Elo Hell: Does It Exist? (Is It a Real Thing?) Plus Competitive Gaming Questions Answered


If you’ve ever been trying to rank up in a game such as Overwatch, League of Legends, CSGO, and a variety of other hit competitive games, then you’ll know how fierce the competition can be.

There’s also a phenomenon called Elo hell which has been the subject of much debate as some players swear they are cursed by it.

In case you didn’t know, Elo is the rating system first thought up by Arpad Elo, hence the name, who originally designed it for scoring Chess players.

Conversely, Chess is a one-on-one game meaning Elo hell isn’t possible as you’re solely relying on your own skill to beat the opponent.

However, since most games using the Elo rating system are team games, people are starting to wonder whether the rating system is flawed and could be creating an unfair bias against them and “trapping” them at a lower Elo than they’re meant to be.

So, one side totally thinks Elo hell is real and another side thinks it’s all in the mind: who’s right?

Elo Hell: Real or not real?

Well, the math says that Elo hell is a very possible eventuality for some players and that even if you’re performing at your best, some players with overly inflated ratings (based on their initial ranking games) can easily drag better players down.

Because this occurrence of being matched with poor performing players in games can be quite frequent, it’s possible that you won’t be able to win enough games consistently to escape that Elo, hence the term “Elo hell”.

The only counter-argument we’ve seen is from game developers who argue that it’s all in the person’s mind and that they’re suffering from an illusion of their own subjective reality.

Whether it’s real or not still seems to be up for debate but a good majority agree that it’s backed by solid evidence.

In the case that it’s real, how do you escape Elo hell? Well, let’s explore that below.

How to Escape Elo Hell

Escaping Elo hell varies on the game, however, the majority of people agree that trying to stimulate positive energy amongst teammates, communicating with your team in an effective and friendly manner, and not tilting when the going gets tough is your ticket out of Elo hell.

Since you’re beholden to wins and losses mainly based on how effective your team play with your teammates is, it’s extremely important to take steps to solidify the relationship you have with them quickly and constructively.

As the famous saying goes, you’re only as strong as your weakest link and this is the truth especially in competitive team games.

In fact, games like League of Legends require you to directly play around your weakest teammate because they can easily “feed” the enemy team giving them a significant advantage if not checked early.

Another dynamic that’s worth considering is being able to speak to your team on mic: if you’re playing a game that allows for microphone communication but you’re not doing it then you’ll be at a significant disadvantage compared to teams who use it.

Bottom line: Improving and/or utilizing aspects of communication (microphone) and being positive even when you’re having a rough game is important to prevent total team breakdown; this will help you escape Elo hell.

FAQ: Competitive Gaming

How to Get Better at Competitive Gaming

Getting better at competitive games requires consistent practice, emotional fortitude (to prevent tilting), and excellent communication skills that will help bolster team coordination.

There are tons of resources out there that can help improve your competitive gaming strategies, however, it will vary quite wildly depending on the game you play.

As a recommendation, it’s worth using the free resources at your disposal such as Twitch and YouTube where you’ll be able to watch and learn the strategies that the pros use to get so good or that make them play so effectively.

Some things that you might want to take into consideration regardless of the game are your micro and macro skills: see below.

What is macro and micro in gaming?

Micro refers to the minuscule or “granular-level” actions that you take in games such as being able to control your unit and/or multiple units effectively.

Macro, on the other hand, refers to large-scale actions that occur such as strategies of attack, resource management, and the overall development of the game throughout the match e.g. playing in a certain way to create a specific scenario that favors you.

Most average players don’t pay attention to their micro or macro and this often holds them back from reaching their full potential, especially since they won’t be maximizing the resources that are freely available with just a little bit of conscious effort.

A good example of this is in games like League of Legends where your micro will dictate whether you’re eating lots of pokes or not e.g. getting hit by lots of spells where you have to leave the lane early is bad micro — you weren’t controlling your unit effectively enough to dodge shots.

An example of macro could be something like coordinating with your team to get the enemy to move back to a certain position to create a favorable battle advantage for yourselves.

These micro and macro scenarios play out regularly in nearly all competitive games which means it’s really important to get to grips with them early in your development.


Elo hell is a real phenomenon for the majority of competitive gamers in low ranks which means it’s vitally important to improve your team communication to help you escape it.

Hopefully, some of the tips we’ve given you in this article will point you in the right direction for trying to escape this scenario and will get you where you deserve to be.

Don’t forget to check out some of our other gameplay articles such as the reasons why you’re suddenly playing badly and whether gaming skill is directly linked to genetics or not.

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