The Breakdown: Beginner Marksman Mechanics



Wed 11th Jun 2014 - 7:57pm


The role of marksmen (alternatively known as ADC) has arguably been the most mechanically demanding role in League of Legends. A high damage, ranged carry role is extremely fragile, and it is the job of a marksman player to be able to stay alive as long as possible in order to deal that high sustained damage.

Unfortunately, following season 2, the role of marksmen has slowly fallen in power and in importance, and perhaps even in favor. But when played well, the marksman role can quite easily be the demanding presence and can quite possibly be the most fulfilling to play.

Table of Contents

Attack Moving
Last Hitting
Trading & Harassing
Map Awareness

Attack Moving

Attack Moving as Draven

Attack moving is the absolute core of the marksman role. It is the one mechanic that serves as the foundation for all other mechanics. First of all, there is a command called "attack-move." This command is keybinded (by default) to Shift MB2 (as attack-move click) and A (as attack-move). Using the attack move click command (Shift MB2) will automatically have your champion move to where you clicked and attack the closest enemy within its attack range. If there is nothing within range, you will not attack, and only move. Using the attack-move (A) command will simply highlight your champion's attack range and let you choose when to click. Choosing to use Attack-move click or attack-move is a matter of preference.

Using the attack-move command is extremely beneficial because it minimizes the possibility of misclicking and moving towards where you clicked instead of attacking. This can lead to errors in positioning - something that can lead to poor trades and even death. Furthermore, attack-move is especially important when chasing an enemy into unwarded, fog of war (like brushes). If you're chasing an enemy into an unwarded brush, using attack-move will prevent the enemy from being able to move in and out of unwarded brushes to juke your attacks.

Moving between attacks (not to be confused with the attack-move command) is the act of executing an auto attack and moving immediately afterwards. Being able to do this is beneficial for all roles, not just for marksmen. But marksmen are the ones who benefit the most due to their fragile nature. Being able to attack move increases your trading ability, positioning and agility.

To attack move, you simply attack something and move as the attack animation ends. Proficient attack moving then opens up the path to orb walking, or stutter stepping – a more advanced marksman mechanic that requires a certain mastery of attack move. But let’s focus on the basics for now.

Last Hitting

Caitlyn Last Hitting a Minion

Items are a necessity for a marksman to be considered a threat. Last hitting minions earns you gold that can be used to purchase items. Being skilled in last hitting is the primary way to obtain the gold that will make you relevant in team fights. Combining attack moving and last hitting, you will almost always be clicking as an ADC. Farming minions can sometimes be more important than getting kills. Kills give you experience and gold, but are not guaranteed. On the other hand, minions also give you experience and gold, but are guaranteed.



Caitlyn combining skills & autos for harass

Being able to last hit without any lane pressure is easy. But when you’re up against another person who is trying to last hit minions in lane as well as you, trading and harassing comes into play. (Favorable) Trading is the act of trading damage with the enemy laner in an attempt to deal more damage to them than they did to you. In lane, being able to trade with the enemy marksman and support is a way to pressure the enemy and establish a lane presence. Forcing your enemy to take damage while he last hits a minion is free damage and also known as harassing.

Map Awareness

The vision zones of bot lane labeled on the minimap

Map awareness is a requirement for any lane. Keeping tabs on the enemy jungler and lanes is extremely important. Sometimes, wards will not always spot out roams or incoming ganks. So it’s important to understand when it would be safe to push the lane and aggressively overextend, and knowing when to back off is essential. With marksmen still being a major carry role, it is not uncommon for 3/4/5 man bot lane dives early in the game.

In the diagram above, the lane is divided into zones. Firstly, the blue side and purple side lanes highlighted in said colors. Assuming that you are on blue side, the circles represent the areas where the enemy jungler will most likely be spotted when your jungle is warded. Seeing an enemy in the green zones mean that you're still safe, because the enemy may not necessarily be heading towards your lane. Spotting enemies in orange zones means you should start retreating, and seeing enemies in red zones means that you need to leave immediately.


