Watching your replays is one of the best ways to improve as a player. It allows you to easily identify your mistakes and can help strengthen your macro awareness. However, knowing how to effectively watch your replays and learn from them is a challenge in itself. Without the right approach, you can end up spending hours sifting through replay after replay, only to be no better off as a player from when you first started. In fact, the wrong approach can even make you a worse player.
That’s why today, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide on how to effectively spectate yourself and make the most out of your replays. These tips and techniques are sure to help, no matter your elo.
To analyze replays in League of Legends, first, focus on your own mistakes rather than observing your teammates. Analyze games that are not fresh in your mind. Document your findings to spot nonoptimal trends in your matches. Focus only on key moments (laning phase, deaths, game-changing events).
How to Watch Your Replays in League of Legends
League of Legends has a built-in replay mode that allows you to spectate past games. It’s packed with tons of useful viewing features, from pause and slow-mo to a fog of war toggle and the ability to camera lock on certain players.
You can load up a replay of a past game easily:
- Open the LoL client and go to profile
- Click on “match history”
- Look for the game you want to spectate, then click on the download icon at the right
- When the game has finished downloading, it will swap to a play now button
- Click on it to watch the replay
Below is a breakdown of the main replay controls and how they work:
- Start recording: Allows you to record in-game moments and save them as a separate file
- Resume/pause: Click to pause or play the match
- Jump back: Click to jump back 15 seconds
- Speed: Click – to slow down and + to speed up the playback
- Fog of war toggle: Select team fog of war visibility
- Camera mode: Select camera view
How to Analyze Replays in League of Legends: Top Tricks and Tips
Analyzing your replays is a great way to improve in League of Legends, but you need the right approach. Here’s all you need to know to spectate yourself like a pro.
Ensure You’re Calm Before Watching
Before you go anywhere near that spectate button, you need to ensure you’re calm and collected. It can be tempting to dive into a replay straight after a bad match to see what went wrong. However, we guarantee you’ll spend most of your time observing your teammates’ mistakes and blaming them for the loss, rather than questioning what you could have done to change the outcome.
Even if you only watch yourself – and resist the temptation to watch that Yasuo who claimed “jung diff” after he went 0/3 – you still won’t be in the mindset to reflect on yourself objectively. Frustration will hinder your judgment, and you’ll likely miss all of the small mistakes you made.
Aside from being calm, you also need to maintain as much distance as possible from the games you’re replaying. It’s a lot easier to analyze your own gameplay if it feels like the gameplay of a stranger!
There are various ways to ensure distance. You should avoid watching any recent games that are fresh in your head, and you should also turn off players’ usernames. The latter is particularly important if you’re the type to get tilted easily. While watching a game, you don’t want any of the usernames to spark a reminder of a toxic interaction. You’ll want to stay cool, calm, and collected. Remember: keep it zen.
Document Your Findings
Writing down your findings will help you identify “trends” in your gameplay, ultimately giving you a clearer picture of the main areas you need to improve on. For example, you might discover that in almost every game you die to a gank during laning phase. This issue clearly suggests that your wave management, warding, and map awareness aren’t up to par.
Make sure to document your findings in a way that’s concise and organized. A spreadsheet will work perfectly. You’ll also want to keep track of statistics like KDA, vision control, missed skill shots, and how often you react to the mini-map. Concrete stats like this allow you to really see how you’re improving as a player over time.
Keep it Short and Snappy
A common misconception is that to get the most value out of a replay, you have to watch the entire replay play out, then re-watch it again. And again. But this is actually the worst approach you can take. Will you truly be able to watch a 30-minute-long game over and over without getting even slightly bored or tilted? Will you truly be able to maintain your focus throughout the process?
Unless you have the dedication of Master Yi, the answer is probably no.
Keeping replay sessions short and snappy is the best way to ensure you stay focused and motivated enough to learn from them. So, instead of looking at the game as a whole, keep your spectating sessions under 20 minutes. Focus on key points in the game, and one particular thing at a time.
Key Areas to Focus On While Analyzing Your Replays in League of Legends
Key areas to focus on include your laning phase, game-changing events, and deaths. You’ll also need to consider the main goals of your role and champion – if you’re a support main, vision control should definitely be a main focus.
Laning Phase (Early Game)
One of the quickest ways to improve is to work on your early game. This is because almost everything that happens after laning phase typically occurs because of something that happened during laning phase.
Imagine it like the butterfly effect. If you fall behind in lane, it gives your enemy laner the opportunity to apply pressure and roam around the map. They can then pull off ganks and help secure objectives, ultimately making the gold difference wider and increasing their teams’ advantage as the game progresses.
However, if you consistently win your laning phase, you’ll be the one presented with all these opportunities. Things to work on (and watch out for) in the early game include wave management, trading, back timings, roaming, vision control, and farming.
A good way to identify your weaknesses is to examine your deaths. But you shouldn’t just watch the deaths play out. It’s vital to watch all the events surrounding them to gain a deeper (and more accurate) understanding of where you need to improve.
Again, the butterfly effect principle applies here. You need to understand each and every step you took that lead you to the gray screen in order to avoid making those same steps again.
