The Climb

In the early winter of 2012 I found myself installing League of Legends on my old laptop.  It was the game that my friends were into at the time and a game that I had only tried once back in season 1 (they called me the mid Alistar genius).  At this point season 2 had just wrapped up and preseason 3 had just begun.  Throwing myself into a few bot games to level up my new account, I was immediately drawn to characters such as Garen, Udyr and Master Yi.  I had no idea what the metagame was and found success only when I had a team carry me or when laning against someone who was noticeably worse than myself.

We kept playing regularly back then.  There was a core group of us who would play a few times a week.  Eventually, I worked my way to level 30 and found my first 'main' in Graves.  The old Graves.  With the cigar.  I had a very good feel for the all-in type marksman and found a lot of success around my team.  One of the most memorable lanes we played frequently was Graves/Sona with bossman.

Eventually, Cody and I decided to try out ranked.  After our 10 provisionals, we were placed into Silver II and Silver III, respectively.  It felt good to be somewhere in the ranked system! Maybe we could climb to gold if we tried hard enough.  Maybe I was actually the next Faker and I hadn't realized it yet.  

Nope! I was awful.  We tried our hand at playing ranked after we placed and found 0 success.  Every game I fed hard and couldn't understand what wasn't going right.  I started blaming others for losing and finding excuses as to why I didn't do well.  Through all the defeating losses I slowly discovered, like most League players do when they hit a wall, that the problem was with me.  I had reached my skill cap and wasn't going to get any further until I had learned more about the game.  At this time, around the summer of 2013, my league friends were into the professional league scene.  I would see the game being played at the highest level.  I got hooked.  The players, the trash talk, the hyped up plays (I witnessed the game where Xpecial outplayed Saintvicious three times on Thresh).  I began to understand trading, win conditions, the everlasting importance of map awareness and I finally felt like I was getting better.  

There were many times over the course of the next year where league hit the backburner.  Life happens, people play different games.  In spring 2014, when I was attending SUNY Fredonia for Music Therapy, I decided to try ranked again.  After a lot of grinding in normals from my half-decent dorm internet, I found an attraction to Lucian, a high-mobility ADC who I view as a bursty assasin.  I practically forced myself on the champion every ranked game I could and was placed into Bronze I. Hmm... that's not so bad, right? I mean, if I was placed in Silver III last season I could easily carry my way up the ranks!  

It took me almost three weeks of consistently playing ranked to reach my promos and win.  I was done after that.  There was no drive to continue ranked after this experience, seeing as I would get the shiny silver border at the end of the season (what a monster I've become..)  So once again league goes to the back of my mind save some normals with my friends back home.  The seasons pass and it's finally autumn.  I log in one fateful October day to see that I've decayed back into bronze.  My precious silver border!  There's a few weeks until the ranked season is over but maybe not enough time to climb.  I remember Tristana being in favor at the time so she was my go-to champ for hard carrying. It was as difficult as the first grind of season 4.  Nine other people are trying to do exactly the same thing as I am every game.  Finally, I won through my promos and sat at silver V.  As I wiped the sweat away from my brow and declared, "Never again." I closed the client for the ranked season.  

A lot happened for me between season 4 and season 5.  Some big plans changed that ended up keeping me local and allowing me to be a part of LAN Mob's startup process.  It was around April that ranked became a thought once again.  I struggled through promos going 3-7 and placing into bronze II.  There was a pattern in my ranked decline every season.  Part of me wants to blame my lack of ambition to play more ranked, but the truth is that I probably belong there! Sometimes there are games that just can't be won.  When you install the game in the first place you should be warned that you will win 50% of your games and lose 50% of your games.  You will have winning streaks, you will have losing streaks, and sometimes you'll get pretty looking holiday lights in your match history.  

I was able to climb to bronze I in my April push but then grew sour playing ranked.  This was something I noticed from the last season.  Grinding ranked games actually exhausted me and made me not want to play.  This is when I decided to step away for basically the entirety of season 5.  I made one final push the day before the ranked season ended with a very high win rate, but lost game 5 of my division promos.  I settled for the bronze life and it wasn't so bad.  

The truth about League is that it's a constant struggle to come out on top.  You might be pulling more than your weight but someone on your team will make the bad calls, feed in lane, disconnect or just troll.  It all happens and it's all part of the experience.  What you'll find, however, is that when you're in the position of carrying and you're 20/0 in the mid lane and you still lose, you shouldn't blame your team.  You should hold yourself accountable for not carrying; it's your fault that you weren't there to help bot lane out of a hole.  It was you who decided to farm that giant wave top lane instead of grouping for a make-or-break team fight at dragon.  It was you who decided to talk in all-chat and got caught out of position when you should have instead focused on your win conditions.  When you win your ranked games you should be proud of yourself for having an impact that lead to a victory screen, even if you admittedly got carried.  At some point, you were at the right place at the right time and you played the team fight just well enough to come out on top.  

It's season 6 now and I've already been demoted from bronze II to bronze III.  I'm not too worried yet, there's still plenty of time to climb.  If I end the season still in bronze that's alright, too.  However, I have the tools to play a lot, and comfortably at that.  It's the first season in a while where I have friends around me who are also trying to get out of bronze.  This could be the season that I pass my season 3 height and prove that I can climb if I put in the time.  Climbing ranked doesn't mean much on a day-to-day basis or in the grand scheme of things.  It does sate the need to gradually play at higher and higher levels and that's what I want.

Thanks to LAN Mob, the opportunity is there if I want to pursue the path of ranked grinding; something which has been a part of my life for a few years now.

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