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1.0 - Hand Positioning




The above video is just a portion of what started me on my hand positioning adventure. Initially, I was on a mission to re-program my fingers to a more efficient position for League of Legends. My hands naturally position themselves on ASDF and JKL; , as soon as I place my hands on the keyboard. Which means this is how I've played League of Legends for the past... 3 1/2 years now. Mind you, the keybindings for LoL were the same, QWER, I just moved my fingers up and down. ASDF was the rest position, where my fingers 'rested' when not pressing skills. Recently, I changed this habit to a natural position of QWER - what most would call the 'correct' position. It was really difficult. On paper, it seems like an easy thing, but it was extremely frustrating. I kept pressing 1234 keys, since I was so used to moving my fingers upwards to press keys. Hence... I'd often not be using any skills when I thought I was! Very aggravating. I admit, I gave up and went back to my old habits a couple times.

Now that I have the new positioning ...mostly, under control, there's new problems. /facedesk/ At ASDF, my pinky naturally rests on shift but at QWER, my pinky naturally rests on CAPS. That's a problem! I can't use attack-move (shift) because it feels super awkward but... maybe that's more something I need to get used to. We'll see. I still have problems pressing R for some reason, you'd think it'd be really simple seeing as its simply one key to the left of E, but more often than not I find myself hitting 3, 4 or sometimes overshooting to T. Ctrl is pretty much impossible for me to even use in conjunction with any other button. It's way too awkward for the new positioning, but since I'm used to using my left 'alt' key for PTT, I've changed my level up to 'alt+QWER' which has been game-changing for me.

At this point, I'm wondering how people use so many hotkeys in MMOs. Shift and Ctrl are pretty much out of the picture, which leaves me with alt and a handful of other keys. I did try using alt + MB3+, to my chagrin it didn't work. I thought I really had something there.

I have small hands, which I believe is part of the issue, but I'm starting to think maybe its more the keyboard is too big, rather than thinking 'I am too small'. As I'm unable to experiment with/obtain different keyboards, this led me on a hunt of 'LoL hand positions'. I did find others who positioned their fingers on ASDF, which made me feel a lot better about this inefficient positioning of the last 3 years!

What I found was this:

[P - Pinky finger, R - Ring finger, M - Middle finger, PI - Index finger, T - Thumb]

  • [R]A [M]W [PI]D
  • [P]A [R]S [M]D [PI]F with G/H as summoner spells (this is way too awkward for my hand span unfortunately)
  • [P]A [R]S [M]D [PI]F with E/R as summoner spells and Q/W for item actives (I thought this was awesome until I tried moving my pinky up and down and instantly hated it. ;; )
  • QWEDF [With E & D pressed by the same finger] (I actually liked this one, except I'd change it to E, D, F pressed by the same finger. That's more comfortable for me.)
  • QWERTYDFX (This was a really interesting one! Y may as well be on the other side of the world though. I really dig using ZXCVB but it feels... too close? especially using alt as PTT. I actually use ZXCVB in SWToR but my hands are on 123, so it feels more natural. I may experiment with it though.)
  • [P]A/Z/tab [R]Q/W [M]E/D [PI]R/F [T]Space (This one was so weird, I was confused trying to do it! Not the one for me, but hey if it works for one person, its bound to work for someone else!)
  • IJKL, UIOP spells, JK summoners, 67890 items [For lefties!]
  • [P]tab [R]1 [M]2 [PI]3/4; F1-F4 for skill level up
  • [P]Z [R]X [M]C [PI]V
  • Naga mouse (All your skills bound to your millions (slight exaggeration) of side mouse buttons with minimal keyboard use. I can't see myself doing this personally, but it may work for someone else.)

I'd be really interested to see what the finger lag time is for each different hand position. Not counting a person's individual reaction time, but how long it takes them to press the key or move a finger to the correct key. See what seems to work the most efficiently for small/big hands or if all works effectively with minimal (hundredth of a second etc) lag time for each position. There would be factors like hand span, keyboard size, familiarity of a position, moving up or down, etc. I would imagine any key you have to move your finger to would create some lag time in comparison to those who have their fingers directly on the keys or very close by.

What I'm thinking now is using C/V for summoner spells, and MB5, 2, 3 for item actives. I'd prefer to switch attack move to left/right click, but I'm not sure if that's possible. I'm also toying with the idea of using XCVB for self/party target but then I'm not sure where I'd put summoner spells. Maybe 1, 2? Easier to go up than down, in my opinion. Since you can see where your fingers are going and I think it feels more natural. I'd love to use Self Cast/Party Target hotkeys (haven't been using them at all so far), I just need to find a viable finger-friendly key to bind them to!

My questions for you!

How do you position your fingers?

Do you use Self Target and Party Target hotkeys, if so which ones?

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The general guideline is to keep things simple. Efficiency is merely an illusion as having a comfortable hand set up that suits your needs will outplay any "efficient" set up. 

I come from an RTS background, and I know this because even the pro players transferring from Broodwar to starcraft 2 kept their original "less optimal" setup because it  was what they're comfortable with. They where still able to reach over 300 actions per minute. 

Use what is most comfortable for you and don't ever change it. Your ability to use more keys will grow over time as you start encountering more needs to use different keys. 

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