A (mostly) comprehensive guide to laning. (Very long)
First of all, I would like to say that I am not a top tier player, nor have I played thousands of matches like beta testers, unlocked every champion, or even hit summoner level 30. I've played around 150 matches and generally maintain a 50/50 W/L ratio, going around +5 to -5 in W/L spread, and usually being, while not always the greatest, one of the top players on my team. This guide is built with the assumption you are doing things similarly to me, that is solo queuing/joining premades with a couple of other guys you met, dealing with teammates who aren't great, and probably aren't immediately going for neuts, dragon, or any kind of early gank or odd setup (while those are/could be great strategies, this is assuming low-ish level play, so you can usually ignore the possibility of those coming up for the most part).
Secondly, I'd like to note why this guide is being written. I see a lot of notes on the basics, and champion guides, but generally those only have general "stay safe" or "gank" reminders, and offer item builds or generic tips ("Don't fight when outnumbered!" "Buy AP for Veigar!" "Yi's ult can be used for fleeing and tower killing, not just bashing enemies!"). No guide goes in depth on the many small tips and tricks you need to know while in the laning phase. I have skimmed over the guide to breaking a five man gank squad, and this guide will hopefully complement it by allowing you to prevent the enemies from ever forming an effective gank squad by simply denying them the lanes early on. I obviously can't promise my tips will make you into a godlike player (if I could, I'd be doing a lot better). However, I am sure the tips will help at least some of you out with your play.
So without further ado, we get to... the index!
What is the laning phase?
The laning phase is the point in the game where both teams have two players at the bottom lane, a solo in the middle, and two players in the top lane. Things may occasionally shift around; there might be three to a lane while heroes switch or when mid goes for a gank, and sometimes the enemy team, or yours, will have arguments which lead to two players trying to play at mid, leaving one of the outer lanes as a solo. However, the laning phase usually ends whenever, due to an attempted gank by mid in most cases with both sides binging for backup, three to five of the players on each team wind up in a fight in one lane, and then group together for most of the game. Another sign the laning phase is over is when the team is encouraging you to push the towers rather than farm creeps.
Where should I lane?
What lane you go to mostly depends on your champion. Assuming you aren't going for a specific neutral buff, you can generally break your champion down into two categories: a solo champion, or a partner champion (These terms are just for ease of reading.)
Solo champions generally have the following qualities: They are usually ranged DPS or casters with spammable moves (for farming or harassment), have good farming ability, usually are carries, usually are able to set up ganks well with their ultimate, have some form of in lane-survival, and are good early on.
These qualities all allow them to make the most of the middle lane; being ranged/a caster allows you to harass the other person in the lane, good farming lets you take advantage of your the fact you are the only one in the lane last hitting, being a carry means your extra gold and level advantage is more useful to your team, the ability to gank means that once you hit level 6 you can help your team immensely, having in lane survival abilities allow them to stay and fight instead of leaving, and being good early on prevents you from having to blue pill every thirty seconds.
Examples of good solo champions (from my experiences. I expect somebody will flame me for my picks, or I don't know how high level play works, or something.):
Ashe: She's ranged, she harasses well, she farms well, she's a carry, and her ult can set up ganks without her having to leave her lane. Her damage early on is very good, especially with runes, and with lifesteal or just caution she can stay back, harrass other champions, and stay at full HP, and punish anybody who attacks.
Teemo: Take everything I said about ashe, replace the ganking with his ult with massive map control, and add in a blind that can easily prevent most other good solop champions from hurting you even if they close the gap.
Cho'gath: Yes, he's melee. But he's near impossible to harrass, because his passive is so amazing for staying alive that he will never have to go back if played competently. It doesn't hurt that once he gets his ultimate most carries can be taken down with a few ruptures and a feast, with it's massive (and unblockable) burst damage. He also farms really well with vorpal spikes, which help with his passive even more.
