Target Locked: Seven Tips for Climbing as an ADC Main



Mon 11th Nov 2019 - 9:55pm

As we proceed towards the end of the season, many people are finding that their climbing efforts have been successful while some are still finding that the fruits of their labors have yet to come. While it's easier to climb with some roles as opposed to others, one of the rather more difficult roles to climb with has been ADC in the botlane. For those of you who queue up bot every game and lose games on end with no hope in sight, here are a few tips that I hope will help you reach that light at the end of the tunnel and achieve your goal before the curtains close and the Victorious skins go out at the end of the season. 

Queue Up With a Dedicated Support

Don't fall for the criticisms that come with duoing. People are going to say left and right that if you had to duo to climb, that you must not be deserving of your rank. Ultimately, this makes no sense, as the game is teamwork-oriented. Teamwork is what makes the dream work, and it's a feature of the game to be able to duo with a fellow friend as you climb on the ladder, so make use of it. You're walking into a game with 4 random people, none of which you are familiar with playing with. Why not increase your odds of success by lowering that number to 3? Plus, if that person is consistent, you lower the likelihood of your team feeding - unless that person is consistent at feeding. I'm pretty sure that if you ask an ADC main or a support main what they hate most about climbing, they'll tell you the majority of the time that it's when they don't synergize with their ally in lane. This could be for a number of reasons, like:

  • Different Laning Styles (Aggressive vs. Passive, Reactive vs. Proactive)
  • Incompatitible Champion Pools 
  • Different Mindsets Towards Ranked
  • None of the synergy present that comes with consistent play together


Find a consistent support main and hit the Rift together!

So why not remedy this by playing with someone you know (at least in terms of play) and trust? Find that dedicated support main and make them your dedicated support, and you both will climb higher as you find consistent synergy with each other. On the downside, you'll have to both agree on playtimes and synergize in schedule, but you can gain things like: 

  • No more autofill supports!
  • No more hoping and praying that your ally laner won't troll your comp with X pick
  • The joy of playing with someone you like
  • Coordination
  • Higher chance of success on the Rift
  • Better synergized wave management (Freezing/Pushing Together)
  • A communication advantage over the enemy botlane in the event that they are not a duo

It's a no-brainer when you look at it this way, right? I think so too. 

Constantly Improve Your CS

In League of Legends, gold is king, and your ability to generate it will help determine whether or not you can secure leads and influence your odds of winning. Yes, everyone knows that if you kill your opponent, you get 300 gold, but your creep score (CS) is a guaranteed way of generating gold. Gold generation is the basis of strategies like denying CS and the purpose of wave management, so start here before you even think about working on outplaying your enemies for that sweet sweet pentakill in teamfights. 

A good benchmark to obtain is that you should strive for as close as possible to 10 CS per minute, with the lowest being about 7 (for example, in the event of a bad matchup). In laning phase, this is easiest, but it gets a lot harder once the midgame comes and people are grouping up and casting whatever's in their kits to clear the waves out as fast as possible. 

As ADC, it's also a good idea to catch side waves (provided you don't already have a split pusher doing so in that lane) when they come to your side of the map and there aren't any neutral objectives up that require you to be elsewhere. Once laning phase is over, it's also a good idea to rotate mid, as you'll be able to catch farm faster because of the shorter lane distance and move to either side of the map as needed by your team.

You can also practice your CSing by loading up the practice tool. I won't say that you have to go boot up with Anivia or Vlad and put yourself right into hard mode, but you should practice CSing on the champions that you actually plan to play. This will give you the muscle memory in terms of reaction speed, knowing how fast your auto attacks travel, and in general how to move and flow with your champion in order to better farm in lane. This is also one of those things that will just improve as you play the game, but if you stay consistent, this shouldn't be a problem. 

Minimize Your Deaths

Let me preface this by saying this: l believe that about 75-80% of all deaths in what would be considered "low elo" solo queue (meaning below Diamond) are preventable and, while most people are quick to write "worth" in all chat, most of those deaths aren't worth anything except to the enemies who killed them. 

Yes, it's a steep generalization, but I'd be willing to bet on it.

