Understanding the dynamics of laning will be the very best way to climb the ladder and become a better player. This guide breaks down all the aspects of laning into sections, and describes each one in grave detail. By understanding the game at this level of detail, you will become a better player in a solo lane.
A great way to practice your abilities in a solo lane is to team up with a partner, go into a custom game together, and do as many 1v1 battles mid lane as you can. Treat it like a real game (you can go back to fountain) and see who wins. If you're really trying to be pro, you might even want to pay for some lessons with the top players. There are some really good coaches out there - they might charge per hour, but just in a few sessions you’ll be able to pick up on some useful information that will probably dramatically impact your gameplay. The smallest adjustments to your playstyle can provide with you the edge you need to outwit, outplan, or simply outplay your opponent. The full list of concepts is listed below:
You've probably read multiple times that positioning is really important in League of legends. In this section, we break that down and help you understand the mechanics behind positioning while in lane. They fall into a few categories:
- Positioning based on Minion Line
- Positioning based on Enemy Jungler
- Positioning based on Enemy Champion in Lane
- Positioning based on your Summoner Spells
Positioning based on Minion Line
The line of minions that spawn will create all sorts of variations in lane. Sometimes they will be in a small group, other times in a line. Manipulation of the minion line is caused by many factors. Champion disruption, by taking damage from the minions or actually hitting them will cause the minions to move. In addition the strength of the minion waves, the amount of towers cleared will also manipulate the minion line. Because of this you’ll need to adjust your positioning throughout gameplay.
The best way to think of Minions in lane is:
- They provide protection from most skill shot-based spells. This means that an enemy champion’s spell is not able to pass over the minion, therefore you are safer standing behind the minion line than in front of it. Most players assume that they should stand behind the minion line when they play every champion in the game. This is simply not the case. Versus an Ashe, sure – you will want to protect yourself against a volley, auto attack combo. Standing behind the minion line makes sense. However, that may not be the case versus an MF or an Annie. If the champion that you are versing in lane does not have one of these skill shots, it allows you to play much more aggressive in lane, using angles and distance from your minion line to get auto attacks on your opponent without generating aggro from the minions.
- They cause damage to you if you attack them or the enemy champion in a XXX range.
You’ll notice throughout 1200 – 1800 elo that many players will harass consistently in lane. While this has its advantages, it also has its disadvantages. Harass is good, but only if you are not taking unnecessary aggro from the minions. If you are taking as much damage from the minions as you are dealing to your opponent, then what's the point?
More than likely, as you retreat to stop the aggro from the minions, you’ll also be targeted by the enemy champion. This is why in higher elo play, in very early lane (1:55-15:00 minute on the game clock) you will often see less harass in lane. Of course there are some champions that are exceptions and there are ways to harass your enemy champion without aggroing the minions (which is the best way to harass!). We will cover how you do that later in this guide.
- Look for holes or gaps in the minion line that are about to be created.
When a gap is created and you react, your reaction time will be slower than a player who has anticipated the gap about to be created (when an allied or enemy minion is about to die), and then leverages that gap in the line to use a skill shot. This might seem difficult at first (you're trying to last hit, but now you are simultaneously anticipating gaps in the minion line to use skill shots).
An example of this might be an instantaneous volley from Ashe or a Mystic Shot from Ezreal as soon as the gap is created. If the enemy champion did not react fast enough, you’ll be able to get off some significant harass. Once you master this, make sure that you can consistently do it in lane versus your opponent. When you versus an enemy who falls victim to this type of harass, you’ll easily win your lane by using the same mechanic over and over against them.
- You can’t Deny in LoL, but you can counter hit – which is more difficult and just as important
Deny was a concept in Dota where you could actually last hit your own minions, preventing gold and experience from the enemy champion(s). In LoL, this is not possible, however a new mechanic presented itself – counter hitting. While seemingly difficult, you will need to focus on the health of not only your own minions in lane (so you can effectively last hit), but also the health of allied minions.