Examples of bad solo champions:
Tryndamere: He has in lane survival... that requires you to attack, which sets you up for ranged harrass. Early on, he doesn't have his amazing ultimate, nor does he have a crit rate high enough to keep bloodlust at 8x for massive crits, and his HP is actually not that great. Any ranged attacker will send you bluepilling back every ten seconds.
Ryze: Early on, he has low mana, his cooldowns are longer, and he can't last hit and harrass because he'll be out of mana quickly. It doesn't help that he needs high ranks in spell flux to actually guarantee last hits with it, excluding his ultimate.
Now for the next type of champion:
Partner champions generally have the following qualities: They are melee champions or casters without good farming abilities early on, they have abilities that can set up ganks early if combined with another one (multiple low damage stuns, for instance), and they could have support abilities to help out their partner.
Most of these are the mirror opposite of solos (although there is overlap; since there's only one guy at mid per team, solos will have to go with a partner, and they are by no means bad there; ranged harassment hurts just as much in 2v2 as it does in 1v1). Melee characters go with a partner because they probably can't sustain themselves at the middle (for the most part), early ganking with chained abilities works better with a partner to chain abilities with, and support heroes, well, support their lane partner.
Examples of good partner heroes:
Taric: He heals, he stuns for almost no damage but a pretty respectable amount of time, and he has no real way to farm effectively, unless you count "having somebody else AoE creeps to half health and then he shatters them" as a good farming method.
Soraka: Again, support hero. Pair with a mana hungry caster and recieve a lot of praise.
Twisted Fate: Gold card is amazing, hands down (he's also a good solo. Really, he's just good). He really comes into his own with a partner who can hit with physical DPS while the enemies are stunned, though.
Morgona: Her snare lasts a while, but not enough for her soil to hit fully. But combine with another stun, and you can lock an enemy into five painful seconds of damage over time and whatever other abilities your partner has. Plus, spell shield is absurd. Really, really absurd.
Harrassing is when you attack an enemy, not necessarily for an instant kill, but to deny them the ability to attack creeps, keep them from attacking you, and hopefully cause them to go back to base (or act stupid and get killed, either way). However, many people do not understand the right targets to harass, and therefore they wind up getting hurt more than they hurt the enemy.
Good harassment targets are those you have a range advantage on, those your skills can counter (teemo blinding an autoattacker), people who have low HP/rely on autoattacking to stay healthy (Trynd, lifesteal carries) and casters that have long cooldowns on their abilities/skillshots they won't fire because it's hard to aim when all you do is run up, shoot once, and then go back. It also helps if you have a way of slowing them or stunning them, because it allows extra hits, and even if you don't chase being slowed gets into the enemies head more than just damage does.
Bad harassment targets are those that have a range advantage on you (it's pretty hard to effectively harass somebody when they can knock off 200 of your starting 600 HP on the approach), somebody who can nuke you with high DPS, somebody that can ignore your attacks entirely, and casters with short CD abilities that deal high damage that aren't jukeable skillshots.
Again, let's look at some examples.
Good harassment targets:
Tryndamere. Low HP, has to attack to regen, probably can't proc bloodlust quickly early on (and it doesn't heal much either), and he's melee. Hit him from afar and force him to bluepill ASAP.
Master Yi: He also has low-ish HP, although meditate can allow him to stay in the lane a bit longer. Alpha Strike, while a decent harassment tool itself, is easily predictable and when he uses it, you can easily drop a rupture/dark matter/skillshot on the first guy he went to and get a free hit in, or just move back and attack him while he runs back to his creeps.
Bad harassment targets:
Cho'gath. Again, he's melee, and has to attack to regain HP. However... he regains a lot of HP, doesn't take much damage, and can punish harassers by rupturing them, forcing them to either move or stop harassing (and probably getting him minion kills, restoring his HP anyway).
Ryze: At level 1 or 2, it's probably safe to annoy him. At level 3+, when you attack, you will get rune prison'd, spell flux'd, and overloaded. If he does that, attack him right afterwards because his abilities will be on cooldown, but even then he'll probably still have dealt more damage to you than you did to him (unless you are a tank or other character who can shrug off his nuking potential).