While it's true that there's a stigma that goes around for people being "KDA players", players who prioritize looking good in stats over winning the game, needlessly dying helps no one on your team. In solo/duo ranked games, needlessly dying is as prevalent as pressing the "play again" button once a game is over. As ADC, you should never be actively seeking situations where you will die - in fact, you should be trying to avoid it as much as possible - but you should not be afraid of dying if it means your team gains more than the enemy team from you doing so. Your primary job duties are to aid with sieging and taking objectives while providing sustained and safe damage in lategame teamfights, all of which require three things: 

  • You have to be properly positioned to deal damage
  • You have to be properly itemized to deal maximum and optimal damage depending on the compositions of both your team and your enemies
  • You have to be alive to deal the damage

The last point is most crucial and gets even more crucial the longer the game has progressed. You could be 100 CS up on your enemy ADC and they could be building a Deathcap for their first item. But if you're getting constantly caught out and killed or obliterated before/within the first few seconds of a fight and that other ADC is alive casting spells and hitting people, guess who the more useful ADC is in that game? Hint: Not you.

So, here, let me be the first to help you answer a few questions that you might find yourself asking in game in order to help prevent some of those deaths and subsequent losses you may be racking up unnecessarily. 

  • YES, you should call for your jungler in order to break the enemy lane freeze instead of stepping up and getting ganked.
  • YES, you should keep your escape/mobility abilities and summoner spells ready just in case a good situation goes south.
  • YES, you should play safe against enemy botlane matchups that are stronger than you early or that have the offensive summoner spell advantage.
  • YES, you should play back if you have no summoner spells so that way you don't die. 
  • YES, you should recall when you are low instead of trying to last-hit under tower with 100 health.
  • YES, you should be mindful of neutral objective timers (and where the enemy jungler might be in relation to them) when deciding to trade or all-in your enemies. 
  • YES, you should stay clear of enemy targets who can all-in you in teamfights.
  • YES, you should back off when your allied laners ping that their enemies are missing or the jungler signals that your lane might be next to get ganked by the enemy jungler.
  • YES, you should also be helping the support to ward so that neither of you die. Warding isn't just the support's job. 
  • NO, you should not flame others for you dying. 

Basically, if you find yourself dying on average more than 3-4 times per game, you're probably dying too much. 

Adapt Your Build

There are a lot of things that confuse me in solo queue. It's a chaotic and confusing place sometimes. But among the top five are how people - ADCs specifically - stick to static builds that they cookie cut from ProGuides or OPGG and never change. I'm sure it's equally as annoying to other people to be on a team where you're against, say, a composition that has Mordekaiser (Top), Nunu (Jungle), Malzahar (Mid), Jhin (ADC), and Soraka (Support), only to see that 30 minutes passed and their Caitlyn has no Quicksilver SashLast Whisper, or Executioner's Calling because she's spent her entire early game rushing Infinity Edge, Essence Reaver, and Rapid Firecannon build that she read about on Reddit five minutes before the game started.


Seeker's ArmguardQuicksilver SashNinja TabiMercury's TreadsExecutioner's CallingBramble VestLast Whisper

Some of the situational items used against certain champs/compositions that are often neglected until the last minute in soloqueue - Seeker's Armguard, Quicksilver Sash, Ninja Tabi, Mercury's Treads, Executioner's Calling, Bramble Vest, Last Whisper.

If one were playing a mage mid into someone like Zed or Talon, they'd adapt by building a Seeker's Armguard and maybe Ninja Tabi instead of their standard Lost Chapter item and Sorcerer's Shoes.

If one were playing Garen top into a Teemo, they'd adapt by building into either Spirit Visage, Mercury Treads, or Adaptive Helm instead of the usual Black Cleaver or Triforce item start.

There's a reason why those "Situational Items" tabs exist on guides and even in the in-game item interface. It's because they also know that not every build will work for every game and that you will, more often than not, have to adapt.

So adapt.  


Let's imagine you're on the road to Challenger and you encounter a game where you load into champ select. You're a one-trick Tristana main and are surprised to find that your champ has been banned, so you're forced onto that Ezreal pick that you're really hit-or-miss with. Not only that, but an ally hadn't been paying attention and has accidentally banned another ally's champion and this is causing the latter to tilt and want to feed. So he locks in Teemo. What do you do? 

To some people, the answer is obvious. But to some, the answer isn't, so I'll tell you what you should do: Dodge.

Why? Simple. 

Your matchmaking rating (MMR) is the hidden point system that determines how many League Points (LP) you gain/lose from your wins/losses. While LP is important and often considered because of how visible and accessible it it is, MMR is ultimately what you want to increase in order to climb consistently. An analogy would be that LP is the money you have now, while your MMR is the rate at which you lose/earn money. Your MMR would be more important to how you climb, just as the rate at which you earn/lose money would affect how wealthy you are to be. Playing a game like this is basically like saying spending your money on a product that is doomed to fail. So, don't do it. 

