Deep Dive: An In-Depth Look Into Mid Lane for League of Legends
Mon 25th Nov 2019 - 8:59pm
Mid is the most intricate lane in League of Legends. It requires a massive understanding of skillsets from each of the other lanes, hosts the most mechanically difficult champions, and draws in the most try-hard and dedicated of players who want to be the carry. This Deep Dive will break down some beginner and advanced tips to get you started into your mastery of Mid Lane!
1) The Core Classes and Subclasses
Just like my Support Deep Dive, we’ll break down the classes that take to the Mid Lane before breaking down anything else. Mid has shown itself to be one of the most flexible positions throughout League of Legends' history and there’s certainly a class or champion amongst its plethora of picks that can fit your playstyle.
A) Mages - Overview
Mages are a mainstay class for League of Legends. Champions that fall within the Mage Subclasses typically come packaged with long-range poke, area of effect abilities, and crowd control. Typically, a Mage’s job is to take out an isolated opponent, either by smacking them down as they approach, catching them off to the side, or even going deep and utilizing their full spell rotation on their target. But, that isn’t to say that Mages must focus on their all-in potential. In fact, most Mages find themselves wellsuited to manipulative play-styles where they utilize their utility and crowd-control abilities to force opponents into unfavorable positions.
Mages typically match well against Marksmen and Fighters. Against Marksmen, they have the ability to outburst their target before their opponent can get going. Against Fighters, Mages can utilize their crowd-control to kite out and win within extended trades.
When squaring up against Assassins and Tanks though, Mages typically falter. Mages can’t deal with the all-in potential from either of these classes unless they are horribly ahead. Assassins are slippery and can typically out-maneuver and burst down a Mage before they have a chance to respond. Tanks simply walk forward, laugh, and soak up the Mage’s damage while locking them down for their team. And thanks to their lower mobility, Mages typically have a hard time escaping either of these groups without the help of their allies.
Mage - Subclasses
Mages themselves come in three Subclasses that serve to distinguish their playstyles into niches. Those Subclasses are Artillery, Battle, and Burst.
Artillery Mages, as their name implies, are about raining spells down from afar. They focus on Poke and Siege as core concepts of their class and thrive in situations where they are well protected and can fling spells at their foes that are clinging for safety at their turrets.
Battlemages are more about getting into the mix of a teamfight. They come with a little poke and a little burst, but they thrive in extended situations where they can utilize their defensive and disruptive abilities to disassemble a teamfight.
Burst Mages eat squishy targets for lunch!... Or at least they want to. Burst Mages come packaged with heavier crowd-control in comparison to their other Mage-kin, and behind this crowd-control is usually synergy with bursty mastery pages and ratios.
Mage - Suggested Picks
If the above descriptions sound enticing, look no further than these suggested picks for each Subclass. These suggested champions fall into the ‘easy to learn, tough to master’ camp and can be extremely rewarding for those that put time and effort into them.
Artillery Mages - Vel’Koz, The Eye of the Void
Though extremely immobile, even for Mage standards, Vel'Koz has surpassed Ziggs as the truest Artillery Mage in League of Legends. His kit is far more reaching than most realize and his ability to manipulate the angles in which his poke comes through makes him a tricky opponent to lane against. And if you slip in consistent poke, Vel’koz’s passive rewards these efforts back tacking on true damage to Champions, Minions, and Monsters hit with his spells.
Battlemages - Malzahar, the Prophet of the Void
Throughout lane phase, Malzahar is a perma-push monster. When teamfights break out, he’s a disruptive and taxing opponent to fight against thanks to his silence and suppression packaged onto his Q and R respectively. Malzahar forces opponents to build Quicksilver Sash or carry effects like it around, and often items that Cleanse are inefficient and don’t typically synergize directly to champion kits.
Burst Mages - Annie, The Dark Child
Annie’s easy and reliable, albeit a bit predictable. But, there’s no stopping her or her Tibbers from bursting and smacking down opponents once she gets rolling. And with the recent buff to her E now granting movement speed, Annie is speedier than ever. She’s capable of playing a roam heavy style with Predator or relaxing back and focusing on direct all-in with Electrocute as her Keystone.
B) Fighters - Overview
Fighters, also known as Bruisers, are great laners. They’re a short-range bunch that excels at trading patterns that revolve around fancy spacing and medium length skirmishes. Amongst this class, you’ll find your duelist and split-pushers that want to hug to lanes longer than the average champion as their gap-closers and Keystones benefit them in 1v1 situations. When looking at this class towards the Mid Lane though, the options for viable picks aren’t as wide as Fighters typically prefer the longer lane of Top for their trading patterns. They have their shining Mid Lane terrors though, and we’ll take a look at them a bit down the line.