I am going to say this right now. If you learn one thing from this guide, it is that last hitting is one of the most important aspects of the laning phase, and one of the best ways to improve your play would be to simply get better at last hitting, bringing in more cash.
There are a few ways to go about last hitting, and I'll mention them all in summary.
Autoattacking constantly: If you want to push the enemy tower, sure, this works. However, you should at least pause when hitting creeps at low HP to guarantee you, and not your minions, get the kill. This works best on ranged champions who can hit the enemy tower with minion cover without being entirely exposed to enemy fire, and anybody who can harass somebody at the tower to prevent their last hits (Cho's rupture, teemo blinding somebody, etc.) By pushing to the tower, the tower dies faster, and the enemy may have more trouble getting last hits, but it's far less likely you will be able to make them leave and gain a level advantage (attacking at the tower in the laning phase rarely works outside of nuking an enemy at low HP who's going back.)
Autoattacking only for last hits: This strategy is good if you are a melee character who doesn't want to feel the constant sting of enemy ranged attacks while you autoattack, but still want gold (who doesn't?). It also works out if you or your lane partner has a stun they want to use to possibly get an early kill or force an enemy to go back. This strategy can get as much gold as autoattacking constantly, and possibly more kills, but the enemy is free to kill your creeps and you will not deal much damage to the enemy turret.
Casting for last hits: I only recommend this strategy in a few cases. If you have an absurd amount of mana, your only way to last hit at all is to use your skills, or your skills are specifically built for last hitting creeps, then go for it. Otherwise, I'd suck it up and autoattack, even if it's a feeble caster autoattack. Some examples, since this is tricky:
Good spells for last hitting: Veigar's Q spell (forgot the name): It's cheap, near instantly kills ranged minions at higher levels, and gives him a permanent AP boost. Annie's Disintegrate: It's free for last hitting. Morgona's soil: It's a lot of last hits and heals you. Master Yi's alpha strike: Instantly kills minions X% of the time (excluding the siege minions and super minions). Most AoE attacks that deal decent damage.
Bad spells for last hitting: Ryze's Spell Flux: It deals low damage early on, costs a lot early on, and will, at best, kill three minions. However, with his ult, especially on high cooldowns, you can cast it as much as you want, because it will kill every minion in sight with it's massive AoE. Any stun: Don't waste your stuns on minions.
Now that I've mentioned the three main methods of last hitting, I'm going to say it again: No matter what method you use, you should always be last hitting. The problem a lot of players have is that they are always trying to get a gank, and that they never last hit because of it. They'll sit in the bushes for hours, getting EXP from creeps they don't attack, just waiting for the enemies to magically drop below half HP and move foward enough they can stun them and kill them, and then they'll autoattack a few creeps while the enemies are away, and go back into the bushes. Don't be that guy. Yes, kills give you a lot. However, if you are sitting around waiting for kills and you have 10 last hits total with three kills, and your lane partner has one assist and 70 last hits, he's got more money than you. Killing enemies is a good thing; it allows you to push, it gives gold, and it lowers enemy morale. However, sacrificing last hits is not the way to do it, because you won't be killing the enemies if they are fed on last hits and you aren't. Likewise, don't harass the enemy a lot, especially if it doesn't affect them, if you sacrifice many last hits to do it (for example, hitting a cautious Cho'gath is just a waste of your time and last hit money). However, this talk of killing does bring me to my next section.
Killing Enemies, and avoiding being killed.
Kills are awesome. We all know that. 300 gold, 400 if you get first blood, with diminishing returns after that. A ton of gold for assists, and massive amounts for bringing down enemies on a streak (not that you'd like to have enemies on a streak.) However, a lot of players go about killing the wrong way, which is to bash an enemy when they aren't overextended (meaning they are in safe territory, and excluding any factors out of their control they'll be able to escape safely from your attacks). While this may work on occasion, usually you will, at best, wind up forcing the enemy to blue pill when he runs to his tower, and at worst get counter attacked (and at their tower, you are definitely overextended.)
