Making The Plays #2: MechanicsFri 1st Jun 2012 - 8:03pm Category: League of Legends
Hey everyone! In my last article we talked about timing and how to plan in-game events to gain an advantage. Today we're going to talk about improving your mechanics. Mechanics in video games and sports are your ability to physically execute actions within the game. As a comparrison, if League's mechanics are last hitting and skill shots, basketballs mechanics are dribbling, passing, and shooting. A player with perfect mechanics could play their character exactly as they want them to be played.
They are the basics of the game and while you don't have to be perfect at them, being good at them will always improve your play. Everyone can always improve their mechanics (even pro players!) The goal of this article is to give you tips and advice to practice and get better at these skills. Today we're going to cover good practicing habits, hotkeys, and last hitting.
Before we continue any further, I want to talk about practicing. The best way to become good at something like mechanical skills is through a lot of practice, but the best training includes a lot more than just playing a lot of games. Just like sports, you must isolate the skill from everything else as much as possible; in sports, this means doing drills. Unfortunately in League of Legends there aren't really many ways to do drills as there are is no training system that some games like Starcraft have, but you can still do drills to a lesser degree.
The best way to practice something specific in League is simply to focus on it as much as possible in normals or Co-op vs. AI and put forth more mental focus than you normally would to improve it. Ideally, you will do this for several games and track your progress until you see improvement. For example, if you want to work on last hitting, play several normal games in a row where the goal is just to last hit better.
Conciously think about getting as many last hits as you can and focus on getting each one. At the end of each of your laning phases or at a certain minute mark - say 10 or 20 minutes - write down how many CS you got and by what time. This should only take 5-10 seconds if you have pen and paper ready. After 10 games, look at your scores; did you improve? If not, go back and do another 5-10 games, focusing even more on your last hitting. This is the true way to improve; isolate what you're doing and do it over and over again, correcting your mistakes each time.
Remember that the goal isn't to win, it's to get better. Losing is irrelevant if you have improved yourself for all future games! Once you have gotten skilled at something it is easy to retain those skills. If you put in a lot of effort practicing, you will be that much better for all the rest of your League games! The goal of this article is to give you tips and advice to practice and get better at these skills.
If you are a serious gamer then hopefully you have learned the importance of hotkeys, but if you haven't I'll say this: Hotkeys are vital to improving your playing speed and execution. Your keyboard hand has several things it can do through hotkeys that would otherwise take your mouse hand a long time to perform. Barring push-to-talk commands your mouse hand should never perform any tasks that your keyboard hand could otherwise do.
Let's go through a few hotkeys and hand positioning. I'm going to cover a lot of important hotkeys that you should know if you want to step up your game! Part of having strong mechanics means you know all of your options available and how to properly use them. Remember, the best way to practice something is to isolate it. If you want to practice using a certain hotkey, play a bunch of games in a row and conciously focus on using that key at every appropriate time. Break away from your old habits and create new good habits!
Self Cast Spell
Self Cast Spell means if you're pressing the Self Cast button while you cast a spell that could target you, it will automatically target you. Some people think that this isn't important, but remember: any movement that you can eliminate from your mouse hand will allow you to play the most optimally. Your keyboard hand can do 5 different things while your mouse is limited to being on one part of the screen at a time, so its important to always make it available to move where it needs to go. Selfcast is naturally bound to the alt key and for me that works great; I just silp my thumb down and hit it. Don't be afraid to change your hotkeys around if you find ways that work better for you!
This one is huge for Ranged Carries. Attack move makes you attack all enemy targets (minions and aggro'd neutral monsters included) to the location you clicked to, starting with the closest. The reason this is so great for ranged carries is you just want to hit whatever is the closest to you in team fights as you sit on the outside of the fight. It can also be great for last hitting; by using attack move, you won't go walking towards the minion like an idiot and potentially get yourself killed. To attack move, you simply juts hit the "A" button and then left click to the location. Additionally, if you don't like to hit a key, shift + click also does attack move.
If you have trouble figuring out what finger to use for "a", I would recommend using your ring finger by sliding it down from "q". This way if you're playing characters that use Q a lot (such as Vayne) the transition won't require you to move your whole hand position. For example, I used to naturally use my pinky to hit A, but then I'd move my hand back to QWER have my fingers on the wrong spot.
