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Lost in Translation - "Why is the Tank Top?" (An Analysis on Lane Positioning)

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MacDougal Li

Junior Member

09-29-2014

I joined LoL at the start of S4. Im lvl 30 now, and I have learned a lot about the game and how things are "supposed" to be.

....but why?

Somewhere, someone must have said "Oh hey, A marksman, a support, a tank, an assassin and a fighter would make for a really cool team." The idea of the comp itself isn't too hard to understand - the marksman has low defense and needs to carry the game and do damage from afar, so give it a support character to help build him/her up. The tank can lane alone because of how "tanky" they are. Having a player roam in the jungle makes sense too; utilize the rest of the map and its various gifts. And whoever is considered a good mid laner should go to the mid lane because....wait.....

See that's the problem. The comp of the team makes sense because all attributes of play have been covered.. But who devised these locations and roles?

Who goes bot lane? The marksman and support champion, such as Ashe and Lux.
Who goes top lane? Generally a tankier champion like Nasus, or a good 1v1 champ like Riven.
Who goes mid? That's a completely mixed bag of mages and fighters and marksman, such as Ahri, Varus, and Yasuo.

Jungle is an easier thing to consider; champs can be tested over time to see who gets more reward for their efforts based on skills or items at the players disposal. Fast, assassin like champions have a good time in JG because of mobility, attack speed, and damage potential.

Riddle me this; if you ask the majority of players, "Why is the marksman placed in the bottom lane?" what kind of response will you receive? Something along the lines of "Just because that's how it is." Maybe you will get an answer like "Well this champion is a bot laner, she cant mid lane." In loading screens, it is common to dissect where the enemy will go; "That Leblanc is OBVIOUSLY going mid." But why is this so easy to predict?

Somewhere along the line, people stopped concerning themselves with why, and just began to follow unspoken rules about what champions can go where. Why isn't the marksman and support in the top lane or mid lane? Why would it be blasphemous to have an AP receive the support? "Why are we attributing lane labels to champions with non-specific role functionality?

The fact of the matter is, there IS a reason lane positions are the way they are; their must be. But I have yet to find an individual who can state what that reason is. Do we just continue to blindly mimmick strategies and techniques used by professional players with no regard for the intentions behind them?

These ideas don't come from thin air, and LoL has no official rule stating that x champion goes to y lane. And yet the player base has established "facts" about champions that don't necessarily exist, because we copy what we see better players do, and then fail to fully understand what it is that they do or why they do it.

We have created a metagame very few people critically understand, and simply accept that meta as fact. I am not advocating we "break the meta"; I am advocating that the player base should be provided a means of understanding it.


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Rawrful

Senior Member

09-29-2014

What? The 'standard' meta is REALLY REALLY EASY to understand. Also, Varus does not go mid in 'standard' play.

The core concepts to starting positions are:
-Side lane minions meet farther from the towers, so they are easier to gank than mid lane (Assuming you have wards).
-Mid lane lies in the middle of the map, so the bursty champion can roam to any position on the map to gank quickly.
-Dragon is on the bottom half of the map, and is critically important to building early leads.
-XP gets split when multiple people are around, gold goes 100% to whoever last hits it.

