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October 29, 2011 / realelohell

Article 10: Fight or Flight – Understanding the Decision Making Process.

What’s the difference between catching someone else, and being caught?  Should you engage or should you run?  How can you analyze whether an objective will be successfully completed?  League of Legends, like other multiplayer strategy games, is a battle of incomplete information.  In a battle of incomplete information, whoever can identify and correctly process information quicker is going to have the upper hand.  This article explains the thought process that should be going through your mind before, during, and after you make a decision.

How do you improve at decision making?  For that matter, how do you even know if you’ve made the right decision?

Every time a decision is made, there is a decision making process behind it.  You weigh the net effect, look at the variables, decide the chances of success or failure, proceed with your decision, and assess the results.  However, the problem with improving decision making is because it becomes so ingrained.  Objectively analyzing and improving your decision making process is hardly easy when you don’t even think about these decisions.  Also, if the decision made ends up leading to a bad outcome, it will be painful to go back and look at what flawed reasoning or decision caused it.

This problem is compounded in LoL because you have multiple people going through the same decision making process.  People make mistakes.  Maybe someone misses an MIA, misjudges an opponent’s strength (relative to their own), or just miscalculates some variable.  Inevitably, everyone is going to make (and will continue to make) bad decisions in game.  This article is going to outline (through an example) the entire decision making process and the variables you should be looking at during each stage.  It won’t make you into a perfect League of Legends-playing robot, but if you use it as an example and apply it to your own decisions and play, it should help reduce the ratio of bad decisions made.

Example decision to be made:

Should I dragon?

[Pre-decision stage]

Step 1: What variables are in play? Look at the variables that affect your decision.

–          What’s the in game time?

  • Is it early game, mid game, or late game?
  • Is dragon even important at this stage of the game?

–          What champion am I playing?

–          Can I get help/do I need help?

  • Where is my team? Where is the enemy team?
  • How quickly can I do dragon?

–          Is dragon/river warded?

  • Can I afford a vision ward or oracles potion?

–          Do they have CV (clairvoyance) up?

–          Who is ahead at this point?

  • Are we behind and need dragon to catch up?
  • Are we ahead and can easily get dragon?
  • Is it a stalemate and will getting an objective like dragon at this point tilt the balance of the game in our favor?

–          What items do I have?

  • Do I have wriggles/madreds?

–          What items does the enemy team have?

  • Does the enemy jungler have wriggles/madreds?

–          Do I have summoner spells up?  Does my team have their summoner spells up?

  • Can I get away with flash/ghost?
  • Can I smite dragon?
  • Can my team help and get away safely?

–          Are the enemy team’s summoner spells up?

  • Does the enemy jungler have smite up?

–          Will dragon be contested?

  • Did the enemy jungler just die, or did the enemy bottom lane/mid lane just die?
  • Is the enemy team nowhere near dragon?

–          Can the enemy team steal dragon?

  • Lux/Ezreal/GP ultimate/Shaco smite, etc.

There might be more variables that I’ve missed, but in this example I think I’ve covered the most important ones (which are in bold).

[Decision stage]

Step 2: Make your decision based on the variables in play and utilizing whatever you need.

Continuing example:

You are Warwick with Wriggles Lantern and boots.  You just ganked bottom lane and killed the enemy ranged AD champion.  You feel like you can do dragon with support from your bottom 2 laners.

Go to dragon NOW, PING it and ASK YOUR TEAM for help to do it!  Don’t wait for the enemy to respawn or to explain your reasoning to your team.  Like most things, time is of the essence, and depending on how many variables are at play, you may have a very short period of time to execute your (potentially good) decision before it becomes a bad decision.

[Post-decision stage]

Step 3: Analyze the result of your decision.

What was the result?  Did you make the correct decision?  Could you have done anything better?  Did you miscalculate some variable or effect?

Continuing example:

1. You have successfully killed dragon uncontested with the help of your team (good result).

2. Despite killing the enemy ranged AD champ at bottom lane, the enemy team decides to contest dragon.  The enemy mid AP champion is a fed Annie who proceeds to Flash + Ultimate while your team is at low health while attacking dragon.  You and your two bottom laners get killed by Annie’s ult, and the enemy team picks up dragon as well.  Oops, miscalculated.  Forgot to consider the strength of enemy mid lane, and didn’t ward path from mid to dragon (EXTREMELY BAD RESULT).

Special note: In solo queue, when you make a bad call, take responsibility for it – tell your team you messed up.  You don’t need to fall on your sword and bow to your teammates, but even a “sry guys, my bad” can do wonders.  On the flip side, if someone else makes a mistake, don’t start berating them constantly with ALL CAPS (if you want to win at least), as it just makes them more likely to rage quit or troll you.


– At the very least, try to think about the most important variables before you make a decision (don’t be too impulsive).

– After considering the important variables, don’t waste time implementing your call, especially if your decision is extremely time sensitive – a good decision can turn into a very bad one if you wait too long.

Go back and think about your major decisions and the results that occurred during the course of a game.  Did you make the best decision possible?  Did you miss some important variable?  Be objective and critical.

– If you want to win more in solo queue, don’t berate someone on your team for making a bad decision in solo queue.  Playing the blame game while the regular game is still going is only going to lead to further disaster.


One Comment

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  1. ASR / Jan 22 2012 7:11 am

    Wow, im glad someone took the time to write something like this, i will definetly try to be more conscious of this in the future.

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