In League of Legends, there’s a cult of plays, where the greatest mechanical outplays on champions like Vayne, Zed, Yasuo, Azir, Riven and similar champions are revered. Watching these videos on YouTube and Twitch streams, mediocre players pick the same champions, hoping to replicate what they have seen. Unfortunately, the average League of Legends player (even though all of us are challenjours, if only teammates weren’t so bad!!!) does not have the mechanics to pull something similar off. As a result, the player fails and fails a lot, costing his team the game.
It’s believed that to climb the ranked ladder, you have to be mechanically better than your opponent. That is not true. Game knowledge is just as important if not more than ingame mechanics. No matter how quickly you can press your buttons, no matter how accurate and fast your right-clicks are, it’s all for naught if you don’t know whom you should click on or which buttons to press in what order.
That is not the only area where knowledge comes into play, however. It all starts in Pick and Ban. Let’s imagine a scenario. You’re the last pick, who really wants to show everyone that he’s the next Faker, styling on your opponents with Zed. Your enemies have a Lulu Support, Ezreal ADC, Kindred Jungle, Kayle mid, and Taric Top. Might it be possible that going Zed wouldn’t be the best idea in that case? Of course not, because mechanics. This scenario sounds ridiculously over the top, however, that IS what happens in many low elo ranked games, albeit on a far lesser scale.
Even in fights, game knowledge can sometimes be much more useful than straight up mechanics. The conventional Silver logic states that one should always focus the enemy ADC or Mid. Poor AD Carries get flamed for focusing “that damn Nasus” instead of the enemy AD Carry. Imagine a scenario. Your team gets engaged on. In response, your teammates dive the enemy backline, which is stronger than they are themselves, for example. Now, you’re left alone against a fed opponent. Being a squishy ADC, you probably die, the enemies kill your front line and your team loses the fight. What would happen, however, if your team responded by protecting you instead of diving the enemies? The enemies would die. The team might take some punishment, however, they would still have options. They could continue the fight, diving the enemies with a numbers advantage or they could fallback, maybe putting pressure on the objective.
These examples are simplistic in the extreme, true scenarios are much more complicated; however, by at least understanding how the game should be played properly, you can put yourself in the best spot to win. All you have to do is to get the other 4 guys to follow you. That is easier said than done, of course. Knowing when to fight and how is better than being able to fight extremely well. With that said, there will come a time where your game knowledge will no longer be able to carry you through your games, held back by your worse than the norm mechanics. At that point, you should work hard to improve those as well.
While this article uses League of Legends as an example, it also applies in all games, FPS included. Knowing what you’re supposed to be doing will always be more useful than being especially good at shooting things, assuming that you are not vastly worse than the other players on your level. Outsmarting your opponent and landing an easy shot is always better than taking the risk of having to turn aim god, landing several much more difficult shots to do the same thing. Taking the path of least resistance is always the best way to win. It just so happens, that using your mind offers less resistance than using your muscles.