people might find useful for teamfights. It also may find its use for filming clips.
Attack Move Click is the same thing as Player Attack Move using a mouse button instead of a keyboard button. Player Attack Click could be used as a possible alternative to Player Attack Move, by separating between movement clicks and attack clicks. Player Hold Position causes your champion to instantly stop moving, but it will continue autoattacking.
The Chat History keybinding is useful for quickly calling up buff and objective timers. Open Shop just saves precious time in a game that snowballs, use it.
The Use Item keybindings should be staple for everyone, same principle as not clicking on skills to use them. A few item slots should be cast with Smart Cast Item though, think item actives with single targets like Deathfire Grasp and Hextech Gunblade.
Try having the same item slots for certain items every time. I put items with actives that have an effect that don’t require targeting but do require quick activation on Use Item 1, binding it to space for easy access. Smart Cast Item 2 is used for items with single targeted spells. Use Item 3 is for potions, 4 is for wards, 5 and 6 are rarely needed. Those commands are bound to the 1 2 3 4 5 keys. Finally, it’s useful to have keybindings for Quick Alert Ping and Quick Retreat Ping, for alerting silly teammates in soloqueue. And a mandatory keybind for spamming /Laugh like a madman ofcourse.
2. Oil up my mechanics.
By learning to play with certain powerful commands bound to their keyboard, players can drastically improve their mechanical control. There are three major commands that go underused in League of Legends. The first is the smartcasting option. There are a few major reasons why smartcasting crushes normal casting.
First reason is speed. Smartcasting fires a spell the moment you hit your button. When casting normally, you have to hit your button then leftclick, which is one action more and also takes longer. One input is faster than two inputs, no arguing there.
Second reason is mashability. It is not a proud thing, but sometimes efficiency trumps elegance. As far as smartcasting is concerned, this definitely holds true. When you’re chasing an enemy on low health, and you have a spell coming off cooldown that will score you the kill if you can get in range, smartcast is your best friend. With smartcast, you can simply use your right mouse button to micromanage your movement optimally, and not lose precision from having to use the left mouse button for target-confirming spells. Because of this, you can simply keep spamming movement commands in front of the enemy player, and hover your cursor over them while your champion is chasing after them. While doing this, spam your smartcast key, and if you ever get in range, the spell will immediately go off, often resulting in seemingly ridiculous range on spells and shattered dreams of glorious escapes.
Smartmashing is also very useful for unleashing blazing fast combos with skillshot champions like Brand, Xerath and Malzahar. With practice, it's not unusual to land full 4 spell combo's in the blink of an eye. Smartcasting also makes already easy champions like Ryze completely facerollable, and it always wins quickdraw duels. Imagine playing Vladimir and fighting an enemy champion to the death. You are both very low health, and you have one second left of being submerged in Sanguine Pool. Transfusion will go off cooldown just as you come up again. If you have smartcast you can hold your cursor over the enemy champion and start mashing your Transfusion button, causing it to fire faster than Lucky Luke once you emerge from your pool. With normal casting, this simply isn’t possible.
Then there’s of course that fact that it's very easy to aim smartcasted spells.
By simply rightclicking an enemy champion, your champion will rotate until it has the right angle for launching an autoattack. An autoattack is basically just a low damage low cooldown line missile. So when your champion is properly aligned for autoattacking the target, fire your smartcast spell and watch it connect with the target almost every time. If you really need convincing that smartcasting is better than normal casting, play five games with Anivia using normal casting, and five games using smartcast. If that doesn't tide you over, nothing will.
One of the most recent patches brought with it an option that pretty much removes the only drawback to smartcasting. By enabling Smartcast Range Indicators in the More Options window, your smartcast buttons will show a range indicator or line missile display when pressing down the button, and fire the spell upon releasing it. This pretty much allows you to have the best of normal casting and smartcasting all at once!
Next, we have the Player Attack Move command. It is pretty much the holy grail for playing AD carry. Let's find out why. The problem with having your autoattacks as the main source of damage is the Player Move Click command, typically bound to your right mouse button. It's no surprise that people use this command to move their champion around. The command is designed to do just that, so why not. What does surprise me, is that people also use it for attacking. There's so much potential for things to go wrong when using Player Move Click for attacking. It's happened to everyone, you're trying to get lasthits in the laning phase, and all of a sudden your champion starts running forwards because you missclicked using Player Move Click. Not only will you miss the last hit, you will also be out of position, so if your enemies are on ball it will probably cost you a lot more than just one last hit. And that's only one example, in team fights the consequences of running into the melee because of a missclick are typically way worse.