When you notice that an allied minion is very low and the enemy champion is about to last hit it, you will want to concurrently hit the enemy champion. The enemy champion cannot hit you and the creep at the same time. During the automation when they are going to attack the minion, they will also take harassment from you. This mechanic may not be effective on all champion match-ups in lane, but is almost always effective in a ranged AD versus ranged AD scenario and is often the case in AP versus AP and can be used in a ranged versus melee set-up lane matchup. Other scenarios might cause too much minion aggro for this to be effective, but it is an important mechanic to master. Practice it over and over until you can consistently counter hit. The best champion to practice this on is Tristana, just based on her animation and range.
Positioning based on Enemy Jungler
Understanding where the jungler is will help you adjust your aggressive – passive lane-play. Your Support should be on top of tracking the jungler in the game and should warn you on incoming ganks when they are about to happen. Assuming you have a good support ally, then you should be able to aggressively play in lane more than passively. If you're playing solo queue, you’ll likely have to play more passive then aggressive unless your champion has a built-in escape ability. For example, champions like Corki, who can use Valkyrie to escape, or Caitlyn who can use Net Caliber Net to also escape, playing what may seem like ‘overly –aggressive’ is okay, because you need to feel confident that you can evade an enemy jungle gank in lane.
- You want to stand on the opposing side of the lane where you think the enemy jungler is at.
If you know or think that the enemy jungler is on the bottom left of their jungle, if you are playing mid-lane then you would want to stand on the top right. This applies vice versa. By doing this you allow yourself additional time to evade an incoming gank by moving into the brush line and then using flash or an ability to escape.
- You want to use your abilities or wards to provide yourself additional warning of an incoming gank. It will be too expensive for you to cover all possible gank routes in any lane – however you can at the very least cover one area. By having this area of the map exposed, you can position yourself closer to that side. See below for an example of where you should position wards, assuming you start on the left side. Each color represents the respective lanes and how those lanes should ward.
Positioning based on Enemy Champion Abilities
Knowing your champion's abilities is without a doubt the most important attribute of laning effectively. This is why the pro players in LoL have played every champion; they need to understand the range, damage output and combo of each. Knowing how these other champions operate will enable you to play effectively in lane. While it might seem like a daunting task if you want to be a competitive player, play every champion in the game in solo lane at least twice, even champions that aren’t meant to solo lane. You do this to understand each of their abilities. Focus on learning the range, damage output and cooldown.
Positioning vs. Casters
Your most effective advantage laning against a caster is cooldown. This might seem insignificant at first, but deciding to harass or burst when you know your enemy spells are on cooldown will give you advantage in lane. Versus most casters you will want to stand BEHIND your minion line, and spend time focused on last hitting and counter hitting when appropriate. You will usually not want to play aggressive at early levels (1-6). You want to wait for your opponent to make a mistake in lane (by over harassing, taking too much minion aggro or using spells on minion waves and making them susceptible to harassment while their abilities are on cooldown).
Once you are level 6, most casters now can maximize their full burst combo. The best scenario is to wait for the enemy champion to use their abilities on a wave of minions or on you, and miss. Once this happens you will want to immediately counter attack while their abilities are on cooldown. If you have memorized the cooldown period of every champion, you will know how long you can safely harass.
Don’t be ‘evade or run’ happy. What I mean is that just because the enemy caster did some damage to you, does not always mean you should run away. It might be the best time to attack. If you know you will survive the damage, then you should in most cases immediately counter attack with your abilities and continue to do this as long as the champion is on cooldown. If the enemy caster champion is taking minion damage, it is even more of a reason to counter attack.
Positioning vs. AD
When you are laning against an AD champion, the most important concepts to keep note of are their auto-attack range and summoner spells. One of the hardest champions to lane against (assuming no ganks from the jungle) is Caitlyn. Her auto attack range is incredibly long, which allows her to harass and then quickly walk out of minion aggro and repeat over and over. This form of harassment will make it hard for you to farm if you are a melee champion. You want to focus on standing behind your creep line and diagonal to the minions that are about to die. This creates a further distance between you and the enemy champion and also allows you to evade more quickly to tower, brush or flash to the ledge near your wraiths.
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