When looking at Fighters, their strengths line in tackling Assassins as their innate resistances keep them resilient against their all-in. They also smash Tanks whose low damage output fails against their superior DPS. Matchups against Tanks are few in the Mid Lane, but this is something to keep in mind as you move to the side lanes for splitting pressure throughout the game.
Against Mages and Marksmen, Fighters typically find themselves poked down and struggling against the range advantage these Champions hold over them. Lack of range makes them more susceptible to being kited out, and though this class prefers long-ish trades, they can’t activate their sustaining capabilities without getting in their opponents faces.
Fighters - Subclasses
Fighters come in two flavors. Divers and Juggernauts. Each Subclass presents a unique play pattern and their differences really boil down to movement options between them. Divers find more of a home in Mid than Juggernauts, but there are some counterpick situations that can arise if another Fighter has been sussed out for a Mid Lane matchup.
Divers are speedy Champs that go after single targets. They immediately become the focus of whatever situation they get mixed up in, and if they’re not peeled off their target, their prey will have a bad time. They aren’t as sturdily built as Tanks or their Juggernaut counterparts, but they can soak a bit of hate while dishing out lethal damage if left alone.
Juggernauts are the slower movers of the Fighters, but their approach always presents the threat of death. These lads and lasses are able to soak up more damage than their Diver kin, and some of these champs thrive off of living on the razors edge in the midst of their foes.
Fighter - Suggest Picks
If you’re the scrappy sort and the Fighter paradigm appeals to you, I’ve got some suggestions on starter Champions that will give you an excellent feel for their capabilities in Mid.
Diver - Camille, The Steel Shadow
Having blades for legs and hook-shots on your hips makes you quite dangerous in any lane context. For Camille, in Mid, she excels at her ability to move around the map quickly and generate a ton of pressure with her mobility and unique ganking pathways. Unfortunately the walls in Mid are a bit awkward for her to engage on her opponent from in the 1v1, and her escape opportunities are equally so, but against Assassins and fellow Fighters, she should shine.
Juggernauts - Aatrox, The Darkin Blade
A plague on all of Season 9, Aatrox has been infamous for his imbalance across the various patches of the season. And despite repeated adjustments, he always finds a way to come back scrapping in true Juggernaut fashion regardless of the nerfs he receives. Aatrox comes packaged with an easy to understand all-in combo, a couple of short dashes, and the ability to sustain through dealing damage once he’s fighting his opponent. His stint in Mid was more during the previous points of the season, but even as we pass the season's end, Aatrox still holds to some favorable matchups for those that keep him a comfort pick.
C) Slayers - Overview
The Slayer class hosts Assassins and Skirmishers, two of the flashiest playstyles in the game. The Champions in this class won’t win any awards for being frontliners, but they expertly cover large distances and strike down their opponents quickly to make up for their lack of beef. This nature makes the playstyles in both Subclasses very high-risk high-reward styles of play, and those that enjoy this razor’s edge or skill-based matchup pattern, will love to express themselves with either of these schools.
Lack of base stats is what hinders Slayers, and they can most certainly be burst or crowd-controlled into submission. Slayers must play around cooldowns and find backlines into fights to make the most of their kits. This flanking playstyle is key to both Subclasses as they enter teamfight setting.
Slayer - Subclasses
Assassins start off the Slayers style of play. Champions within this paradigm want to sneak behind enemy lines, catch a traveling opponent between lanes, and burst them down before they can even ping for help.
Their behind-the-lines positioning requires the Champions within this Subclass to be mobile. Without Mobility, they’re not going to survive long if a Maokai or Warwick comes chasing. Expert Controllers, those that both engage and peel, also have the ability to stifle the all-in from Assassins. So, when playing within this Subclass, you must be aware, at all times, how to pick your targets effectively and how to maintain vision for your in-between lane movements.
From Mid, Assassins are prone to shoving hard and roaming during their ‘timers’ to get leads by ganking. Even if a roam away from lane gets nothing, there’s pressure generated when you step out of the eyesight of your opponent. Trust me. Everyone starts sweating when a Zed with Serrated Dirk is MIA for more than two seconds.
