Beginner's Guide to Trading
Wed 18th Feb 2015 - 6:14pm
Welcome to one of my Beginner’s Guide articles, this time looking at one of the most essential mechanics of the game, Trading. We’ll take a brief look at how to trade on different kinds of champions, what makes a strong trade, and things to watch out for when the enemy attempts to trade with you. So let us begin.
What is Trading?
In League of Legends, Trading is the exchange of damage between two or more champions. It is one of the mechanics of the game used to establish something called Lane Dominance.
Great, So what is Lane Dominance?
Lane Dominance is what allows a player to ‘own’ the lane. When you watch a stream and people talk about pressure, Lane Dominance is often a huge factor to that.
Are you going to tell us how every champion trades?
As this is a beginner’s guide I’m going over some of the tricks of trading, some of the things to watch out for and use to your advantage. Most knowledge on how to trade will become obvious once you know what to look for, it also largely comes down to knowing the champions involved.
Isn’t trading subjective to matchup?
Yes and no, some champions have an easier time trading against other champions, but a lot of players are subject to trading anxiety, or may misplay a trade which means you should never 100% rule out a trade.
So with a few common questions laid out and answered I’d like to assume we’re all in the same place. It’s time to talk about the things to consider when you want to start trading with your opponent.
From Bronze to Challenger, the ever underestimated creeps will ruin your day if you don’t consider their position and numbers when going for a trade. Remember that when you attack an enemy champion, their creeps will aggro (start attacking) to you. Players spend so much game time wailing on these little guys without worry of retaliation that they often forget that when you’re trading their damage stacks up, and quick. It becomes important to drop their aggro, end the fight quickly, or remember that you are taking an additional source of damage and factor that in to close fights. One of the best ways to do this is to utilise the brush to drop their vision and their aggression with it.
They used to look like this once.
I can hear you already “Well that’s obvious”, but a lot of players don’t consider the range and aggro pattern of these towers and how it can be used to their advantage, and how to stop it becoming a disadvantage. Lee Sin players are particularly guilty of this crime. They will Q, Q again under the tower thinking they can just W straight back out and take a tower shot, which can often change the entire course of their lane. A Tryndamere player may auto attack and spin away, doing the damage of both for a tower shot. A smarter Tryndamere player will auto attack and spin as soon as they see the tower fire a shot at something else so that they don’t take a retaliation shot from the tower.
Since the change it only takes 2 shots for a tower to reach it's maximum power, although in trading you should only ever take one at the most.
Champions are different, one champion may be able to change the course of a trade entirely and another might just have hidden trading power that allows them to get a jump on an enemy and some have abilities that mean they will just outright win a trade. I will provide an example of each.
Irelia’s E – Equilibrium Strike will stun an opponent with a higher health percentage than her, allowing her to turn the tide of a battle
Yasuo’s E – Sweeping Blade allows him to dash through a target, gaining increased damage every time he dashes, it’s easy for him to dash around a few creeps and then suddenly dash on you with the damage bonus for a surprise burst of damage. This also gives him an advantage in trading with people who are dependant on skill shots to do the majority of their damage.
Jax’s E – Counter Strike at level 1 makes him almost untradeable when used correctly, it allows him to dodge incoming strikes and deal more damage for each dodge, finished with a stun at the end. A Jax may attack a player to gain creep aggro, so that their attacks will be dodge and increase the damage of his E.
It’s highly unlikely you’ll ever be put on a spotlight and expected to recite a champion’s base statistics off by heart and on demand, but it’s a good to have a general idea of how a champion scales and performs at milestones of the game, and these statistics are unique to each champion.
If any of you are Marksmen mains then it also becomes essential to be aware of the different ranges of champions in order to gauge your effectiveness.
I’m covering two topics here, awareness of both how your opponent plays, and their jungler presence are both essential when it comes to trading. If your opponent is playing defensively they are less likely to return your trade, defensive players are often scared of trading and just seek to AFK farm. While they can win games this way, this is not an optimal method of play as you can be put down by someone who knows how to trade properly. Particularly in the bot lane, if you force a trade on someone who is scared to trade, it will often result in you just getting a bunch of free harass as they do what they can to run away.
On the same note, if that player suddenly becomes hyper aggressive and brave, you know there is probably reinforcements incoming and that that is not an optimal time to trade.
Just as champion base stats and abilities differ, their itemisation can also vary and that can be a factor on whether you can trade. This generally only applies around the timeframe of first and second backs as games often spring past the point of trading after that, but if the enemy has double Doran’s and you have 1 Doran’s and boots, you will be at a disadvantage and so should not consider a trade.
