Many summoners feel like games are won and lost in champion select, others feel your attitude and behavior can have a major impact on the game as well, but what about good general gameplay decisions that you can make to help your team win while you’re out there on the rift? We’ve assembled here a streamlined list of 5 basic rules you should try to follow every time you play League of Legends which will help you carry your way to more victories.
RULE #1: DON’T CHASE
This comes first for a reason. Engaging in long, extended chases – especially on high HP targets (Mundo) or targets with a lot of escapes (Nidalee, Kassadin) – is probably the best way to squander advantages and lose games. One bad tunnel-vision chase will very often turn a successful gank or team fight into a net-loss for your team. Why though? Shouldn’t chasing down and eliminating enemies be a top priority? It’s a gold boost and it keeps an enemy off the map, right? Well not always. Consider the following scenarios:
Scenario A: In Game Time 4:45
Hecarim runs up top to put an early gank on Singed for his friendly Akali. After a good charge from Hecarim’s “W” and a few attacks, Singed is chunked pretty low and runs, flashing away onto his tower. Hecarim chases a little too long, losing HP from Singed’s poison trail and from minion attacks. Singed turns to flip Hecarim onto the tower, but Hecarim pulls off, running back and avoiding death. A fleeing Hecarim makes it down into river just in time for the enemy jungle – Jarvan IV, who saw the whole fight and had time to run up in response – to drop an E>Q combo on him from tri-brush: “First blood! An ally has been slain”.
Scenario B: In Game Time 31:12
The blue team has been getting pushed around most of the game, and desperately needs an advantage to stage a comeback. They have a strong team fight composition and think they can catch a member of the purple team out of position and force an objective. Purple team’s jungler, Fiddlesticks, gets caught in a warded bush near the Baron pit, and the blue team melts him down. The rest of purple team comes pouring in a little late, and a team fight begins. Quickly, the blue team breaks down the enemy team, trading 0-for-3. Purple team’s Ryze and Teemo know the fight is over, and run back towards their top tower. If blue team chases, what happens? They hit a string of mushrooms in the jungle, get CC’d by Ryze, fight on top of a tower, maybe take down a target but in doing so lose some teammates, HP and most importantly time which prevents the blue team from killing Baron Nashor and ending the game.
From the moment the first enemy (especially the enemy jungler) dies, your team is on a power play clock. At 30 mins, you have something like 25-30 seconds (hit “tab” to reveal the scoreboard and check) before your enemy respawns and your “power play” is over, thus you must immediately leverage your advantage as soon as you get it. As soon as the enemy backs out of a team fight that your team has won, turn your attention to an objective. Get Baron, take dragon, push a tower. Don’t chase your enemy and waste time. In fact, if you’re playing a tanky champion and your team has just lost a fight, the best thing you can do is run and try to get the enemy team to waste time chasing you. Winning a team fight is meaningless if you don’t press the advantage it gives you.
RULE #2: TIME RESPAWNS
Ideally your jungler and support should be handling these tasks because their role is more about global awareness than say, an ADC, who is focused on getting fed. That being said, every player (especially if it’s you) should try to observe this simple rule.
Dragon respawns 6 minutes after death.
Baron respawns 7 minutes after death.
Red Buff/Blue Buff respawn 5 minutes after death.
Wards expire 3 minutes after being placed.
Write it down and tape it to your monitor if you have to. Next, open your options menu and turn “time stamps” on. When you see an enemy drop a ward, take note of the game time in the top right hand corner of your screen. In chat, let your team (especially your jungler) know where the ward is and when it expires (“ward in tribush, expires 7:44”). If your jungler is smart, he’ll time a gank just after the ward expires, before another can be placed for an easy kill.
When a major objective (Baron/Dragon) goes down, in chat you will see “[Champion/The Enemy Team] Has slain The Dragon/Baron Nashor!” If you’ve turned time stamps on, right next to that notification, you’ll see the exact time the objective went down, and can time accordingly. You don’t need a stop watch, and it takes about 2 seconds of your time and attention, but can lead to huge gold advantages for your team. When you see: “[20:33] ill_monstro_g has slain the Dragon!” you’ll type in chat “2633 dragon” and remind your team when the spawn is coming up (“>2mins on dragon, set up”). Ideally, you’ll have your team sitting on top of the objective just before it spawns so you can take the objective uncontested. Uncontested objectives win games, so make it your business to time respawns. Finally, a huge advantage can be gained timing buffs. If you’re in a solo lane mid, and after a gank you sneak into the enemy jungle and steal blue buff, take note of the time. In 5 minutes, you and your jungler can set up to steal it again. By denying the enemy their buffs, you’re costing them XP, gold and obviously, the buffs. You may have seen some summoners tell you to leave a small minion (one of the little lizards) so that the buff will not respawn; this can be a good idea situationally, but it’s almost always better to clear the whole camp and time it, especially if your enemy did not see you take the buff. This way, you know when the camp is back up and the enemy does not, allowing you to take it again, gaining you more XP, more gold and another buff.
