Hello! Wamuu here! Since the next ranked Season is coming up soon, I decided to write an article tackling a subject we don’t usually talk about but is a real problem and extremely important if you want to climb the LoR Ladder: Anxiety.
I’m not a psychologist or therapist but I’ve played competitive games for 15 years. Including 10 years of LoL ranked games that are notorious for creating ladder anxiety on players.
To try to overcome ladder anxiety first we need to know exactly what is it. Ladder anxiety is that feeling of nervousness or unease when queuing up a LoR Ranked ladder game. This can a real, difficult problem if not dealt with. The way it usually goes is something like this:
You queue up for a ranked game and you want to climb to, let’s say, Diamond. You are playing Draven Sion and you queue up into the one guy on the ladder playing Lee Sin Zoe. Needless to say, you get stomped and lose some LP. You think to yourself man I have very bad luck and instantly queue into another matchup and lose a second game. You are now tilted, but instead of stopping to play you instantly queue up again because you NEED to make it to Diamond and you’re -40 LP so you need to gain it back. This results in a negative loop and instead of winning games you end up losing some more games and lose even more LP. You decide you just don’t want to play the game anymore as you just lost a bunch of time and LP. While playing all those games you were not having fun and instead you were feeling nervous most of the time because you NEEDED to win. Nothing positive came of this experience.
This has happened to the majority of people including me. Sometimes you just want to avoid Ranked all along because you’re too scared of losing LP or demoting. We as humans don’t like the feeling of failing or losing so we tend to avoid it.
HOW TO CONTROL LOR LADDER ANXIETY
Before getting started in this section I just want to make clear that you won’t magically be cured of ladder anxiety if you follow the input I’m going to give you. Like most things this takes time and consistently doing things is what gets you to the end goal.
Now that we have identified the problem, we can start to think of ways to solve it. If you read the example in the introduction you might have noticed the reason why it was such a negative experience. The problem with the example above is the way of thinking when playing the ladder games. If you think you have something to lose or prove, of course, you are going to be nervous. Also, in the example above the mentality was too focused on the short-term objective which was winning the next game or winning this game. Finally, the result was that we lost LP and didn’t have fun from the example’s perspective. From another perspective you could say that you are now better with the deck you were playing or you learned something from some of the losses. To control our ladder anxiety, we must change the way we look at things when playing ladder.
The first step is to realize you can’t win every game, especially in a card game. The best deck in the meta right now is Rally Elusives with a 55.5% win rate. This means that the average player loses a bit less than fifty percent of his games with the best deck. So, you have to accept that you will be losing a lot even if you’re still climbing. There is also a lot of factors you can’t control during a game. For example, your opponent nabbing two Golden Aegis in your rally deck. You need to accept that there are some things out of your control or that can’t be played around.
The second step is to find another reason to play ladder other than winning or climbing. If you make these your main objectives you will be devastated when you don’t achieve your goal. Instead, try playing ladder for other reasons. Some other objectives you can have when playing ladder are:
- Learning a new deck.
- Practicing your lineup’s decks.
- Optimize a specific deck you like.
- Playing a deck you enjoy just for fun in a competitive environment.
- Challenging yourself to climb with a meme deck.
- Content creation
I usually play ladder to learn new decks I think are cool or practice decks from my lineups.
Believe it or not, just changing your objective when playing ladder can have some amazing results. I can give you a personal example:
This season, I was at Diamond 80 LP and needed to make Master’s to play the Seasonal tournament. So, like most players, I decided to play the best deck, by this time it was Gangplank Sejuani. I played the whole day with it and ended up in Diamond 2. The next day I sat down and said ok, Today I’m going to hit Masters. I played for eight hours straight switching from deck to deck because I wasn’t climbing and ended up where I started: Diamond 2. The feeling I got after that game session was: I wasted my whole day. I could’ve played other games, I could’ve gone to the movies but instead, I decided to climb to masters and failed.
The next day, I went at it again. This time though I ended up in Diamond 4 0 LP. I felt awful, I did not want to play the game anymore. I probably dropped the game for 2-3 days. After reflecting on my game sessions, I noticed that I was too focused on hitting masters and decided to change my way of thinking. I was going to play ladder to practice my lineup for that week’s Wednesday Night Runeterra tournament. For this, I was going to practice Draven Sion as it was the least played deck in my lineup.
Honestly, I did not expect much to change. Maybe I would climb a bit but not that much. Instead, I ended up going from Diamond 4 to Diamond 1 80 LP in a single day. Playing with no pressure on you feels amazing and helps you make better plays. Afterward, I played like three games the next day and made it to masters. In the end, I killed two birds with one stone. I learned how to play Draven Sion better and I climbed to masters. Even if I didn’t climb to masters though I would’ve still learned a lot of Draven Sion so my time would not have been wasted.
Now I would like to give some additional tips to help you feel better when playing ladder:
- Look at your games as a whole, not individually. What I mean by this is that after your game session you must analyze the collection of all the games during those sessions. So, if you were Diamond 4 and now you’re Diamond 3 it means you made progress. If it is the other way around, now you know the deck you’re playing is not good for you or you’re playing it wrong somehow and need to learn more about it.
- Try to stick to one deck per day. Don’t fall into the trap of switching decks when you lose one or two matches to a counter lineup. Switching decks usually doesn’t solve the problem as there are a wide variety of decks on the ladder and you might get countered anyways.
- Take breaks to avoid tilting. After losing a couple of games in a row it is sometimes better to take a small break to reset mentally before playing another game. I usually do this after I lose three games in a row. You can take a small ten-minute break to watch a YouTube video, take a walk, do chores, or do whatever relaxes you.
- Focus on learning. What I mean by this is not to look at your opponent outplaying you with a negative outlook. For example, if you make a full board attack and your opponent casts Judgment and you lose the game, think: “Damn, I need to play around that next time” instead of getting mad.
- Play with friends. I know this is a single-player game but sometimes streaming on discord with some friends watching and discussing plays can be a bit more relaxing than playing alone. If you don’t have friends that play Runeterra you can find some in the Mastering Runeterra Discord.
- Track your stats. Something that helps me look at the bigger picture more easily is keeping stats for decks I play. For example, overall win rate, win rate against X deck, etc… That way I can physically see whether or not a deck is good for me or not. Which in return helps me climb.
- Try to have positive thoughts. You need to catch yourself when you start thinking negatively and ignore those thoughts, you can concentrate on doing something else like Sudoku to get your mind off those thoughts if needed. Try to tell yourself positive things instead. Believe it or not what you think about yourself usually becomes a reality so be nice to yourself.
- If you are not having fun, stop playing. Seriously, why play a game if it is not fun?
LoR Ladder anxiety is a real problem and one that is hard to deal with. Even though the solutions might seem kind of simple it is hard to switch your mentality in a short period. Instead, try to take small steps toward changing your mind when approaching ladder games and when negative thoughts or anxiety come to you stop playing for a bit until you feel better. Remember, winning is not everything and you should concentrate on getting better at the game even if that means losing a couple of times.
Switching your mentality and objectives when playing ladder is the key to controlling ladder anxiety because you go from “If I don’t win I waste my time” to “Even if I don’t win I learned something and my time was worth it”. This switch makes playing ladder a win-win scenario and can make the experience of playing ranked games more enjoyable.
I hope my input and tips were helpful and I wish you all the best of luck dealing with your ladder anxiety.
Top 200 Master LoR player. I have a lot of passion for this game and love sharing my thoughts and game knowledge through deck guides and articles for competitive play.
If you would like coaching from me or have any questions about my articles you can dm me in Discord at Wamuu#7531