Trading Done Right - A League of Legends Guide
Wed 22nd Jul 2020 - 7:15pm
Hey guys! Today we’re going to be talking about Trading. By the end of this guide, you’ll know how to work your way through the pregame and set yourself up for a favorable lane, you’ll be able to recognize favorable situations to commit to a trading, know when to take a small skirmish or extended all-in, and most importantly, you’ll know how to push and direct advantages know recognize when to play for survival. So, let’s dive into it!
1. The Pregame
Before we can even begin to think about auto-attacking or casting our abilities, we have to first consider our matchup, runes, and most importantly our Keystone. Optimal rune selection will enable you to play the game. Getting defaulted to Glacial Augment, or even worse, playing something that doesn’t synergize with your Champion’s kit will hamper your ability to be present in the lane.
So, always take the time to look up the core Keystones for your Champion. And if there are multiple Keystones, think about which will positively affect your matchup. For example, a Champion like Kennen can effectively use Unsealed Spellbook, Phase Rush, Conqueror, and Aery. Each Keystone affects how Kennen will play the game overall, and how aggressively he’ll trade or all-in during the lane phase. If you Champion is like this with multiple sets, familiarize yourself with these effects and what advantages are offered to you so that you can always be a step ahead.
Alongside selecting your most effective Keystone, you should be selecting your most effective minor runes to accompany your build. And yes, I put a ton of emphasis on this choice. Taking Armor into an AP matchup is a waste. If you don’t select your proper resistances, you’re going to lose more fights than you win.
Finally, scout your opponents out. Utilize tools like Mobalytics, OP.GG, Porofessor, or whatever third party program you prefer to gain information on your opponent. If you notice that they’ve taken a non-optimal rune set against you, look to abuse your advantage.
2. Watch The Wave
The Minion wave is the most important thing about trading and it should be all that you consider before looking to fight your opponent. How your opponent influences the wave is extremely important. Minions do a ton of damage, especially so in the early game, and any trade you take will, more often than not, be dictated by how much damage they do to your opponent (or vice versa).
You simply need to look at the size of the wave before you consider a trade. If you have more caster minions than your opponent, then it’s a great time to trade. If your opponent chooses to fight you, then your caster minions will fight alongside you and add their damage alongside your own, allowing you to win the trade. If your opponent chooses not to fight you, you’ll typically outdamage the minions you fought into anyway and you’ll maintain a health advantage for your next trade window. Minion aggro is so important to trading in the early game and nearly all one-vs-one situations are dictated by which player soaked up more minion damage.
For you Champions out there with hard crowd-control, minion damage is your best friend. If your opponent hits you with a point-and-click ability or auto-attack, your minions will instantly aggro and look to defend you. At this point, you’ll want to use your CC against them so your minions have even more time to smack away at your opponent.
For laners with AOE abilities, you get a little wiggle room to trade into waves since your AOE will not aggro enemy minions to you. With this in mind, we can trade around the minions by harassing our opponents as they move in for last hits against our minions. In this window, you create a win-win-win situation for yourself. Your opponents can greed for the last hit, giving you the opportunity to chunk them down and thus leading to your health advantage for your next fight, they could give away the last hit and miss out on the gold entirely, or in the best of situations, they hesitate and fail the last hit, soak your damage, and now they’re missing out on everything while you sit in a prime position of influence over the lane.
Ultimately though, all of this boils down to how well you position yourself and how well you watch the health of both waves. If you’re into a matchup with AOE poke like Neeko or Cassio, positioning near your dying minions is just screaming to give them both poke and gold advantage.
3. Managing Your Items
USE YOUR POTIONS AND ACTIVES WHEN FIGHTING. Sorry. That one had to be bolded out. I’ve seen over and over again situations where an all-in or trade could’ve been won simply if the losing player used their potions/active to mitigate their opponents damage. This point is doubly important to all you Corrupting Potion/Time Warp Tonic folks out there. (Looking at you Mastery Level 7 Irelia that dies with three stacks of Corruption Potion… Oh wait. That’s a mirror.)
