Closing the Gap: a Melee vs. Ranged Laning Guide for League of Legends
Thu 14th May 2020 - 6:30pm
Mid lane is the most diverse role. In order to fully take advantage of this diversity, you must be willing to understand and take advantage of many different types of champions. Melee assassins and fighters in Mid lane have been staples of the meta for the last few years. In order to fully integrate these types of champions into your champion pool, you must be willing and understanding of how to lane as a melee champion against a ranged champion and still succeed.
In any laning phase, you first need to understand what your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses are in lane and what your own are. Then you must understand essential power spikes in the forms of item or level spikes that affect your lane. Your gameplan should be structured around this information.
In these types of matchup, there is always one distinct weakness that will affect the whole matchup, range. This range difference affects your ability to get farm, control the wave, and trade. Understanding and correctly playing around your opponent’s range is crucial to success and take patience.
Understand when you want to fight and when you don’t want to fight with power spikes. If your opponent has a weak level one, like Cassiopeia and Neeko, then attempt to fight them for level advantage early on in the lane. If your opponent has a strong level one and two, like Twisted Fate or Syndra, you should stay out of their range but close enough to pick up last hits with abilities and let them push into you. Once your opponent is level three, you can assume that they are going to be difficult to approach. You should attempt to grab minions with abilities or when your opponent’s spells are down until you hit a spike that allows you to find kill threat. If you look at yourself you will see certain spikes before you necessarily get an item or ultimate. Talon, for example, has massive kill threat early on that only gets better with his ultimate. You can use this kill threat to control the wave since Rake (W) would force a player to either retreat or take potentially lethal damage. Fizz also has the ability to break away from his trades without much punishment with his Playful/Trickster (E), meaning he can go for more aggressive trades. Finally, you will have some champions with little to no kill threat before they gain access to their ultimate. Kassadin, for example, must sit back and wait for level six, or they risk handing over a kill to their opponent.
Your game plan should also include which of the opponent’s spells are the biggest threats and create the biggest openings once they are on cooldown. Syndra without Scatter the Weak (E) will struggle to effectively punish or deny your all-in, this is also similar to Vladimir without Sanguine Pool (W) and Twisted Fate without Pick a Card (W). Save your mobility for dodging these spells or punishing their cooldowns.
Now that you have a game plan you need patience. If you choose the wrong time to all-in you may deny yourself the ability to fight at all for a long period of time. You could even be forced to recall or be killed.
Patience takes a lot of understanding of your opponent as well as yourself. As stated before, identify your opponent’s key spell that allows them to best deny or punish your all-ins. These spells will control your windows of trading. Your opponent may use them to try to trade with you so make sure to sit outside their range and be ready to keep that spacing if your opponent steps forward aggressively. If you step within this spacing it has to be with a purpose and an escape plan. The purpose should be either to attempt to bait and dodge the ability, which is risky but has large benefits or to get multiple last hits or the last hit on a cannon and use your mobility to disengage if they attempt to punish. This will have to continue until you are able to hit crucial spikes that come at different times for different champions. For Talon, your spike is as early as level two, while for Fizz you will have to wait until you hit level six.
Your goal is to create windows where a missed spell or poor positioning from them should allow you to get a kill. There are a few different situations where this will commonly occur.
Softening Them Up
The first opportunity will require close attention to the minion wave and your ranged spells. This can cost you the ability to last hit, so pay attention to what the opportunity cost is when you use your poke.
Basically, this is just poking your opponent down. Champions like Diana, Zed, and Yasuo can do this effectively with Crescent Strike (Q), Razor Shuriken (Q) and Living Shadow (W), and Steel Tempest (Q3) respectively. In order to do this, you want to use windows where your opponent has to position and pay attention to something other than you. In laning, this is most often the result of minions. When your opponent wants to go for last hits on minions or even finish off crashing a wave there is an opportunity for punishing with poke. Use their auto-attack animation or predictable movement towards the minion to throw your poke with a high chance of landing it. You can also use trading combos with effective disengage as a type of poke. Katarina and Fizz can both jump away after an effective trade meaning they can throw themselves in to poke followed by a quick disengage.
