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League of Legends Tutorial: How to Win #1

This article is one of many, and isn’t some trick or gimmick to net you instant wins–but before you hit the back button just know that I can help you. What follows are my thoughts, ideas and opinions on success towards achieving victory in the popular MOBA League of Legends. This week we’ll cover a common misconception within the community and the numbers behind a victory.

Uncompromising devastation.

League of Legends Tutorial #1: How to Win

Kills Win Games

Pictured above are the results from one of my recent matches. On the surface it would seem that kills do in fact win games–just look at Jinx (21 kills) and LeBlanc(14 kills), their kill count is easily above anyone on the opposing team–and why not? Killing players on the other team allows your team to push. The issue at hand is the singular thought put into this concept; an error on the behalf of inexperienced or struggling players is that kills are the primary factor leading to a victory. Let’s go a bit deeper.

Graphs mean accuracy.

Above is an isolated look at the kills. Despite the title making the promise that I will eventually explain how to win, let’s think backwards¬†for a second–specifically how to lose, and what better way to find the answers than looking at a losing team? On the losing side we have Fiora with the most kills for their team (10) and Varus trailing in second place with 7. Time to toss up a sight ward really quick.

“Tons and tons and tons of damage,” – Phreak

The difference I am trying to highlight here is the gap in damage output between Fiora (10 kills) and Varus (7 kills).  What caught my eye here is that Varus had nearly dealt as much damage to my team as I (playing as Jinx) dealt to his. This impressed me, because, if you recall, I had finished the game with 21 kills. So what can we learn here? A lot actually:

  • Damage does not always equate to kills.
  • Kills do not always reflect damage dealt.
  • Fiora was passive in most fights–instead of dealing damage to help her team win, she held back and simply stole the finishing blows to inflate her kill count.
  • Obviously, damage is a much more relevant factor in achieving victory than actual kills.

If you have any doubts about Fiora stealing kills during this game, look closer at the damage graph. She actually dealt less damage than one of the support role champions on our team, Sona (4 kills). Let me pause here to speak about kill stealing: it’s not that big a deal in most cases. It can be frustrating for the person who set up a decent play to do the damage, only to have that satisfaction snatched away, but if the kill is followed by a successful push–then whatever, win the game. The issue is the mindset and actions taken (or lack thereof) by a player dedicated to only stealing (securing?) kills. There are assassin-style champions in League of Legends, and they can be useful in singling out targets who are either off guard or trying to escape–but not everyone on the team can function as such. In this case we clearly have Gankplank and Darius with nearly the same amount of kills as Varus, with less than half of Varus’ damage output, meaning that during most fights they most likely weren’t attacking–and surely weren’t dropping CC or healing either. So what were they doing? Fiora too, what was she up to? Watching and waiting for Varus to do the leg work.

Thinking kills mean you’re carrying–or the MVP–is so horribly flawed. Even if you still believe that kills win games, then you’d have to also acknowledge that damage leads to kills, so the question is why did Varus’ team dump the burden on him alone? Surprise! It’s because Varus was carrying his team, not through kills, but damage–and this is what it means when a team is too heavy to carry. The fact that his team neglected to actually fight during teamfights only gets worse the more you look over the statistics. Here’s a screenshot of the healing done by the supports on my team.


“Ohhh! That’s why you guys won! You had heals!” <– If this is you, sit down back down and keep reading. I want you, the reader, to understand just how hopeless the situation was for our unlucky friend Varus. The amount of damage healed on our team came out to approximately 28500 points. Why does this matter? On top of the enemy team holding back during fights in order to “secure” kills, their tragically low damage was constantly being mitigated by our support champions. Still, despite the heals, if their team had put out damage even equal to ours then the healing would have been cancelled out. Next week I’ll discuss the CC in this match, gold impact, and deaths. For now here’s the rundown:

  • Kills don’t win games in League of Legends. Games are won through the destruction of key objectives (dragon, towers, inhibitors, baron, the enemy nexus) throughout the map. Even though kills can create opportunities to complete these objectives, there is such a thing as “pointless kills”.
  • Focusing during a team fight is vital, but does not mean hanging back and then picking out enemies with low health. Focusing means that your team agrees on a target to kill and everyone goes in, as a team, on that person.
  • If you are an ADC/APC/Bruiser, then the majority of your usefulness is defined by your capability to successfully push, followed by the amount of damage you deal, and lastly by your kill count.
  • Plan to work with your team, don’t just use them.
  • If you believe a high damage output without a high kill count means that person failed, then you must understand that a high kill count without a victory also means you failed.
  • Everyone on the team is capable of dealing damage, even if it isn’t their primary function. Neither your build or role are acceptable excuses to not be 100% involved in all teamfights whenever possible.