League of Legends: A Lack of Urgency

Lately, I’ve been playing ranked games almost exclusively.  During the course of my experience I’ve learned a few things about the game and what it takes to win.  Even though I believe my Only Strategy still applies to a good percentage of games, I have witnessed a few occasions where a team has recovered from a very serious early deficit.  Those games which last long enough offer both sides a better chance of success, and stronger team compositions and cohesion will win by gold advantage alone; regardless of the number of turrets which still stand.  I’ve even seen games won after a break-out ace in a team-fight at the nexus by a team whose nexus turrets had been destroyed .  The enemy team was incapable of defending their own nexus and still had 10-15 seconds on their respawn timers when the battle was ended.

But this is not a discussion about the Only Strategy.  Although it is somewhat related.

In my time playing in ranked games, I’ve noticed an important shift in my early-game paradigm.  Before now, I had always felt rushed to a certain extent.  The urgency to score kills in my lane and push the turret was a desperate priority for me.  I would often see what I perceived as opportunities to fell an opponent that had retreated under their own turret, only to find myself dead and ultimately feeding those very enemies  which I had assumed were weak and vulnerable.  The same goes for undefended turrets.  I used to see a mobbed turret (one being swarmed by minions) as an excuse to leave myself out in the open without map vision or egress.  I’m dismayed to recount the number of times I was caught in those situations with my proverbial pants around my ankles, scrambling for brush cover as I was set upon by far more enemies than I could possibly handle.

I suppose I’ve matured in some sense with regard to the way I percieve those early game “opportunities”, insofar as I now take them with a seriously tangy grain of salt.  What’s more important is my perception of the early-game as a whole.  Although, in the back of my mind, I always knew that last-hitting and turret defense were priority, I never really took it to heart.  Granted, on some champions (especially Kassadin, who is notoriously difficult to last-hit with for me, espcially if I’m laning against a ranged opponent) I still don’t fully embrace the proper pace I should be playing at.

So what am I trying to say here?  Well, I’ve noticed that the early game has only one real consequence.  Whether the lane is won or lost.  The time that it takes to win that lane is usually pretty fixed depending on the lane opposition.  In normal play, lanes can be won or lost in a matter of minutes — the skill disparity is outrageous sometimes.  In ranked play, on the other hand, a trend I’ve observed is that lanes will stand in contention for at least 10-15 minutes.  It is very, very rare for a turret to fall before then.  Teams tend to work better together when ELO is on the line and well-defended lanes will often quickly move to defend a turret that has been exposed.

And what does that all mean exactly?  It means that lately, I’ve started my laning phase with a little more of a disconnected approach.  Falling into the twin traps of greed and anxiousness is something I’ve started to try to avoid.  Patience is key.  With a steady approach to the early-game, and keeping a strong, determined perspective with patience and a lack of urgency, I’m better equipped to distinguish false or misleading opportunities from the real clutch gameplay that often makes or breaks my ability to sustain throughout the mid- to late-game.  This also often works to my advantage, especially when solo-mid, because my nonchalance often incites impatience and irritation in my foes.  That aggrevation is a method of harassment all in it’s own.  Eliciting careless mistakes due to the very same urgency and greed that I actively avoid has often been an important factor in my lane victories.

Naturally, I still struggle with these issues from time to time.  Early game failures to adhere to the tenets of patience and determination commonly result in a measure of frustration and desperation.  Also pitfalls to avoid, to be sure.

If there’s anything I can pass on from these hard-won lessons, it is this: Bide your time and watch your opponent carefully.  When the time comes that a mistake is made, it is your perogative to capitalize and punish those failures.

Good luck and have fun.  See you in game.

-V.

League of Legends: The Only Strategy

Currently, in the game League of Legends, there are two maps: Summoner’s Rift and Twisted Treeline.  I have to admit here that I haven’t played Twisted Treeline as much, because it is a 3v3 map, and I prefer the larger, more epic, 5v5 battles one experiences in Summoner’s Rift.

With that said, however, I’ve played enough of the game, both in pre-made teams and solo-queues to know that the game really comes down to a very simple formula for victory.  By following a few easy-to-remember rules, any team can achieve victory against virtually any other team.  Before I get to the Only Strategy, I would like to cover a few simple reminders that really underline and stress the importance of the Only Strategy.

1) Stay in your lane.  If you absolutely must leave your lane, follow the suggestions below.

  1. If you are in the top or bottom lane:
    1. If you must buy an item, wait until the current creep wave is at least near the break in the brush along the wall.
    2. If you are low on health, tell your partner to hug the turret until you return.
    3. If your solo-mid teammate has just fallen or needs your assistance to defend the middle turret, warn your lane-mate, and move to hold mid until your solo teammate returns.
  2. If you are mid, and have not taken teleport, or teleport is currently cooling down:
    1. Ask a top or bottom laner to hold mid until you return.  DO NOT leave the lane until your teammate arrives.

If your team has a jungler, then the above rule(s) are even more important.  When in lane, always fight defensively.  Your highest priority is to last-hit creeps and stay alive.  It is paramount that you make as much effort as possible to stay in lane.  There are several reasons for doing so, and the most obvious reasons are xp and gold.  Not as apparent, but the defense of your turret is the only real reason to be where you are.

And this brings us to the Only Strategy.

Think of the outer turrets as a “best of 3” series.  Also think of them as the only turrets that really matter.  The whole game is decided by which team can destroy at least two of the enemy turrets before two of their own are destroyed.

“But this is preposterous, sz.  How can you assume the whole game will be decided by only the first two outer turrets on either side?”  It’s simple.  If the enemy team has been dominant enough to destroy two of your outer turrets before you could destroy two of theirs, then probability dictates that they will most likely continue that trend and begin an inexorable push down mid that will ultimately lead to a surrender or destruction of the nexus.  It’s very simple.  If your team hasn’t given enough priority to turrets in the early game, then it is also very likely to not pay them the same mind as the game progresses…  or, even if your team does shift priorities and begin to push turrets, your defensive position is weakened and the enemy’s advance is strengthened by virtue of one of the most basic tenets of military dominance: Divide and Conquer.  Your team will be split between offensively pushing your enemy’s outer turrets, and defense, while your enemy will be solely focused on offense and pushing your inner turrets.

To assure victory in every game you ever play of League of Legends on Summoner’s Rift think of the early game as the most important and follow this very simple rule:

The first team to destroy two of their enemy’s outer turrets before losing two of their own will eventually win the game.