In high level play in LoL, there are striking similarities to the age old wisdom passed down by Sun Tzu in his art of war.
By reading this you'll hopefully learn something new or at the very least give yourself a pat on the back for doing everything right. Hopefully after reading this you'll be on your way to reading the other chapters in Sun Tzu's masterpiece and apply his wisdom to all other aspects of life.
18. All warfare is based on deception.
The whole essence of warfare is based on conflicting judgements on the same situation, based on the information you have.
Without fog of war or if you and your opponent both knew exactly what the other was thinking neither would ever engage their enemy.
19. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.
Use fog of war to your advantage, the stronger team will feint one direction to make you believe they are going to push top, then before you know it your middle is dropping.
A basic application of this is when one of your teammates is hiding in the bushes in prepration for a gank, your natural reaction to this should be to retreat to make the enemy feel that you are far away in order to make the gank successful.
20. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.
The winning team does not randomly engage in teamfights but rather picks off smaller units whilst they are helpless. To practically apply this is simple, for example: Shaco uses hallucinate and starts bashing down their tower, you can expect at least 2 people to show up. This can either be used to cut off a large group of enemies in the middle, making them weaker or to ambush the opponent depending on the situation and phase of the game.
This tip is especially hard to apply, as you have to make sure the player you're using is happy to die for the greater cause. And you rarely get a teammate who cares that much about the greater cause.
21. If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him.
The second part is common sense to most, but also a common mistake I see. When someone is playing solidly and you see no weaknesses, do not be distressed. Be prepared for him to make a mistake and when he does, punish him for it.
Normally, in mid and low level play when someone is playing tight, defensivly with no weaknesses players resort to hugging the turrets and waiting for something to fall from the sky and kill the enemy for you.
Many people think dying is a terrible thing, but the gold + exp lost from early game death is nothing compared to the amount of gold lost by not getting last hits yourself whilst your opponent scores every last hit in your lane. For this reason, its never correct to run away everytime you're about to be attacked. Be prepared for the possible mistake he could make (pushing too much, not pushing enough) and act on it. Rather than just your basic instinct of
22. If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.
It isnt rare at all for you to see those people who are busy swearing, casting blame on their teammates and generally being a nusiance. This can be however used to your advantage, taunt him to encourage him to overextend, make him WANT to kill you and if he thinks you're a pushover, keep letting him think that and make sure he's dead before he figures out you're not to be messed with.
23. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them.
If the enemy is on the defensive and not pushing lanes, farming creeps and simply trying to hold out. Keep harassing them to keep them on the defensive whilst you accumulate resources for yourself. For example, pushing them back to base and stealing their jungle creeps.
A typical scenario is the center showdown, where both teams have the middle tower and are trying to push eachother's tower. Here, it is unfavourable for either to attack so the best approach is to take the intiative elsewhere once you've pushed them back, either by jungling, planting sitewards, going back to shop or whatever. As long as you're sure your own tower can hold out long enough for everyone to regroup you're fine.
This may seem counter-intiative as they have the option to attack you at this point but obviously you WANT them to attack you 5v5 next to your turret and you only want to attack their turret if its 5v3, therefore you should take the intiative elsewhere before your opponent does the same.
24. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.
Always place 70% of your attention on the minimap when there is no decisive battle taking place. Find poorly defended turrets, over extended enemies with low HP and get there before they are expecting you, dont give them time to call MIA or appear from the place where you think they're least likely to strike. i,e purposly letting the enemy see you walk towards bottom, making them pull back slightly there and rushing top. (asuming you have a way of getting there in proper time).
25. These military devices, leading to victory, must not be divulged beforehand.
DO NOT at any stage of the game give yourself away. If 2 enemies are pushing you and you know 4 of your friends are hiding in the bushes, keep running away and intiate only when your teammates have cut off their path of escape. A common mistake is where the bait starts pushing and gives away the trap. Divulging your plans and letting the opponent know what your plans before they are executed is leading to the opposite direction of victory.
Attack by Strategem
2. Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.
Laying siege, trying to push into the enemy's base exaughsts your strength and makes yourself open for a counter attack. Succeeding in such a push where you risk everything at a point in the game where you're far ahead is not "supreme excellence" but rather to break their resistance without fighting them head on is. With a well executed plan, you can take down their turrets without ever having to engage in giant coinflip skirmishes. Pulling back, waiting for them to push back out and backdooring them is favourable as opposed to taking on their whole team next to their turrets.
3. Thus the highest form of generalship is to balk the enemy's plans; the next best is to prevent the junction of the enemy's forces; the next in order is to attack the enemy's army in the field; and the worst policy of all is to besiege walled cities.
This clearly lists your orders of priorities for you incase you're ever stuck on what you need to do in any stage of the game: Your top priority is to prevent the opponent from executing their plans, as carrying out your own without countering your opponent's is strategic suicide.
Your next priority is ofcourse, taking down turrets. Turrets is what allows the other team to control the map. Where they have turrets, they have influence and where they have influence they can move freely. The other application of this is by placing traps and denying your opponent last hits in the laning phase. And ofcourse, the worst thing to do is to try to break down a well defended turret / base.
5. The general, unable to control his irritation, will launch his men to the assault like swarming ants, with the result that one-third of his men are slain, while the town still remains untaken. Such are the disastrous effects of a siege.
