My Placement Series
I’ve been toying with the idea of trying out ranked League of Legends play for a while. No, let me start over.
I’ve been talking myself out of ranked League of Legends play for a while because I was afraid to see truly bad at the game I am. I conveniently managed to stall until the season was almost over, thereby making it pointless to start until S4.
Then Riot ganked me and extended the season into early November.
I know when I’ve been outplayed, so I decided this weekend to rip the band-aid off and play my placement series. I planned to duo quo most of it with my friend Jason. However, once I got going, I tunneled a bit and played a majority of the series solo. I wanted to keep going so I had no “got rusty” or “forgot the lessons from yesterday” excuses.
Here’s how it went:
I end up getting the top lane role. I do not have much experience with top lane or a good bruiser champion pool (more on this later). I decide to play Quinn, on whom I am mechanically comfortable. I end up laning against Darius. I don’t have much practice against him, although I know that he is an early burst snowballer. I play quite safe but die twice in lane. I kill him once, but that’s to his advantage.
What I should have done, other than skip BoRK and build Bloodthirster, was simply turret farm and only poke him if he missed his hook. That way, he’d have no way to kill me outside of a gank (which I avoided all game by using Quinn’s W reveal).
That said, despite the kills, I held the turret and got his down first. Sadly, our other lanes lost and his ult chains rolled all over us for the rest of the game.
Immediate lesson: Respect Darius twice as hard.
Reflective lesson: fix Quinn’s item build, don’t pick her into unknown top lane.
Jinx/Leona bot lane. I feed Jinx a total of five kills in lane, taking one myself and returning zero deaths. We start to get heavy jungler focus along the way, but our jungler counter-ganks. The team surrenders shortly after 20 minutes and a team fight where I get a four-man Sword stun and we clean up. I get big kudos in chat and Jinx calls me pro. Blursh.
Immediate lesson: play more Leona, on whom I am VERY mechanically comfortable.
Vayne/Leona bot lane. Vayne misses her first 5 or 6 last hits, takes free harass and charges turrets to her doom. I realize what’s going on and start setting myself up to get kills, rather than let her miss them. We lose all three lanes at once, the enemy team starts focusing me at the start of the fight and we get cleaned up after a long game that was close considering we started out 0-3 in outer turrets. The real MVP was their top lane Zed, who outplayed everyone and did the split push thing which was almost impossible to deal with.
Immediate lesson: If the ADC is clearly way outgunned in lane and can’t get kills even in favorable situations, consider leaving lane, asking her to ward and turret farm, then focusing mid lane.
Thresh is not picked or banned, so I select 100% wifesteal. It’s a Thresh/Jinx lane. I get Hook/Flay and Hook/Flay/Box combos on their support over and over, feeding Jinx. She says nice things about me in chat. I die a lot in the late game getting focused in team fights, which Jinx cleans up.
Immediate lesson: if Thresh is open, take Thresh.
Another ADC who can’t last hit, takes a ton of minion damage by going out of position and generally makes my job impossible. I position poorly in the late game and initiate for a team too scared to fight, which was a bad mistake. I should run away with everyone else. Supporting in my placement series is proving to be kind of obnoxious.
Immediate lesson: the thing I just said, and also try to remember the lesson from game 3, idiot.
Thresh gets through again and I have early pick, so I hook him (har har!). Unfortunately, this game my ADC is okay, but their bot lane is quite good. I land a fair few hooks, but we can’t do anything them and they disengage well. Their jungler focuses us, our jungler focuses top lane and we end up pretty shut down.
Immediate lesson: this game, Leona would have done a better job of everything I was trying to do with Thresh. Despite the shininess of Thresh’s OPness getting through picks and bans, I should have played Leona.
Someone calls support, I get stuck with ADC and I go with Quinn. I actually go even in lane kills and outfarm the enemy ADC. However, late game our composition has no CC, theirs has a lot, and I get blown up early in every team fight despite building a Zephyr. As a result, we lose them and lose the game.