The Player Attack Move provides a much more practical solution. When you press the button for Attack Move, your cursor will turn into a targeting diamond. Very useful for precise lasthitting. Then when you leftclick to confirm the Attack Move command, your champion will do two things. The first one is attacking. If you selected a target, that target will be attacked and focused. If you didn't select a target, your champion will automatically fire at the closest available target. Finally, if no target was selected and no target is available, your champion will move in the direction you clicked.
This awesome command is great for lasthitting, but has some better uses still.
The obvious one is optimizing your dps in teamfights. To do the maximum possible damage as AD carry, simply stand at your maximum attack range, and Attack Move in front of you. Your champion will attack the closest champion in range, and keep doing so until they go out of range. At some point the enemy champions will get angry at you and try to attack you. When this happens, or whenever you're being chased by a melee champion as an AD carry, use Attack Move for kiting them while keeping up your damage output.
Because of the fact that League of Legends has almost no turnspeed, Attack Move is kind of overpowered for kiting, if you know how to do it right. The very fast turnspeed allows fleeing champions to almost instantly turn around, fire a spell or autoattack, complete another 180 degree turn and continue running away, all while losing very little time to pivoting.
The proper technique for kiting with Attack Move is surprisingly easy. Simply use Player Move Clicks to run away, by clicking in front of your champion in the direction you want to run. Whenever your champion is ready to launch an autoattack, tap your attack move button, leftclick behind your champion, and as soon as the autoattack projectile starts flying, immediately Player Move Click behind your champion again to continue running away. This will animation cancel the backswing of your auto attack animation and save you precious milliseconds.
If you master this technique, it's possible to kite even the tankiest bruisers to death, without taking so much as a single hit. Provided that you have enough movement and attack speed of course.
While Player Attack Move is mainly used to screw over melee champions, it does have a few nifty tricks for them aswell.
Firstly, the kiting technique can also be used to equalize trades between melee champions. Irelia is a great example here, as initially she won't have a great deal of attackspeed, but will do a tremendous amount of damage with a single auto attack if Hiten Style is activated. When trading hits with Olaf for example, simply kite him using the technique described above, and trade single hits 1:1. You will come out ahead, whereas standing still would certainly give the advantage to Olaf and his greater attackspeed.
Secondly, Attack Move is extremely useful for avoiding brush jukes. First I'll explain how those work. When trying to escape a pursuer, going into a brush is one of the best ways for shaking them off. This is because the champion chasing you loses vision of you when you enter a brush. It's impossible to target a champion you don't have vision of, and it's impossible to tell for sure where they are running next. So, when you're being chased and walk into a brush, it's possible to juke enemy champions by running out of the brush again in the opposite direction, just as they enter it. If executed correctly, this can increase the distance between you and your stalker, or even throw them off completely since they expect to find you in the brush, but don't.
The only reason this works is because good players will micro their movement by clicking in the direction they want to run, instead of rightclicking the champion they are chasing. By using the Attack Move command, you can avoid getting juked because of this. Simply tap your Attack Move key, and leftclick the brush your target just disappeared into. If the target is trying to juke you, they will eat an autoattack to the face as soon as they exit the brush. If the enemy keeps running, it's very possible that your champion will also land an autoattack because a buggy interaction of Movement Prediction and Attack Move allows for a longer range than usually possible. I'm sure everyone has gotten auto attacked by a melee champion from what seemed like an impossible distance. Movement Prediction + Attack Move is how that happens.
The last very useful command that usually goes unnoticed is the Player Stop Position command. It's basically a freeze button, halting all movement and attack commands your champion is currently executing. It also stops any automatic attacking or moving your champion might be prompted into by circumstance. This is very useful for using skills like Rumble's Flamethrower and Corkie's Gatling Gun. It's also handy for not having any accidents when donating buffs to teammates as a jungler. You can trick people into thinking you've used Decoy as Wuking by pressing this key, when in fact you're just doing the flashmob freeze!
I've also seen people use this command for easier lasthitting, as it is a way around "dancing" so that your champion won't automatically start attacking nearby minions. Support players can avoid stealing last hits using the Player Stop Position command. If at any point you find your champion starting to spazz, just tap your Player Stop Position key and reissue the correct command.
It's also handy for dodging flying projectiles, and finally you can randomly push your button while laning to weird out your enemy.
Got any more cool ways or innovative to make the best use of the available commands in League of Legends? Let us know in the comments section!
BooleanFiasco's post on Use Movement Prediction.
Wikipedia Article for Frame Rate
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