Raising the Bar on Map Awareness in LoL



Mon 10th Feb 2020 - 4:00pm

As I’m sure many of you know, one of the key elements to being great at League of Legends is map awareness. It matters not the league, division, or role you are playing. Map awareness is a key element to any successful player. Players at the highest level utilize map awareness to determine the most logical course of action to take before making any major decision. Map awareness is why the most elite players rarely face check bushes, make illogical rotations, or fall prey to simple ganks.

To clarify, map awareness is a broad term that often refers to the entirety of information a League player can obtain from things not currently projected on their screen. A few of the components of the enumerable list include jungle proximity, rotations, objective timing, open avenues of roaming, and relative power spikes. There are infinite factors that contribute to map awareness, this guide will topically cover as many of the factors as possible by consolidating map awareness into key elements; visual elements, auditory elements, and extrinsic elements.

Let Your Spirit Find Peace

Seeing and hearing potential threats are the essence of map awareness, if you want to elevate your game, it is paramount that you focus on honing your senses to be able to respond to ganks and unforeseen dangers as quickly and as effectively as possible. This guide won’t focus on the micro play of how to handle such a situation, rather it will inform you how to achieve the best possible results by constructive preparation.

The video above is an interesting look into the mind’s ability to reach a calmer state allowing for the optimal performance.

Make Sure to Check Your Six

Although not explicitly stated above, visual and auditory elements would be classified as intrinsic elements of map awareness. Being able to see a threat before it occurs can allow a player to shape an ensuing brawl or gank to their liking. In order to do that it is essential that you utilize the mini-map. It isn’t there for show or criticize your teammates while gray-screened. In football, I was always taught to keep my head “on a swivel,” to be constantly looking for incoming threats, League follows similar logic that you should constantly be checking your mini-map. Observing the state of the entire field while still maintaining your lane. A quick glance at the mini-map every 30 seconds or so should suffice. I’m dissuaded from giving a hard time check because the reality is that the frequency of checks changes depending on the match-up and competency of the enemy team as well as depending on what stage of the game you are in.

Simply put the easiest ways to increase your awareness in these areas is through repetition and practice. If you need to use the practice tool do so, get used to every wave or two checking the mini-map and assessing the state of the game. Also, the occasional tabbing to see the items, farming differential, and match-ups is a healthy habit to establish.

In regards to audio cues, they aren’t just there to make you feel good when you claim that final kill of a penta-kill. Use those cues to understand the state of the map without looking. As a jungle main, it’s a bit easier for me to be able to glance at each lane more frequently when action is occurring. However, I’ve played every lane long enough to know if I hear a kill announcement a quick glance at the kill banner, mini-map, and teammates health bars can be the difference between a double kill for the enemy team and a clutch Teleport leading to a reversal.

Check Your Surroundings

When in game, especially in ranked, try to optimize the experience by eliminating all background distractions. If you can buy noise cancelling headphones, I strongly encourage it because the investment is well worth it. It’s a small (or large depending on your budget) investment to make that will improve your in-game focus substantially. Also finding a quiet corner or room that is away from busy hallways, entryways, or outside noises can help too. If all else fails, playing background music is also an option. We can dive into which type of music you should use in another article. In my experience it varies from person to person. I use a favorited NCS play list which you can check out at here (it's stream legal too).

Mind Your Footing

The final part of map awareness which needs to be addressed is the extrinsic or external elements. Simply put, there is knowledge that is outside any simple game of League of Legends that can aid a player in the game. For example, what side of the jungle does Kayn usually start? Is there an enemy lane that is more prone to pulling a jungler’s attention? These are the things that come from playing League, and a lot of it. For those of you that don’t have a lot of time, there is a video that I found helpful. It’s packed with a lot of tips and tricks to improve map awareness.

I haven’t tried everything listed in this video and I wouldn’t recommend diving head first into making all of the adjustments at once. However, the ones that I have found to be most beneficial to me:

Tabbing every opportunity you get
Checking mini-map constantly, even without cause
Minimize the chat log size, skill bar and mini-map.

These sound like simple changes but you would be surprised how much difference it can make. Also consider if you are using locked screen or not and the mouse/map move speed. It seems trivial, but in the clutches of a teamfight you do not want to lose track of yourself or be unable to follow through on a kill because you couldn’t see the enemy champion due to a slow-moving screen.

These tricks and tips should easily propel you to a smoother experience on Summoner’s Rift, I look forward to seeing you guys there! Happy Rifting!

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