Elo Hell exists, but it's NOT what you think

Before someone tries to link me the old post about this, I’m going to drop a link right here. What is Elo Hell does it Exist?

Everything I say is going to cover stuff in that post and from other discussions I’ve had elsewhere. I’m going discuss the major schools of thought surrounding Elo Hell, and what I feel they are missing. I hope I’ve managed to re-cement a bit of a reputation for objectively oriented analysis with some of my recent threads. I say this because Elo Hell was quite a personal topic for me as well, for a very long time, so in some ways this thread is intended to help those who got stuck like I did (over a year in T7, for instance). As such, I’m hoping people don’t think I’m doing this as a “cathartic” salt rant - because I’m not. Hit the “x” button on the upper corner of your screen if I’ve already managed to put you off with a “totally biased” opinion.

I think we can generally agree that the colloquial definition of Elo Hell is where a specific player finds themself unable to gain Elo for reasons “apparently” beyond their control - with teammates as the main source of frustration. Elo Hell is often associated with specific tiers, but I feel this is primarily a function of who rages the most. Elo Hell is not tied to a specific tier. We also cannot say there is NO grain of truth to the “Elo Hell” problem - it is very common advice to party up in ranked, especially in HIGHER ranks. This is both for communication and to reduce the extreme variability in teammates.

Now, there are several big schools of thought regarding Elo Hell:

A. It doesn't exist!

The main proponents of this school are high tier players, idealists, and people who have watched high tier players climb on new accounts with no trouble. They tend to write off the Elo Hell complaints as the ravings of bad players who don’t know how bad they are. Their belief is that because certain players have no issue climbing through lower tiers, that Elo Hell cannot exist. To them, no tier is uncarryable. Vorv in the linked post above, falls into this camp.

B. "What do you mean Elo Hell doesn't Exist?!? I'm in it right now! My teammates are !@$%"

Here we have the opposite side of the spectrum - the habitual denizens of the salt mine. The only reason they don’t outnumber School A 10:1 here is that most players haven’t come to the forums yet to rant. Their belief is that Elo Hell absolutely exists, and that they are held back by their teammates. “If Only” there was a magic bullet to solve all their problems, they would break free of Elo Hell and make it to the magical next tier which has lovely matchmaking and amazing teammates who never let you down.

C. Elo Hell is a state of mind!

This be the most nuanced of the groups and is realistically a subset of School A but with an ideological split. Their belief is that Elo Hell is a fabricated mental construct from specific players. The kindest stance from this group is that players hold themselves back by believing they cannot advance, but if they believe in themselves and git gud, anyone can climb. The less pleasant insinuate that people use the term “Elo Hell” as an excuse.

Now, all of these are actually right in some form, but they are also wrong and don’t see the whole picture. Yes, this is possible guys, just like in real life. My view with the benefit of major hindsight, is a bit different. I like to think it’s because I understand both high level and low level gameplay in a way that a noob or a pro won’t. Purely by virtue of genuine experience in both shoes, and a little game knowledge.

First thing I should get out of the way: Just as Vorv says in the linked post, its physically impossible for “most” players to be held back because of their teammates. It’s hard to envision a situation in which most players are underrated. Its just not possible, since elo works off of your relative ratings in comparison to one another. Its a ladder system, not a measurement. What’s more likely, is that many/most people who are “stuck” in elo hell, are instead suffering from the Dunning-Kruger Effect. The essence of the Dunning-Kruger effect is that incompetent people believe they are better than they really are. Sequel studies from the same group have shown that competent people tend to believe they are worse than they truly are. This is due to cognitive bias - the same process that makes you blame that Ardan for not Vanguarding you to save you from OverExtending - or makes you believe your rage pinging is “not toxic”. So basically, most of you deserve your current rank, because that is to a large extent an aggregate of your overall skills. Not a subset.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Elo Hell doesn’t exist. I’m saying that most people are not as good as they think they are, and they are not in my definition of Elo Hell.

So who is in Elo Hell? Truly unable to climb because of their teammates? The technical answer is “nobody”, since there is always something more you can try to do to raise your win rate. However, this only falls through if you expect players to aim for literal perfection in their game-play. Which is stupid and unrealistic. Practically speaking, there are a noticeable number of people who are lower ranked than where you might think they belong. You won’t notice them if you are self absorbed or don’t have a good understanding of the game in question. Certainly not if you ignore/delete anyone above/below specific skill tiers.

Here’s the important thing to understand. Because of cognitive biases and/or denial, people tend to not see the issues in their own gameplay. Sometimes, the issues are more subtle, but generally visible patterns will emerge with careful observation. However, these players truly stuck in “Elo Hell” don’t see these problems and as a result can’t see how to improve (bias comes through in their questions). Usually, these players either have wide disparities in their skill between roles and heroes they play in Ranked, or are horrible at working with or around sub-par allies. Some have flashes of brilliance, so to speak, in which they can hard carry some games on their strengths, with their weaknesses being a nonissue, this allowing them to “hold their own” with much stronger players. The end result is that they might have superior game knowledge or mechanics, but they are incapable of winning consistently all the same. This is despite being noticeably better in a vacuum than their allies.

