Ping is King -- low ping, that is. At least in the case of most online competitive titles. Whether you are playing League of Legends, Valorant, Counter-Strike or Fortnite, a low ping puts you on a level playing field.
Does Ping = Latency?
In technical terms, ping is a specific tool used to measure the round-trip time between two devices, while latency is a broader concept that encompasses all the delays that can/will affect the data transfer between point A and point B.
In gaming terms, ping and latency are essentially the same thing. Ping/latency refers to the delay in time it takes for your data packets (game inputs) to travel from your device (PC, game console or phone) to the game server, and then return a response back from the server to your device. This is also known as the Round Trip Time or RTT.
If you are playing League of Legends and you see 30ms in the top right corner, it means your game inputs take approximately 30ms to reach Riot’s servers and return to your computer. This is called a 30ms ping.
Ping = Latency, and Ping/Latency represent the total round-trip time of your game packets.
High Ping Hurts
Let’s compare two players in a game of Rocket League. Player 1(P1) is rocking a 50ms ping while Player 2(P2) is closer to 100ms. P1 is looking to knock that giant ball into the net and P2 is ready to defend but just misses the save! Even with perfect reflexes, P2’s perception of what’s happening on the field is 2X times slower than P1’s. Having a lower ping gives P1 an advantage over P2.
Can I lower Ping?
The short answer is YES! Results can vary, and there are a lot of factors that contribute to high ping. Some things to consider:
Distance: Your location vs the location of the game servers can often be the biggest determining factor of your ping. The further away you are situated from the game server, the higher your ping will be.
There are a handful of online games that have a server selector, or a “max ping” selector that will try and connect your game to a server closer to your location, but with games that have primary static servers (League of Legends for example), there’s unfortunately not much you can do aside from playing on your local region.
ISP: Every single person will have a unique connection from their residence to the internet service provider. Routing, network congestion, and network quality need to all be taken into account.
If your ISP is holding you back, you can often phone them to send a network technician to check and test your copper, cable or optic lines for proper continuity.
Home Network: If your home network is sub-optimal, it can negatively affect your ping and gameplay.
Fortunately this is the one you have the most control over! Using a hard wired (ethernet) connection from your computer directly to the modem/router will often provide the best ping. If hardwired is not possible a mesh WiFi network is also a good option.
Using a router equipped with SQM technology can also have a great positive impact on your ping while gaming.
Lag sucks. We created Arrive for this very reason. Arrive’s proprietary software helps your gaming traffic find the fastest route on the internet. Currently in pre-alpha, Arrive supports League of Legends with many more games coming soon.