Your MMR is affected by winning and losing. But ultimately, dodging has no negative effect on your MMR. It only hurts you in the short term (you have to wait 5-30 minutes for the next game) and if you make dodging back to back games in a given window (16 hours) a habit.  

Situations where it might be a good idea to dodge, in my opinion at least, would be: 

  •  If your team is already tilted or flaming in champ select
  •  If your team composition does not have a lot of protection for you and the enemy team has lots of aggressive engage or assassins. 
  •  If your support is autofilled and picks something they're not good at
  •  If you are a one trick and your trick gets banned/picked by someone else

Dodging is an effective tool when used correctly, but will hinder you if overused, as you'll lose a ton of time and the LP losses will start to stack. If you master when to dodge and can make use of the downtime between games though, it can be an effective way to not only recharge before your next game, but preserve your MMR, sanity, and hopes in climbing to a higher tier. 

Stick to What Works

Now, before the people jump to their keyboards and dismiss me as being a metaslave, let me be the first to say that I'm all for playing off-meta stuff, if you have the numbers to back it up and it doesn't structurally hinder the team composition. 

The thing is, in ranked, you're ultimately playing to win (or rather you should be). If this is not you, then perhaps this is where you should stop reading the article and resign to playing other game modes. The fun in ranked comes from winning because people play ranked to compete with other people who also want to compete. Just like in every competition, a meta is bound to form because generally X or Y strategy, champions, builds/gear, etc. will work more efficiently than others. In everchanging games that are constantly patched and updated, these metas are subject to change, and you have to be willing to adapt to them. Nevertheless, the meta comes because generally, the meta works. 

So, when in doubt, you won't stray far from success with the meta unless you've never actually touched the champion before or you're not good at the champion in question. 

When I say "what works", I mean what has been shown to statistically work for you. Yes, you may love playing Yasuo "ADC" or beating on poor unsuspecting enemy laners with Ornn in the botlane, but if you have a sub 50% win rate on them then you probably should leave the champion to your norms/bot games. 

This person would probably be better off playing more Ashe and perhaps dropping the Caitlyn, despite the positive KDA numbers.

A good benchmark for what to play in your games would be:

  • If you're winning with it and you're comfortable on it, keep playing it.
  • If it's not something you're used to playing but you're thinking of playing in ranked, give it 10-20 games of norms first. If you can't win at least 50% of the games, then it's not ready for ranked yet. So, rinse and repeat.
  • If you can already play it well and it's meta, it's probably a good idea to abuse it whenever you can. 
  • For your teammates' sanity and your LP's sake, please don't make a ranked game the place where you first time a champion. 

Stay Informed

In a game like League of Legends, information is power. From timers in game on objectives and summoner spells to keeping up to date on patch notes and viable build paths, it is crucial to stay informed. I'm not saying that you have to go and watch every single pro game or diligently watch the Twitch streams of the best, but if you have the time to do so, it certainly helps. 


A chart of Ashe's abilities and cooldowns from Mobalytics. Third-party websites and interfaces like these as well as the in-game tooltips can help you stay knowledgeable about your champion.

When it comes to your champs, you should know them well enough to play in both advantageous and disadvantageous matchups. You should also know about how all of their moves and abilities work, what their win conditions are, who they synergize well with, and in general how to maximize your time and efforts playing them. You should be on top of any changes in the way they build and, even if you don't like reading all of the patch notes, check and see if any of the champions you play are affected. Watching a one trick play your champion also helps, as you get to see someone (hopefully at the higher levels of gameplay) utilize your champion and give insightful tips. 

On an external level, it never hurts to know about the other champs. You'll end up playing with or against them at some time, so you should try to understand them. Get a good idea for how the items in the game work and just in general play the game. Playing the game will give you so much more knowledge by you absorbing information through experience. As a wise man once said, "Master yourself, master the enemy."


As ADC, you have more power than you think. Sure, you're kind of useless in the early game unless you're a Draven or Lucian main and yes you need babysitting to evolve into that lategame beast that you are. However, behind every good team is a consistent ADC, so be that ADC with these tips and remember: If nothing else- better bot wins. 

Good luck with your climb and I'll see you guys on the Rift. 

Like our content? Support us by getting our merchandise in our shop