So, continued discussion re: my thoughts on earning your rank/elo - with a focus on duo queuing.
my entire ranked history in a paragraph
Duo'd up to gold in season 2 - I played about 10 games with brad wong. We hit gold in 10 games. I played 3-5 more games all season. That's about it. Season 3 - I tank my placement matches carelessly and end up bronze 1. Season 3 - I duo here and there, but primarily play solo queue and hit plat IV. Season 4 - I go 5/5 in my placements, get kicked down to silver 1 from plat IV. Disgusted, I take a break and now and am back fairly actively climbing in rank (gold 5 promos to gold IV or gold III atm).
So, that duo queue in season 2 I mentioned - that was absolute crap in my mind. It did little more than get me and my bud some some season rewards. I worked well enough to hit gold in 10 games with my duo queue and I vaguely recollect like 1-2 difficult games in all of my ranked games that season. I personally think less of myself and also of others that duo queue their way up in rank. I'm not even remotely proud of my gold standing in season 2 because I really don't feel like I worked for it or earned it. Getting a reward after so little work was a joke in my mind.
I have 2 thoughts here: 1 - I don't think much of folks being proud of their duo queue rank in general (I'm sure there are some exceptions, ofc) and 2 - I am in no way impressed by people playing a few games and getting a high rating. I believe its how you do consistently that shows the caliber of you as a player - not that you could play some games, place in gold, then over time be revealed to be smeh. I respect players that work to get their elo and put their time in.
That said, season 3 - I feel like I earned plat IV. I'm confident I could have gone higher than that, but I lost a bit of steam when I hit my goal of plat and only started to get back into things near the end of the season. To be fair, I'm not really sure how far I could have gotten, but more than plat IV I'd say.
Anyway, season 3 felt like a huge accomplishment because I didn't get as far as I did by duo queuing (eg I earned what I got). Sure, I played a duo queue game here and there, but they were few and far between my solo games. And I wanted it that way - not because the people I could queue with would hold me back, ofc, but because it meant more to do it myself because, again, I feel like its more of an accomplishment.
Man - f ranked placements matches. I end season 3 at plat IV. I play my placements matches - 3 of those games are losses due to afk dc'd people. 1 loss due to an outright troll intentionally feeding. So, I go 5/5 (with 4 games that can't be won really) and place in silver 1. Kind of disgusting imo. And that disgust kept me from playing much ranked for a bit. That said, eventually I snapped out of it and got back to work. I feel like I'm good enough to hit plat again without issue. I continued to find the hardest elo to be at as silver for whatever reason. In season 3, it was a pain to go from silver to gold and relatively easy to go from gold to plat for me. We'll see if that trend continues. Currently, I don't really care with regards to myself if I duo or solo because I kind of think this elo is a bit of a joke and I don't really encounter that many highly skilled people. I will probably stop duoing after a bit and will likely try to climb solo when I hit plat again. Kind of a personal challenge for me.
other jibba jabba
Regarding why I found silver to be the most difficult - I think karl actually had some pretty good insight regarding this and it plays out. You can't do some things in silver that you can at other elos. For instance, back prior to the feral flare nerf, udyr was a nightmare if he was able to farm up a feral flare to the 11 min marker (he's still ok after the nerf, but nowhere near as good). Now, if you do this sort of thing, you are really counting on your teammates to hold off and keep their lanes in ok shape with no jungle support for about 7 extra minutes (compared to when you'd normally start getting ganks). It's actually really unreasonable to assume your team can do that going into a game as there are really, really good odds the other team will have the jungler ganking lanes during that time. Anyway, at lower elo's, you are better off going with the meta in my experience. Even a split pushing, heavy ganking shaco can be a problem because the team generally needs a strong initiator so they clearly know when a fight is on. At higher elos, you see to need less of that and individual players can shine more.