A Guide to Teamfighting as a Mage in LoL
Mon 27th Apr 2020 - 6:57pm
Teamfights are the culmination of a long buildup of laning phase trading and mid-game rotations. These are the grouped fights that precede major objectives and breaking the enemy base. These may even decide the game. How can you best fulfill your role as a mage in these fights in order to win your team the game? There are a few variables that change from mage to mage but across the board, your role in the fight will be relatively similar.
Generic Role in Fights
Across the class of mages, a few things stay consistent. You are a source of damage and you control space. Whether it be a mid-range battle mage or an artillery mage these two characteristics will stay consistent. Cassiopeia’s Miasma (W) and Petrifying Gaze (R) may play completely differently than Lux’s Light Binding (Q) and Lucent Singularity (E), but all control space and do a considerable amount of damage.
Source of Damage
Being a source of damage seems relatively straightforward. There are a lot of details that must be understood and taken into account in order to do consistent and effective amounts of damage in a teamfight. First of all, your damage type. As a poke mage, like Xerath or Ziggs, you will look for opportunities to land a critical amount of damage on a squishy target to allow for the setup for the teamfight to be better. Within the fight, you’ll play to land spells as they are coming off of cooldown. As a burst mage, like Lux or Syndra, you will use burst windows to deal massive amounts of damage followed by repositioning within your cooldowns to ensure that you are able to put out another burst of damage once your spells are available again. As a battle mage, like Cassiopeia or Vladimir, you will look to position so that you are in the damage range of your opponents at all times in order to put out large amounts of DPS.
Second, is what you must be scared of from the opposing team. If they have a heavy engage champion(s), your positioning will have to take this into account and you will attempt to stay outside of their range, generally, with a front liner body blocking for you. If they have long-range lockdowns, such as Light Binding (Q) from Lux, you will have to ensure that you are respecting these spells when they are off cooldown. If they have bruisers that specialize in diving, like Camille or Irelia, you must watch flanks and pay attention to when there is an opening for them to dive on you and be able to react with defensive maneuvers in order to deny them access to you and hopefully turn the kill back. If they have assassins that are looking for the one-shot kill, then you must pay close attention to their cooldowns and when they plan to strike. If you can dodge their highest damage spells or pounce on them when they step forward, you can neutralize the threat.
Finally, there is target selection. You cannot waste a burst combo on a tank if there is another opponent that is currently destroying your team and you also can’t ignore the person diving into your team onto your other damage carries. Pay attention to who is holding the most power in the fight and funnel your damage into them at any opportunity.
Controlling space is a large part of how you will determine where to position, which targets are available to you, and how much danger you are in at any moment. The ability to effectively control space and your enemies is something that the mage class excels at. It is important to understand what it means to control space and when and how you should use your spells to do it.
Controlling space can look a bit different in a few different situations. Not every champion has a wall, like Anivia’s Crystallize (E) and Taliyah’s Weaver’s Wall (R). However, champions can deny access to certain spaces in a similar way to how a wall would with other areas of effect spells. Spells like Viktor’s Gravity Field (W) and Cassiopeia’s Miasma (W) both create an area that will not only crowd control opponents that walk into it, but also allow for significant damage to be inflicted upon a misstep. These are spells that cause opponents to close the gap or even can keep them trapped out of position. Any opponent that attempts to walk over these spells might as well be stopped by a wall if you are able to correctly punish. The least obvious way of controlling space is threatening a spell. Syndra and Orianna both display this wonderfully.
If there is a Syndra Dark Sphere on the ground then there is no immediate crowd control or wall stopping your opponent, but with one quick cast Syndra can turn that ball into a stun for anyone who doesn’t respect and avoid its position. It is the same with Orianna and her ball. Although the ball doesn’t immediately control the area around it, Command: Dissonance (W) and Command: Shockwave (R) can quickly punish anyone who is careless about where they stand. Other champions with this type of control include Ahri and Twisted Fate. These mages don’t always seem to have the most control over a large space but in reality, they have control over a large range around them with the ability to threaten punishment and crowd control for any overextension of an enemy.
In order to use these abilities to control space, there are a few things to keep in mind. You want to keep in mind the area that you can control with the ability in question. If you’re in a lane, your ability will most likely not cover the whole lane so you need to be aware of how much space it will cover. Then you want to pay attention to the optimal path that your opponent wants to travel through. If your opponent overextends, then your goal will be to block his most optimal path back to safety in order to extend the window that your team has to punish the mistake. If your opponent is rushing you, then you want to force his path to be broken up and suboptimal so you have plenty of time to dish out trade damage and kite them. Chokepoints make this easy as a lot of abilities can cover the entire pathway that your opponent is traveling.