Skirmishers, or Duelists, work similarly in trade patterns to their cousins in the Juggernaut and Diver categories, but they lack the true resiliency or engage of their kin. But, that doesn’t mean these guys don’t pack their own defensive options. Skirmishers want you in their ‘zone’ and from within their zone they can activate their spells and abilities to pull off flashy outplays or manage their opponent's output for the sake of survival. Their damage is more styled in a ‘ramp up’ fashion as well. Skirmishers want to play ‘footsies’ and get incremental advantage before utilizing their typically subpar engages on potential kills.
Within Mid, few Skirmishers call the lane home. But if you’re an inventive sort, you can make any within this Subclass work depending on your matchup.
Slayers - Suggested Picks
Slayers require dedication. Champions in either of the Subclasses typically require high mechanical capability to be utilized at top-notch levels. There’s few ‘easy’ picks as each Assassin and Skirmisher possesses a level of nuance that comes with experience and time, but there are a few that are go-to entry points to the roles.
Assassins - Ahri, The Nine-Tailed Fox
The poster child for League is an OG-Assassin when you boil down her kit. Sure, throughout Season 9, she’s adapted to more of a Mage playstyle thanks to Glacial Augment, but she shines just as bright when fulfilling that dash-focused and bursty AP-Assassin. Utilizing Electrocute and the Domination tree, Ahri gains extra Magic Pen, CDR on her Ult, sustain, and burst from the tree. Every aspect of her kit synergizes well with the Electrocute set-up, so you’re never wrong defaulting her to an Assassin approach.
Skirmishers - Fiora, The Grand Duelist
Were there any questions when it came to who the suggested duelist would be? Fiora is the true footsies teacher. She blade waltzes to and fro in lane, and though it’s harder to proc her vitals within the shorter lane of Mid, she’s more than capable of playing extra aggressive to complete her Grand Challenge.
D) Marksmen - Overview
Marksmen are typically known to keep it down in Bot alongside their trusty Supports, but there are Marksmen who can operate within the context of solo-lanes quite well. Marksmen that flex up to this position usually come with some form of dash or movement option that lets them sneak away from ganks. If they aren’t the more mobile type, usually they’re the ‘caster’ style Marksmen that focus on ability usage and pack good wave clear to match Mages or Assassins.
Unfortunately though, when utilizing a Marksmen in Mid, you’re most assuredly running into a matchup that’s unfavorable. Assassins and Mages feast off of the Marksmen class’ fragility and immobility. Marksmen also vie for the opportunity to scale and get items under their belts. Assassins and Mages may seek to do the same, but their power-spikes are ability based and not item based so they’ll typically smash blundering Marksmen at their peak intervals.
Marksmen - Suggested Picks
Marksmen don’t break down into Subclasses as the playstyles between each of the Rift’s gunners and archers is relatively the same. I mentioned ‘caster’ style Marksmen before, but this distinction is minute when considering the class overall. Regardless, I’ll give you two picks for more auto-attack or ability focused Marksmen.
Auto-Attackers - Lucian, The Purifier
Lucian has shown himself to be flexible across Bot, Mid, and Top thanks to his mobility and all-in potential. Lucian shines when he can abuse melee matchups or short-range Mages who look for larger all-in windows for their combos. His evasiveness allows him to outplay these situations if you’re quick to dash, and his dueling and splitting capabilities are amongst the best for Marksmen in general.
AD Casters - Corki, The Daring Bombardier
Corki was once a mainstay in Bot, but with changes to his passives, ratios, and scaling, he’s found more of a home in Mid these days versus his old stomping ground. Corki, like Lucian, abuses melee matchups well and comes with a good escape to help him outplay all-ins or ganks as they come. What separates Corki from Lucian though is about how he is utilized as teamfighter and ganker. Thanks to Corki's package, he's able to move quickly around the map and apply extreme amounts of pressure and zone control. The threat of his all-in dash dissuades opponents from entering into unwarded regions allowing for neutral objectives to be claimed. Within a teamfight setting, his package is a constant threat of all-in and damage that makes forward positioning risky. It's also always an ever-present threat of a dive when he moves away with the first package of the game.
E) Controllers - Overview
If you want the full rundown on Controllers, check out my Support Deep Dive posted up on the site a few days ago! This will give you a more in-depth look into the Controller class and what they look to accomplish over their foes.
Controllers, or Supports if you prefer the term, are also sometimes flex picks for Mid. These Champions are primarily utilized for the benefits of utility they bring to a team and often work to accent the capabilities of a Jungler over themselves. You won’t find these guys 100-0ing any opponents, but you’ll certainly find their zone control or buffing capabilities valuable if your team already packs significant damage.
