Want to be better at MOBAs? Stop complaining about ELO Hell​

Smite Ravana

It’s never your fault, right? You’re playing Dota 2 or League of Legends or Smite or Heroes of the Storm, and you’re good, but you keep losing matches. You can’t hit that Diamond or Platinum rank you deserve. The problem is, your team just sucks, match after match. They’re the worst. You’re stuck in ELO (or MMR) Hell—the popular phrase for feeling stuck at a matchmaking rank beneath your own skill level—and can’t seem to dig your way out. So what do you do?

I recently asked every pro Smite player I interviewed at the Smite Super Regionals the same question: what’s the best way for new or average players to up their game? Their advice, which I think translates to any MOBA, was almost unanimous: stop bitching about ELO Hell. The sooner you stop blaming your team for a loss and focus on your own play, the sooner you’ll start winning.


Elo Hell Teemo

Images via Quickmeme

Really play to win

“Take every game seriously,” said JeffHindla, the support player for Cloud9. “A lot of people just play, they hop on any game, and autopilot, or they have something on the second monitor. If you really want to get better, try really hard to win every game. Look at how you’re playing and how you could be getting better. Don’t just be like ‘my teammates are terrible, this should’ve just worked!’ If it should’ve worked, then note that it should’ve worked and move on. Take every game seriously and look to make yourself better. Don’t rage at people, because it just makes people worse. And you can’t get any practice if everyone’s spitefully playing. It just doesn’t work.”

“For me it would be play greedy,” said Epsilon’s team captain and support iRaffer. “If you’re the ADC ranged carry, and you see your support make a bad play, stay on the back foot. If he dies, then you know it was his fault, not yours. But if you see the potential of going in and you die, just see it as both your faults.”

It’s not just your team. In fact, it’s probably you

“Sometimes people will play a game and use that very popular saying ‘I’m stuck in ELO hell,’ said Enemy team captain PainDeViande. “It doesn’t work that way. If you’re in a certain bracket of MMR and you play a lot of games and you stay there, that means you probably belong there. If you're thinking it’s just ELO hell...look what happened in a match-up, and don't think about how bad your Isis mid is. Think about: ‘what can I do to carry even an Isis mid that goes 0 and 35?’ I know that’s pretty hard, but there's always a way for you to play better. If you do play better, you look at your own mistakes, what went wrong, the small very little last auto attack that you missed...look at these small mistakes and fix these.”

“Always, always, always blame yourself,” said Dimi, solo lane for Epsilon. “It helps you to improve. The MOBA mentality of ‘oh my team, they’re not doing anything…’ No. It’s hard, but when I wanted to improve, I just blamed myself for every loss I had in ranked, until a point where I started winning. I finally realized how I had to play the meta to succeed, and not blaming your team is the best way to go about it.”

Epsilon’s jungler Adapting echoed that sentiment. “Be self-critical. Learn from your mistakes. Learn every time you mess up. Just think about it, relive it.”


Don’t just play carry

“Don’t try to fix what people do. People won't fix stuff for you,” said PainDeViande. “Look at your own mistakes. I see a lot of people go into ranked thinking ‘I’m the carry, I got this.’ Well, how about you go into ranked and you play every single role and then you understand every single role, and then you understand when you play them the mistakes you make? That’s a much better way to approach the game than ‘I’m going to carry everything, it’s everybody’s fault, I’m in ELO Hell.’ Grow as a player, reach the point where you’re going to plateau, and then if you can’t improve anymore, there it is, your time, there it is!”

“I usually have a really good game sense because I play every role,” said Trixtank, who plays Guardian for Paradigm. It’s really good if you know every god in the game. To be really good, you’ve got to know what the enemy does...if you can go back and get into that mindset, you can kinda predict what he’s going to do. Having a knowledge of all the gods, playing every single god, but as well you need to focus on one role. So it’s a mix of knowing every god and focusing on one role.”

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Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).