Disable minion targeting
I had no idea this function even existed when I first heard about it! Using this key - naturally binded to ~ (better known as tilde or simply "squigly") - makes it so that you cannot click on minions by any means, allowing you to easily cast abilities on players that are stacked on minions. It is a hold key, which means as long as you are holding it you will be unable to target minions. I personally have it also bound to my left mouse buttons, as I find hitting the tilde key on my keyboard a little difficult.
Level Up Spells
Particularly useful for when you level in the middle of combat, you can use the skill level-up hotkeys to add new skills from leveling with only your keyboard hand. You simply hit "ctrl" plus the key you are leveling (so if you are leveling Q, you hit ctrl + Q.)
Stop key is actually pretty useful, particularly for freezing creep waves and feeding jungle buffs to your team mates; you just stop and wait until they take it. That way you still share the experience and don't risk accidently hitting it. Stop is bound by default to the "s" key.
The item hotkeys are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 respective to their spot, as you probably already know. I just put this in here because I wanted to emphasize how easy it is to practice these and how IMPORTANT it is! You don't even have to do this in real games: get in a custom game with a bot, buy an item you would normally use in a rotation (such as Death-Fire Grasp on Veigar or Gunblade on Akali), sit next to the bot, and do the basic rotation over and over again.
You don't even have to do a rotation as just using the item over and over again can get you in the habit of using it. This one can truly become a drill as it's just a simple button thing. Also, find the numbers you enjoy using for abilities; a lot of players just recommend using the "1" key for abilities, but I personally prefer the "4" button for my main abilities (it was my "spam" button when I played WoW.") Additionally, set other keys for when you have multiple items like wards, Quicksilver Sash, and potions.
If you're stumped, here is my setup to give you ideas. I have 1 for Wriggles, 2 for wards, 3 for QSS, 4 for all offensive items like Gunblade and Ghostblade, and 5 for Randuins.
This has got to be my most used key that I find a lot of people don't know. You can center the camera on yourself by pressing spacebar. This way you can click on the minimap to look around then instantly recenter on yourself once you're done. Additionally if you happen to actually lose track of your character in a messy team fight or something you can find yourself with spacebar. Holding down spacebar also makes you continue to follow yourself.
3. Last Hitting
Making sure you're skilled at last hitting cannot be stressed enough. A large majority of your laning phase gold will (or at least should) come from last hits, assuming you're playing a role that should be getting last hits. Here are some tips and advice for improving your last hitting.
a) Know your damage
Knowing exactly how much damage your auto attacks deal will make last hitting trumendously easier. Clicking on the minion portraits to see how much health they have relative to how big their health bar is will help you learn the best timing for last hitting. I don't think you can do this too much though, as very harass-heavy lanes may prevent you from taking the time to actually focus on the health number in the top of the screen.
Regardless, doing this a few times will help you get a feel for when you can get a last hit. Remember, the minion waves get more health as the game goes on, so you can't get comfortable with those numbers! Your attack damage also goes up when you level so constantly keep tabs on how much you're doing.
b) Watch your minons' attacks
If you watch your minions' attacks, you can tell when you're going to need to go for a last hit. Often times you may feel compelled to just hit a minion that is low, but doing so may lose you another last hit becuase you didn't see the 6 caster minions attacking that other poor minion. Getting good at this will allow you to see what you'll need to do five seconds from now, and thinking about what you're doing before you do it will allow you to really improve your game (in more ways than just last hitting.)
c) Don't go for last hits that will result in you taking a lot of damage
This kind of sounds like it goes against what I'm trying to teach, but you can't get last hits if you're dead or risk dying. This is most important top lane where "trading" is very prelevant, but in all lanes you need to make sure you don't eat a lot of damage going for a last hit. It is way better to lose 20 gold then to give up your lane position. Each lane situation is different, but if a caster minion is close to your opponent and you're melee, it may be better to just let it go if you know he can dish a lot of damage to you that you can't recover.
That's all for today! Join me next time where we cover more mechanics such as Skill Shots and how you can improve those. Start practicing and thanks for reading!