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Guide To Game Flow And Composition

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Chessie The Cat



There are some very abstract concepts that even the highest level players will have a heckova time with because they involve five dimensional thinking and a vast knowledge of the game's mechanics.

These abstract concepts are why you had two AD carries, a support, a tank, and an AP blaster...and still got pasted by that team of three carries and two supports.

Composition is everything...and absolutely nothing.

I will give you an example game. The combatants are as follows.

Garen, Sion, hard tank Leona, Caster/Support Lux, Singed,

On the opposing team:

Swain, Sona, Soraka, Ashe,Gangplank,

Who wins?

From a purely objective standpoint the Garen/Sion combo should be able to dominate a lane completely against all but the hardest crowd control (which this team lacks).

The lane layouts are as follows.

Swain/Soraka - Versus Leona/Singed at Top

Gangplank Vs Lux at Mid

Ashe/Sona Vs Sion/Garen at Bottom

Who wins?

Now the knee-jerk reaction is the team heavy on Tanky DPS wins easily against the team with two supports. Their early game is much more powerful.

Garen, Sion, Singed, and Leona are all amazing early game characters. They're hard to kill and can do considerable damage if they know what they're doing. They'll roflstomp all over their respective lanes.

Sion and Garen are both Carry killers. They hunt down the enemy AD carry and kill her into tiny chunks and matched against Ashe, this should be very one sided and leave her badly suppressed.

Lux out-ranges and out-damages Gangplank through the early and mid and can harass him miserably. He can't close with her because of Light Binding.

Leona and Singed should be able to lock-down Swain and Soraka with their various CC abilities and quick closing. Even a hint of Magic Resist should shut down both of them and Leona will have looked at the team composition and said 'I have three AP casters'...Magic Resist is good.

Roundabout the 25 minute mark, if the players are playing standard (carries playing patiently but aggressively, supports handling ganks and small skirmishes) then the Tanky DPS team should have beaten down the carry/AP heavy team so hard they can start taking towers with impunity.

However, in this case the squishy team plays intelligently. They plan to be dominated in the early game. They [I]know[I] It's going to happen. They're looking forward to it. The second Garen pops out of that bush and does his spin trying to keep them off the minions, they're mentally cheering...because everything is going according to plan.

At the 49 minute mark, the squishy team wins.

How? What? Why? So much tanky DPS! So much poooooweeeeerr!?!

Let me explain.

Squishy Team versus Team POOOWER was not really a fair fight to begin with. Team Squish was built around the idea that the game is won at a specific time. They knew there was simply no way they could possibly win for the first thirty minutes of the game.

They let kills go. They didn't push a single lane. They had Gangplank kill Dragon regularly but that was their only concession to real aggression.

They stood under their towers and farmed a massive creep score. What Team Squish has is a staggeringly Teamfight/sustain oriented composition. They're built to stay in their lanes forever and never have to leave for anything. Once team fights start they're built to make sure that no matter how much damage the enemy can do to them they never die

This isn't the tank version of 'never die' which is to simply have more hit-points than the enemy can do in damage.

At 49 minutes, Team Squish is doing mountains of damage and their AP/AD ratios on their abilities mean they are simply more powerful than the enemy team in team-fights. Team POOOWER can't buy enough new items once their builds are complete to overwhelm the sustainability of Team Squish. At the end of every team fight, Team Squish has survived and POOOWER is either dead or completely out of mana.

Strategic Timing

Team Squish won due to strategic timing. They were willing to let the enemy appear to win through the narrow spectrum when the enemy was actually more powerful than they were because they understood that the feeling of 'winning' is extremely deceptive in League of Legends.

It feels like you're 'winning' if your lane is pushed up. It feels like you're 'winning' if you're getting kills. It feels like you're 'winning' if the enemy stays back when you push.

These are not signs of winning. They are, in fact, signs of losing. If the enemy can sit right under their tower and safely farm, you're giving them the advantage. If you're in position to be ganked in a pushed up lane, you're handing over advantage on a plate. If the enemy is managing to avoid you repeatedly when you push, you're setting yourself up to over-extend and give them a free kill.

This game is two things which most online games aren't. It's team oriented and it's not player-killing oriented. Getting kills gives you MUCH less advantage than you would gain in other games. You can get the same amount of gold from killing two waves of creeps as you would from a single player kill. Not much in other words. If you get one player kill and the enemy gets four creep waves worth of kills because you were so focused on killing them, you've actually lost advantage.