Immediate lesson: do not play a short range champion in a game with a huge CC imbalance.
Reflective lesson: BoRK should have been Bloodthirster again. Was a bit too light on raw damage.
I am now 2-5 in the series and basically resigned to my Bronze V fate. I get support again and decide to grab Zyra, wanting early damage in case my ADC is sketchy. I’m fairly comfortable with Zyra. She’s probably in my top 3 supports behind Leona and Lulu.
I expect a sketchy ADC at 2-5. My ADC is okay, their support is sketchy and we get fed. I sit on Philosopher’s Stone, Kage’s Lucky Pick, 3 GP/10 Quints and 4 GP/10 Seals for a LONG time. I build mobility and Twin Shadows to counter their AP-heavy comp, with good CDR and we wreck face late game with team fights in which I’m the only death.
Now I’m 3-5. Maybe I can start higher up in Bronze!
Immediate lesson: We’re in YOLO mode now, so might as well go for carry supports and just hope the ADC can pull their weight.
I get support again and decide to bust out Annie. My ADC runs Ignite, so I run Exhaust and my AP mid runes and masteries. It looks like a kill lane, and we’re on blue side with them being late to lane on the leash for their jungler. So I make the executive decision to start Doran’s Ring and Potions. I take W first and charge it a few times on the fountain. This is Sparta.
Long story short, I do a bunch of damage, stun the support and ADC several times and feed my ADC. I build another Doran’s and Sorceror’s Shoes for pure damage. Once I hit six, I bust out a clutch Tibbers and we get a kill and the tower. I use the gold to build Sightstone and transition to a more supporting roaming phase. A few more Tibbers’ later and we take out a fast nexus, with my inventory containing an unused Oracle’s Elixir.
Immediate lesson: support Annie is the real deal, fun to play and is a strong blue side bully in the early game, controlling the brush without buying wards. I would be more cautious with this approach on purple side, unless the jungler starts red buff.
Alright, we’re 4-5 and one game left. I really want to win this one and end up with an even score. This would make me feel like a competent player, given that I was in a tough role to carry from for most of my games. I look forward to busting out support Annie again.
Well, shit. Every role gets called except ADC, so I just have to try not to throw. I lock in Quinn, my comfort ADC, and hope I get to play against Vayne or Graves.
As it turns out, I’m facing off against Sivir. My support is decent, although she doesn’t ward at all. I have to spend some mana on my W to watch for ganks around level 3 and 4. That said, I out-farm Sivir, never shoot a spell into her spell shield and win the lane despite neither of us getting kills in the bottom lane. We get the turret first. Meanwhile, our mid lane Pantheon snowballs hard. I build BoRK again, sadly, but I use it to peel for Pantheon in the late game. The rest of the time, I split push like a dirty bastard and only die when they send two or more people to deal with me. The split + Mantheon combo is too much and we roll them over.
Alright, 5-5. At least I’m not a loser (strictly speaking). I hit the button over the ruined Nexus to see what Bronze division I will land in. I’m presented on the Victory screen with a nice surprise: Silver IV!
After the series, I reviewed some of my opponent teams and tried to determine how I made the cut into Silver. Here’s what I pieced together:
- Most of the games I lost appeared to be against higher-ranked teams, overall. Some had multiple silvers, to our bronzes and no-ranks, for example.
- It seems as if the matchmaker, around 7 games, figured out the level at which I should probably be playing somewhere in Bronze. Winning three games in a row (in different roles, with different champs?!) at the end of the series probably pushed me a division with each win, from something like Bronze 1 or 2 into Silver country. That seems better than winning in the beginning and losing because the system sees you “where you should be” and then sees you play above that, consistently, for the rest of the series. Going above the bar progressively is less of a fluke than doing well and then falling back over and over, I suppose.
- Although I doubt this factors in, my average win times were faster than my average loss times. I feel like this might indicate that I played well consistently, making the wins easier and the losses tougher.
