One of the systemic problems that runs rampant among lower level LoL players is a general lack of purpose, especially in teamfights. You might think that this is largely due to some of the issues I’ve talked about before related to turning your brain off and auto-piloting through matches, and while that’s certainly not helping, I think that this issue is actually considerably deeper than just that. See, one of the beautiful things about LoL is that while characters may fall into similar archetypes, the synergies between full team comps can drastically alter how to optimally play your character. The problem that many people run into along these lines is that they have a hard time adjusting their personal strategies to play better in specific scenarios. Namely, here’s what most of the LoL Community has been trained to think of as their role in teamfights based on their role:
- Bruiser: Dive opposing carries and chase them from the fight and/or kill them.
- AoE Caster: Try to hit as many people on the opposing team with your AoE spells.
- Assassin: Try to blow up the opposing AP before they can use their main spells or try to blow up the opposing AD.
- Ranged Carry: Stay the hell away from everything and shoot the highest damage target that you can from a safe range.
- Support: Babysit your Ranged Carry and prevent opposing Bruisers and Assassins from killing them.
While these are good rules of thumbs that can give us a very basic understanding of what our character is supposed to be doing, they fall short of describing how to become a successful teamfighter in LoL. What I want to do in this series is teach you how to put some more thought into teamfighting strategy. In today’s installment I’m going to try to start us off by breaking down teamfights into discrete elements that can help paint the right picture of how the two teams match up. However, I don’t want anyone to take my word here as the end all, be all. If you find yourself comparing teams completely differently, there’s nothing wrong with that, so long as you’re figuring out how the teams match up and how you and your team should be approaching teamfights. That being said, let’s get into my metrics.
The first thing I look at when comparing teams and how they match up is mobility. Mobility in LoL comes in basically two forms; Long Range Mobility and Short Range Mobility. Long Range Mobility is your ability to move from one lane to another quickly and most characters in the game are pretty mediocre in terms of Long Range Mobility. Some examples of characters with stronger innate Long Range Mobility are the global and semi-global teleport characters (Shen, Pantheon, Twisted Fate, Nocturne), low cooldown jump or blink characters (Nidalee, Shaco, Kassadin) and characters with innate movespeed bonuses (Teemo, Miss Fortune, anyone with Boots of Mobility). Also, any character who’s using the Teleport summoner spell obviously has great Long Range Mobility. Having a significant Long Range Mobility advantage is one of the most powerful advantages to have in LoL, as this means that you can apply pressure to multiple objectives at once while still being able to quickly group as five if a fight breaks out. Essentially, if you have a strong Long Range Mobility advantage, you need never teamfight 5v5 as long as you can maintain enough ward coverage and map control to properly adapt to the opposing team’s movements.
Short Range Mobility on the other hand, is much more common in LoL and can be found in all sorts of movespeed buffs, dashes, and blinks. Typically, Short Range Mobility is either strictly offensive (dash to target enemy) or completely free form (move faster, blink to location). All short range mobility is useful for initiation. If you’re a highly mobile team and an opponent gets out of position, you should be able to quickly reposition to initiate a fight to punish your opponent for their mistakes. Non-targetted blinks and speed boosts are also extremely useful for spreading out and staying in safe positions. An Ezreal with a wall to blink behind is in a much safer position than an Ashe in the same position because he can quickly react to new information and get to safety. Generally speaking, Short Range Mobility advantages can be leverage via dictating initiation and disengaging, which is typically most useful in the open, between objectives or at neutral objectives, but not at towers.
Another useful metric for comparing teams is what I like to call Zone Control. Zone Control is my way of talking about a team’s ability to control neutral space. Zone Control comes in many different shapes and forms, but essentially any ranged attack or ability on your team contributes to the team’s overall zone control. The most useful forms of Zone Control in teamfights are typically long range, low CD AoE spells that can be used to repeatedly poke at enemies and kill creep waves (Anivia Q/Ult, Cassiopeia Q/W, Brand W), but there are also extremely useful forms of long range terrain creation and AoE crowd control that can be just as useful for controlling neutral space (Trundle Pillar, Anivia Wall, Singed W, Kog E). Long range skillshots and auto attacks can also help at establishing control of neutral space, but only if doing so isn’t placing your squishy carries into positions where they can be instantly killed. The whole idea of establishing control of neutral space is to gain an advantage via superior poke before an all out engagement is reached, and as such, Zone Control advantages are typically most useful when you can force your enemies to fight in tight spaces, usually at towers or the tight jungle pathways leading to neutral objectives.
These three metrics are all about how teams control the terms of engagement and establish advantages before getting into an all out fight. Typically speaking, once you’ve considered these three, you should have a good idea of the scenarios in which each team has an advantage in engaging. If you have a Long Range Mobility advantage, you need to be making map control a priority so that you can abuse splitting for multiple objectives and likewise, you need to be denying opposing map control if you’re at a disadvantage in this regard. Short Range Mobility disparity also drives teams towards map control to understand positioning missteps, but as opposed to focusing on pressuring multiple objectives at once, the aim is typically to catch opponents in the open as they move from objective to objective. When you’re at a Short Range Mobility disadvantage, it’s important to maintain good team positioning as you’re moving through unknown areas so that you’re not initiated on at a severe disadvantage. Zone Control disparity is the least map dependent of the three, as a Zone Control advantage is typically leveraged slowly and methodically through coordinated pushes that are meant to attrition the other team down. Playing with a Zone Control disadvantage forces the your team to utilize mobility to initiate quickly and avoid drawn out confrontations or pressure objectives more quickly than the opposing team can attrition down other objectives 5v4.
Once you’ve considered these factors, it’s time to figure out how the teams matchup once they engage. Short Range Mobility and Zone Control are still relevant post initiation, but it’s also necessary to consider things such as Damage Output, Durability and Crowd Control. When considering Damage Output, you need to be considering AoE vs. single target damage and burst damage vs. sustained damage. Typically speaking, if you have good AoE damage, you want to be favoring fights in tight areas, where fights naturally funnel the opponents through choke points where you can hit AoE on as many targets as possible, whereas single target damage is best in open fights where you can isolate individual opponents and focus them down one at a time. Sustained damage is best leveraged in extended fights where you properly protect your Sustained damage sources, whereas Burst damage is all about properly diving the opposing team and focusing down their damage sources before they can do their damage. Durability is also important to consider because durable champions can position themselves in more dangerous positions and draw focus from more threatening squishy targets. Crowd Control is the term we use to talk about disables in LoL and it’s incredibly useful for crippling the enemy team to allow your team to do what they please unimpeded, whether that be disengaging or focusing down targets.
Now I’ve just thrown a lot at you, and while a lot of it is stuff that you’ve almost certainly thought of at one point in time, it’s important to keep yourself thinking about these things in game and analyzing what it means in terms of how you should be teamfighting. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to put it all together, so the best I can do to get you thinking about it is to go through a series of examples and walk you through how I’d analyze them. Over the next three days, I will be going over two team matchups per day and how I would analyze the matchups and approach teamfights in each of them, so be sure to check back in.