Now that we’ve looked at all the factors worth considering in a trade it’s time to look at what I deem to be the three “classes” of trading, Melee, Ranged and Caster. For simplicities sake I’m only writing these from the perspective of a mirror matchup (Melee vs Melee, Ranged vs Ranged and Caster vs Caster).
As a melee champion it is very easy to get out traded as there are a few external factors that people are often negligent of. When trading with another Melee champion, their range will be the same as yours and will always be able to trade back and that by default brings other factors to the foreground. Creep damage becomes more relevant and harder to drop as trading with the enemy champion will put you right in the thick of it.
As an example I’m going to take one of the strongest melee champions when it comes to duelling, Jax.
Despite his inherent lack of a real weapon, Jax has always been and continues to be a force to be reckoned with in the top lane, his kit has always been designed for optimal trading, and in the right hands leaves your opponent feeling helpless.
One particularly effective trick is to attack your opponent to generate the creep aggro, and then pop your E to dodge all the creep attacks and ramp up the damage through dodges, whilst attacking your opponent the whole time. In most instances this is enough to send them on a downhill spiral and can set your Lane Dominance right from level 1.
His Leap Strike offers him mobility. This mobility offers him the opportunity to force a trade, escape a gank, or even avoid minion counter attack. It can be great to combine Leap Strike and Counter Strike to get a surprise stun.
Empower allows him to reset his auto attack and deal a burst of damage, it can also be used with Leap Strike to harass, although at some mana cost.
His ult gives him bonus defensive stats as well as a burst of magic damage every third strike. His passive stacks with this, granting him additional attack speed every strike.
With a disable, free resistances, bunch of steroids in both magic damage and attack speed and mobility, it’s easy to see how Jax can trade effectively. But from the other perspective, it tells you how to harass him, and what to be wary of. Auto attacking champions can bait out Counter Strike and then trade, AP based champions can harass him early and continue to do so regardless of dodge.
Trading from a melee champion perspective focuses around exploiting a weakness in the champion itself, and a large amount of skill to force your opponent where you need them to be.
Ranged Champions trade differently, for the sake of this article I’ve separated ranged casters from ranged marksmen, just for simplicity.
There are a few incredible auto-attack bullies that are prominent in the ranged scene right now. Caitlyn is one such champion. With the highest base range at level 1 she can use this range to poke and harass her opponents down with some fancy footwork. Her Q can help her push and have the time to bully her opponents, whilst it forces her opponent into a position where they have to trade or take creep damage/let the creeps reach the tower. When paired with the right support, Caitlyn’s snap trap can be chained to CC for a ridiculously easy time.
Another such bully is Draven, this particular champion isn’t just for show when it comes to trading. The damage bonus on his Spinning Axes means every xxe that comes in will hurt, combine that with a slow and a movement speed buff and The Glorious Executioner will be zipping up and down the lane at his leisure throwing axes at everything around.
Ranged Champions are, as a general rule of thumb, squishier and slower than their melee counterparts. This means it becomes important to watch where you stand when you are harassing your enemies. As Caitlyn it does no good to get the perfect attack into Q, if the creeps do 300 damage to you as you walk away.
Ranged Champion trading often requires awareness of an additional champion in the form of a support, and that makes trading a lot more dynamic. Quite often some of the most down to the wire trades will come from the bot lane just because of the potential possibilities and combinations.
Last but not least the casters, this particular set of champions also suffer from the risks of the ranged champions, in that they are slower and squishier than the melee counterparts and have to be wary of their surroundings and the creep positioning, lest they take more damage than they can handle.
These champions, are not limited to ability power or the mid lane (Ezreal and Corki are examples of AD casters that are bot lane) the ones I want to look at traditionally are.
In the Mid Lane, trading quite often comes down to how you use your abilities, and how you anticipate enemy abilities. Most mid lanes gain some form of advantage to their abilities that, when used correctly, negate the opportunity of a countertrade. Viktor and Kassadin gain shields. Syndra can stun whilst Orianna and Ziggs poke people down with relentless determination.
Mid lane is often the easiest to gank and so, must also be incredibly wary of the entire game’s flow. Where the bot lane, top lane and jungle are all play an important part in trading mechanics for the mid laner, as it’s one of the easiest lanes to lose control of.
To summarise, trading will always differ from champion to champion, however it’s important as a player to familiarise yourself with the capabilities of champions so you can start making calls about how to trade. This will help you become a more confident player and set you up into a true blooded carry.
Whilst there are differences, trading is all about positioning and skill, this will all come with practice, so start being brave and adventurous with your champion’s capabilities and you might just surprise yourself, and the enemy.
Good luck and have fun out on the rift!