Over time this will create a health disparity if you are managing to stay away from their poke. This health disparity should eventually create a situation where your opponent has to respect you and allow you to get close to the wave or risk death while trying to keep you off of the wave. Once you’ve reached this level of health advantage you want to use it to zone your opponent whenever possible and punish with all-ins when they disrespect your zoning. If the poke was effective, this should result in a kill or in forcing them to recall giving you a chance to create a large advantage in the lane.
Running Them Down
The second opportunity requires you to do more consistent DPS than your opponent and for you to look for a moment when they cannot disengage. This requires them to use their disengage spell while extended. Since Mid lane is short this will most often require the use of most of the lane or you will risk a turret dive.
This is something champions will do if they have good DPS and not much range on their spells. Irelia and Camille both struggle to do much to their opponent from a range but can put out massive DPS once they are on their opponent. Yasuo and Diana are examples of champions that have poke, but if the situation calls for it are able to run their opponents down with effective DPS. This requires a few things to work in your favor; the position of the waves, your opponent’s cooldowns, and your resources. The factor you have the most control of is your resources. To run your opponent down you need enough health to survive what your opponent is going to use to trade back and the cooldowns and mana that allow you to use your spells that close the gap between you and your opponent.
These will require your patience. If you take too much punishment while attempting to keep up perfect CS then you will be within kill range for your opponent. If you use your engage spells before they extend or just miss them then you will be unable to continue the all in and you should disengage before your opponent is able to punish you. What controls how your opponent can attempt to disengage or punish your all-in is their cooldowns. You must pounce on any mistaken or failed usage of spells like Ahri’s Charm (E) and Lux’s Light Binding (Q) because if you hesitate then the spells will be up in time to either save them or turn the fight against you. Minion wave positioning is crucial to your ability to run down your opponent. You should plan to allow your opponent to push into you. If the minion wave is kept close to your tower then you will be allowed the whole length of Mid lane to run down your opponent. However, if you constantly challenge the wave and it is stuck in the middle of the lane then you will greatly lower the likelihood of being able to get off lethal damage before your opponent reaches the safety of tower range.
After following these steps, you should be able to create an advantage over your opponent. You need to be able to use these opportunities to run away with your lead and the game as a result. Effective snowballing requires you to pressure your laner and the map with your lead.
In lane, once you get a lead you need to make sure your opponent respects it. Control the wave so that you can go for quick trades any time your opponent wants to get a minion. Unless they are under tower, you should pressure every last hit they go for. You want to hold your all-in abilities while they are sitting back and then rush when they step within your engage range for their last hits. Your goal shouldn’t always be to kill, especially if it will require a dive or a one for one trade. Your goal should be to suffocate them out of CS and experience by forcing recalls at bad times or just generally threatening kills on them consistently. This snowballing in the lane should mostly be creating more openings that allow you to snowball the map.
Snowballing the map is the ultimate goal of getting these leads. The first step is simply using your advantage in lane to crash a wave into your opponent’s tower. The second step is controlling vision around your lane. Use Scryer’s Bloom (blue plant), control wards, and oracle lens to ensure that your opponent sees darkness any time you step back into fog of war. This will immediately create pressure on the map. It is important to be efficient once you have left the vision of the enemy. Pay attention first to the junglers. Your jungler and the opposing jungler are very important to your roams.
You want to roam on the side of the map that has your jungler in almost every situation. This helps you to guarantee his ability to rotate and generally means you have more information about that side of the map. The case where you can roam away from your jungler is generally when you have information that the opposing jungler cannot punish your roam and put you in a situation with number disadvantage. Once you choose the side of the map that you are roaming to you will need to determine your purpose. You will either need to assist your jungler with invading, assist your team with an objective, or assist your side laners with a gank. Now the rest is in the execution.
Close the gap between you and your laner and don’t hesitate to strike. Good luck in Solo Queue!