It is common for the game to have dragged on and on, at comes a point where you just go Ah F- it. And push when you're not supposed to, your team gets mostly decimated and few escape whilst their tower stays barelyg scratched. Stay patient, and alert and take the path of least resistance for a sure win, rather than lead your team to be decimated.
6. Therefore the skillful leader subdues the enemy's troops without any fighting; he captures their cities without laying siege to them; he overthrows their kingdom without lengthy operations in the field.
The greatest feat in the game is taking down unguarded turrets and getting away before the enemy even has time to react, a sign of a good team is one who follows this rule. Rather than one that is focused on taking down well defended or easily defendable towers.
8. It is the rule in war, if our forces are ten to the enemy's one, to surround him; if five to one, to attack him; if twice as numerous, to divide our army into two.
This quote I feel is mostly applied to situations where you know your opponent is going to engage you, for example, if one person is defending a tower on their own. And is much less applicable to ambushes, chasing etc.
Although it seems counter intuitive to assume that you can be outnumbered 1-10 in a 5v5 game. I still feel this is very much applicable. The strength gained from terrain and turrets and individual players can help you decide what is best. If you are 10x stronger than the target, cutt off their paths of escape, surrond him and engulf him.
If you are around 5x stronger than the opponent, although the above plan still works you take the minimal loss by attacking directly, as in most situations trying to surrond someone in that sort of situation forces them to react, possibly killing one of your teammates and making the gank all in all a loss. So the reasoning for this is to avoid casualities.
In a 2v1 situation, however grouping together is a sure way to expect either a death...or two. So the ideal thing to do is to split your forces up evenly and attack from multiple sides. Denying the opponent the oppurtunity to attack you both or prevent you both from attacking simutaneously.
9. If equally matched, we can offer battle; if slightly inferior in numbers, we can avoid the enemy; if quite unequal in every way, we can flee from him.
Seems somewhat like common sense but again, missing in many games.where neither team has the advantage, the option for battle is open despite being unfavourable for both sides. Therefore, this is generally telling you that fighting is more favourable than withdrawl when evenly matched. When slightly inferior, avoiding conflict is still favoured to withdrawl whereas if for example you're 1 to the opponent's 4 at your tower, get the hell out of there.
10. Hence, though an obstinate fight may be made by a small force, in the end it must be captured by the larger force.
This in closing, simply emphasises that you should not engage a larger force as small force.
12. There are three ways in which a ruler can bring misfortune upon his army:--
13. (1) By commanding the army to advance or to retreat, being ignorant of the fact that it cannot obey. This is called hobbling the army.
14. (2) By attempting to govern an army in the same way as he administers a kingdom, being ignorant of the conditions which obtain in an army. This causes restlessness in the soldier's minds.
15. (3) By employing the officers of his army without discrimination, through ignorance of the military principle of adaptation to circumstances. This shakes the confidence of the soldiers.
The 13th quote is perhaps the most commonly seen thing in game. Where you get one guy yelling at the team to DEFEND X DO Y GO Z When he simply knows that either the team will not or can not comply. This has the opposite effect of making your team worse as opposed to the desired effect of strengthing your team.
Rule 14 is pretty straightforward, always be sympathetic to the situation(s) of your teammates before you critize them, otherwise you're just bringing everyone down.
The 15th rule is basically telling you not to play with noob friends if you want to win, but this is just a game afterall so who cares? screw that rule. Friends are more important
17. Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory: (1) He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight. (2) He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces. (3) He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks. (4) He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared. (5) He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.
18. Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
In closing, a player with full understanding of his own character will come to win half of his games, where as a top tier player who knows his own character and every other he faces will expect to win a sigifnicant amount more than half of 100 battles. (Although he may just as well lose them all too!)
All translated quotes are credited to: http://classics.mit.edu/Tzu/artwar.html
Very vague, interpretive, and "wise for the sake of sounding wise" content, to be honest.
If you have any understanding of strategy, tactics, logistics, etc., then all that knowledge should already be ingrained into your head. I'm a wargamer, and that's my input. That being said, I think a lot of LoL players need to remember to keep these concepts in their heads, even if they should be common sense.
Very good read!
I'll offer an addtional strategy, derived from the 36 Stratagems, another work attributed in part to Sun Tzu:
Besiege Wei to rescue Zhao
The origin of this proverb is from the Warring States Period. The state of Wèi attacked Zhao and laid siege to its capital Handan. Zhào turned to Qí for help, but the Qí general Sun Bin determined it would be unwise to meet the army of Wèi head on, so he instead attacked their capital at Daliang. The army of Wèi retreated in haste, and the tired troops were ambushed and defeated at the Battle of Guiling, with the Wèi general Pang Juan slain on the field.
If the entire enemy team stands before your inhibitor turret, it is often not the best course of action to meet them head on, unless you're clearly superior in strengh. Instead, 4 of you can stall them, while the 5th person goes around to backdoor their base.
This can result in one of two outcomes:
a) They ignore it/react too late to it, which means a pushing advantage for you and your team due to super minions, which can turn the tide of battle
b) They respond to it by retreating, either in part or entirely, which might allow you to either pick off stragglers or counterpush.
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