The problem with all of these scenarios, is that the players in question were actually doing something right, occasionally at a very high level. That’s how they got to where they were. The problem is that they usually don’t know how to adapt to changing scenarios or just can’t. To climb, especially in soloque, adaptation is one of the most underrated qualities of a highly skilled player, and the one most commonly missing among those in “Elo Hell”.

Those in School A will not see this, because they focus on good players who are capable of forcing out wins, instead of the players who don’t know how to. The players in School B clearly don’t see this, because they are the ones who are stuck. The players in School C tend to assume that these gameplay issues just go away if players are not so negative, and/or forgot how they themselves made the transition. It should be clear by now that I feel they are all missing part of the bigger picture.

To simplify things, my point is NOT that Elo Hell does not exist. The crux of the matter is that hard-stuck players in “Elo Hell” don’t know/can’t fix the remaining mistakes in their gameplay, and so zoom in on their allies mistakes. This holds them back from capitalizing on their strengths. While some players can show much higher skill in specific areas, they are usually too inconsistent as a whole to make their win rate rise and enable them to climb.

Sometimes, you have to make the “wrong” play to win. You are going to likely lose the games with a Jungle Grace rushing Clockwork, but most games are salvageable with the right approach and mindest.


I think ELO Hell could be helped more if APIs adapt a more in depth system kinda like https://vgu.herokuapp.com

Elo hell does and doesn’t exist. It does actually exist because your teammates are playing like complete idiots and you feel hopeless, helpless but it doesn’t exist to casual dudes like me who just turn their deaf ears to those teammates and just report them after the match and just keep playing.

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Ah yes, I see you are a figure of taste, much like myself.

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Eh. When you’re 5v5ing and your jungler and top laner join your bottom laner in bot lane from start and still aren’t successfully pushing it against a 2 man enemy defense while your captain is jungling and you’re struggling covering middle against 2 enemies while watching 1 enemy take 3 top lane turrets consecutively in the first 10 min of the match, I think that counts as elo hell.

When same team finally spreads out and all you hear is “Allied hero killed” every other minute…that might be elo hell.

When your whole team besides you decides they’re tired of dying and get together to roam as a party and can’t even survive a 4 vs 2 and you start hearing 4 consecutive “Allied hero killed”, but now 5-20 seconds apart, every time they all respawn…I’d say…that’s elo hell.

But I also see your point. Many players rage ping you when they’re the one going 1/10/2 at the end of the match and swear it’s your fault, or ping you strategies they think make sense that…aren’t workable, then get mad when you don’t join them in inevitable death. Elo hell in that context…is the one of their own making.

While there are some nuances to your view, it seems like it is very, very similar to the view that “Elo Hell does exist, but it is an attitude or state of mind.” I’m not seeing too much of a difference. Are you hinging this on the Dunning-Krueger Effect, then, as a major distinction?

Moreover, I imagine that the first view listed and the third view listed are very often consolidated by individuals. People who hold view number 3 already know that “Elo Hell” is not a real thing, but fabricated by the minds of players. I suppose there are definitely some that only fall into the first view, however.

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Hm. I guess I didn’t make it too obvious then, the same thought had crossed my mind too. I consider the primary difference in viewpoint between myself and view 3, to be that Elo Hell is a real state and not something you shake off with a positive attitude. You can lose plenty of games despite making all the “right” decisions - if you want to climb it ends up that you adapt to winning your specific tier first. The “pro plays” or w/e come later, and are largely irrelevant when your allies don’t build correctly or can’t hold off opponent aggression at all. So rather than Elo Hell forming off of a state of mind directly, it comes about when players ultimately fail to work more effectively with their teammates (most commonly) or otherwise fail to see their own deficiencies, often due to un-intuitive win conditions.

You can have 90% of your game down pat, but if your allies can’t compensate for the 10% you are missing, any overaggressive (err, “aware”) opponent will abuse it. You end up losing despite your 90% being better than their 80% or whatever.


how about make this statement based on statistics? elo hell exists purely because of bad match making. fix match maker, fix elo hell.

Just about every single player has a story of how MM put ___ tier player together with ___ tier players… its become the daily weather report, “today, we will see Some heavy trolling in the morning… clearing into some afk’s in the afternoon and a down pour of surrenders late at night”.

It’s all related. Where does Elo hell begin and end? with MM. Going from a perfectly beautiful match with perfect team synergy and everyone making good shot calls… to bad skills, afk’s, feeding and surrendering back to back, is why elo hell exists.

if elo hell is defined on how well a player plays in relation to others around him, then MM is the culprit.

On a related note and a hypothetical: If elo hell exists, then so does Elo Heaven. Where complete newbies get hard carried into winners and high tiers, also a MM problem.

FIX MM. pure n simple.