Controllers - Subclasses
Catchers, as their name suggests, want to find the enemy in unfavorable positions and take advantage of them. This comes from either crowd-controlling an opponent down or by bursting them down 100-0. (Lookin’ at you Lux.)
Enchanters are the truest supportive Mid Laners. Though they come with a fair bit of early damage, this class falls off and, as mentioned, wants to accent something else about their team to get to victory vs. hard-carrying their allies their themselves.
Controllers - Suggested Picks
If you’re a player that likes to focus on Macro over Micro play, or you just enjoy the approach of a more Supportive style of play while still being an okay point of damage, I’ve got some suggested picks for that.
Catchers - Lux, The Lady of Luminosity/Morgana, The Fallen
Two picks at the same time?!?! I know. I’m generous. But I’m also extremely biased as these two picks are within my main Champion wheelhouse so I can’t dismiss them both. Lux and Morgana both want to accomplish the same things as well, so let’s just lump them together.
These champions want to push, poke, and snare their enemies. They thrive within playstyles that focus on vision control and denial and offer excellent zone pressure when contesting neutral objectives. They both come packaged with hard-hitting crowd-control, defensive shields, and zone controlling ultimates. But it’s in the nature of their ults that differ their individual executions. As a Mid Laner, Lux takes a more Burst Mage approach after landing her abilities as her ratios allow her to 100-0 most of her foes. Morgana’s kit pushes her more towards a perma-push and wave management style of play. Her pick potential is just as high as Lux’, but she lacks the full burst to capitalize on her snares when alone.
Enchanter - Karma, The Enlightened One
Another mildly biased selection, but Karma is known and infamous for her capabilities in a solo-lane setting. Often selected to abuse specific matchups to farm off of Kleptomancy, Karma has been on the end of multiple nerfs due to her interaction with this Keystone. With its removal in the upcoming preseason, we'll see Karma switch over to a more traditional Mage Keystone with either Arcane Comet or Summon Aery taking over Klepto's role.
When selecting Karma for Mid Lane, you'll want to pick her into matchups that she can easily abuse with her dominant early game values. She makes the life of Assassins and Fighters miserable as they have to farm while soaking up her cleave. These classes can typically turn against Karma once they've power-spiked, but if you can't survive against her onslaught early she can take over a game enabling both herself and setting up plays for her Jungler who will be her primary target to enable post lane phase.
2) Wave Management
Freezing and Crashing are the two primary forms of wave management for Mid Laners during lane phase.
Freezing is much harder to execute in Mid as the windows and areas of setup are much harder to position for. Many Mids also lack the base stats necessary to tank waves and drag them to the appropriately angles for them to be frozen at. Caster Minions hurt, man. But, when you have kill pressure, and you’ve no need to roam to maintain your lead or your team is winning across map, freezing against your opponent can deny them any opportunity to climb back.
Crashing, or Pushing, can be executed cleanly by Champions with higher wave clear. Shoving your first two waves and allowing the second to bounce off of the turret will set the minions so that they will push in your direction. This opens up your opponent for ganks and if your duo buddy is your jungler, you can always maximize this call together for perfect timing.
Working in tandem with Wave Management, Roaming is another key aspect of a Mid Laner’s repertoire. Be it for skirmishes or to gank, it’s important to know why you roam, if your Champion is prone to roaming, and when and how to execute a great roam.
To answer, “Why you should roam?” think about the state of your side-lanes. Is your matchup in Bot stronger or weaker? What about Top lane? What objective on the map should your team prioritize? Are their bounties you can snatch?
Affecting Your Allies
Answer these questions, and then move to turn those into your favor. If your Bot is under pressure and you have the ability to influence their matchup with minimal loss for yourself, roam. Moving away from vision creates pressure itself and within the window that you step into fog, you may create just enough breathing space for your allies to stabilize. It’s even better if your enemy is oblivious and you can stay in pursuit of the roam to catch kills and assists for your team. Triply so if you’ve gained priority over the side of the nearest objective.
Does My Champ Roam?