A special note needs to be made, first of all, for the early game gank from the bushes. Two players, usually both with stuns, lie in wait in the enemies bushes and when they enter, stunlock the enemy and hopefully kill him. Again, while this may work, careful positioning would make it much more likely to work; if you set up at the edge of your bushes, you have much more room to work with and the same surprise advantage over an enemy who walks in.
So, how do you avoid kills, and get kills? Simple: you understand the concept of overextending. At all times, you need to expect that both enemies are going to rush you with their best moves, stunlock you, and you're going to flee as best you can while they chase you until the tower starts hitting them, and farther if they can tank it. If you know you'd die when that happens, get the hell back until you know you are safe. You should always assume the enemies moves are ready to use unless you know that there's no way they could be (Cho'gath just feasted, Trynd used his ult and just teleported back to the lane, etc.) Even with those situations, you should only assume they don't have the move for a much shorter time than the cooldown actually is; you'd rather not be surprised when the Trynd you baited suddenly bursts out his ultimate, taunts you, kills you, and spins away mostly unharmed. Overextension also applies whenever somebody is MIA; if they have left, always assume that they are coming to your lane (even if they left your lane). If the enemy team has stealth champions you can't see, assume they are in the most favorable position possible. Basically, make sure you are never in a situation where the enemy could, with good timing, gank you, because more often than not they will. As a general tip, try to be aware of other factors that could deal with how safe you are, like how many casts Annie has until she can stun you or if there are minions to block skillshots for you.
If you understand when you are overextended, you can also understand when the enemies are overextended. If you know that, then you can set up ganks. Frequently, enemies will play too risky, expecting that you won't attack, or just hoping for "just one more last hit", or "just one more stun to harrass them." (I know, I've done this before.) If you see an enemy acting like that, pounce on him. You, and hopefully your lane partner, should immediately act to kill the enemy that is overextended, using whatever methods possible, assuming they don't overextend you yourself (flashing at the tower against an enemy at low HP, for instance).
However, sometimes you really don't want to get a kill (OK, you always do), but you don't want to wait and want the enemy out of the lane now. If you want the kill to push the tower, and not to get more gold, then you can attack when the enemy isn't fully overextended, because getting them down to low HP is enough to force them to go back, or at least hug the tower too closely to stop you from destroying it.
I only have one final note on the subject of killing enemies: Even tradeoffs are never, ever, even. They should always be considered worse for your team than the enemies. Attacking an enemy you think you can kill and know you will probably die after killing is not a good idea. At best, you will get one kill and die, which means the lane is now even, and at worst you wind up dead and your enemy is not. Even if the chance of not killing your enemy is microscopically small, it will still end up being a net negative to your team because in some cases you won't kill him. Of course, there are situations where tradeoffs are worth it; if you kill the enemies carry who is legendary and worth 1000 gold, or if you've fed a ton so killing you is only worth 50 gold or so, then a tradeoff will result in more gold for your team and a better player of the enemies taken out, it can work, and if getting yourself ganked buys your team time to wreck the enemy base, that can work as well (you would be suprised how many randoms will get their entire living team to chase one guy all the way through the lane while their base is being attacked by the rest of his team), but those aren't really in the realm of this guide.
Bringing it all together
Ok, you've read the guide. You know which targets are good to harass, you know what method you want to use to last hit creeps and control the lane with them, you know where to lane, and you know to think about when you are overextending yourself. Now you just need to know how to apply them all at once.
Harass enemy champions if it prevents more last hits from them than you lose by not attacking creeps only while they attack creeps; Against most good harassment targets, this is a guarantee; a trynd will get almost no last hits if you hit him a few times with ranged,and you might miss one or two. Make sure that if you want to set up kills, you only last hit and don't push the creeps forward, and do whatever you can to make the enemy overextend, but don't try to force it by refusing to last hit at all, because that just loses gold. Basically, just make sure you think about how each aspect of your game affects the other one. If you harass an enemy too much, they'll go back (which is a good thing, for sure), and if you harass them too little you can't kill them as easily, but if you can figure out your opponent and harass them just enough they stay while they really shouldn't, you can get a kill.