- My focus on vision control was pathological and that made a huge difference in games we won. Several games, I popped a mid game Oracle’s only to discover that the enemy team had no wards anywhere.
- My support results were heavily dependent on my ADC results. This suggests that duo placement with a competent ADC was probably a plan I should have stuck with through my impatience.
- Taking the approach of filling rather than fighting for roles was a good approach. I got to play support most of the time, but whenever someone was more comfortable with that, I trusted myself in a weaker role more than I trusted them and did my best with it.
- My ADC champion pool needs a lot of work. I’m mechanically competent on Quinn, but she is not a good pick into an unknown ADC opponent, which came up.
- I actually have a top lane pool that is better than Quinn, but I haven’t practiced top since it’s the most popular lane and I never get that role in normals or ranked. I need to practice top lane in normal 5v5s somehow, so that I’m not the weak link when it does happen. Plan B is to just assume that someone will always want it and never try to get that role. But I’d rather be well-rounded just in case.
- If supporting, play a support on which you can soft-carry.
- Vision control is just as OP as it is in competitive play. However, if you only control vision, you can’t rely on your team to take advantage of it, so see #1 above.
- Stick to your comfortable roles and champs. Games where your team is competent and you are, you will win on a comfort champ, but could lose on a powerful, non-comfort champ. Games where the team is barely competent or barely connected, you’ll lose either way.
- Getting ahead and then split-pushing with a split-powered champion is a very strong way to secure a game. In the entire series, anyone who could get into split push mode always won without the game being very close. I hope Season 4 does something about this because it’s frustrating, boring and non-interactive. That said, might as well use it if it works.
So, What Now?
The season is about three weeks longer. The number of games I would have to play between now and then to even have a shot at climbing into Gold is basically not feasible with my lifestyle (kids, job, girlfriend). Given that there are less than 28 days left, I’m locked into Silver rewards and don’t even necessarily need to play ranked anymore this season to maintain that tier.
But I will. Because I want to get better. I enjoyed the competitive environment more than I expected. I’m looking forward to Season 4, with buffs to the support role’s gold flow and game impact, and I’d like to try to get into Gold and stay in gold for Season 4. Or go even higher, though I think this would be unlikely with my time constraints.
For now, I’ll enjoy that summoner icon, ward skin and loading screen trim that says “Hey, Justin, you’re actually semi-decent at this game.”
The beast that slayed my mother will die with me."
Abe Sargent, discussing on the Deck Tease podcast his decision not to have children and pass on Huntington’s Disease
The Smallest List of Things I Want to Own
I want to make you a party to, for various selfish reasons, a process that is currently going on in my inner world. I am a minimalist (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimalism or Fight Club for related philosophy). I have spent an adult lifetime either resisting the urge to accumulate things or deciding that it’s time to push some kind of reset button. As my family and relationships have changed and as my children grow towards adolescence and/or adulthood, I’m feeling that it is again time to look anew at my accretion of stuff.
This is a distinctly counter-consumerist process that is important to me because rather than regarding the ownership of things as a measure of my personal success, I have spent most of my life naturally reacting to it as baggage.
Therefore, I’m about to walk you through an inventory of what I have at the moment, followed by a discussion of how I’d like that to change over time. This is purely about physical stuff and doesn’t get into any of my financial investments or savings. I also will not discuss the baggage of debt, of which I have none.
The Smallest List of Things I Want to Own
- Smoke detectors
- Knife set
- Sushi knives
- Misc. utensils (spatulas, stirring spoons, scissors, etc.)