I think this is less to do with matchmaker mix-ups (although that doesn’t help, to be sure), and more to do with just how varied Win Conditions can be in this game. There are ways to win on pure mechanical outplays (reflex blocks and skill applications), accumulations of microplay tactics (lane freezes and resource control), pure macro-play strategy (starvation through proper rotation/invades), and all the shades and permutations thereof (drafting, itemization, hero and player synergies, etc etc etc). 5v5 further explodes this variety. Because there are so many ways to win, and the matchmaker can only work with tendencies based on results of those ways, it’s almost impossible to task it with squashing the concept of elo hell.

I’ve written a lot about elo hell in the past, generally in agreement with what Mag is saying. I think it exists, and that it describes a situation where your personal skills and playstyle are effective in higher tiers but are potentially detrimental to success in your current tier, however, it’s lack of adaptability and awareness that are ultimately to blame for not advancing. But I don’t believe it affects nearly as many people as claim it, and while it’s good to know it exists (and why it exists, in my definition), it’s not a particularly useful way of thinking if you’re trying to rank up. Basically, you can always git gud, but it’s hard to know what you don’t know. (cue forum-built guides and community knowledge!)

Here are a couple old threads with lots of interesting discussion:
Elo Hell is a Lie
The Ultimate Two Counter Examples That Elo Hell Doesn’t Exist


Baically you can be too good at one way and not deverse enough for what you are encountering

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I believe MM can be improved to the point where it can eliminate elo hell. I’m well aware of the limitations of match maker due to how it takes information. I didn’t want to extent the post to be all about match maker, but in short, with enough analysis of games from many manual eye straining humans with a gift of translating that information into code… MM can become better.

Key point: Manual eye Strain. it has to be done. each match painstakingly analysed as to why that person was thought to be a troller. This is the only way MM will improve.

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Its not just about people who are trolling. I’ve met T9s who think Baptiste is meant to 1v1 enemy Saws, not peel for his own hypercarry. I’ve met people in high elo who still don’t know about farming under turret. A lot of players across tiers either lack map awareness or genuinely don’t give a man about their teammates from the get go. Some people pick heroes selfishly and others pick heroes for the team, sometimes regardless of their own skill. Some people like to push all the blame for a lost game onto specific players, with no objective analysis if what happened. Some people refuse to swap lanes with bad matchup, and others assume its the norm. Some people have clearly the wrong ideas both about hero builds, but also the hero strengths/weaknesses and their own skill. Some people have horrible mechanics and good macro, for others its the inverse.

There is literally no way to standardize matchmaker to get everyone on the same page without first making most people in each elo tier understand most of the same things. Its not just trolls. Most trolls arise in games they think they lost, usually due to being snowballed and/or “dumb” teammates. I’ve been over this elsewhere so I won’t beat a dead horse further though.


ELO Hell is mag not being able to reach VG bc he is too busy talking on SEMF

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Well this could be reduced if more api developers added statistics that tell you how you stack compared to others in your tier

cmiiw, but isn’t that called “bad game”?
not elo hell ?

it happens ofc.

lol its elo hell when you keep getting paired with the same people…though that’s also called “an interesting matchmaker”

I thought that was matchmaker joining in on the trollol

the basic principle is
if that can happen to you, then it can happen to opponent
it will be elo heaven then…

Elo hell exist , you get people counter themselves by picking wrong hero , or people pick the right hero and build wrong , or people think they do their team a favor by picking the right hero to counter and the right build but no idea how to play it .

For example i got matched with a vox against petal , he went wp vox even with our jungler was a flex pick can go cp or wp , he made the game unwinnable , if he just went cp as i was pinging the whole game go cp , he could destroyed the enemy without our help , they would think once or twice before diving him because of the bounce damage .

Or you get people not banning the most toxic heroes like taka , you can find a lot of players not even thinking of banning taka and even with their teammates dwnvoting taka they banned something else and enemy first pick taka , then they get salty about how that taka cant die and destroying people left and right .

You could think its impossible to think someone stuck there , but i think its reasonable , thats how the elo works the more you win you get higher the more you lose you get lower , if your wins and losses close you get stuck until someone lift you , so anyone stuck in elo hell needs a party to get out honestly , otherwise it will be turtle speed climbing .

You could say why some people made it and you couldnt , well i really made in the old forum some probabilities , like duo q factor , since people knows about elo hell already if they are in elo hell they party , so as a solo you get probably a duo in communication and just get destroyed in draft and in game , second thing is people fit in their roles , alot of people switching roles in elo hell , so if it happens a team get each role perfect they win easy , last thing is random fillers , skilled people not willing to climb with their perfect role , and i made an example of a great vox stuck in tier 6 , i checked his vg pro and found him a filler , he wins every vox game but he is not using vox , all of his lost games were roaming for bad players , so this guy stuck and could destroy other players willing to climb by his vox and then next game he drops again because of roaming , these pople drag people down instead of lifting them .

I don’t even get why go WP Vox in 5v5. 3v3 is somewhat understandable but the extra number of heroes in 5v5 makes CP Vox the more sensible pick to me.

Of course I never play Vox, just pick Baron and nuke all the lanes to hell with clockwork, but that’s just me.

On a random side note: what ever happened to Echo? lol