What do these 4 things mean?
-It means top lane is generally tanky, CC heavy, or very mobile so they can get out of bad positions. It is also the lane that generally gets the lowest farm, due to how dangerous it is. Hence, you often see champions that like solo XP and gold but are not reliant on it, and can get out of bad situations. This is why you see everything from Maokai (Pure tank), Riven (High mobility bruiser) to Kayle (AP Marksman/Utility thing) top.
-It means Mid lane is the safest place to get gold and XP, and is the best lane to roam from. Mages and Assassins need XP because skills scale hard with levels, and they need their ultimates ASAP. Mages and Assassins are also very strong roamers with their high burst damage and long range/gap closers, hence their position mid lets them punish bottom, top, and the enemy jungle for over extending. Also useful is that Blue buff is right next to mid lane, so the mana/cooldown-hungry mages and assassins have easy access to it. The perfect spot for anyone from Kassadin (Super mobility assassin who is super ult reliant) to Oriana (Utility mage).
-Bottom lane is also less safe. But two champions there makes it more safe due to extra wards and extra power. The Marksman goes bottom with a support because Marksmen do not need levels as much as Mages and Assassins, but instead need all the gold they can get. Supports are champions with skills that are useful without much gold or many levels, hence they go to the spot they get the least of both. Now, why not swap top and bottom? Dragon. You need to have as many people around Dragon as possible to stop the enemy from taking it. Conversely, you want to be able to take Dragon as fast as possible if your opponents die or get out of position, so you want your sustained damage (Marksman) as close as possible. Thus, you weight bottom lane due to the proximity of a very important objective.
-Jungle is pretty self explanatory. Lots of gold spawns constantly in the jungle, and so do buffs. So you have someone who's job is to grab it. This also gives you a hidden member that the enemy team loses track of, giving you the constant threat of someone extra showing up anyone on the map at any time. This gives your team map pressure. Junglers ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS take Smite, because Smite is a very large damage instant cast. In addition to speeding up your jungle clears, it also lets you secure buffs and objectives. Without a smite, the enemy jungler can just walk up and steal Dragon/Baron/Buffs with their instant cast huge damage long range nuke. Junglers come in a wide variety of roles from Mage (Fiddlesticks), Fighter (Pantheon), Tank (Rammus), Assassin (Shaco).


So, now that those are all broken down, we need to look at team comp in general. You were way too specific in your positioning stuff. A 'standard' team comp is really only a two or three threat comp. A two threat comp has two high damage champions that scale well, and a three threat has three. Your standard comp will be pretty much what you stated: Tank, Fighter, Mage/Assassin, Marksman, Support. But, it is very important to note, there is a lot of overlap. Leona is an engage tank support. Which leads to all kinds of fun combinations of roles in different positions. Really, the only solidly defined role is the Marksman. If you have a Mage in the jungle (Fiddle) you can put a Fighter who loves levels and gold mid (Riven), and at the same time you can take a Leona support so you have a Tank and Marksman in bottom. This means you can take pretty much anything top lane, from another Marksman (Quinn, Vayne), to a mage (Viktor, Swain, Ryze), to another tank or another Fighter or heck, even an assassin (Kassasdin).

And that discussion just leads into a discussion on team comps (Poke comp, siege comp, 4-1 split comp, 3-1-1 split comp, team fight comp, pick comp) that is too complex for this thread.


tl:dr The positions make sense if you understand the game at a basic level (Really, if you understand how important Dragon is). The roles are way more wishy-washy. And this entire thing is just 'standard' play, you will see the pros do other stuff all the time because they have something much more complicated and team reliant planned.


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PimperGnome

Senior Member

09-29-2014

^^ everything in a nutshell.


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KoKoboto

Senior Member

09-29-2014

So the other wall said meet you at the corner and this is what happened


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MacDougal Li

Junior Member

10-01-2014

I appreciate your thought out response. This is exactly hat I had hoped for.

My examples were vague on purpose as to get my main point across. I am aware of the beautiful advantage a mixed champion can give you, like Braum for example.

The key thing I was missing was not considering Dragon control. Thank you again for the explanation and clarification


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Paebak

Junior Member

10-01-2014

Keep ur hands off of my meta


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Wronglove

Member

10-02-2014

My position on this subject is how the screen angle is. Its much easier for the squishy adc to see a champion coming from jungle if youre in the botlane making it easier to respond. While top it would be easier to gank due to visibility. Also if the adc and support were to go midlane its also much easier to gank even if they have less ground to cover due to the 6 different ganking spots.


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Furge

Member

10-02-2014

Yooo wrong glove whats up dude


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