I see this happen all the time.

Set yourself up to know when your team is most likely to win and play defensively or offensively at those times. If you have five carries, wait until the 45 minute mark on defense then crush the enemy. If you have five tanky DPS, get as much damage done in the first 20 minutes as you can and hope it's enough to push you through to victory.

Know which direction the characters on your team are focused.

Garen is Early Game Lane Domination and Carry Hunting. Sona is Team Fight oriented. Soraka is Sustainable Lane oriented. Swain is Sustainable Lane/Team Fight. Identify where your chosen character is most powerful. Don't be purely aggressive or purely defensive through the entire game.

Oh, and cowardice is bad. If you can kill a tower but will die, don't run. Kill the tower. Even if you die, you are still winning.

Team-fight Composition VS Lane Composition

Now, many players who've played Assassin class characters will be familiar with the pain that comes when you hit the mid or late game and suddenly everyone is involved in team-fights and it feels like every time you stick your nose out for a half second you get murdered.

Assassin's are excellent lane composition characters. They have a ton of single target or quick burst damage built around killing one specific character. If you can get them in a 1v1 fight, ,most people, even tanks will go down to a well played Assassin.

However, once the 25-30 minute mark has passed it's rare to catch anyone alone and while you might survive a single blast of CC from a one or two targets, it's unlikely you'll survive it from four or five enemies at once.

Team composition characters will be able to fight multiple targets simultaneously. Swain's Ravenous Flock and Never Move, Sona's Ulti and buffs, Gangplank's Ulti and Ralley, Ashe's Crystal Arrow and Volley, and Soraka's Starfall are all able to hit several targets at once regardless of brilliant aim.

In general if your team is early-game oriented you must plan to be hyper-aggressive. Getting everyone mid and crushing the middle tower at 16 minutes leaves a huge hole in the enemy defenses. It's doable in a team with internal discipline and a proper composition.

Just keep in mind that if you are laning with someone who is team oriented and you are lane oriented, you should concentrate on the enemy and less on the farm. Farm is for late-game oriented characters. It helps you get a little bit more gold, yes, but feeling like a towering badass a little earlier is less important than winning.

If your goal is to win, make sure your team-fight oriented characters have farmed. They are the ones who will win the game for you, not your assassin. He's there to make sure the enemy carry doesn't win the game for the other team.

Anyway, this has been my brief guide. I realize it's nothing like complete and could use a lot of work and tweaking but this is a hugely dynamic game and I need lunch.

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Nea De Penserhir

Senior Member


The only problem I have with this is it too easily paints a Good / Bad light on the assumed players behind the characters. As you said, composition is everything and nothing.

What you left out is that Garen is allowed to be played with an IQ higher than than the level cap of the game. Yes, a bad Garen can be just as effective, but a good Garen doesn't just wait in brush and spin ta win. The skill ceiling on just "playing" Garen is fairly low. There's only so much you can do with QWER for Garen; But it's not the ways in which QWER are used, it's the where and when.

You've painted a rough outlier, yes, but you should really add a "Your mileage may vary" paragraph or three. Better examples, and clarifications. Overall a decent explanation for what Champions do what, when, and why, but missing too much to be seen as anything other than "Tanky deeps are fine, just play better."

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Chessie The Cat



I suppose I should. A large part of any development of strategy assumes that most people will play competently. Mileage WILL vary. Football plays work because they assume most of the players know the rules of the game and can execute them. The very specific plays only work if you know all of the players involved and their individual abilities.

Most of this assumes 'standard play' which is something I'm very big on for the development of strategies. In general, Standard Play works for most situations. That's it's value. The value of deviating from it is that you will upset an opponent's equilibrium. On the flip side, if you don't have a specific plan when deviating from standard play you will lose the advantage. Standard play is standard because it is STRONG.

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Chessie The Cat



If you have more examples, those help. I'll be glad to add them.

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Senior Member


Heaven. A man after my own heart. One of the greatest posts I've seen on these forums. Reminds me of:


Thanks so much for taking the time to write this, and I'd love more people to see it. If anyone else is here, give it a bump or two

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Chessie The Cat



I read through that guy's guide. It's good. I am amused he used the same team-name...heee...Team Squish. We need a clan named this now!