5 Tips to Improve Your Laning
Wed 29th Nov 2017 - 10:07pm
With the new runes and masteries coming in, a lot has changed but the basic premise of the game has stayed true. Do as well as you can in lane, whether that means securing kills to snowball ahead, staying safe against an unfavorable matchup, or farming up so that when you become stronger, you can help your team out.
Beyond getting better at last hitting minions and learning how to manage cooldowns and mana, there are a few things you probably have seen in professional matches or while you're watching your favorite steamer. Maybe sometimes you feel like you're on fire and everything lines up for you while you lane. Let's take a look at a few things you can improve on and how it can lead to you winning your lane more often.
For starters, let's talk about levels. When you load into a match, everyone starts at the same level and gold. Barring an invade or an early fight, when you first approach your lane and help your jungler with his starting camp, everything is still fairly standard. When you first step into your lane, everyone still has just their starting items and is at the same amount of experience. Here's where things start to get dicey.
The lane meets in the middle and both laners with start to farm up. In the case of bot lane, with twice as many people in the lane, the supports will look for opportunities to harass and poke in order to weaken the enemy for a later engagement and to force them to burn through consumables in order to maintain lane presence.
Whomever is able to hit level 2 first will be at a significant advantage. This is because they not only get a stat boost and some health/mana, but they also get access to an additional skill. Getting access to an entire extra skill and not relying on a single cooldown is huge and so many times, this is the first opportunity where a champion will be solidly stronger than another in lane.
To get experience, you need to kill minions or other champions. Since level 1 fights are largely chaotic and come down to autoattacks, most people will opt for the farming route unless the enemy makes a huge blunder.
The trick is, however, to not push too hard. Sure, if you push against your enemy and farm more quickly than they do, you will hit level 2 faster. However, when you push too hard, the wave will be shoved into the enemy tower and you will be unable to dive the tower at such an early level. You will also be open to ganks and draw pressure from the jungler if you are pushed far past the midpoint of your lane. Make sure you are just slightly outpushing your opponent so that when you are able to hit that first power spike, you are able to take advantage of it.
Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng is in a soloqueue match. He has no voice communications with his support, but types "im rdy" in chat and pings his Flash cooldown to let his teammate know he has it off cooldown. Doublelift pings the minion that he is planning on last hitting, which will bring them to level 2. Rakan also pings which opponent he is planning on going to. Watch what happens the exact moment the minion dies and the pair hit level 2.
See that power? That's the kind of advantage you pick up on a level 2 spike. The enemy bot lane actually hit the Rakan with every skill they had available, but didn't do enough damage to secure a kill. If both groups were level 2, this would have been an even trade at best. That's why it is important to manage your experience in the beginning.
Champions have different power spikes and kill potential. Level 2 is the most obvious to most, but a champion like Pantheon/Riven getting access to a full combo at level 3 or Fizz getting access to ultimate at level 6 is something to be wary of.
Every advantage you pick up in a lane will lead to an easier time and more potential kills. Starting out ahead is never a bad thing.
Trading and Harassing with Purpose
Obviously, if you are able to finish a kill, it's a nice gold bonus in addition to the farm, but you can't hope to all-in your opponent every time they enter the lane and come out on top. Two things to keep in mind when you are trading damage with the opponent.
- Deal more damage to them than they do to you
- Don't focus so much on damage that you lose out on farm
These might seem like obvious points, but it's a bit tricky to put into practice. When you go in for a trade, the result needs to be advantageous for you. The first point is easily accomplished a few ways. When the enemy is going to autoattack a low health minion, they will be unable to attack you at the same time. This is a great time to drop a quick autoattack and walk out of their auto range. Also, if you initiate the damage trade, they will always be the second to move and will be unable to win without using spells.
Sometimes, players will be so caught up with winning a fight that they will decide to prioritize damage over farm. The small miss here and there will eventually add up. If you end up being able to deny the enemy or score a kill, great. But most of the time, the trade results in both parties missing farm and a solid lead still not forming.
Notice how Voyboy moves back immediately in case Illaoi tries to swing a tentacle back in response. He only goes for an autoattack when Illaoi is going for a minion even with his massive range superiority. This actually causes Illaoi to hesitate and miss the farm while taking damage anyways. Work with any advantage you can get.
