KDA in League of Legends — how important is it?

KDA is often used for bragging rights in the post-game lobby, but is it a good measure of one’s skill and/or impact? Well, the short answer would be that it works only one way.

Summoner statistics and KDA in League of Legends by Riot Games
KDA Stats | Source: Riot Games

What is KDA?

Contrary to the name, your KDA equals (kills+assists)/deaths. If you haven’t died, KDA=kills+assists. You don’t get to see the number on League’s post-game screen, but many third-party services use it to assess one’s performance. In fact, you even see players’ KDA during drafts for professional matches.

It is clear, however, that Riot Games put stock into the player’s KDA on an amateur level, too. When in the scouting phase for Clash, enemy KDA is one of the prominent numbers on the screen.

KDA as part of the Clash Scouting in League of Legends
Clash Scouting | Source: Riot Games

What makes this ratio a poor metric?

First of all, killing enemies is just a means of winning the game. You may be styling on enemies as Draven, but without proper map progress their Kassadin and Master Yi will farm their way back into the game. If your early-focused team gets a lead but never closes it out, both KDAs and the Nexus will drop.

Then, dying is not necessarily a bad thing. You should avoid that even in a winning team fight to maintain your Drake/Baron/push opening, but a well-executed suicide mission can give you that opening. You don’t exactly blame your Jungler when they sacrifice themselves for an Elder Dragon steal, do you? Well, giving your assassin a hard time for a high death count is wrong as well, if such an assassin takes the main enemy threat to the grave with them. The same applies to a split pusher who opens up the map by taking down a side lane inhibitor.

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Finally, KDA doesn’t reflect one’s presence. High numbers do little good when your Mid keeps farming enemy Mid for 50 gold but never roams to secure Herald or Drake. The example with assassins applies here as well: they have fewer takedowns after focusing on one target than a Janna who shielded the ADC. 

What are the alternatives to KDA?

As a preface, we have to accept that there’s no singular metric to assess one’s performance. Here are a few options that you may use together or separately depending on role distribution, state of the game, etc.

Kill Participation

Personally, I’m a big fan of Kill Participation. It stacks your kills+assists against a total kill count of your team. Save for glass cannon assassins (and Top refugees), this metric indicated how much of a team player you are. Kill Participation also shows whether you were around most of the time. Sounds pretty reasonable for a 5v5 team game.

Total Damage to Champions

Another decent metric is Total Damage to Champions. Although it doesn’t work for Enchanters and tanks, champions, you can generally measure the impact of your AP and AD threats. This stat, however, may be misleading in later stages of the match. Your Ezreal may have a lot of damage thanks to stinging Qs, but does it really matter when they die all the time?

Total Damage to Objectives

A more niche metric would be Total Damage to Objectives. This is something you’d hopefully get to pat your split pusher on the back for. If they get sneaky turrets and then get out (or even not), it is already that they missed out on a few kills or assists. Junglers should aim for a high number as well. It would mean that they helped to hit the turret after successful ganks, kept their grip on neutral monsters, and stuck around after team fights to push.

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KDA vs Damage per Minute or Gold Share to Damage Share

Esports enthusiasts like more complex stats like Damage per Minute or Gold Share to Damage Share. Unfortunately, this is something you’d have to use a calculator for. Chances are your salty teammates will be gone from the lobby before you’re done counting! But seriously, Gold Share to Damage Share can shield a role player from unnecessary criticism. For many years, Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi of Cloud9 would lose the lane often but have a huge impact on the game by making the most out of the little gold he took.

Is it good for anything at all?

Naturally, KDA can provide you with some information on a player if you don’t have the time to process the rest. It may become more prominent in Season 10 with loading times so low that you can’t chill on stats websites for a few minutes.

Actually, you can use our desktop assistant Nemo to see all enemy stats on the loading screen. It doesn’t end with KDA!

Also, a lack of any dynamic in one’s KDA throughout the match may reveal a non-impactful player. In his premier debut, Sebastian “niQ” Robak of Gambit Gaming maintained a score of 0/0/0 throughout a 37-minute loss to ROCCAT. To make things worse, Robak played Nidalee, who can show up in other lanes with ease thanks to the dash and movement speed buff. Every now and then, you can see a similar Lux in SoloQ, too.

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In conclusion, KDA is hardly a metric to see whether you or a different player is good. You may, however, pot a sketchy teammate/opponent by noticing an abnormal number. Otherwise, please stick to other metrics or the eye test. Oh, and be nice to others no matter their KDA or something else!

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Summary

How can I see my KDA in League of Legends?

The post-game screen doesn’t show your KDA. You can find individual KDA for each champion in the League client’s profile section or consult a third-party service.

Why do people flame me for my KDA in League of Legends?

Most of the time, they are being shallow. You may be carrying your load and more despite a low KDA. If you’re doing poorly, there’s more to it than just one ratio to measure overall performance in-game.

Is it bad to be a KDA player?

KDA players tend to lose games by staying away from fights and objectives when they shouldn’t. You should be learning to avoid unnecessary deaths, but not at the expense of your impact. Especially in SoloQ, committing together to a poor move often works out better than splitting apart for a supposedly better/smarter play.

What is a good KDA ratio in League of Legends?

Majority of League of Legends players who play ranked average around 2-4.5 KDA. Try aiming to hit this range. The best way to increase your KDA would be focusing on identifying why and when you are dying and then dying less!

by Denis Matusovskiy
January 17, 2020

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February 03, 2020 at 12:31 pm
[…] KDA in League of Legends — how important is it? […]
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April 07, 2020 at 12:50 pm
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