An Overview of Mobility in LoL and How to Counter It
Sun 13th Sep 2020 - 3:00pm
Going into a game of League of Legends it is crucial to understand your own and your opponent’s limitations and strengths. Out of all the information that can change your gameplay mobility is crucial to consider. Your own or your opponent’s mobility can massively change your positioning and decision making. By fully understanding mobility you can lock your opponents out of their options and suffocate them out of resources through using your mobility effectively or denying your opponent effective use of theirs.
The defining characteristics of a champion’s mobility are the conditions that they need to use the mobility, the type of movement they use to reach their final destination, and the final state of the champion after the dash.
There are a wide variety of different conditions for different mobility abilities. A champion like Leblanc has Distortion (W) which is limited by a moderate length cooldown and high mana cost also has a high and variable range that she can dash to as well as being able to backtrack to her previous location. A champion like Yasuo who has Sweeping Blade (E) has a very low cooldown and no mana cost, however, he is unable to use his dash without an opposing unit within range and it will always go a short, set range. These different conditions can look vastly different on different champions. Champions like Fiora can have a variable cooldown dash like Lunge (Q) which allows Fiora to massively lower the cooldown by hitting an opponent with her initial usage.
For champions like Kassadin with Riftwalk (R) you can get extremely high mana costs to their dash as it stacks. Ahri’s mobility is contained within her ultimate Spirit Rush (R) which means it has a massive cooldown compared to many other mobility abilities. Then a champion like Zed can basically broadcast his finishing location with a Living Shadow (W) then decide whether or not he wants to use the mobility or simply use the shadow for harassment or information.
Another important characteristic of a champion’s mobility is how they actually move between their start- and end-point. The essential two forms of moving that must be understood are dashes and blinks. Any other niche form like a jump most likely fits within the dash category in the level of counterplay you can use against it. During a dash, the champion is physically still on the map and has a travel time as they move like a projectile. In contrast, during a blink, the champion will have a channel time before they suddenly appear at a new location. Abilities like Gnar’s Hop (E) and Vayne’s Tumble (Q) are dashes while abilities like Ezreal’s Arcane Shift (E) and Katarina’s Shunpo (E). This effects how a dash can be punished. A blink can only be punished on either side of the blink but, with good timing, one can cancel or punish a dash during the movement. There are some champions that will combine a dash and a blink at times. Leblanc’s Distortion (W) is a dash initially, once you dash however you have a choice to blink back to your initial location. Ekko’s Phase Dive (E) allows him to dash initially followed by an auto-attack that allows him to blink to his opponent.
The final characteristic to keep in mind is the final state of the champion. Other than endpoint there are also buffs that different abilities can give to champions. Leblanc and Ahri will do damage with Distortion (W) and Spirit Rush (R) respectively. Vayne and Ekko are simply buffed after their dash ends with Tumble (Q) and Phase Dive (E) respectively.
Before even getting into a fight with a high mobility champion you must make sure that you have not allowed them to fight in a situation that facilitates their mobility. Once you are in the fight you need to understand what counters their specific mobility and keep those things in mind as the engagement continues. With these two things in mind, you can counter the mobility of your opponent and beat them consistently.
Positioning against high mobility opponents can have a few different looks depending on who you are fighting. Generally, without your own mobility, you need to stay in safe positioning while if you have the mobility of your own you simply need to stay in a positioning where your mobility can safely disengage you. These will help you to choose advantageous fights for you. There are champions that benefit from having minions surrounding you and champions that are more advantaged to find you out in the open. A champion like Katarina can jump to any ally or opposing units with Shunpo (E) which allows her to catch you using the minions around you. Other champions that can use minions as a way to close the gap on you include Yasuo with Sweeping Blade (E) and Diana with Lunar Rush (E).
If you can find these champions out in the open in the river or maybe just in a lane without minions, you can create fights where their positioning is much more predictable and they are unable to chase you down as easily. However other champions will want these minions out of the way so they have more synergy between the rest of their abilities without minions potentially getting in the way. A champion like Ahri will want to land Charm (E) while she is using Spirit Rush (R). This means her engage will be inhibited by proper positioning around minions. Finally, there are champions that can thrive in both situations.