There are other subjects I didn't touch on with this guide which are very important (who to lane with, a more general post on zone of control instead of just overextension, although they are the same concept, how to figure out how your enemy plays), but many of these subjects have been covered in other guides on these forums, so I don't feel too bad about neglecting them. I hope the tips I've listed are, even if probably obvious, helpful. My closing words are the same that start every match I play in: Good luck, and have fun.
I'm not sure if Ryze is a good example of a terrible mid. Though there are a lot of other champs I'd rather have there, he does well with a level advantage and and last hitting is cheap and easy with an early point in his Q ability.
If anybody has any suggestions for things this guide is missing, please tell me.
I found this game about a day ago, and have been searching for an early game guide. All I can say is thank you. You explained things very well, with a lot of good information.
Hopefully, I will have a chance at gettin more cash now... and not dieing ^^
Pretty much every champion can solo mid.
Ashe, Tristana and Teemo are preferable, but sometimes the ganking types are soloing mid for an ealry lvl 6. (eve, kat, shaco, twitch), to get their ultimate and then switch with ashe or so.
Even though pushing the minions to the enemy tower makes it hard for them to last hit, I wouldn't recommend it. It makes you really vulnerable to ganks as you will be far from your own tower.
You should always last hit, and if the enemy team keeps pushing, call your allies for ganking.
Also it's not a rule that mid should solo. Soloing bot or top works to!!!
I wanted to add some thoughts as a new new player (I think I have 3 wins, maybe 10 non-practice games played, so I'm totally wet behind the ears). Please correct me if I'm wrong, but here's what I've noticed so far.
1. You touched on this, but laning as a melee character and duoing with another melee character, against at least 1 other ranged character, it's always much much better to play conservative and stand back, and just collect XP than foolishly trying to push into ranged opponents and having your life picked off 1/4 at a time to collect 25g. You lose more by pilling than you gain thinking you threaten the ranged guys and trying to melee neutrals. Let them overextend and chip away if you get the change, but for the most part be very patient if there's nothing you can do to pressure/farm. Naturally there are exceptions, but I'm losing count of the people I lane with who think they stand a chance 1v2 into a pack of minions, lose 3/4 of their health or get killed in the first couple minutes of the game.
Bottom line, laning with 2 melees is hard vs. Ranged (at least for beginners). It's better to do next to nothing getting XP, than having to pill and getting nothing while you're out of lane. Stay near your tower and take advantage of how much damage they'll do to an opponent who tries to get frisky with you. Even though you wont get to kill many creeps with the tower beating on them, you're much safer in the shadow of your turret.
2. If you've lost the bushes (Top or Bottom), try to stay as far to the opposite side of the lane as you can. I've seen a few opponents prefer to stay invisible in the bushes and not kill creeps thinking they'll "surprise you" later while I just farm the creeps well out of their range. NEVER WANDER INTO THE BUSHES ALONE or try to kill creeps near them if you don't see anyone in your lane. You will get ganked.
3. Watch your opponents mana as well as their health. I see a lot of new players with Sivir, Ashe, or some casters come out guns blazing, blowing their wad right out the gate. Most champs are pretty non-threatening without mana, so take that as a queue to push them back/farm minions.
4. Pay close attention to when your opponents hit level 6. Time to play even more careful.
5. Inspect to see what your opponents have as their first item, it's helpful for seeing who is worth harassing. It's not worth throwing snowballs at someone with a regrowth pendant if you're playing Nunu.
