The Pro Unspoken Rule of League - A Lane Priority Guide
Tue 17th Mar 2020 - 8:10pm
Lane Priority is a term in League of Legends that you may hear your favourite streamer or commentators say during a match, but what exactly is Lane Priority and why is it so important? We are going to discuss exactly what it is, and how you can use this knowledge to level up your League of Legends play and make better and smarter decisions.
Lane Priority is a champion being able to push a minion wave faster than their opponent. In other words, it means that they have an advantage over their lane opponent. Champions are able to achieve this in a few different ways:
Kill Pressure - If one champion in a lane matchup has the threat of killing their opponent, it is very unsafe for the weaker champion to farm minions and therefore they have to play more safe and closer to their tower
Wave Clear - Some champions naturally just have better wave clear at certain stages of the game, some champions may not be able to fight back a champion that can clear minions very quickly and they will be constantly pushed under their tower, giving the other champion lane priority.
Jungle Presence/Vision - If there is threat of a jungler near your lane and they are using resources to gain vision around that area, it can become very unsafe to step forward into your lane, meaning the opponent can freely push the lane while you are at threat of an enemy gank.
All of these scenarios lead to one champion being forced under their tower and the other to have a wide variety of options left open for them. Now the question is, how do you know when you have Lane Priority?
No matter which role you play, it is possible to have priority over your opponent as long as you have Kill Pressure, Wave Clear, or Jungle Presence.
Examples of Lane Priority
For example, for top lane, let’s say you are playing Jayce against Malphite. For a large portion of the matchup, Jayce is going to have priority because he is a ranged champion that can poke Malphite safely, and he has higher kill pressure/dueling capabilities than Malphite, especially before Malphite gets his ultimate.
Because Jayce in this scenario has priority, if both junglers on their team start to fight for an early game objective such as Scuttle Crab, Jayce will be able to make it faster than Malphite and his team will be stronger in the 2v2 fight.
The same can apply to junglers as well. A champion like Zac or Karthus is going to be much weaker in a jungle skirmish versus a champion like Olaf or Lee Sin, so it is very common for the stronger champions to invade the jungle with very low threat of losing that fight, especially if their lanes also have priority as well.
For mid lane, we can use an example of Syndra versus Kassadin. For the early levels, Syndra is going to have a poke advantage, as well as a wave clear advantage over Kassadin as those are his weaknesses early game, being a melee champion and having weak wave clear early on in the game.
For Bot Lane, we can look at a lane such as Jinx/Morgana against Draven/Thresh. Very early on at level 1, Jinx and Morgana are going to have the poke advantage and can have early Priority. However as soon as levels 2 and 3 come, Thresh and Draven hit a massive Kill Pressure spike and turn the Priority into their favor. Causing them to be able to push the waves and put Jinx and Morgana on the defensive for the rest of the lane.
What to Do When You Have Lane Priority
Okay, I have Lane Priority, now what do I do with it? Unfortunately, having priority does not guarantee you victory, but it does allow you to dictate the pace of the lane, and make decisions that can lead you to objectives/kills. Here are some things that you can do/take note of when you do have priority.
Gain vision around objectives - If you have priority, you have a window of time before you have to go back to lane for the next minion wave. This is a perfect time to start getting vision around your lane to potentially spot out the enemy jungler, and an opportunity to clear out enemy vision with control wards or an Oracle Lens. Here are some common places to get vision/sweep depending on which side of the map you are on
Threaten Tower Dives/Poke/Gain Turret Plates - This one is probably the most straightforward, as it just means to consistently play aggressive and put more pressure on your lane opponent and maybe force the enemy jungler to help if you are always pushed up. Getting tower plate money is always good, and if you are a ranged champion, you can poke safely under their tower. Just be careful of those enemy ganks!
Look for opportunities to gank a different lane - Having your opponents pushed up to their tower usually means they do not have a wide spread of vision around the map, meaning you can potentially set up ganks. With Top lane, you can set up a Teleport gank or gank mid. As Mid you can gank top or bot side, and as bot lane, it is very common to see supports gank mid lane as well. At any point in the laning phase, it is also possible to invade the enemy jungler a long side yours to potentially get a pick on the enemy jungler or secure a jungle camp.
Creating Threat/Presence - There is not always going to be an opportunity to force a gank or objective when you have Priority, and that is okay! The simple threat of being away from your lane and out of vision can cause opposing lanes to be more fearful and play more defensive. For example when any team sees that an enemy talon is missing from their lane, they always have to respect the threat that he could be ganking, but the Talon also has the option of just simply gaining vision for his team, or waiting in a bush to farm the next upcoming wave. The ball is in Talon’s court and he is creating presence around the map by just being out of vision.
Secure the Objective - If you feel you and your team are in a position to take an objective, do it! If you have priority and are stronger than your opponent, that is the perfect time to capitalize and secure those Scuttle Crabs, Rift Heralds, Dragons, and even Baron. Just always pay attention to your mini map and where the enemies are located.
What to Do When You Do Not Have Lane Priority
Now you are not going to have priority every game at all times, especially if you tend to play more scaling champions or champions that have weak early games. Here are the things to look to do when you are constantly being pushed to your tower.
Communicate - If you get pushed into your turret and you see your opposing laner leave, tell your teammates! This cannot be stressed enough as that can make the difference between your allies dying and your opponent wasting time attempting a gank.