What is important to understand is the effect of your spell being on cooldown. In the best case, this will happen after you have used the spell to control space and either deny or punish an enemy. In the worst, you will have misused the spell and no longer have it available with little to no gain from the use. In either case, you must be aware that without the ability to control space you are more vulnerable and must play accordingly as you have fewer ways to deny access from your opponents. This is the most obvious as the champions who controlled space through threatening abilities. An Ahri without her Charm (E) is a sitting duck to a target that wants to dive her. A Cassiopeia without Miasma (W) or Petrifying Gaze (R) has nothing to buy time for her DPS.
While you may be able to control space and do damage, obviously it is not a one-man show and you must understand what your team’s composition means for you and your role in the fight. There are a few different templates of compositions, each of which requires a different style of fighting and positioning.
A front-to-back teamfighting composition is a long time classic of League of Legends. This composition consists of a group of low damage front-liners that are there to engage and peel for their back-line of damage carries. In this composition, you are looking to use pockets of safety that your front-liners create for you to stay in effective damage range and chain crowd control together. In this team composition, there may be times that you are vulnerable to flanks and must hold defensive spells, but for the most part, you can use your crowd control to allow yourself and the other DPS on your team to shred your opponents.
In a dive composition, you will have a few different options depending on your combat type. As a burst mage, you want to look to utilize your team diving as a distraction to land burst combos on key targets and eliminate enemies quickly. As a battle mage, you will be looking to use the same windows as your teammates to dive in and do effective damage. You will need to hold on to key spells like Cassiopeia’s Miasma (W) and Viktor’s Gravity Field (W) to keep your opponents from turning on you while your protection is sparser. As a poke mage, you want to find angles of safety where you can assist your team with damage without offering yourself as an easy kill trade for your opponents.
In a peel-and-kite-back composition, you will look to use your defensive spells to stay out of engage range of your opponents while still putting out effective damage. Zoe would drop a Sleepy Trouble Bubble (E) as she is kiting back and if it hits then she can chunk an enemy to put the opponent’s team at a disadvantage and leave her opponents unable to catch up. Small bits of damage at a time are important, which make burst and poke mages best for this situation, but kiting back can work with other mages as long as they have effective ways to slow down their opponents.
Generally, as a mage, you will work as a second line of engage for the team regardless of composition. You want to use your team’s engage to create openings for you to land massively effective spells. However, there are times where you can be the lead playmaker and punish mistakes. These opportunities are generally when you can force errors from the enemy team with your spells and control over space. You mostly want to do this on key targets where you can ensure that taking them out of the fight will cripple the enemy team whether it be from massively cutting the support their carries are getting or just cutting out their most important DPS.
Target selection takes a lot of understanding about the state of the game. You should understand not just which targets to strike at on the opponent’s team when given the opportunity but also what targets on your team are important.
Generally, you should be aiming for the strongest player on the enemy team who can put out the most damage if left untouched. You want to search for moments when they are vulnerable because of cooldowns or overextending, then unload your crowd control and spells into them. However, they may have a team suited to allow for mistakes which will cause your priorities to shift. Your opponents may have an immobile marksman that is pumping out a lot of damage but if they have a Soraka standing next to them keeping them alive it may be in your best interest to take out the Soraka then the marksman. There also are situations where the opponent’s front line and dive threats are threatening.
In these situations, even if they are not the highest DPS on their team, you may have to work with your team to kill or compromise them in order to allow safety when going for their featured carries. The most important aspect of this target selection is denying them free damage. Your goal is to make their featured carry have to compromise his position in order to deal damage to your featured carry. This way you can either deny the opponent time to get damage out or force them into an error that you can then punish. This can be done by putting a Lucent Binding (Lux E) or Miasma (Cassiopeia W) out in front of them so that they cannot get into damage range without being at risk. Anytime their featured carry isn’t doing damage you’re doing a large part of your job right in controlling space while threatening damage.
It is also important to understand your team’s strongest members and who your opponents want to target. As a mage, it is largely your job not just to control space for yourself but also for your teammates. Keep in mind who is the most important person on your team in a fight and make a constant effort to keep this person safe and able to do damage. This may be you but it may also be a marksman on your team or a champion that wants to dive onto the enemy backline. You want to work with this strongest person and keep them doing effective damage at all times with your crowd control and space control. Also, keep in mind that if the most important DPS on the team is you, then staying alive to deal consistent damage is almost always more important than reaching for a play and you should let your team be the ones to search for an opening.
Good Luck on the Battlefield Summoners!