Micro vs. Macro: What They Are and How to Improve on Both

Get a solid grasp on the jargon that is micro & macro, and learn how to use both to get that sweet win and improve as a player.

League of Legends

Among the League of Legends community there are two words that are thrown around so often that, unless you literally just downloaded the game before reading this, I'm sure you know of at least a little - micro and macro. Though known far and wide across the scene, you will find that there is no shortage of people who, even after playing the game for extended amounts of time, still don't really know how to define these terms or even understand how they relate to the game and the way you play it.

Today that ends. This will be your definitive source on which is which and how to make sure you know which affects what how and why any of them matter. So, without further ado, let's jump into the topic of micro gameplay.

What Is Micro?

Micro gameplay in League of Legends is basically the ability you have to use your individual champion and the extent to which you can use said ability to gain and press advantages in a game. Simply put, it's any and everything that has to do with how well you play your champion. Having good micro would mean that you're normally very knowledgeable about the champions you play and can perform very well on them on an individual scale. This normally allows you to gain leads in lane and even kill your opponent often when combined with solid macro. Conversely, bad micro would obviously mean you don't know the champions you play well enough, normally performing subpar on them compared to the average player. It should be known though that sometimes this can be linked to poor macro decisions also.

Examples of micro include but aren't limited to:

  • Your CS (or creep score) per minute
  • Your ability to kite and orbwalk
  • Your ability/efficiency at trading (timing and extent)
  • Your ability to land skillshots
  • Your kill/death ratio, specifically the amount of times you die in a game
  • The way you use any summoner spell that isn't Teleport
  • Clearing camps in the jungle

How Do I Improve My Micro?

Micro is the easiest of the two to improve on, especially with recent additions to the game. You can enhance most of your micro skills just by playing around in the Practice Tool that Riot has so graciously bestowed upon us. Simply lock in your favorite champion and you can do it all! Practice farming against bots and mess around with the minions. If you prefer practicing with an actual player, custom games exist still, so you can just set up a 1v1 or 2v2 lane practice and go at it until your fingers are tired. The world is yours.

There are also things you can just set small goals to work on during your actual ranked and normal games. Set a creep score of 10 minions per minute for yourself and strive to get as close as possible to it every game. Try to keep your deaths below five (easy mode) or three (hard mode) without negatively affecting your contributions to your team. Drop a dummy in the middle of the rift and practice orbwalking around it as you auto attack it. As long as you're playing, you should always have an opportunity to improve on your micro in one way or another.

What is Macro?

Macro gameplay in League of Legends is the way in which you use micro in conjunction with the information you receive about the game during the game (including during Champ Select) to press your win conditions over others by gaining and utilizing your advantages on a map-wide scale. While micro is more closely linked to the individual, macro is more about the team, how well you play into it, and how well it executes in order to meet its goals. An easy way to remember this is that it has everything to do with the strategy side of League of Legends. This aspect of League places heavy emphasis on your game knowledge and awareness overall, not just mechanically, and can make or break even the best of mechanical players as far as how often you win or lose games. Just look at any of the professional League scenes if you don't believe me.

Examples of macro-based decisions include:

  • A jungler camping a top laner who does not have Teleport in order to massively set him behind early
  • Ending the game instead of going for that Baron that'll just stall the game out and potentially throw it
  • Lane swaps
  • Invades
  • Where, when, and how you set and deny vision
  • And the list goes on...

Teamfighting, specifically when you do it and how you navigate through teamfights, is an excellent example of macro at work.

As you can see, it's a lot - and that's probably not even all of it. You'll also notice that most micro has nothing to do with most macro. It should also be noted that not everyone will have both equally great macro and micro. Some people will climb simply off of their ability to play their champions. This is usually common with one-tricks, or people who play the same champion repeatedly in order to rank up. There are some who are just good at shotcalling and making the best decision in every situation. There are some people who are good enough at both to work them interchangeably or simultaneously. This is a longer section because it really is super important to pushing your win conditions. Sure, you can win games without macro if you stomp your lane into ragequitting and force an early surrender every game. But given that League if ultimately a team game and that's not likely (or it decreases in likelihood as you climb if you're playing ranked), you're going to have to know how to utilize great macro to an extent.

How Do I Improve My Macro?

Macro is the harder of the two to improve in my opinion, as for this, you generally have to put in the games necessary to get familiar with situations that require you to make decisions. I've played literally thousands of games of League and I probably still haven't encountered every situation that anyone who plays the game would encounter. As vague and cliché as this sounds, experience literally is the best teacher. You kind of just have to get out there. Nevertheless, it helps to think of situations like this:

(Action) was done/is going to be done, which will (effect), allowing us/them or preventing us/them to/from (reaction)

This can apply to literally anything. Seriously.

I am playing safe top lane while the enemy jungler is up here which affects the team by wasting the enemy jungler's time and removing his pressure around the map temporarily, allowing us to play more aggressively in other parts of the map.

I died 6 times in lane which affects the team by setting us behind early, preventing us from having a strong presence in the midgame and me from being a relevant contributor until I catch up.

I am split pushing bot with Teleport up which affects the team by giving us an alternate source of pressure and easy way to jump back into fights, allowing us to pressure two points on the map at once and force the enemy to either give up a potential objective or lose a structure in the process.

We ganked the enemy Syndra and burned her Flash, forcing her to play safer which affects the team by allowing our Kog'Maw mid more breathing room and time to scale, allowing us to have a reliable damage source later in the game.

We are sieging the enemy Tier 3 tower while their bottom inhibitor is exposed which affects the team by opening up another part of the enemy base, allowing us to quickly rotate to take the exposed inhibitor when the tower falls and have super minions flood their base from two points.

It also helps to observe someone as they play and ask them to explain to you the things they are doing and why. If you can't find someone, watch notable streamers that play the roles you play or even professional League games with casters and analysts. They're really good at explaining, as a whole, the decisions being made in a game (good or bad) and the motives behind each one. It'll also be the most up-to-date information you'll receive as far as metas and playstyles go. They also advise on situations depending on the circumstance, so even if something bad is happening, they will have no qualms about giving the correct advice to viewers who may one day find themselves in a similar scenario. This means you!

For optimal build paths and efficient ways to spend gold, it's best to check out some of the top sites for statistics on League to find out what people are building by champion, or even what people are playing in general.

Closing Remarks

This was a long one, but only because the subject is so extensive and commonly asked about that I felt like I just had to put as much detail into it as possible to make sure that it was without a doubt understood. The crazy part is that I probably STILL did not cover everything, but that's fine.

It can be a lot to take in, and I don't expect you to pick this up overnight, but really once you put these things into practice enough it'll become second nature and you'll find yourself correcting and helping others.

As always, I wish you the best of luck on the Rift. Go get 'em.

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Micro vs. Macro: What They Are and How to Improve on Both
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