- Cups, mugs
- Whiskey tumblers
- Metal baking sheet
- Pyrex baking pan
- Mixing bowls
- Cheese grater
- Rice cooker
- Cutting board
- Cloth napkins
- Kitchen trash can
- Recycling container
- Re-usable grocery bags
- Laundry detergent
- Vacuum cleaner
- Cleaning products
- Two-person bed
- Two-person couch
- Dining table
- Dining chairs or floor cushions
- Artificial lighting
- Some wall decorations
- Clothing (work, outdoors, casual; as much overlap as possible)
- Black and brown dress shoes
- Casual shoes
- Work/travel backpack
- Games (a few board games, some cards)
- Poetry books
- Family books
- Personal kanban system (aka, whiteboard)
- A limited set of DVDs (i.e. not-streamable)
- Tool set
- Power drill
- Storage tub for artifacts (e.g. awards, memory items)
- First aid
- Wifi (not necessarily router-based)
- Internal frame pack
- Camelbak pack
- Small tent
- Family tent
- Air mattress
- Sleeping bag
- Camp stove
- Camp cookware
- Camp dishware
- Camp Water filtration
Things Not on the List
The following is a list of things that I currently own which I believe could be done without:
- Xbox 360
- Nintendo Wii*
- Almost all DVDs
- Non-family, prose books (~80%)
- Space heater*
- Exercise equipment - I prefer and prioritize outdoor activity
- Running shoes - my barefoot casual shoes actually work better
- Accumulated bulk of Magic: the Gathering cards*
- Guitar - would ideally pass on to a kid
- A gaming PC
- Another desktop PC
- Another desk
- Two coffee tables
- Two to three of four large shelves
- Two to three large shelves worth of slide-in storage baskets
- Freezer (only thing I use it for currently is chilling milled soapstone… no, really)
- Sushi-specific dishes
- Cats, cat boxes, cat litter, cat food, etc.
- Wine glasses
- Martini glasses*
- Excess pots/pans*
- Microwave oven
- Some wall decorations*
- Quesadilla press (easy, but I could do this on a skillet, I think)
These lists do not address things that “belong” to the kids or that I own solely because of them, such as their beds, construction block sets or school supplies. These things are contained within their spaces (with a few exceptions, like variety scissors or drawing supplies). They’re part of the process of having kids onto which you don’t automatically force your own worldview. Rather, you put it on display with all its ups and downs, as one of the options the world has to offer. I was raised that way, and so I pass it on.
Generally, I think the list of things that I own (excepting kid things) which could easily be culled is pleasantly short. I don’t have a lot of excess at the moment, all things considered. It’s not like I just became a minimalist while writing this.
One thing that does stand out are the cats and their related things. I agreed after some discussion and capitulation to my now ex-wife to adopt two cats from one of her friends. I ended up responsible for almost all of the work associated with them after agreeing to split the work. In fairness to her, I could see this coming from a mile away and her excuses were pretty valid. When we split, she refused to take them and I refused to teach the kids a life lesson involving kicking out dependent family members that are no longer convenient. I hope they remember the lesson when I become senile. Anyway, the cats are aging and have shorter lifespans than us super-apes. Unless they turn out to be miracle cats, they probably won’t live too far beyond at least one kid leaving the household. At that point, I will likely not get any new pets, opting to make things like extended travel and household cleaning much more simple.
* these currently take up trivial relative space and see almost no use; things I intend to get rid of but have not hit a compelling event yet
I might eventually acquire high end camp cookware and dishware and that could be dual purpose for at-home use. That seems like an area where the redundancy might only be based on some aesthetic vanity about “proper looking” dishes for eating at home. This is something that I will watch out for when I look into more camping gear. The answer may not be a total overlap, but a mix and match approach.
I currently have an in-home washer and drier for doing laundry. This is fantastically convenient. I recognize, however, that it is a convenience and not a necessity and hence have listed it under Luxuries. Depending on where I lived, however, it might be a practical enough requirement to be a necessity. This will be a tough one. Washer/drier combos put a reasonable burden on the size and infrastructure of a dwelling, as well as challenge things like off-grid living. We shall see.