Be okay with giving things up - You may have to give up an early scuttle crab, or the first dragon, or maybe a couple of jungle camps but it's better than dying and snowballing your opponents even further. If you are playing champions that are meant for mid to late game, play for the mid to late game, putting yourself in non-advantageous scenarios can be very risky and cost you the game if you get put in a place where it is very difficult to come back into the game.
Work with your teammates - Even if you do not have priority, your allies might! You can ask for their assistance if they have an advantage over their opponents. League of Legends is a team game where it is everyone’s job to help each other achieve victory so asking for help when you are in a tight spot can save you from letting your opponent snowball a huge lead over you.
Priority in the Mid to Late Game
Another question you may have is, "Does Lane Priority carry over to mid to late game?" The answer to that would be yes! Lane priority is still very important in the later stages of the game as well.
The common scenarios of priority you will likely see are the Split Push Priority, Baron/Dragon Control Priority, and Minion Wave Priority. Let’s go over what each of these will look like and how to properly deal with each one
Split Push Priority: Not every game but very commonly will one champion want to create a threat of solo pushing a lane and having the threat of either teleporting to his team, or even winning a 2v1 battle and force a team to split in numbers. Usually to have split push priority, your champion will have great dueling capabilities and will most likely be ahead in exp or gold over the opponents. If you are the one with Split Push Priority, the important things to take note of is to pay attention to the minimap and where everyone is, the last thing you want to do is push up to a tower when your entire team has recalled and you die when your team is not in a position to take an objective.
If you are in the position where the opposing team has Split Push Priority, then it is important to be decisive as a team and either force a fight or objective against the other members of the team, or find someone to match the split pushing champion and find opportunities to stop them with help from teammates as long as it can be done without the cost of a large objective. Looking for prime opportunities and remembering communication with your team is crucial in these moments!
Baron/Dragon Priority: Baron and Dragon are put in places where they have very telegraphed entrances to get to them. This means that having vision in these areas can be extremely powerful and can set up incredible opportunities for your team. If your team is the ones in good position and have the vision advantage, you have the opportunity to either take Baron/Dragon, bait someone to come in and get a pick/free kill, or start a team fight by fake starting the Baron/Dragon and quickly turning onto your opponents. You may be on the opposite side of this as a team and have 0 vision around the objective. What is important here is to stick TOGETHER.
The last thing you want to do is force your Janna or Soraka to go in by themselves to try and gain vision when there is a threat of 5 members waiting in a bush for a free kill. In those high tense moments, remember to stay calm and make sure you are ready for any threats the enemy team could have. Let the tankier members of the team lead in and use those control wards and trinkets to make sure you are getting as much vision as you can before you dive right in. If you have a feeling the opposing team is hesitant on starting Baron/Dragon and trying to go for a teamfight/pick, or they have a very slow clear of the objective, you can push the mid lane minion wave to their tower to force mid lane priority and force a decision from the enemy team to either get away from Baron/Dragon, or start the objective which can give a window for your team to come in.
Minion Wave Priority: Minion waves can build up come mid to late game especially when most teammates are staying close together and working towards objectives as a team. It is still important to clear those waves and gain experience and gold but when you are forced to be clearing minions under a tower, the opposing team has priority and more control over the pace of the game. If you are in the position as a team where you have more minion waves pushing towards their tower, this is a good time to look for picks as a team and gain deep vision within the enemy side of the map. Working with your teammates can lead to easy kills and secured objectives.
If you are on the side where minions are all being pushed to your teams tower, the important thing here is to pay attention to the minimap and what objectives are up. If you do not see anyone on the map and there is an objective like Dragon or Baron coming up, it's important to clear those waves as fast as possible and then safely as a team move towards those objectives or gain some vision around your jungle to find where the enemy team may be. Minion waves are a way to force a champion to be in a specific spot where they cannot directly be with their team or be out of vision as a threat.
Lane Priority is something that is best learned through experience. Understanding when champions are stronger or weaker at specific points in the game will only come with time and effort. This last section will be covering just some things to remind yourself during games when priority might be a crucial aspect.
Team Composition - If you have a team composition of scaling champions that are all very weak in the early game, and the enemy team has all very strong early game champions, it is likely that the team with all scaling champions will lose early game heavily and it can be difficult to make a comeback if they do not have anyone that can cover for their weaknesses. Same thing if your team is only strong in the early game, if you do not snowball the game very quickly and the game drags out too long, you will lose all priority and likely lose the game after a certain point. That is why it is best to balance your team compositions as best as possible to have some champions that are very strong in the early game, and some that are scaling to secure strength in the later stages of the game.
ALWAYS look at your minimap - This cannot be stressed enough. Being able to see where your team has vision, where your teammates are positioned, and what enemies are visible and which ones are not are all crucial information, especially when making a decision such as taking an objective. As a jungler you want to pay attention to your laners to see who has priority at that given time before making a play, and laners want to pay attention to their junglers and enemy laner to see what is possible from their side. Communication is the key here and only make a play for an objective if you see that there is a possibility of victory without losing too much for it.
Strength in numbers - Having one champion with priority is great but what if 3 members of your team had priority, or even the entire team? If there is proper communication and coordination with your team, it is possible to put the enemy team in a worse than rough situation if everyone is applying as much pressure and threatening multiple objectives at once. A roaming support mixed alongside an aggressive jungler can create devastating pick potential which can lead to free objectives and secured victories. No matter which role or champion you are playing, work with your teammates to create opportunities. The times where you have priority are the perfect time to seize the moment!
I hope you learned a bit of what Lane Priority is and can apply it to your upcoming games.
Good luck out there on the Rift!