Response to the solo carry reddit thread
I wanted to address this reddit post about solo carrying in the current state of league of legends and how "one person can lose you the game but not win it". I apologize if this seems like unstructured rambling I'm not going to proofread or organize it too much just kinda throw out my thoughts and hopefully it is readable and understandable.
While there are some things I agree and disagree with let us start off by saying that solo carrying a game is still possible, it is just done differently and requires the support of the rest of your team members. Players that aren't as strong as you or aren't playing as well as you need to rally behind you and support you so you can carry them. Some might argue this isn't "true solo carrying" but they don't need to have a lot of impact, it can be minimal. A bad Janna can throw a shield on an adc and sometimes thats enough. Everyone just has to do something. This is different to the true 1v9s of old which most people consider a solo carry, similar to Dota. I remember back in s3 when I would get fed on an assassin or someone would get fed on a long range mage and just 1v5 the game regardless of how poorly their teammates were doing or how uncooperative they were. This is simply no longer the case and whether it makes the game more or less fun is open for debate but what I do think it does is take agency out of the hands of more skilled players or players who are better at finding their own leads and puts it into the hands of players who do not perform as well consistently or do not go for risky plays, and players who chose to pick champions that are easier to play around as a team member looking to get carried.
For example, it is much easier for a team that is behind to rally behind a Caitlyn or Azir who is fed than for a team to enable a zed to clean up a teamfight that he is unable to start himself. Generally players who are behind are more willing to play defensively than offensively because they are unsure of their own impact and are afraid they are just going to die for no reason and "int" a free kill because they cannot see what the player controlling the carry sees. They simply don't know how the game will play out if they aggressively sacrifice themselves to enable a carry and are unwilling to take the blame should that plan of action fail even if it is what is required to win the game. I feel a major part of this is due to the fact that it is much harder to make decisions when you are behind in this game. You have fewer options open to you when you are weaker than your opponent with less vision, and fewer decisions that are available to you result in positive outcomes. It is much easier to "know" what to do when you are ahead since picking the "right" decision becomes less relevant as several decisions can yield positive outcomes and it is very likely that any number of win conditions can be viable to your team as long as they are executed halfway decently where as for the losing team there is much more pressure to pick the most optimal strategy or most optimal time and position to engage to give yourself and your team the biggest chance to succeed in coming back. I've been on this side many many times as a fed assassin or fed melee bruiser/carry like jax/irelia or trynd and if my team is losing by a decent margin they are more often unwilling to enable me to sweep through a fight so there is simply nothing I can do beside split push.
This tends to give champions who need to reach forward aggressively more to use their advantages a disadvantage when it comes to solo carrying because you can no longer keep their team weak. A huge part of carrying that many overlook is not just funneling resources into your own champion to make you strong and hit your powerspikes early but also denying select members of the enemy team resources, or denying them as a whole so they cannot rally together to stop you due to their inferior strength, even in numbers. In season 3 it wasnt uncommon to be several items up on a champion you had snowballed against as well as up to 5 levels ahead sometimes more in rare cases of the lowest leveled member of the enemy team. This created opportunities for a fed solo player to find picks of severely underleveld and underfarmed targets to continue to starve them out while building up your own lead, to the point that even if your team was doing almost nothing proactively they would begin to just start outscaling them due to the fact that they were dead and earning no exp and gold.
Since then Riot has done a number of things to prevent this situation from happening.
1. First, they added catch up mechanics to allow under-leveled under-farmed champions to more quickly close the game by passively doing nothing a.k.a. not interacting with their opponent. This exp/gold comes from both minions and monster kills and passive gold generation. I really disagree with this change as I believe LoL to be at it's core a PvP game where advantages and disadvantages should be gained mostly by interacting with your opponent and comebacks should be off of the initiative of the team looking to make a comeback. I think the majority of comeback mechanics should be around shutdowns or killing someone of higher level since it rewards good proactive gameplay either on a macro or micro level, or both. Sitting under towers and preying on people's lack of initiative and lack of game knowledge is not fun nor rewarding and feels bad as a "solo carry" trying to get their team to pressure especially in lower elos where people have little to no concept of proper macro play or pressure which is evident even in (especially in) Diamond Elo. This lack of continued pressure allows teams to passively catch back up while a single player who is either forced to split or has a team that is unwilling to make plays is stuck watching their lead they worked hard to earn slowly evaoprate to the point where it is less relevant. Again this causes that person to rely more on their team since trying to pressure alone is usually suicidal as its generally not hard for 4-5 members of the enemy team to collapse and gangbang one person, even if fed and take them out if the enemy does not pressure or punish elsewhere on the map.
