So you want to get to Masters?

Getting to the top 0.3% of the playerbase is no easy task. Many have tried and failed, but I believe, with a bit of determination and patience, anyone can do it. I'm YaBoiRexy, a three-time Grandmaster with over 3,000 hours of playtime. Here are my tips.

General tips

  1. Throw your dignity out the window. This isn't the middle ages, no one cares about honour. Play the annoying, cancerous, and brain-dead characters if they are the best choice in the current situation.

  2. Don't be a meta-whore. Meta characters are the characters that provide the most benefits in most situations. They aren't the characters who provide the most benefit in every situation. Quite often, an off-meta character will be a better choice than a meta one. Sometimes, a very bad character would be a great choice just because you are a god with them.

  3. Don't completely disregard the meta. This goes against the previous point, but that's on purpose; it's a fine balance. You should always have at least one tank and healer. You should never solo-tank with someone like a Torvald or solo-heal with someone like a Grohk. Your first pick shouldn't be a bottom-tier character. Your comp should have a purpose.

  4. If you're completely, dead-set on getting to masters in as effective of a manner as possible, don't try to have a lot of fun. Having fun is great, but make it your #2 priority. Your #1 priority should always be to play to win, and if that means picking your least favourite character, then so be it.

  5. Be prepared to fill. This doesn't only apply to healers and tanks, but DPS too. If you are first-pick, then it is heavily recommended that you play Damage or Flank, since these have the highest carry potential. Now, this doesn't mean that support mains should insta-pick a level 7 talus just because they're first pick, but keep it in mind. You might not enjoy this as much, but it works faster.

  6. Actually play the game! If you want to get to masters in any reasonable timeframe, you should be dedicated to playing the game at least 3 hours a day. This is because climbing takes time, even someone with a 70% winrate, which is godlike btw, will not climb with 3 games a day. If they play 50 games over 1 month, the net 10 wins aren't enough to climb more than one rank.

  7. Never give up mid-match. Paladins gives winners a huge advantage with the comeback mechanic, which means, basically, the losing team only needs to get 70% to capture the point. That's game-changing!

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Skills needed, and how to identify your problems.

  1. Mechanics. This is things like flicking, tracking, dodging enemy shots, aiming. This is 99% practice.

  2. Gamesense. This is things like knowing how much ult charge the enemies have, when to use your abilities and ultimate, which enemy to shoot.

  3. Positioning. This is standing in the correct spot, and moving as the correct spot changes.

To improve these skills, I recommend a tactic known as death-tracking. Before you start a match, get a piece of paper. Digital doesn't really work as well, because you have to window-swap, but if it's your only option it's better than nothing. Divide the paper into 3 sections, one for each of the above skills. Whenever you die, put one tally mark next to the skill that you think you needed more of to survive there.

Some examples:

  • If you die because you missed, that's mechanics.

  • If you die because you entered a room that you didn't know had 3 enemies inside, that's gamesense.

  • If you wasted an ultimate or ability that costed you your life, that's gamesense.

  • If you entered a room that you knew had more than 1 enemy inside, and you incorrectly thought you could 1v2 them, that's positioning.

  • If you died to an enemy ult or ability that you had no idea was available, that's gamesense.

  • If you jumped off of the highground and died immediately, that's positioning. Similarly, if you didn't take the highground when it would have saved you, that's positioning.

  • If you rushed an enemy you thought was low when they actually just got healed by their healer or shielded by their tank, that's gamesense.

  • Generally speaking, if you died because of a lack of information, that's gamesense.

  • Generally speaking, if you died because of highground advantage, lack of cover, or lack of teammates nearby, that's positioning.

  • Generally speaking, if you died because you missed your shots, abilities, or ultimate, that's mechanics,

Do that during every match for maybe 5-10 matches (preferably more than one session) and you should have an idea of what your general problem is. Repeat the same step with more in-depth topics, for example, if you found your general issue was positioning, you could make the next sections "Highground," "LoS to team," "Lack of cover," and "LoS to enemies." Then maybe break it down even further.

How to improve after you know your problems.

Mechanics are mainly practice. Find your sensitivity and stick to it almost forever. Use your movement keys to help you track more precisely by moving in the same direction your enemy strafes. On snipers, wait for them to get into your reticle instead of moving your reticle to them, it's easier and works better 90% of the time. If you go against an Andro, Maeve, or Evie, that won't work, so try to practice flickshots too. Just not in ranked. Use an aim-trainer if you're on PC.

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Gamesense needs you to understand the kits of characters. Try to play every character to at least level 10. This will help you understand their abilities and weaknesses. If there's a single character that's giving you way more trouble than most, play them for even longer. Maybe even main them for a bit. Understand when to use your abilities.

If an ultimate is going to get a kill in a fair or one-man-down teamfight, use it. Don't use it when you're already winning the teamfight or have no chance (like a 3v5) then don't ult. If you are absolutely certain that the payload is lost/won (over 40% distance left with overtime active) don't ult. It's generally better to make sure you have your ult for the point fight, payload ult that you won't get back isn't actually that bad if it gets something accomplished. However, if your ult is overpowered (Furia, Ying, Khan) make sure you always, absolutely always want to make sure to have it for the point fight.

Positioning is by far the most simple. 80% of it can be learned from simple one-sentence rules to follow:

  • Keep highground as long as possible. Only get off if it's going to get you a kill or save your or a teammate's life.

  • Try to have line-of-sight to as many allies as possible.

  • Try to not have a direct line of sight to more than 2 enemies. By direct, I mean they can shoot you and deal substantial amounts of damage in a short period of time.

Champ specific positioning:

  • Snipers should understand that their line-of-sight defines the entire teamfight. A lone enemy in your sights is as good as dead, and so they can't stand there without a metric crap-ton of resources (Many heals, multiple shields). If your team works best on the right, stand to the left to force enemies to the right. If your team is passive, camp in the back. If your team is aggressive, reposition frequently to be in the right place and blocking the right. It changes massively from match to match. Make sure there aren't a massive number of flank routes to your position.

  • Main Tanks should hold choke points. They need to act as a buffer between their team and the enemy. This is most frequently the objective, but it can be other places too. It should be: Your team | You | Enemy point tank | Enemy team.

  • Offtanks need to relieve pressure for their team by forcing the enemy to spend time on you. You are not going to get kills or a lot of damage, your job in most situations is a complicated distraction. While a flank gets in the enemy backline, kills, gets out, your job is different. You are basically setting up a base-of-operations in the enemy backline. Basically, you need to be in a safe but threatening position, then say "Hey! Pay attention to me!" This allows your team to make plays.

  • Flanks have the most complex positioning. You have to be safe and in danger at the same time. You can't kill without being in danger, but you die if you aren't safe. Make sure you always have an escape route.

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