Make sure when you remember: Trades are for opening up the lane so you can more easily farm and gain advantages from CS and objectives. This is different from an all-in where you are going for a kill using every resource possible.
Effective Back Timing
Something that players struggle with constantly is deciding when to go back. Backing is important in order to spend gold and solidify leads, to heal, and to regroup.
If you are able to control the minion wave, make sure it is slowly pushing towards you when you back. This can be done by pushing your wave directly into the enemy tower and causing the enemy wave to build up/push back to you ("bouncing" the wave). This is so that you are in a safe place to farm when you arrive back in lane with new items. The enemy also will be forced to move up to farm if you freeze the wave towards yourself and will be open to ganks or chases.
After winning a trade, if you are unable to clear waves properly (cooldowns, mana, or health), quickly farm any remaining bits of the wave and back. Staying in lane with gold is useless and if the opponent returns with better items, you will lose lane presence. If your opponent decides to stay and deny you minions by pushing, you will be able to push him back with better items and reset the wave/ freeze it towards your side. If they decide to match your timing, you will at the very least not be behind.
Staying "because you are winning" and pushing is not always a good solution.
"Always follow your opponent" is a piece of advice that is usually thrown around to encourage players to help their teams and even out fights when ganks happen. However, this isn't always the best thing to do. There's a big risk roaming out as Orianna, for example. You have damage capability and shields, but no mobility and will certainly get picked off if caught out of position. Sometimes the better solution is to push the wave in to deny farm and knock a chunk of health off the opposite tower. (This also gives you a great chance to back as discussed above!)
If you commit to a roam, it has to be worth it. You need some sort of advantage to be gained. Whether it be a kill, an objective, or denial of an enemy attempt, something has to be worth walking out of lane for. Every moment you aren't absorbing experience and farm in lane means you're not making full use of your time. While objectives and kills are great, farm and consistent lane pressure is a ton better than nothing.
Keep a mental checklist before you decide to make a trek across the map.
- What cooldowns does the enemy have?
- Is it the path warded? Will they see me coming?
- How is the enemy positioned? Can I take advantage of it?
- How healthy are my teammates? Can they help me if I fight?
Make sure the majority of these things are true and your roam has a substantially higher chance of succeeding and pulling and advantage.
You want your roam to look like this:
And not like this:
The team that sees the pressure being applied will be able to get an uncontested advantage elsewhere on the map. Make sure that resource commitment is worth it!
Playing a Losing Lane
Let's say the enemy jungler has pitched a tent right outside your lane and is camping you hard. Maybe that lucky opponent managed to hit level 2 before you and immediately dumped their entire kit on you and came out on top of the all-in. Here's what we do now.
The ganks won't stop coming just because you're behind. Rather, you'll be easier to dive now that the opponent has significantly more power than you. Make sure you know when to leave and when it is ok to grab some extra farm. The point is to play safe, not scared.
The ganks don't stop.
They seriously don't.
If you've fallen behind, the enemy is going to try and keep you behind.
Farm will give you gold, which will allow you to help your team secure objectives and bring the game back. Don't go for any fancy plays and hold on to your summoners so they can be used defensively. It's not fun and it sure isn't easy, but playing it safe will stop the bleeding.
If the enemy was going to get the turret anyway, the extra seconds you buy your team with a death isn't going to stop them from knocking it down. Cede impossible objectives and focus on clawing your way back. Eventually, your opponent is going to fumble an important cooldown or totally botch an objective. Not even the top professional teams play perfectly.
Overall, your job is to keep as close as possible to the opponent and stop the enemy from capitalizing on his advantage and snowballing the lead into a victory. This point can't be stressed enough. Sure, the trade might have been extremely close, and it would be great if you could get that gold gap closed with a kill of your own, but many times the difference becomes larger and larger. Before you know it, the enemy will come out of lane well farmed and 6 kills ahead. No one on your team will be able to deal with him or her.
Hopefully this article helped you solidify some laning concepts and gave you a better idea of what to do in lane. A good game starts with a good lane. Best of luck out there summoners!
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