2. Another issue is the back-loaded rewards given to dragon and more gold going to your teammates when killing towers. Back in earlier seasons dragon gave you a flat boost in gold when slain which immediately helped teams that were able to secure this objective a quicker power spike to push their early advantage even furhter. In the more recent past and now, dragon has gone through several iterations, both which give more benefit to teams as the game scales on. This means that taking dragons early has much less impact on your team's early tempo and benefits you much more in the late game. This combined with towers giving more global gold when I believe they used to give most of the gold to the person that destroyed it in the past means that you're giving resources to everyone on your team instead of just yourself, meaning that if you have a player with poor "brain scaling" a.k.a. inability to play well regardless of the resources given to them, then you're wasting a higher percentage of the team's earned resources. The ratio of active gold to passive gold earned has gone down and combined with the tower gold redistribution put more and more resources on the rest of your team as opposed to the person making the plays to get the gold for their team in the first place.
3. Supports are much much stronger than they have ever been in the past. This one sort of speaks for itself. More gold earned, stronger and more impactful support items, shield powercreep and the inability for QSS to fully remove exhaust which is sometimes taken by supports to shut down a problem character on the enemy team. Now while I don't think supports should be crippled ward bots that were food for assassins like they were in s3 EVEN THOUGH I MISS PICKING ON THEM AND GETTING FED MYSELF it was horrible for the game and made getting filled into a support a do or die situation where you either stomped your lane or just inted uncontrollably to their fed assassin midlaner and spent your paltry income on wards for your team. I remember in s3 worlds Tabe, the support for Royal Club ended a game in the world championship finals with nothing but tier 1 boots and a stack of wards on annie. This is honestly how bad it could have been sometimes with support gold generation depending on several 800-900 gold items that you had to earn with minimal passive gold generation and taking no cs. That means you had to earn your gold by either stealing cs from your ad or getting kills/assists and early dragons/towers. Naturally the support on the winning side was not only able to afford more vision by earning more gold but they would complete their gold items sooner which provided more total gold income and their boots sooner which allowed for more play making which meant more gold. In this snese a support was also able to "snowball" over their counterpart in both playmaking and vision, which brings me to another point I'll address later. The new support items also give unparalleled peeling and cockblocking power. A locket and redemption alone is able to reverse and prevent thousands of damage to an entire team. Yes for 5000 total gold a single support can block and heal thousands of damage to a whole team without even using any spells in their base kit! Whether you want to believe me or not supports are clearly overtuned right now and one of the main reasons bot lane feels so much more important than other lanes right now. "better bot lane wins :)" For a player looking to "solo carry" this means not only do you need to deal with people who have more levels and items than they did before, you now have to deal with uncleansable exhaust unless you took summoner cleanse, and an array of support items which are designed to hard cockblock you from killing someone. Good luck 1v9'ing summoner.
4. Vision is given freely to all players and all players must participate in the vision game. Normal wards are no longer purchasable and you are limited to 1 control ward which requires defense to keep control of an area as opposed to a pink ward which itself was also unseen unless someone else invested in a pink ward to clear it. This may not sound like a big deal but if you think about it from the perspective of a solo fed player, this makes the enemy's vision harder to stifle and fight against as a solo player. Your teammates also need to make good decisions around the vision game and be willing to purchase and place control wards. You can't do the whole job yourself. I remember playing jax and getting fed in earlier seasons and just buying a whole stack of green wards, lighting up half of the map by myself and still having wards to spare for ward hop escapes. That is no longer possible for 1 player to do and conversely since vision is free, you can't create disincentives for enemy vision just by denying them gold. They will always have free wards available that you will need to spend money to clear and possibly need your teammates help to do so as well. It is much harder to make pick plays with the enemy having vision and getting solo picks on enemy vision is almost impossible for most characters. Duskblade helps with this but that is only relevant to duskblade users and not every champion that snowballs and wants to make solo plays is a duskblade user. and some cant afford to purchase a sweeper because they need their ward trinket for ward jumps or to ward up a split push side of the map unless their support does it for them, aka requiring your team to do something for you.
5. New baron is much more oppressive than the old one in terms of objective snowball. Before, baron was a direct buff to combat stats and sustain but it was on the team that acquired baron to find fights with it and use the stat advantage to win fights to take objectives. Now it still gives a smaller buff to combat stats but in addition to that makes creepwaves insanely hard to clear so stalling the buff is no longer an option. Teams with baron no longer need to take risks to get a reward for it. Its almost always the case that at bare minimum a team with baron will earn their team 1-2 tower kills bare minimum even if they are a bit behind. Its also common for game momentum to be completely thrown in the opposite direction after a baron steal even if one team was quite far ahead. Now this comes back to the "One player can lose the game for you" statement. One guy dicking around in bottom lane without TP or getting picked off rage-splitting or brainlessly walking too far forward without vision or trying to get unsafe vision by themselves or just being bad at smiting or even half of your team listening to the horrible 50-50 baron call when you're clearly ahead and dont need to take the risk. Lets not forget the classic, lets start baron when jg doesn't have smite, or even better yet lets do it when our jg is dead and theirs isn't etc. You get the point. Any one of these types of mistakes can result in a losing enemy team now having baron buff on 3-4 members at least and pushing down multiple lanes with difficult to stop minions which most likely results in several tower kills, which gives even more global gold to the enemy team. It is also not uncommon that when sieged through the duration of the baron buff an inhibitor is either opened up or just outright taken, which puts continuous pressure on your team and at this point the losing enemy team is quite likely no longer losing, but winning. Now if you were one of the few if not the only player doing well on your team, you are now facing an enemy team that is A working together now since baron buff is one of the biggest promoters of grouping and team play, its like an unspoken agreement in solo queue that its time to work with your team and get big ticket objectives when everyone is purple and B the gold lead you once had is mostly diminshed to a point where it isn't relevant enough to carry. This is different from the old baron buff where in order to take your base they still had to fight you and you could still use your lead before it was taken away from you. Baron throws were bad before but now they are much worse especially if you're trying to drag a few dead weights through the muck to the enemy nexus.