6. Probably goes without saying, but it's imperative you start to learn EVERY CHAMP- especially what they're ultimate is at level 6. If you don't know what they do, just assume they can chain stun, wtfpwn you if you're at 75% life in range. If you get killed by a champ you don't know, go look up why. I spent one game trying to gank Tryndamere over and over and he would never die. Dumb me. I laned with a Teemo who was smart enough to put mushroom's into the bushes and over and over my opponents kept letting me kite them through. Think about those things. It'll definitely take time, I know I'm only familiar with maybe 2 weeks worth of free champs, but it's a start.
7. Lastly, I would really recommend Cleanse as a summoner skill. I've seen beginner guides say Heal + Teleport, but as a beginner I'm not all that impressed with teleport's versatility if you're really not hip how it works for ganking tower pushers and coordinated team attacks. Cleanse is as good of a "reset" button as you'll find when you do something dumb and over extend. Ghost would also be a viable substitute for heal as Cleanse + Ghost is pretty much a guaranteed "live another day combo" and not dying as a beginner is probably the most helpful think you can do for your team, especially early.
8. Buy at least 1hp pot if you have no Life Steal. They're cheap and they're only effective for the first couple of levels. Think of them as a cushion for feeling out your opponents at the beginning of the match
If every beginner had a thought process like you, I really would have no issue with them :D
You've pretty much got laning. Sight Wards in the brush take away any advantage a dual skill-shot team has by hiding in there.
Some melee champs can close distance really well, and will generally do more damage - if you can put pressure on ranged champs, do it. They're squishy, and will do less damage than most melee. They key is communication - It doesn't matter who's in the lane, a lone champ going for a kill without help usually ends badly :)
Alos, pay attention to other lanes as much as you can. If you can quickly shift to mid and throw a quick disable to help finish them off, you team will gain a big advantage.
I will admit, at top and bottom, it's usually not a good idea to push unless the enemies are low on HP (forcing them to blue pill so you can freely blow up the tower), but at mid pushing is fine at all times because it's such a small gap anyway.
Soloing top or bottom makes your strongest person farther away from the rest of your team or the same distance away, in all cases, than if you solo mid. Mid is also much shorter, which means having two people mid against one is much less likely to result in a gank than two people against one at top or bottom. Also, again as a safety concern, there are many more bushes and gank locations at top or bottom, so having a solo top/bot is more likely to get ambushed and has to run farther to get away.
i wouldnt consider tryndamere to be such a bad solo actually. considering his passive, which gives him more chance to do crit damage and some crit dmg item, he can actually crit around 24% early game if his hp is lower than somewhere around 60 or 50%. i mean he prob wont break the enemy tower insanely fast like a fed syvir... but he shouldnt be blue pilling every 30 seconds leaving his tower to die (there are exceptions in this case.... if the tryn is just playing his first game and has no idea how to use him but thinks he can solo... u can pretty bid farewell to the middle lane). besides... im pretty sure he doesnt have that low health o.O (i think.. correct me if im wrong in this part). and his self heal heals quite a bit.. i mean he's no soraka... but his heal can actually let him stay basically forever. Also, (unless the team has around 3 crowd control skills) he can survive ganks pretty easily considering his ultimate doenst let him die and gives him charges to his heal, and he can use spinning slash to run away (is it just me or am i going all over the place?)
Now... explaining how tryn can actually solo lane... (this probably should be done knowing that u arent god). tryn= hes got a heal which all u have to do is get to lvl 3 for it to heal quite a bit. hes also got a way to close the gap or run away and at the same time do dmg, and hes got a slow. and he doesnt waste mana. what is there to hate? (yes, there are exceptions to tryn soloing... if hes going for a tank build or if he absolutely sucks using tryndamere or anything else to make the tryndamere feed or blue pill like mad)
I wrote all this to say.... hes not the worst solo, id give that title to= (i went through the whole list but ive seen all champions solo and do great at it... uhh... idk...)
Other than this little part i liked ur guide (and yes, im defending tryndamere cuz hes one of my favorite champions and i soloed =D)
Edit= i didnt think id end up writing such a long thing... at first it looked short
Edit #2= long in my opinion... some ppl would consider this shorter than a sentence
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