How to Develop Map Awareness in League of Legends
Mon 8th Jul 2019 - 6:49pm
Dead again? Didn’t notice the enemy mid laner was coming to dive bot? This is one of the most common struggles when playing League of Legends however, there is a way to fix this. To avoid being surprised by the enemy roaming or a Junglers ganking you need to increase your map awareness. Increasing your map awareness seems like a hard task but, I can assure you it’s as simple as playing the game. Some of the ways to improve come from changing settings, minor exercises or tools, or changing the champions you play. I’m going to give you some tips and tricks to help increase your map awareness!
Here we are going to talk about your in-game settings. I know this seems odd to talk about in a map awareness guide but, it greatly affects your gameplay when you change certain settings. I will explain how each setting will affect your gameplay and why you should change them.
In your options menu, go to the interface tab and adjust the mini-map scale. Looking at a larger minimap will be easier to notice certain things like enemy portraits or when neutral objectives are spawning soon. In addition, to map size, I recommend changing teammate portraits to display above your minimap. This will make it easier to look at both the minimap and your teammate’s health and ultimate availability. This can be found under the Interface tab under the Team Frames category. It may differ from person to person depending on if you play with the minimap on the left or right side. This will make it easier to gather information in a shorter amount of time.
Next, you will go to the sound tab and adjust the ping volume. This one is a bit different since it will change the sound of pings of your pings and your entire team. However, this is setting is helpful as naturally we are all drawn to sounds and having a louder sound will draw our attention to the minimap. This is risky as some people will spam ping, but this can be offset by muting anyone who pings excessively. This option can be found on the scoreboard under each of your teammate’s names.
The ping sounds will cause you to look at the minimap and learn to spot the difference between the ping sounds. There are five different ping sounds to correspond with each one, with more playing you will learn to pick out which sound is for what. This will enable you to look at the map and know what information to look for. Helping a teammate, be careful of enemy roaming, the enemy has a ward somewhere, or if you have an ally on their way to help you. Learning to take information from the sound is an invaluable asset when playing and keeps you from getting too focused on one thing.
These next settings are different based on user preference. These hotkeys allow quick map movement either swapping the camera to you or a teammate. Before changing any key bindings, the first thing you should do is unlock your camera. What this does is allow you to move your camera away from your character and look at other points of the map easier. This can be beneficial to help you scout the maps without having to click and hold on the minimap. To those who play on locked camera, it will take some getting used to. Take a few games to practice and try out different setups with key bindings to find a natural fit for you.
There’s no right or wrong place to change these keys and some even keep them on default. To make it simple, it will help make looking at your teammate's positions and resetting your camera much faster. This is going to help if you play certain champions or roles that rely on looking at other lanes or opportunities to assist your team.
One last setting to change would be turning on timestamps. While this one may not seem too drastic it will teach you to track timers better. If an enemy uses their summoner spells you will be able to track when those spells will be off cooldown. As a jungler, this is an important skill to have as you will be looking to gank certain lanes when their summoners are down. Meaning you will be looking to see when that lane will be pushed in your favor. This also means the same for other lanes who have teleport or global abilities looking to assist their teammates.
Champions to Play
Next trick to learning map awareness is to play certain champs that require you to look more at the map. Many champions have abilities which can be used over a long distance to assist teammates across the map. Whether it be for securing kills or giving support to an ally, many champions have long range or global ultimate abilities. The following list is of champions that have said abilities in alphabetical order.
Ashe, Bard, Cait, Draven, Ezreal, Galio, Gangplank, Jinx, Karthus, Lux, Nocturne, Pantheon, Ryze, Shen, Soraka, Tahm Kench, Taliyah, Twisted Fate, Xerath.
The greatest advantage of these champions is the ability to maneuver or assist your team from across large distances. The easiest of these champions would be Soraka or Karthus as their abilities are global meaning, they can hit an ally or enemy regardless of the distance. Most of the time you can ask your team to ping you when they need an ultimate used to secure a kill or help with healing. This is where the ping volume will come back into play since it will be the best way to get your attention. The more you play these two champions the more you will find yourself looking at the map or your teammate’s health pools.
Another thing you can try is playing with the summoner spell teleport. While it may seem kind of a disadvantage to someone who uses more aggressive summoners, I promise teleport can be a much stronger tool. You can use it to help get back to a lane of course, but it can help you rotate to objectives or towers much faster than your opponent. This forces you to observe the map more to look for either possible flank maneuvers or potential counters to enemy plays. This summoner has seen action in all three lanes as well so feel free to take it wherever.
Where to Play
I gave you a list of champions to play but, now I will tell you where you should play. Each role has its ups and downs but, every lane has one disadvantage, you are forced to deal with a lane opponent which takes up your focus. There are two roles which don’t have to deal with this issue and that’s the jungle and support roles. Those who play jungle don’t have to deal with their opponent consistently however, the support role does just not as much as their carry.
As a jungler, you are forced to look at gank opportunities, enemy locations, and neutral objective timers. This is one of the most map-oriented roles in the game which makes it the hardest. Practicing with jungle is a sure-fire way to teach you better habits when it comes to map awareness. I recommend taking a jungle champion who excels at ganking as it will cause you to look at the map more for options. When you have a better grasp of looking at the map then I would recommend objective style champions so you can learn timers and planning.
As support, your main role, aside from assisting your carry, is to gather vision of the map for your team. This means looking to see where the enemy is gathering and determining where to place your wards. You are again forced to make decisions based on information from the map in either rotating to assist other lanes, looking to help your jungler invade, or securing an objective elsewhere.
A lot of shot callers in the pro scene were in fact either junglers or support players such as LemonNation, Aphromoo, IWillDominate, Meteos, and Xpecial to name a few. This was primarily due to their constant information gathering from looking at the map. If anything, once you’ve gained a bit more practice with map information, I would suggest making a few calls in some games to see how well your information gathering is.
Exercises and Tools
Now, this next part will discuss what you can do outside of the game in order to increase your map awareness. First, is the use of a metronome or stopwatch to remind you to look at the minimap. There are a plethora of websites and widgets that you can download or use to help you out. One example is this Stopwatch which allows you to set intervals in which an alarm will sound off. Every time the alarm goes off it you should look at the minimap and try to gain as much information as you can. I recommend setting the interval at 30 seconds first and after practice reducing the interval.
If using tools is not viable for you then I recommend trying this next exercise which is easier to track in the game. This exercise would be to look at the minimap after every minion wave. Once the final minion in a wave dies take a few seconds to scan the map and get as much information as you can and reset back to your lane. This is good to start off at as minions spawn every 30 seconds meaning waves take approximately 30 seconds to encounter in the middle lane. Both top and bottom lane take a few seconds longer compared to mid. This is just like the stopwatch method however; it uses the minions as a timer instead of a program and teaches you in game timers.
There are plenty of ways to work on map awareness from settings to champions and anything in-between. The main strategy to any game of league is to outsmart the enemy and that can be done with having more information than they do. Of course, getting kills helps but, not giving up free gold to ganks will help a lot more. Looking at the map will be your best bet to playing better and helping you win more games. Follow these tips and let me know what you think via Twitter!
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