Now despite everything I have said, it sounds like I'm a bit disdainful because "muh 1v9 cant solo carry elo hell reeeeeeeeeeee my team holds me back game sux I carry every game but can't cause rito blah blah blah" but thats not it. I just wanted to point out a few objective reasons as to why you don't see as many all-star carry performances as you used to and why it feels so much more exhausting and difficult to do so. You literally have to play perfectly or you stand almost no chance in pulling it off and even less so if someone on your team doesn't want to cooperate and if you're not playing a hardcarry backliner that people can naturally rally around then you're going to need even more luck.
I've noticed people referencing that players have on average increased in game knowledge since the older patches and that mostly contributes to games being harder to solo carry but this is just false. Yes it is true that on average the level of macro play has gone up but from what I've noticed this doesn't really apply to higher level play since higher level play already had good macro knowledge to begin with. Master/Challenger bot laners were rotating after their tower before it became popular to do in low elo. They had the intricacies of working with a split pusher down. They could set up waves to slow push and crash into towers timed with their sieges on other parts of the map. They could fake a hard push and rotate to a smaller minion wave through fog of war to take free towers. These are concepts that are becoming more common to see in lower elos but even then, they are not executed perfectly nor with any level of consistency. I still see people in Diamond sitting bot with no TP as an ADC trying to split vs a TF and baron is up. I still see bot laners refuse to rotate when it's time or players who just mindlessly click back to their own lane after dying and respawning even when their team has rotated to cover the gap and thus leaving a lane totally unoccupied and putting the initiative on their teammates to play inefficiently to cover for their lack of awareness. I still see junglers refuse to dive divable lanes and take objectives when they can. I still see people path horribly and get nothing done, or people feed in their lanes early, or do things that would make you pull out your hair if witnessed in your own games. Yes the average player skill may have gone up but there is almost no consistency to this being exhibited in a game by game basis and almost even helps to contribute to the "league is a coinflip" feeling as they get a crucial early map pressure role like jg/mid that knows these macro plays or a bot lane that knows how to set up dives and rotate on first tower, and yours is either autofilled or does not grasp these concepts very well, you're going to be in for a rough game.
With that said I'm not asking Riot makes this game the 1v9 fiesta that s3 league used to be, as fun as it was to both play and watch, I realize that is no way to balance a healthy game in the long run. However, seeing some individual agency come back would make this game a lot more fun to play and less frustrating. When the average player feels like they can do more in their ranked games to get their team wins I feel it will motivate them more to improve instead of just feeling hopeless like they are unlucky and the game will be more about skill than mental fortitude. I really think at its core a game should feel fun and in the recent past seasons its no secret to anyone who watches my stream that I have been having anything but fun playing league of legends. I've been largely unmotivated and while some may question my lack of drive to a weak mental fortitude I simply say that I don't sit down to play games to test my discipline I play games to challenge myself and have fun. If you take away that feeling of accomplishment and agency and require a player to work that much harder for less of a reward it stops feeling fun and feels more like a burden or even a waste of time. Carrying back in early seasons felt rewarding and good and now quite frankly it feels frustrating and mentally taxing. Its easier to get upset at a guy who makes simple mistake after simple mistake which can compound into you losing a game you played well if you did not play perfectly, than it is to actually man up and play perfectly to carry them. And when you do lose after playing your heart out you certainly don't feel good about it. Nobody does. So where is the motivation in that? I understand you will lose games even ones you play well in, you will win games in which you play poorly in, we have all been there and done that. I don't think I deserve to win if I play well. I do however, want to feel good about putting in effort and feel like the game is more on me to win if I'm playing well than for my team to lose it for me. And that's all I ask and I think many people share that same thought when wishing that the game was more like how it was back then. Not asking for a 1v9 carry card but just wanting to have more fun and feeling like their play matters more.
Sorry for the rant just had a lot of thoughts on the subject after seeing that post and wanted to get them off my chest. I probably left some things out or didn't clarify on something well enough but I just needed to pound this out before stream. If you have any questions feel free to tweet @ me or ask me on my stream and I'll be happy to answer them. Always open to intelligent and civilized discussion :).