RULE #3: FOLLOW YOUR LANE
The new “smart ping” system is wonderful, and very useful for sending specific information to your team in a pinch. Stopping to type “MIA” while trying to farm, or while watching for a gank might be hard, but a quick MIA ping is simple. However, a quick MIA ping isn’t enough when your lane disappears. Where is the enemy laner going? You might assume they’re going back, but what if they are going to gank bottom lane? As soon as your lane goes MIA you immediately have a choice, the right answer to which might win a lane. You have to try to put yourself in your enemy’s shoes. When was the last time they went back to buy? When was the last enemy buff you saw; are they going to their red/blue? Is one of your lanes pushed out, ready to get ganked by your MIA laner? If your lane opponent runs straight up or down river, making it apparent that they are going to gank another lane, you need to follow-up, otherwise you’re going to lose somebody their lane. If the lane being ganked looks like they can escape, you can try giving them a “warning” ping and taking advantage of the MIA by pushing a tower. This works especially well if your confidence in your team is high and the tower you’re pushing is low on health and can go down easily. Almost always, though, you’ll want to follow your opponent to the lane they’re going to gank so that you can help your team, and turn a gank around into a team fight win for your side.
If you’re the jungler and you see mid lane leave to gank bot, don’t stand there and finish wraiths – ping your mid lane and follow the enemy to prevent the gank. If you’re the mid lane, and you see your opponent go up to grab blue, look at your map. Is the enemy jungle there to help, or is he ganking bottom lane? Where is your jungler? If you think you can get your team to meet the enemy at their blue, you can secure (and time) a buff and pick up some kills in the process. Little responses like this will set you up to win your lane phase, and eventually the game.
RULE #4: SHOP RE-ACTIVELY
The biggest mistakes many new and veteran summoners alike make is to follow a rigidly set item build every time they play a champion. While resources like LoLpro and SoloMid might be very useful for learning the basics of a champion and what items synergize well with their kit, you can’t follow the same build every game. In order to be successful your item build must be flexible and responsive to what’s happening in your game. Your items are a reflection of your team’s needs in the specific game you buy them in.
The best example of this is your choice in boots. Let’s say you’re jungling with Vi and you’ve got your level 1 “boots of speed” and are considering your upgrade. Most summoners prefer Mercury Treads for the Tenacity buff and the slight MR, some junglers like Boots of Mobility (henceforth referred to as “boots 5”) for the extra speed between ganks and camps, and still others go with Ninja Tabi for armor or the CDR of Boots of Lucidity. Which is the right way to go? The answer lies in what the enemy team is doing. If the enemy has a lot of CC (Crowd Control) – for example, Ashe ADC, Nautilus jungle, Nasus top etc. and they have an AP mid (say, Veigar) who has a few kills already, Merc Treads is the right choice; they help handle most of the threats that specific enemy team brings. The MR is preferable to the armor on say, Ninja Tabi for dealing with Veigar’s burst – especially if you’re already heavy on armor in your jungle build, and the tenacity helps you cut through the CC of the front line and get in on the enemy carries. Likewise, if the enemy is running an AD heavy comp with say a Zed mid, Ninja Tabi provides the extra little armor you might want, and for a lower cost which might allow you to pick up more damage or HP on another item. If you’re jungling and finding that you’re ahead early and ganking effectively, sometimes grabbing boots 5 is the best option for even more aggression and counter-jungling.
The same logic you use to choose your boots should apply to all of your purchases. Are there some core items you should always aim for? Yes. When you’re AP mid, you’re almost certainly going to buy a Deathcap, for example. However, the priority you place on certain items, and the items you buy outside of your core build should reflect the needs of that specific game. When you don’t know what to buy, look at their team – who is the most fed? Who presents the biggest threat? Buy something which addresses that threat. Are you a tank worrying about a fed enemy ADC? Pick up a Randuin’s Omen to mitigate their damage and attack speed. Are you a carry who is getting bursted down by huge combos? Pick up a Quicksilver Sash to protect yourself against the early burst.