But before we get too far into it, when should you worry about these effects? Well, for potions, you only want to start chugging them when you’re at about 3/5ths health. Why? Well, passive regeneration will likely recover a bulk of your HP if you’re sitting at 4/5ths or closer to full, and any potion that heals you up to max, isn’t healing you in the middle of a trade, capiche?
To think of it very simply, the most important stat during an early fight is health, not damage. It doesn’t matter how much damage a Champion does, as long as you stay over that threshold in terms of health. Obvious, I know. But potions play a huge mitigation factor during early fights. Chugging a potion in the middle of a fight is getting you back that ever important stat of health, and most Champion’s damage falls off in extended trades. They may out damage you, but if you out health them you keep that kill gold out of their bank and reject their ability to snowball.
For you Gunblade-BoTRK users out there, your effect works counter to the above point. While you might not be getting health back to win the trade, your effects help you put it on the board. The Blade effects are better utilized as approach tools, allowing gap closers and follow up damage to find its target thanks to their slows and amplifying effects. And at their absolute worst, they can be utilized as a weak form of disengage if you’re worried.
As a final point here, if your opponent doesn’t have a potion in their inventory and you do, you can win a trade or all-in against them. It’s a great window of opportunity to be aggressive. Even if you don’t get a kill during your aggression, poking your opponent out of lane or even ‘counter-engaging’ their all-in against you are viable options if you have a potion lead.
4. Aggression vs. Playing Safely
Within a one vs. one vacuum, short trades lead to extended all-ins. The amount of minion damage, auto-attacking, and ability trading all factor into this. But, with this point I want to focus on the macro decisions between the two points, not the vacuum.
Meaning, if a play is forming, what should you be doing? Well, it all depends. Say you’re Mordekaiser into a Darius in Top Lane and you spot out your Bot Lane getting pushed into turret with the enemy jungler moving in for a dive thanks to defensive warding. What’s your play here?
Well, let’s quickly rundown all the bits we should care about.
1st - Consider the wave, can we thin it out, to create an advantage safely?
2nd - Let’s consider our items. Do we have an item or potion lead over our opponents?
3rd - Where is our Jungler, and is he Top to help us?
If the answer to all three of these questions is yes, we’re going to look to take an aggressive all-in fight. We want to exert as much pressure in this situation as we can since we know that it can’t be responded to by the enemy team with their Jungler being Bot. And with our Jungler Topside, we can call for support and make a hard push.
If the answer to any of these questions is no, then we go for short trades and poke. Especially if our Jungler isn’t on our side of the map. If we haven’t established a lead, then we don’t need to play like we have one by being aggressive. And if we don’t have gank support to overcome our deficit, then we’re just asking to get bungled by our opponent.
Again, this feels like an obvious point, but it’s one that needs to be said. If you’re lacking in items and levels, you don’t need to be trading with your opponent. Your lane goals switch from trading to safely poking and farming. While you’re down, be you Top, Mid, or Bot-Support, you need to be playing for the moments you know your Champion comes online. This being a level spike or item spike. Once you get to that point, at a deficit you can look to take aggressive trades against your opponent, but prior to, you’re lacking in anything that makes you a viable threat without roam/Jungler support.
Farm, play for ganks, and look to make plays elsewhere and help your snowballing teammates snowball even harder. If you’re Top, that means Teleport plays and maybe sneaking Herald. If you’re Mid, that means roaming to your stronger sidelines and applying gank pressure for plates. If you’re a Bot Laner, you’re farm and poke duty, if you’re a Support, you’re roam assist alongside your Jungler and gank pressure on Mid.
Set yourself up for success by picking Keystones and Runes that will give you an advantage in lane. Fight when your minion wave is stronger than your enemy’s. CC your opponents when they fight near your wave, and if playing an AOE Champion, poke when your opponents are looking to last hit your minions. Never forget to use your potions and actives in fights, just a little extra health or damage can make all the difference. Be aggressive if you have an advantage.