The Rise of the Control Mages in LoL
Wed 29th Jul 2020 - 6:23pm
In the last 26 NA LCS games alone, there has been 33 control mage picks of out the total 52 middle lane picks (that’s roughly 67%). Most of the remaining picks were assassins, which are meant to pressure control mages early in the lane match up.
By definition, a control mage is an ability power champion that offers a engage deterrent at range, ability to clear minion waves with minimal risk, and a multi-champion crowd control ability. However, if you ask five different people what champions classify as control mage, you will receive five different answers. However, here are Hamcelot’s list of the control mages (with two special exceptions):
Ziggs, Azir, Zilean, Karthus, Lissandra, Orianna, Viktor, Lux, Syndra, Anivia, Twisted Fate, And Zoe.
The two exceptions are Zoe and Twisted Fate. Twisted Fate, by definition, is not a control mage. He does not have any ranged skill to act as a deterrent (i.e. Azir’s Emperor’s Divide, Anivia’s Crystallize). Some would argue that his gold card offers some degree of utility in dissuading an engage but between the priming and cooldown it is not consistent enough to prevent an engage. He also lacks a multi-champion hard crowd control ability (i.e. Lissandra’s Ring of Frost or Viktor’s Gravity Field). The only area that Twisted Fate does excel in is his ability to manipulate waves early. Playing Twisted Fate into a control mage allows him to utilize his red cards early in the match up to push waves and deny the control mage CS, while applying pressure on other avenues of the map.
Zoe follows a similar case, in that she lacks the ability to control waves early and no multi-champion crowd control skill, but her Sleepy Trouble Bubble does offer great utility. Unlike other control mages Zoe is unique in the fact that if she lands the bubble, the enemy team must act as a wall to protect their vulnerable teammate, thereby mimicking the effects of a multi-champion crowd control effect.
The goal of a control mage is to shift the fight into your favor utilizing the abilities your champion offers. That may be by denying the enemy team the ability to engage on your team, preventing a disengage from the enemy team, or locking down the carries. Here’s a video of some top tier Orianna ultimate uses:
Notice how the Command Shockwave completely changes the dynamics of the fight. You are not always going to make the game saving ultimate, but your job is to deny the enemy team the ability to execute their plans without a hitch. Another great control mage for this is Viktor, his Gravity Field can completely deny a siege, baron attempt, or hard engage by locking down the carries. As a control mage, always remember that you should prioritize saving your team rather than engaging the enemy.
The Give and Take Away
I’ve written previous guides for how to play mid lane mages, to summarize, the early game can be difficult because of a lack of impact and power. However, the mid-game spits are what give control mages the ability to last into the late game and make huge plays. Most control mages by level 8 or 9 have gained the ability to clear waves fast (Viktor’s augmented Death Ray, Lissandra’s Ice Shard, etc.). Therefore, let's focus on the teamfight and objective control points of control mages.
When playing as a control mage, it is my opinion, you have two primary objectives: controlling the positioning of the enemy team and preventing any sudden shifts in teamfight dynamics. To further elaborate on those points, it is your job to ensure that the enemy tank line does not get to close or land a serious engage ability. You want to ensure that the enemy team is not dictating the fight parameters, control mages excel at creating opportunities to catch the enemy team off guard or prevent them from walking forward.
These points are summarized in a video from Youtuber Virkayu:
If you aren’t prepared for long drawn out teamfights, I suggest you look into playing assassins and burst mages. Control mages look to control the match-ups and teamfights through superior positioning, large crowd control abilities, and pivotal ultimate abilities. I hope this helped, and I’ve see you on the rift!