When it comes to your roaming Champions though, you have to consider your Champion’s ability to survive a wild encounter when roaming. Assassins are always looking for the clean 1v1 to take advantage of. Mid Lane poses a point of outplay and risk for them thanks to minions and turrets being around to pressure off their all-ins. When moving through the jungle though, it’s just them vs. whoever they find. So naturally, Assassins thrive in this context. (As long as the enemy is setting bait…)
Mages aren’t typically the best roamers. Their lack of mobility encourages them to stay closer to turrets and minions as these offer innate forms of protection against bursty all-ins. But they aren’t shabby at taking skirmishes alongside their Jungler’s though. As mentioned, Mages thrive in situations where their utility and crowd control can be taken advantage of, so they really want to be alongside someone that can help them finish off their opponents.
How and When
When breaking down how to roam, the first concept to understand is that of a Roam Timer. Think of Roam Timers as trigger points. If you’re playing a Champion like Twisted Fate, his timer is once he has hit level 6. At that point you want to shove the lane as hard as you can and move to utilize his global ultimate. Assassins trigger their roam timers typically around their waves crashing into their enemy’s turret. They’ll flow into the jungle and out of vision fishing for a kill or simply generating pressure by being away from their opponent. And generally speaking, most Champions can execute this type of Roam Timer, but Assassins thrive particularly well with this scenario as their mobility allows them to cheese out of bad situations when away from lane.
Warding for Mid Laners is just as important as it is for Jungler or Supports. Mid is the heartbeat of the map and you want to constantly have your vitals around the lane in check. There are four key areas to keep warded up, regardless of side and they are as follows:
The Pixel Bush catches the traffic of the Junglers. Be they moving for invades or ganks, this ward will catch them out and alert you and your team to their movements. It’s also the first line of defense for your lane. In this area, you’re alert enough to back. On your lane river bushes, it’s probably too late for you friend.
The Center Lane Ward is a great ward for tracking the movement and backing of your lane opponent. This ward can be placed just out of turret vision to catch the roaming movements of your enemy, but also just so that it catches the curvature of the lane’s walls. The extra edge this grants helps you see when your opponents move to take a recall as behind the Mid walls are typical recall spots.
The Raptor Camp Ward is a great spot that allows you to catch a glimpse of pathing and watch for cheeky ganks while pushing. Some Junglers like Zac and J4 can easily hop this camp wall into some clean flash plays, keeping it lit catches this and allows you to play defensively. Against stealth Junglers like Evelynn or Shaco, you can spot them before they sneak away. Finally, this is a great general information ward and can help your friendly Jungler judge the pathing of their opponent.
The map below covers these ward locations in pink:
5) Mid To Late Game
At this phase of the game, your goals depend on your Champion and what role they play for the team. If you’re playing an Assassin, you’ll be looking for flanks onto the enemy for teamfights while also looking to catch isolated members between the lanes. If you’re playing a Mage, you may be hanging back behind your frontline and fishing for poke but also peeling off Divers from your Marksmen.
Regardless, a major duty of Mid Laners in every class is to manage sideways. At the fall of the first turret the general call is to send your Bot Lane Duo to Mid to open the map up for your team. Their reach and ability to keep the Mid lane lit with Wards will help them track positions and allow them to siege safely.
Your duty will be to move to their side-lane, or to the opposite if your Top Laner or Jungler has moved to clear it, and begin pushing. If you’re playing a more mobile champ, you can hard push deep into enemy territory to generate heavy pressure. If you’re a more immobile champ, it may be more beneficial for you to simply shove the wave beyond river and fall back or rotate back towards spawning objectives or Mid.
As mentioned, understanding your Champion’s strengths is what dictates your Mid to Late game. Unlike Supports who typically are on babysitting duty, you have a bit more agency. So, try to nail down what it is your Champion excels at and then push that strength and style of play as much as you can.
6) The TL;DR
The Class Archetypes for Mid Lane are: Mage, Fighter, Slayer, Marksmen, and Controller.
The Subclasses for the Archetypes are:
Mage - Artillery, Battle, and Burst
Fighter - Divers and Juggernauts
Slayers - Assassins and Skirmishers
Marksmen - Auto Attackers and AD Casters
Controllers - Catchers and Enchanters
Pushing and Freezing are key-concepts.
Roam based off of your timers/windows of opportunity. Crashing waves, Ultimates, Objectives.
Pixel Brushes, Center Lane, Raptor Camp are key points of vision!
Mid To Late
Fulfill your Champion’s Role!
I hope you've taken something away from this rundown. Just remember, the way you play Mid is dependent primarily on your Champion pick. Study up what your Champs do effectively and push their strengths as much as possible. Playing to their style will help you pull ahead, even if you've had a rough start. And as always, keep it cool and keep it friendly!