As you transition out of the laning phase and into the mid and late game, positioning becomes extremely crucial for a marksman. Understand the range of your champion and distance yourself away from any crowd control or enemy threats as best as possible. Using the attack-move command (via the A key) can also help you understand the range of your champion. Sometimes, safe positioning must be sacrificed for the ability to deal damage. This is where agility comes in.


Being able to maneuver around a teamfight or weave in between skillshots while attacking is the last fundamental mechanic of marksman. In most fights, you’re likely to be the focus. This can be both good and bad. Since you’re the focus, you know where all of the enemy’s skillshots and crowd control will be aimed at. Knowing this, you can expect certain projectiles to be aimed in your direction and successfully dodge them as you kite the enemy back. At the same time, you should be able to hit your own skillshots and do whatever it takes to dish out that damage you’re capable of.

Easier said than done, right?

Practice makes perfect. Learning these mechanics is only possible through practice with intent. You can’t plan to practice everything all at once. While the role is mechanically demanding, the more you practice, the more natural it becomes. Start with attack moving. Increase your APM (actions per minute) by moving and clicking more often and try to get the feel of attack moving in your muscle memory. Move into the lane phase; try last hitting while moving. Ask a friend to help and incorporate trading and harassing. Start glancing at the map more often and use your peripheral vision of the minimap to spot anything out.

As for positioning and agility, I highly recommend playing ARAMs. The nature of ARAM games is just teamfights. Playing against Nidalee, Jayce, Lux and other skillshot poke champions will help you build your ability to weave between skillshots all the while helping you understand how to position in 5v5s to deal as most damage as possible.


The role of marksmen is an extremely mechanically demanding role, but once you get over the initial learning curve, it becomes an extremely enjoyable role. Playing the role becomes second nature to you, with your actions flowing smoothly in game. If you can become proficient in the beginner mechanics, you should easily be able to carry out of Bronze and Silver. The role of marksman only gets harder and harder the higher up you go, so buckle up for the ride! 

Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions or comments, feel free to comment below or send me an email at [email protected]

Your Comments

  • Fri 13th Jun 2014 - 10:12am
    @3monightmar3, I admit I was a bit stumped about how to word my attack move segment. I considered mentioning the attack move *command* - which is what you speak of, and is also more widely referred to simply as 'attack move.' However, in this case, I'm referring to just the general idea of attacking and moving. I feel this is important for beginners because learning how to always be moving between your actions is a good place to start. I'll definitely point out the difference and try to clear up any misunderstandings I may have caused. As for orb walking/stutter stepping, I'll be hitting that topic in my advanced mechanics article. I wanted to start from the very bottom of the skill ladder, because it's a lot easier to be able to expand into further articles, since most of the basics are already defined and explained here. Thank you for the feedback!
  • Fri 13th Jun 2014 - 10:11am
    @fr49200 I am a player who actually leveled to 30 by playing bot games and ARAMS (even before there was a queue for it) almost exclusively. There are plenty of different things you can learn from these games - it just takes the right idea and mindset! Thanks for the feedback!
  • Fri 13th Jun 2014 - 12:19am
    Your attack move segment is wrong. You just described attacking and moving-not attack moving. Attack-move is a separate function where you hold the 'A' key and click, resulting in a movement where you automatically auto attack the nearest enemy unit when in range. It's handy for chasing through brushes where you lose vision and don't want to waste time trying to click an enemy whose exact position you don't know and also for kiting. I'd also go into orb walking and stutter stepping in this guide if I was you since they're not really that hard and are one of the most important things for new adc's to pick up on if they're looking to improve.
  • Thu 12th Jun 2014 - 7:33pm
    I'm really glad you mentioned ARAM's as a way to learn posiitioning. As an adc main my positioning used to be horrible and i'd always get caught out. About a week of playing nothing but ARAM's tho and my positioning has become so much better, and i can actually see where I am in a teamfight without getting lost. Very good tip and I'm glad I'm not the only one who figured it out!
  • Thu 12th Jun 2014 - 6:33am

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