Often in League, it’s easy to say “I know what I did wrong there”. Especially for obvious derpy moments, tunnel visioning on plays at the expense of map awareness or your dying because your cat jumped on your keyboard looking for snuggles. But there’s deeper understanding on offer if you watch your League of Legends replays.
But for many of the details, you just don’t have time in team flights to spot everything that happens in the heat of the moment and see what you could have done better. Even if your team comes out on top, could you have done things differently to come out even more ahead?
Without watching your replays, you’ll never know.
It’s an incredibly valuable learning technique used by professionals not only in League of Legends, but (as we discussed in our article on how to learn league like a chess and martial arts champion) by many other disciplines, too.
If you’re anything like me, you won’t find analyzing replays as much fun as queuing another game. But, by using the right tools and the right approach, you can get through it both quickly and effectively. Here’s now.
Set up a League journal
By setting up some kind of journal or note taking system to record your trials and tribulations in League, it’s easy to spot patterns and help the things you notice sink in.
A Google Sheet is a great way to do this because it’s easy information and saves it in the cloud so you don’t have to worry about losing your journal. If you’d rather use Microsoft Excel, tools such as Dropbox backup info in the same way. A paper notebook works great, too but can get pretty chaotic.
How detailed you get in your journal is really up to you that the two areas that will give you the most games for the last time analyzing the mailing phase and your kills debts and assists. So, make two tabs
- A tab for the laning phase with a column for each of yours for skills queue through our separate column for Summoner’s
- A tab for kills, deaths and assists with a separate columns each
- A tab for general notes and observations you come across during the game
Just in case you’re feeling too lazy to set up a spreadsheet I’ve taken the liberty to make one for you here and we’ll get into the tabs and columns in a sec. Feel free to download it or make a copy to edit.
Watching the laning phase
First up, watch the laning phase. The two tools we always recommend for this are Replay.GG and LoL Summoner Info. Both open up replays natively in the League client, a fact that gives a couple of advantages.
It’s worth mentioning quickly though that if you load up a replay recorded in an older client version, it doesn’t work and you’ll get a black screen instead of a League replay. So, if there’s a replay you really want to watch and a patch due soon, take that into consideration.
Native client replays allow you pause and then click around the client and get lots of useful info. For example, if you’re laning against an unfamiliar champion, you can click it and mouse over their skills to get a better understanding of how they work. As we discussed before, game knowledge is the most important factor for players in lower League ranked tiers. So this is a great way to see how you’re playing and build your game knowledge at the same time.
Seek room for improvement in skill usage
When the replay opens, jump to 1:40 on the timeline as this is typically when laning begins. Watch through the first 10 to 12 minutes of each game and make a note each time you use a skill, especially focusing on the good uses and bad uses.
Mana is super precious at this stage of the game. So conserving it instead of wasting it by using at skill at the wrong time can make a huge impact on how effective you are in the early game.
For me, Janna’s E gives a good example. Extra HP and damage on your AD carry’s auto attacks makes all the difference in a trade, but I can only cast it a few times early game before I run out of mana. Getting better at reacting to enemy skill shots and reading engages to optimize my shield use is a major practice for me.
Also remember that gaining advantages in the first 10 minutes of the game means more wins in the long run, so tightening up your early game skill usage is a big deal.
Watch your kills, deaths, and assists
It’s good to assume that every death is a mistake. If you play an engaging champ then you may find yourself being a sacrificial lamb to ensure your team comes out on top once you’ve dumped your CC.
Flicking backwards and forwards through the timeline in the native client tools we mentioned above is kind of tedious. Plays.tv is a tool that screencasts the game while running in the background, automatically time stamping kills, deaths and assists. It doesn’t have that layer of detail that the native client replays brings to the table, but it saves a ton of time and removes some the tedium of scanning back and forth on the timeline.
Personally I like to start with the deaths. Look for patterns such as flashing into walls, trying to steal Baron while playing Soraka, and being at melee range when playing Ashe.
Another benefit of a screencast is it lets you see your camera control. This is a key aspect of League of Legends and it’s good to watch if there’s a lot of unnecessary positioning and re-positioning of the camera during fights (unless of course you play locked camera, in which case it doesn’t matter).
Note down your habits on:
- Positioning (too far forward, too far back, not taking enemy composition into account)
- Decision-making (bad time to go for or contest Dragons, bad time to split push etc)
- Skill usage (not prioritizing enemy targets, too rushed on ult use, etc)
- Vision (not helping the support with vision, chasing enemy into fog or war)
- Cooldowns (going in for poke or engages when skills on cooldown, failing to use Summoner’s when off cooldown)
- Map awareness (Getting ganked when all enemies were missing on the map and you’re deep on their lane)
Personally, I put more of a focus on my mistakes. But it’s good to include when you do things right so you don’t end up looking at spreadsheet full of your less commendable moments and never give yourself credit for good decisions and good plays.
One more note on team fight analysis
The timestamps on Plays.tv are great. But if you have more time, it’s ideal to look at all team fights and not just the ones that give the KDA’s. For example if there’s a skirmish with no kills or deaths, maybe if your positioning was better you could have secured one or more kills. S0, if you have time or the inclination, scan through looking for other skirmishes like this.
If you analyze three games at the time, you should easily be able to do all three in less than an hour and, once you start getting into it, it’s actually pretty fun.
The level of detail you can pick apart a replay is practically endless and some top tier players will spend hours digging into every detail of a game looking for missed openings increasingly optimal decisions. If you decide to do this, you can add additional tabs in the journal for the early, mid, and late games.
This level of detail isn’t for everyone. But it’s worth mentioning as it can be a valuable learning tool, especially if you’re in the higher elos and you’ve long had League fundamentals dialed. But by focusing on skill use and figuring out the specifics of what led to kills, deaths, and assists, you’re more likely to improve faster.
[Feature image credit: Robyn Lau]