How to win In the League of Legends
2500 years ago a great tactician named Sun Tzu wrote a book called “孫子兵法” which can be translated as “Master Sun’s Military Methods”. Westerners know this book as “The Art of War”. This title was given to it when it was translated into French and published in Europe in the year 1772. “The Art of War” is a guidebook of warfare from ancient times. How can such an old book be helpful to win in a very modern video game?
This idea might sound stupid at first but we have to keep in mind that the “Art of War” is more of a book on philosophy of engagement. It helps us prepare mentally for fighting with another human being and to maximize our chances of getting on top. This is why Art of War is still studied not only by militarists but also by couches, businessmen, politicians, and gamers.
One of the most important ideas Sun Tzu gave us is to use our intelligence in engaging with our opponents, not with brute force alone. Sun Tzu emphasizes waging war not only with pure strategy and tactics but also on gathering information, calculation, and human psychology. Multiple times his teachings were utilized in other branches of human life besides conflict. Today I will gladly present you with a few quotes from Sun Tzu and we will try to apply them to the language of legends.
“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win”
When does the fight begin in League of Legends, when the first poke is thrown, when the minion spawn, or maybe even sooner?
The game begins at the point when one of the players starts to formulate his strategy which he plans to utilize to gain an advantage over his opponent. When you lock in a champion you should start to imagine what will or could happen in the next 10, 20, or even 30 minutes and what you will do to win in this situation. As more champions are revealed you should keep updating your plan and adjust strategy even before the game loads. If you do not do that, it means that you are a defeated warrior.
“Ultimate excellence lies not in winning every battle, but in defeating the enemy without ever fighting.”
This quote is often misunderstood. Sometimes people think it implies using peaceful methods but it is not about it. It is about creating a situation where you do not do anything but still you are winning without putting yourself in any risks related to fighting.
The best example I can think of is Nasus. If you play Nasus you can just sit on your line, stack, and farm forever. You do not need to roam, kill your opponent, or do anything. You can just avoid the enemy and keep stacking and if you do that well enough eventually you will be unstoppable. Now your opponents have to come up with a solution to the problem you created for them.
“Rouse him, and learn the principle of his activity or inactivity. Force him to reveal himself, so as to find out his vulnerable spots.”
Master Sun advises us to poke our opponent to see how he reacts to our presence. Are they aggressive? Or maybe they are timid? Gain this knowledge and try to use it.
“If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.”
This is the most lol-like advice I can think of. Many people in the league are hot-tempered and will easily get provoked. Use that to your advantage so they grow impatient and their judgment is blinded. Avoid using chat as it might get you banned but use emotes and champion animations.
“Convince your enemy that he will gain very little by attacking you; this will diminish his enthusiasm”
This one requires a little bit more effort but it is worth it in the long run. The trick is simple and can apply to many things. The most simple and most useful understanding of it is: “If the enemy jungler will always leave your line empty-handed he will stop coming.”
“To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.”
Yet again a piece of advice that fits league of legends perfectly. Each time player dies in Leauge it is because they were caught doing something stupid, they were overextended or they forgot to ward themself. And if you seek to kill your opponent in any phase of the game you have to wait for their mistake and capitalize on it. This is how many games end in the late game, as one of the players gets killed and it becomes a 4v5.
“Engage people with what they expect; it is what they are able to discern and confirm their projections. It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment — that which they cannot anticipate.”
Here Sun Tzu advises us how to fool our opponent. First, you have to become a predictable pattern in his head. The enemy will observe you and constantly react to what you are doing. If you start scheming and acting suspiciously he will instantly start to expect something. You must still fall into his expectations so he thinks he knows what you are doing. You must convince him that he is still in control while you lurk closer and closer.
“If we wish to wrest an advantage from the enemy, we must not fix our minds on that alone, but allow for the possibility of the enemy also doing some harm to us, and let this enter as a factor into our calculations.”
Sun Tzu also tells us something that we have to keep in mind that is quite easy to forget. We are not the only ones with a plan. As you analyze the situation remember that it is not a static picture. Your opponent will also try to cover his weaknesses and build his advantages. If you do not want to get surprised you have to remind yourself that the enemy will change and adapt against you.
The “Art of War” is an ancient book and yet it is still valid thousands of years after it was written. It does not look into the problems but at the mindset that leads to victory or defeat. In my opinion, if you want to win your games in League this is what you need to work on the most. Obviously, you will need mechanics, meta, builds, and so on. But the most useful and repetitive aspect in every game will be the mindset. I hope that was helpful and made you take a little bit of a different look at the game. Without further chatter, good luck.