RULE #5: KNOW YOUR ROLE IN FIGHTS
Very frequently in chat, teams who have just lost a fight will start to declare “focus carries” or “focus their ADC” or sometimes something as simple as “don’t target tanks”. This is only partially true, and following this advice 100% of the time will lose team fights, because it leads to bad behaviors (like breaking rule#1 – Don’t Chase). First, consider what your job in a team fight is. There are a few roles which must be filled by someone on your team, and depending on who your teammates are, you might be better suited to one of these roles or another. Once everyone knows what they should be doing in a team fight, you should not have to worry about “focusing the ADC”, because you’ll win the fight before everyone is standing around just trading damage until one side falls.
a) Tanky intiation – it’s your job to lead the way and soak up damage and CC. A friend once told me that as a tank, your HP is a resource which if unspent is worthless. Get in there first (not too far ahead of everyone) and try to get some ultimates blown on you, so they can’t be used on your carries. Once you’ve initiated, your job falls into one of the other key categories (probably peel, but possibly dive)
b) Burst – You’re the AP mid. You have crazy burst damage capacity, enough to take down any single target on the enemy team. Who should it be, the ADC? Probably not. If you catch the ADC separated from their team, burst away and win a team fight with the power play advantage; but in a straight up 5 on 5 Baron contest or fight in mid, you need to think more carefully. The ADC is squishy and won’t take all of your massive damage to kill. One of your teammates has the responsibility of diving on carries and taking them out, and anyway, how are you going to get past the enemy front line to be in range to kill the ADC? You’re going to get shreded by Dr. Mundo as you try to reposition. Instead, you should be keeping a safe distance, waiting for a major threat to get in range and nuking them. Your job is to punish bad initiations, dives on your carries and enemies who get caught in CC. Once your combo is down, you should be ducking into a bush until you can nuke another enemy.
c) Peel – You’re probably either the jungler, top laner or possibly the support. You have strong disengage abilities (Xin Zhao’s R, Thresh’s E, Janna’s R), CC (a knock up, slow, stun, etc.) and probably one of the lowest damage outputs on the team. Your job is to keep the enemy off of your carries, when the enemy Xin Zhao dives with his E onto your Graves, it’s your job to knock him back or stun him so Graves can survive the fight and kill his assailant. Lots of top lanes and jungles assume their job is to dive and kill the enemy carry – but if everyone dives on the enemy carries, who is going to protect your ADC and AP mid? What happens if your ADC dies first? You’ve lost the team fight.
d) Dive – You have a strong ability to reposition and stick to targets, you’re probably a top laner or jungler, or sometimes and AD mid like Kha’Zix or Zed. You do some of the highest damage on the team (probably 3rd after mid and ADC) and are a strong duelist or assassin type. Your job is to get past the enemy tanks trying to peel and kill the target they’re protecting. When people say “focus the ADC” – this is the person they’re really talking to. Champions like Vi (with her unstoppable R), Hecarim (huge charging R and E), Olaf (with his R and high damage output), Nocturne and Jax (with his big burst and leaping Q) are ideal for this kind of role. You need to be fast enough to get into the fight, and be durable enough and do enough damage to kill your target(s) before you go down.
e) Sustained Damage – This is the ADC. With some random exceptions like unconventional team compositions or in a weird situation like a very fed Quinn top lane, the ADC is your sustained, team-fight-wide global damage. It’s your job to essentially kill everything and win the fight for your team. This is where the “focus the ADC” advice falls apart. As an ADC should you always go after the enemy ADC first? No. Your job as the ADC is to survive long enough to win the fight with sustained DPS on enemy targets. If you die, you do zero DPS (damage per second) so your team loses. If the enemy carries are out of your range, and between you and your targets are a bunch of beefy tanks with lots of CC your job is to stay back and poke as much as you can at the targets who you have a shot on. If you find an opportunity (say, after a bunch of ults are blown on your tank, or if the enemy team all get stunned) to jump in and kill their carries, of course you should! But you must do as much damage as you can safely. A dead ADC is useless to everyone.
How do I get my team to fight like this in solo queue?
Surprisingly all it takes to get your team out of the blind “focus ADC first” is generally just a little communication. Remember that you can’t count on other players to make good descisions for you, so take a look at the enemy team, and your own team comp, and make the descisions. If you’re a very strong top lane Olaf with a lot of kills and farm and you have a nice tanky jungle Cho’Gath on your team with lots of CC, the choice is easy! Before the next team fight say something like “Cho, try to peel for Orianna and Varus, I’m gonna dive their carries.” Just agreeing who will peel and who will dive is generally enough to lead to success in most solo queue team fights, all other factors being even.
Of course, these 5 rules alone won’t win you every game. There are a ton of important concepts and mechanics in League of Legends that you have to be familiar with to succeed consistently. Minimap awareness, player attitude and communication and a slew of other concepts are core to winning, but if you follow these 5 general rules, you will see your chances for success in solo queue and arranged 5s alike rise dramatically.