Lastly, for thorny issues, the one that cuts deep into my heart: actual, printed books. I have a deep, inherited and ingrained respect for the presence of and accumulation of real books. Unfortunately, books are heavy, hard to move, take up a lot of space and don’t—if I’m being really honest here, therapist—really need to be non-electronic.
OKAY. SOME BOOKS NEED TO BE. If you noticed on the list above, I’m not treating all books as created equal. I’m starting to realize that there are a class of books that I consider to be special and like to have in print: family books (not available through Amazon), poetry books (especially signed), graphic novels, gifts and related things. Then, there are a class of books that I love, but don’t inspire any feelings of physical attachment: novels and non-fiction books, primarily. The latter group, however, are larger in size on average and a significant percentage of my collection.
I’m keeping an eye on Kindle Matchstick and the recent changes that may allow better ebook pricing. I might weed my book collection down to real keepers, then repurchase some digitally and retain the smallest physical collection that I can in the end. Oh, and use the library more.
This is a mental exercise and not a near-term plan. I have two kids that I’m responsible for who may not be willing accomplices in the larger extremes of this simplification process. I can teach them the life lessons of minimalism incrementally without having to stress them out with distractions as they are marching their way through grade school and socialization. That said, goals are much more likely to be achieved when 1) written down and 2) shared with others. Thanks for helping.
I’m currently considering buying a food processor. This is not something that I use regularly. I would like to be able to make things like hummus and falafel more easily with a food processor. However, I do not have a wide range of uses for a food processor. Perhaps I can get a relatively small hand/immersion-type blender instead. It would be slightly less convenient, but easier to clean and take up space proportional to how narrowly I would use the device. This is how I think about owning things.
Looking at the Things Not on the List… list, I can’t help but conclude that I have a space right now which only serves the purpose of holding other things I don’t need and requires periodic cleaning. The living room is used heavily, but it has a space that goes beside the kitchen and dining room and connects to the hallway and bedrooms. This extension space currently holds a desk which could be moved easily into the living room, a desk which is on the list to cull, and itinerant, sleeping cats who periodically decide to sleep there instead of any other place that itinerant cats sleep. Unfortunately, I can’t simply remove that space from my home without moving (duh).
In roughly six years, my oldest son may be moving on to higher education. This is not a guarantee, with the nature of society changing, college price/value issues, his addiction to Call of Duty, etc. However, if he lives away from home, I would also be left in my current home with an unnecessary bedroom. I would not re-purpose the room. I would just downsize. I need neither an office nor a guest room. I do have a variety of guests and they do sleep over, but this hasn’t required a special room; I don’t typically invite overnight guests that I wouldn’t trust near me, family or friend! I’ve never needed a specialized space for a home office, either.
Let’s wrap up.
I’m sure I’ve missed some things on this list, even having undergone several revisions. At this point, they should be minor. Although my long term goal of simplification and clutter reduction is more extreme, my next step is to start with the easy and non-kid impacting things to remove. Beyond that, we’ll see where I actually end up in my light cone.
"Less stuff, less problems." - The Notorious B.I.G.
I don’t recognize those store names. Where are they? We might have been co-located at something larger, though. Potentially.
Thanks for the blog respect. I’m a pretty bad tumblr user. Also haven’t posted much Magic stuff for a while. At least I can say it’s mostly original content, though :-D
Yesterday, I went hiking in the Rachel Carson Conservation Park with my girlfriend and kids. I told my dad about it today, because I remember there being a poster about Rachel Carson on the wall in our cabin. Here’s what my dad had to say:
“rachel carson’s researcher was betty haney, a high school friend of [your aunt]. When Linda Lear was working on her huge Carson biog., she called me — because my [your grandfather] and Carson knew each other — as she wondered who betty haney was and had no idea how to get in touch with her. i asked [your aunt] to check on it. [She] called a mutual friend, the former margaret foster, and she knew betty’s phone number!”
Having a personal and family connection to a wilderness area just up the road from me is a really special feeling.
Also, my dad’s use of capitalization in email is somewhat chaotic.