Power Spikes in League of Legends Part 2: Mid Game
Wed 5th Mar 2014 - 5:15pm
Just like in the previous part of this series, this article aims to help you understand power spikes in LoL, and how to work with them. This is the second part of the series, and will focus on the mid game. We consider mid game to be the phase of the game when everyone has completed their first item or two, teams begin to group up for objectives and the first teamfights break out. Bearing in mind the levels and estimated income of each champion, their performance at this stage of the game depends on a number of factors, and the most important are listed below.
1. Catch Potential
As the laning phase comes to an end, champions roam the map a lot more as they group up to take objectives or farm minion waves. As a side effect of this tendency, some champions may be caught alone in the jungle or farming lanes as the team rotates. Champions who can take advantage of a vulnerable catch are extremely powerful for snowballing the mid game.
Vi is an example of the kind of champion that can make picks in this way with her R: Assault and Battery. The unstoppable gapcloser and knockup enable Vi to create opportunities for her team to catch enemies in their rotation. Long CC, gapclosers and displacement all enable champions to make or enable picks. Champions with these, when combined with mobility and burst damage, mentioned below, can be an extreme threat in the mid game. Once an enemy is caught and defeated, there is an imbalance in numbers on the map and the team with more members can force their opponents into giving up objectives due to their advantage.
Examples: Vi, Zed, Fizz, Ahri, Gragas, Wukong,
Mobility is very much related to the above section, both countering it and enabling it. As well as this, mobility is generally one of the most sought-after attributes in League of Legends and its benefits are found most in the mid game and late game. To be more specific, a mobile champion would have a powerful way to increase their movement speed, or a way to dash across terrain. Being mobile, a champion can minimise the time they spend moving around the map, which can serve to avoid being caught and let them react quickly to faraway events.
A mobile champion brings safety, ability to catch and chase enemies and reaction time to map pressure. Take for example Gragas, Vi and LeBlanc, who all have strong dashes. Through dashing over the map, they can use their kits to catch their enemies, gank with almost guaranteed success and threaten the enemy team with their presence.
Examples: Vi, Leblanc, Gragas, Kassadin, Katarina, Ahri
Mid game marks the beginning of the main teamfighting phase of the game. Objectives such as the Dragon will most often cause teamfights to break out as teams contest them, not wanting to give up the benefits of the objective and even willing to sacrifice team members for it. Therefore, champions that can fight effectively in these situations are a boon for their team and team compositions built around objective fights continue to be successful. Features of a strong teamfighting champion are those such as initiation power, area of effect crowd control or simply massive area of effect damage.
Initiators such as Amumu and Sejuani have ultimates that can single-handedly decide the outcome of a teamfights when they dive in. Locking up a portion of the enemy team, particularly their squishy damage-dealers, is of paramount importance for the champions who want to dive in and cause havoc. Champions such as Orianna and Zyra have excellent follow-up damage and CC after an initiation as their AOE powers lack the range or speed of initiators. Strong area of effect power, crowd control and initiation are the key players in midgame fights.
Examples: Zyra, Annie, Malphite, Gragas, Zac, Wukong
4. Burst Damage
The ability to deal huge damage in a short time is at its most useful in the midgame. This is due to the fact that the typical carry champion will not obtain their defensive item until the late game, making them vulnerable to assassins and burst casters. The ability to remove a damage threat from the game almost instantly is obviously powerful when taken advantage of and can be realised through catching enemies as mentioned above or by flanking during a teamfight. Zed and Fizz are powerful, mobile assassins that can easily burst down a squishy target once they have their first item or two.
Similarly, burst casters like LeBlanc and Gragas have strong base values and scaling on their spells, enabling them to output massive damage in a single spell rotation. Champions like these can snowball out of control if they are allowed to reach their targets and eliminate them. Mid game is where they shine, before teams are constantly grouped and squishies have yet to build the items to deal with them. Most assassins are mobile and can jump in and out of a fight. Without coordination, a team can be destroyed almost single-handedly by a mid game assassin.
Examples: Fizz, Zed, Annie, Gragas, LeBlanc, Ahri
Season 4 has seen strong mid game champions become some of the most contested and successful picks. This is because of the way Season 4 has drawn out the mid game and inhibited the power of early snowballing. Notable champions like Gragas, LeBlanc and Vi are seen in most LCS matches and with good reason. With mid game power being so popular and arguably the strongest way of snowballing a game in a team's favour, many players opt to simply beat a mid game team with their own mid game power. Alternatively, if you are confident in your defensive play, biding your time with a late game team may be a superior option. Generally early game snowballs are no longer strong enough to counter a strong mid game.
Next time: late game power spikes.