Let’s start by defining what anxiety is and what affect it has on your League of Legends ranked games
“Anxiety is a general term for several disorders that cause nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worrying. These disorders affect how we feel and behave and can cause physical symptoms such as having sweat hands, increased heartbeat that makes you nervous once you notice that you are in a rush, and it doesn’t let you focus on your game and play to the fullest potential.”
Every time that you encounter yourself with your hands sweating or moving your feet too much during a champion select in a ranked match, you have to think and believe that you are playing this game for fun. If you have this mentality the result of a loss shouldn’t discourage you to continue with the climb and conversely the result of a win is just one step closer to your desired elo. Simple as that. You lose LP? No problem you’ll recover them later! Don’t panic about it before even trying this method. A pro tip would be meditating during the champion loading screen. By collecting your thoughts, you will be best prepared to perform your best.
I used to have ladder anxiety on StarCraft when I was young. When I was around 15 years old I would constantly avoid playing ranked all together just because I was afraid of losing my ELO. It was not until I met one of my best friend online, he was 21 years old at the time and he wasn’t afraid of losing elo, he already lived everything that I was living, and after months of playing with him he asked me, why don’t you play ranked? You are good enough to reach 1800 mmr (I was 1400 with only like 20 games played) and I told him that I was afraid of losing dropping to 1300 in just a couple of games. I’ll never forget his response. He simply laughed about it and told me, “no way, all you can do is improve with each loss, it’s part of the experience of improving”; as soon as I processed what he said, it immediately clicked and changed my entire mentality.
Those simple words suddenly opened my eyes to a new way of seeing the ranked ladder and I started to play, first 2-3 ranked matches every day and by the next week I was playing up to 5 ranked games. In no time I was 1700 mmr with around 50 games played and feeling the rewarding sense of success I suddenly found myself pushing towards the goal of 2000 mmr. Now I felt like nothing could stop me but then it hit me again, I started to play against highest skilled players that didn’t fear losing and they took risks that I would be too afraid at that time to take. Since I was paralyzed by the fear I began making mistakes that a 1200 mmr would do. Stuck in a mental block I had to talk with my friend again. After he watched my replays and he told me he did not even recognize that it was me playing. The way I was performing too irregular and he insisted on following the meditation steps that I took when I first started getting better. He reaffirmed and restated to relax in each match and play my own game.
A year passed since I was stuck at 1700-1750 mmr, which is like being Platinum on League, even though it’s higher than average, there is still a ton of room to improve and to climb. I stopped playing competitive again, only playing normal and team-based maps until I realized that I was actually having fun playing those modes, and I wasn’t sweating, or overthinking my actions. I was like huh, if I could just replicate this way I play when playing 1v1 ranked I could boost my elo significantly. I started to play ranked again and easily climbed to 2000 mmr with this mentality. Battle.net was dying at that time, so I switched to iCCup and I was the highest player from my country on the ladder table. This gave me the opportunity to meet clans and new people that were trying hard to improve every day, I signed up to tournaments and then it happened again. The mental block was back.
The fear of losing made me play worse and by the third tournament I was like I can’t see myself improving and succeeding like this so let’s just play for fun, do my own thing and see what happens. Amazingly, I won. This was the first time I ever made money playing a video game. This first $25 that I won online was in a StarCraft online tournament which was so exciting at that time and even to this day I still play StarCraft Broodwar and Starcraft II to relax on my weekends, and yes, I play ranked to relax (something that I never though was possible).
Applying the same state of mind to League of Legends ranked games is possible, focus on your own gameplay and you’ll be able to appreciate the good aspects of the game, enjoy the adrenaline rush, and play without the fear of losing. Put on some relaxing music on your playlist and queue up! Select a champion selec gets you in the zone, apply the things mentioned on “How to boost your ELO effectively: The Mental Game” and remember to watch your ELO soar!