You also need to examine your teammates’ deaths. Consider if you could have done anything to change their fate; could you have roamed or warned them? Did you apply enough pressure in your own lane?
Watch each pivotal in-game moment and think about what you could have done differently to improve the outcome. However, don’t just focus on the “bad” game-changing events. You need to look at the events which benefited your team as well. This is crucial for two reasons:
- It’s important to recognize what you did well in a game, so you can repeat it again in the future.
- Just because a play resulted in a good outcome, it doesn’t mean the play itself was good. The play might have actually been a bad call, but it worked out because the enemy made a game-changing mistake or didn’t punish you hard enough. If you leave these “good” plays unchallenged, you’ll begin to build bad habits which will be punished when you’re up against better players.
You can usually determine if a play is good or… “good” by watching from the enemy’s perspective. Analyze their movements and how they use their abilities. Put yourself in their position and consider how you would have reacted to your play.
Spectating from the enemy’s perspective can also show you what openings they saw in your gameplay, which can further help you realize your weaknesses.
Identifying Game-Changing Events
While it’s often pretty clear what these game-changing events are as you review if you need some help identifying them, check out the match’s gold advantage graph. It will visually show you all the points where the game’s tempo drastically changed.
Here’s how to access the gold advantage graph:
- Open up the client and go to your profile
- Click on the “match history” tab
- Select the game you want to find the stats for
- Go to the “graph” category
Analyze Time-Pressured Moments
There are plenty of moments in a game that require you to make a split-second decision, like starting a fight or contesting an objective. The time pressure makes it difficult to think critically, and often leads you to make suboptimal decisions.
However, during a replay, you can pause these moments and give yourself more time to analyze the situation and think about the best course of action. If you make it a habit to analyze these time-pressured moments when reviewing, it’ll eventually help you make more optimal decisions faster.
The slow-mo option also offers a similar benefit. It gives you more time to process what’s going on, especially in intensive situations like team fights. Plus, it allows you to really hone in on your mechanical mistakes since you can easily examine your every move once the gameplay’s slowed down.
Examine Post-Match Statistics
The post-match statistics provide a brief overview of how the game played out, as well as how effective you were at things like warding and dealing damage. Now, not all of this information will be useful; if you’re not playing a heavy damage-dealing champion, your amount of damage isn’t really going to matter.
But this information is a good starting point. It provides a feel of your overall performance, and it can also highlight further areas to focus on when reviewing your games (see also our review of Stray).
Improving Map Awareness in League of Legends Using Spectate Mode
The pause option allows you to test (and improve) your map awareness. Watch the replay with the fog of war up, and as soon as you start playing aggressively, pause the replay and ask yourself if you know where the enemy jungler is.
Then, switch to the enemy’s perspective. Check if your prediction was correct. If the jungler wasn’t where you thought they would be, go back through the replay and see if there were any signs you missed that could have revealed their location – perhaps they appeared on the mini-map for a brief second, or perhaps your opponent started acting overly aggressive.
This process really helps to build good map awareness habits over time. Plus, you’ll also become familiar with “tells” – player behavior that reveals the jungler’s location – and common jungle pathing, which will definitely help you avoid ganks in the long run.
Questions to Ask Yourself When VOD Reviewing League of Legends Games
Here are a few questions to ask yourself while watching. They’re sure to help you identify more areas where you need to improve:
- How often did you react to your teammates’ pings?
- Did you play around objectives? Do you arrive early to objectives?
- Are you placing your wards and buying control wards? Are you placing wards near objectives, and where the enemy jungler is likely to path?
- How often do you spend your gold?
- Are you CSing consistently throughout the game?
- Do you take objectives at every opportunity?
Get A Second Pair of Eyes
When analyzing your own replays, it’s impossible to identify every misplay you make. You’re always going to be hindered by your personal bias and lack of game knowledge.
At times, you might even end up convincing yourself you’ve made a mistake when you haven’t, or that an actual misplay you made is a good play because it had an okay outcome (as we talked about above). This can lead you to develop bad habits and actually work against your growth as a player.
To truly get the most out of your replays, it’s vital you have a coach – or another player who has a greater understanding of LoL. You can go over your replays with together. And they can help you spot the more elusive mistakes, make it clear what’s a misplay and what’s a good play, and even help you identify any missed opportunities. Opportunities that could have turned the game in your favor (or if you won, helped you end it quicker). Effective communication can be critical in improving and advancing.
Don’t Just Solely Watch Your Own Replays
You can’t just watch your own replays and expect instant results. You need to proactively work on increasing your game knowledge. The best way to do this is to watch professional games or high elo streamers. There are many LoL streamers who talk through their decision-making, which will really help you understand the “pro thought process” better.
Plus, a great way to strengthen your game sense is to pause pro streams just before big moments, like objective fights. After you’ve paused, consider what you would do next. Then, unpause and see if they took the same approach. If they didn’t, note down what they did instead (and why).
Replaying Your Way to Success
Effective replay watching is all about getting the most out of your replays in the shortest time possible. The tips and techniques above are sure to help you do just that. Once you’ve identified your most common issues – and worked hard to fix them – you’ll no doubt see a drastic improvement in your gameplay (and rank!). For further help with your ranked climb, have a browse of some of our other gaming guides.