Normal vs. Ranked

A lot of our League of Legends community have been grinding ranked in the last month.  Most of us are working on the sluggish grind of getting out of bronze.  When we stack up as two or three LAN Mobbers, we have to ask, "Normal or ranked?"  What's the difference?

In normal games, you may find a standard game of League where chat can be very quiet and there is not as much focus on rotations or objectives.  Everything appears much more relaxed and players will find the freedom to experiment with new champions and new build paths.  In ranked, like any ranked system, you are rewarded for winning and penalized for losing.  This is monitored in LoL by your League Points (LP)  which cap in any league division at 100 points.  Once you've reached the cap, you enter your best-of-3 or best-of-5 promotional series, depending on whether you're advancing to the next division or next league, respectively.  Ranked can be described as the "try-hard" mode for league, where everyone plays their best champions or plays what they find is very strong in the meta.  You may find a much more active chat and warning 'pings' are highly valued to note enemy movements.

The way that I see it, there's two ways of looking at normals vs. ranked.  Normals appear attractive to players who don't want to risk losing their ranked LP, whether they think they won't play optimally or are playing with friends who are new to the game.  These kinds of players will often rank alone or with a select few; A few who they find synergy with.  Normals provide an opportunity to show off your skill on your favorite champ, or teach some new aspects of the game to your buds.  I've played many normal games with Sage simply trying to find what solid bot lanes there are.  I find that this types of player will put too much pressure on themselves to play their best when they do get around to ranking (which could also be the thing that helps them find success), but will have the most fun playing the game with people who can laugh off a bad play.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, you could be the kind of player who couldn't care less about "LP" (to an extent) and simply want to play in the most competitive environment possible.  You think that people might just troll in normals and not attempt to carry their own weight.  At least if you're playing ranked, you'll have the chance at getting the better mid laner, or the duo bot plat smurfs, or that Lee Sin who is always where he needs to be.  However, once you're sucked in to the ranked flow, you might have a hard time playing at anything less than 100%.  You win straight to your promos, win the first two, then proceed to lose the next three.  This is where the value of gaining LP sinks in and the 'blame game' takes hold. I find that these types of players have a harder time opening their mind to new ways of thinking about the game as they may eventually get too wrapped up in gaining LP, but have the most competitive drive and understand League of Legends' unforgiving snowballing nature.

Whatever your reasoning, there are options for both schools of thought.  I find myself in the middle of the two.  Some days I could care less about LP and just want to encourage a positive environment for anyone I'm playing with.  The games are long; Just because your team has an awful early game does not mean the end! In my ranked experience, teams who have a lead going into the mid-game are more likely to become complacent and be caught out of position.  As for normals, I played with Sage and DoomMuffins at a recent lockin and I hadn't laughed that hard in League games in a while!  Most notably was the Tahm Kench/Annie delivery service that picked off enemy carries.  Sometimes it's the little things!

This past week I was able to successfully win through my series and was promoted from Bronze III to Bronze II.  It felt good to finally get bumped up, but it wasn't satisfying and I want more.  I know I can push through to Silver and possibly higher.  Ranked games will feed that drive towards winning games and improving.  I've already duo'd with Lost 0nes, Kindrid Skylar, Sandbagdude43 and Sage all at different times.  It's mid season 6 already, where does the time go!  If you're trying to rank up, do what you have to do to get going with it.  Find your duo buddy, set time aside to play three or four games at a time, and learn to accept the small victories towards ranking up.  Ending the day with 5 more LP than when you started is a victory, learn what you can from the games you played, let go, and move on.  If you're in for normals only, we have PLENTY of people here who love kicking back and having a good time in casual play.  You'll learn to not sweat the little things and see the bigger picture of the game: having a team who has your back.  Let's queue up, fam.

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