Lee Sin can use Safeguard (W) to attack you with his own minions and allies being close to you. However, if he is not careful then he may lose damage by using Sonic Wave/Resonating Strike (Q) on a minion so that it simply closes the gap between you two while lowering his damage. Keeping these characteristics in mind you can keep yourself in protected situations against an opponent’s mobility. It is important to be able to attack these opponents when they either misuse their mobility or when you can’t avoid a fight with them while their mobility is available to them.
Baiting and Forcing Mobility
One way to secure fights against high mobility champions is generally to fight after you can either bait or force out their mobility. For example, if you are able to dodge an Ahri’s engage attempt when she uses Spirit Rush (R) then you have a large window of time that you can attack her without her having this massively important ability and she is a sitting duck. This is also very true for other mobility spells even if their cooldown is much lower than the ultimate level cooldown that Spirit Rush (R) has such as Sylas with Abscond/Abduct (E) and Zed with Living Shadow (W). This does massively weaken their kit and should give you an advantage before your fight even starts. To force out these mobility abilities you either need to be able to create a threat that requires them to respond by using mobility to get to safety. You could also bait the mobility by using safe positioning to dodge the initial use of mobility from your opponents and then attack after they are now on cooldown.
Combatting Mobility Directly
Then there is the question of fighting while your opponent has their mobility available to them. This is unavoidable at times and it is crucial to know what to do against different mobility spells in order to render them useless. It is important to understand not just your opponent’s mobility but also the way they would like to slot in the rest of their spells around their mobility. Also, depending on the state of the fight you need to be able to predict if they are going to use their mobility aggressively or more defensively.
As stated before, Ahri will use her Spirit Rush (R) in most cases to position for an easy Charm (E) to lead into a full combo. With this in mind, you can react accordingly by using whatever you have to dodge the charm in response, or by simply moving unpredictably. This type of mobility set up is also the case with Yasuo’s Sweeping Blade (E) setting up his third Steel Tempest (Q) and Jax’s Leap Strike (Q) putting him in range for his Counterstrike (E). In cases such as these, you will counter these spells at their best by using your peel or mobility abilities in response to the opponent’s aggressive usage which should put you in an advantaged position. In the case of spells like Zed’s Living Shadow (W) and Leblanc’s second activation of Distortion (W) they create a unique mobility situation where you know their endpoint but you don’t know the timing that they will be using the spell. In these situations, you should keep in mind which cooldown they are going to be paying attention to from you.
If you are trying to use an ability like Orianna’s Shockwave (R) on these champions then you can expect them to react with a quick activation of their mobility to dodge it. Since these abilities are blinks you cannot cancel the spell but if you can force a reaction then you can use your spells aimed at the endpoint and if they react to the channel of the spell then they can often jump into your spell. This especially works if you can use two spells in quick succession on both positions so if they dodge the first spell they will be hit by the second and vice versa. As for more fluid mobility, you generally have to have a strong sense of their intent to be able to accurately predict their usage of it.
Against a champion like Ezreal if you have a threat following him closely then very often they will look to dodge your crowd control with Arcane Shift (E) based on the channel time of the ability. If this is the case then you can throw your crowd control, for example, Thresh Death Sentence (Q) towards a defensive location that they may jump to. This creates an iconic play known as a Madlife based on playing off of your opponent’s defensive mobility. If their intent seems to be aggressive due to the state of the fight then this will change where you are going to predict them to dash to. If Lucian’s attempting to run you down and you’re expecting his Relentless Pursuit (E) then you can expect a position allowing him to get into range of you or to kite around you if he is already in range. As a result, you can use spells to cancel or catch the Lucian as his dash ends and turn the aggression back onto him. Against a champion like Yasuo, you can even perfectly predict his endpoint if you assume aggression based on the targets he has available for Sweeping Blade (E).
In this collection of plays, you can see the king of countering mobility as Madlife has mastered predicting how people will use mobility in a vast variety of situations and react accordingly.
Good Luck in Solo Queue against those pesky high mobility champions!