Part of it is the meta beyond the game
Finding times to play when less ****bags are online
Finding a decent partner that can play on a regular basis
Finding a time to play when you can get a team that actually speaks your language
Being aware of physical limitations of your current play environment (Our wireless network blows chunks, our wired connection is respectable)
Playing when you can actually focus on the game and not have 10000 interruptions from real life
I could go on...
The reality is I believe a lot of people stuck in ELO hell may actually have good ideas of how to play, might even have really great strategies. The problem is that even with intelligent people they sometimes have a greater conceptual understanding of an issue but lack the implementation or a wider awareness of all the other issues
I will use myself as an example:
I have 169 IQ (not actually trying to brag, I'm going somewhere with this and need a starting point to put it in perspective). I'm just saying that on paper it sounds like I'm smart; but I'm well aware of just how big an idiot I can be and of the mistakes I make from either not paying attention or just being careless.
I have a very deep understanding of the concepts in the game, I understand the tactics and the roles each champ should play. I also have 36+ years of video game playing experience. I can sit here and explain to you in depth the details of the winning strategies of the top players in this game.
Does any of that matter when it comes to my ELO? no. I suck and here's why:
1. My current living arrangements normally have me on a bad wireless connection, could I plug in? sometimes but I'm usually too tired to bother (have to move rooms, deal with other tenants in the building, 100 other things you wont care about, etc). This means some of my losses are from bad connections. All? no, but enough to contribute.
2. I actually hate typing while I play. I much prefer a teamspeak option of some form, but the reality is most of the time I'm playing random pickup games and just don't feel like typing. That makes me a sub par teammate just from my occasional lack of communication. My skills are irrelevant on this point; my attitude on this makes me bad in pickup games.
3. I play at weird off hours, I'm rarely available at peak times. I end up in teams with people who don't speak English even if I felt like typing to them. I don't blame them, they probably wanted someone who speaks their language too. Either way, no matter what I do if we fail to coordinate its not exactly optimal team performance. At least if they spoke English I could follow directions even if I wasnt typing back all the time.
4. Sometimes I just feel like experimenting. I can carry a team with Nasus to a win almost no matter how bad they are so long as they just dont surrender and the other team is only as average as the rest of my team. But there are days I feel like trying a new build or responding with a variation in tactics. There are a lot of people who will surrender as soon as they see you do something they dont agree with. They dont realize that if the game is already at 40 minutes all they need to do is go distract the enemy team whlie I push a lane and win; nope, they'd rather surrender because I dont show a huge interest in team fights (I do with other champs but with Nasus I tend to just build him up and crush a lane when no ones looking). Instead I end up with many lost games where I was actually about to win and my team surrenders. The fault? partially mine, I could have taken the time to explain my logic or strategy I just dont feel like typing out a books worth of logic to people who dont already "get it"
5. I have limited champs that Im actually REALLY good with. I think this is probably true with a lot of people who fail in ranked. I'm at least aware that I should be getting better at other champs and other roles, I just dont put the time in to do it. I've had some of the best players in the game compliment me on my skills; but with a grand total of 3 champs. In ranked those 3 champs are either: banned, picked before I get them or their role is filled by someone else on my team so even me picking my "best" might mean Im gimping my overall team composition. This is where many people cant face the reality that it is their fault. I should be trying to get good with at least 10 or 20 champs so there is always a role I can fill; instead I'm a really good top lane pusher, an ok mid or bottom lane player, a pretty darn good tank and a horrible jungler. I'm fully aware that when Im not top or a tank Im simply not at my best and my team suffers for it.
6. Basically what Im getting at is no matter how good i am (or think I am), the only time I can "prove" this is in a constructed environment: When I play with a set of friends who I trust and all have mumble and I'm hardwired (not wireless) and I have no distractions in the real world going on and Im allowed to pick one of the champs Im actually REALLY good with and left in a role that I can perform properly. Well, we rarely lose; I think our teams win rate at one point was easily 95%. But that couple of hundred games played together (in total) accounts for what? maybe 10% of my overall total games?
So yea in concept I may be a good (even great) player, but only under ideal circumstance, circumstances that I rarely ever get to play in, partially out of situational life choices that are beyond the scope of the game and partially because I dont dedicate enough of my actual game time to getting better at the parts of the game I suck at (quite possibly worst jungler in the world)
So theres your meta; I've only touched on a small portion of things that can affect the game which go far beyond just understanding how to play. Its how you fit the game into your life, its how you decide to interact with the other players, its how much of the game you are prepared to handle beyond your specialties and on and on...
So there, Im a bad player with a low ELO, not because Im actually bad at the game but because I havent incorporated it into my life in a way that would allow me to show off my full potential.
All I can say in my own defense is at least I know I'm an idiot, most of the people in my ELO hell are so busy blaming everyone else they cant see that a large portion of the problem might just be themselves.
You want to ELO like a pro? You need to prep from a meta perspective, its not being good at the game its approaching it in the right way all the time.
Good connection, good time of day for your language, group of friends who have teamspeak/mumble, wide range of champs and roles you can fill with more than adequate skill, a full awareness of the need and the ability to communicate effectively, a living situation with few interruptions, etc. Now duplicate that 100+ games. ELO gain is as much about attitude and prep work as it is raw skill; we can all understand the game or even specialize in parts of it, but implementing it on a consistent basis is more than just playing random pickup games and blaming it on everyone else when your ELO goes down.