General Guide by xenoproboscizoid
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Hi, my name is Xenoproboscizoid and I'm going to try and teach you how to CS better than me. I'm a rising Diamond aiming for as high as I can go and I figure the best time to teach something is when it's fresh in your head. On thing to note is that I main mid, thus some aspects of this guide will apply more to mid lane farming tactics, but most of the ideas discussed will be global.
Let me start off with a disclaimer for those want to rise in ranked: I do not believe maximizing your creep score is necessary for getting to diamond. I got to diamond this season in ~30 games and I almost never beat my opponent in CS, but I'll still win lane. So whats the deal with CSing? Why learn it if you don't need it to hit diamond? Well are several ways to win lane/game, and CSing is one of them.
Creep money is much more important in high diamond and competitive play, where it becomes much more difficult to kill players (watch some competitive games and take note of how many team fights end with everyone at ~10%). If you still want to learn to CS to optimize your game, then keep reading!
CS = Creep score
Auto = Standard right-click/A-click auto attack.
AP = Ability Power
AD = Attack Damage
MR = magic resist
Mechanics are "simple" because there isn't much explicit knowledge to teach. I could throw a bunch of meaningless numbers about minion health, armor/mr, height, personality, hair color, etc. at you but that'd be intimidating than helpful. Instead Ill go over some of the more basic issues with CS mechanics.
A-clicking: As of patch 4.16 there is a significant bug that causes right clicks on or very near minions to "miss", forcing your character to walk towards the target rather than hitting it. The way to deal with this is to use A-click (attack move) rather than right click. This to not only make clicking the minion easier, but even if you miss you'll attack the nearest minion rather than putting yourself out of position.
Canceling Autos: Canceling your auto animation is really useful for landing quick consecutive last hits or avoiding lane harass. Canceling your auto is the act of making a second command (usually a move order) just after your auto particle leaves (if ranged) or your auto damage is applied (melee).
Cancelling your autos takes practice and the timing will be different for different champions. Most marksmen (eg. Caitlyn, Lucian, ect) as well as some AP carries (eg. Ryze, Lux) have quick animations that are easy to work with. Champions like Karthus and Anivia have very slow attack animations that are easy to cancel too early.
Using Mana: If you don't like right clicking, then don't be afraid to use mana. There will frequently be instances where you don't have enough attack speed to last hit 2-3 minions in succession, and it's times like these that you'll want to burn some mana. I'll go over more about balancing mana usage between harass and CS in the next section.
Balancing farming and harass; styles of farming
Landing lane harass is an excellent tool for setting up ganks/solo kills, or just bullying your opponent away from the minion wave. There are significant costs to harassing however, such as missing CS or wasting mana (if you miss or they dodge). Luckily these issues are easy to remedy.
For solo laners:
For solo laners CSing can often become a secondary objective to harassing your opponent. If you can bully your opponent away from the creep wave, denying them CS, then you are effectively recouping and losses your aggression may have cost by putting your opponent behind. Note that if you plan on going pro, you'll need to be able to maintain a perfect CS score while also maintaining a bully position (if your lane allows it).
If you are on the receiving end of a bully lane due to playing any melee into an aggressive zoning opponent, then it's very likely you'll miss a lot of CS until the wave hits your tower. It's entirely possible to come back from a lane disadvantage like this if you can manage to get kills on either your lane opponent or through ganks on other lanes.
If you can't effectively zone your lane opponent, avoid missing CS to land harass unless you're confident you can get the kill or your jungler is on their way to gank.
In order to maintain an aggressive, bully bottom lane, you are required to work with your support to zone the enemy laners. This task is made difficult if you're not familiar with your support player (the two of you may not coordinate well), thus it is generally more advisable to focus on perfecting your CS as a marksman.
A second, more mechanical issue is whether you can hit your opponent in the first place. If you're landing autos or target spells then you're obviously not going to miss, but be careful about chasing too far past the minion wave as this will make you vulnerable to counter aggression and ganks.
If you're using skill shots then you need to skill up. Hitting skill shots is a talent one mostly learns through solid practice; over time you'll subconsciously learn to predict your opponent's movements and aim accordingly. One strategy you can use is to fire your skill shots when your opponent goes in for a last hit which, if timed correctly will either hit or force your opponent to dodge, missing their targeted creep.
Timing minion death
Due to minion attack patterns, each minion wave will usually focus their attacks on two to three targets at a time. This means there will frequently be two minions losing health at about the same rate. You're job in such situations is to make sure they die at different times (or use an AoE skill to take them both out when they're low).
To manage minion health, you'll want to keep track of which minion is taking the most damage or manually keeping their health apart with early auto attacks (aim for 1-2 auto's worth of damage apart). Timing minion death is a skill that takes more attention than practice as is something a lot of players tend to overlook rather than intentionally avoid.
For instance, here I've left myself with three low minions while my Orb of Deception is on cooldown:
Last hitting under tower
Last hitting under tower is a skill that relies on your ability to visually partition a minions health bar into auto hits (champion autos) and tower hits. For most mages and early game marksmen, the compositions are as follows:
- Melee Minion: 1 auto hit + 2 tower hits
- Ranged Minion: 2 auto hits + 1 tower hit
Siege minions take reduced damage from towers and have much higher health than their non-siege counterparts, which makes partitioning their entire health bar into autos and tower hits somewhat counter-intuitive. The best way to last it siege minions is just to rely on the visual chunks from your autos and tower hits until you're sure you can get the last hit, or you can just use mana.
With attention and practice, you'll soon be able to last hit under tower even with your minions dealing damage as well.
In League, the only alternative to pushing is not pushing (Also known as freezing), this makes life simpler for the player as they only need to decide when they want to start nuking down the minion wave. Pushing the wave is a strategy which typically revolves around map objectives and jungler positions.
Pushing and Freezing:
Pushing and freezing are the two strategies players must employ in order to master wave control; which is the tactic of manipulating where your minion wave meets the enemy minion wave in the lane. Here I will briefly explain why you should bother with wave control:
Freezing is the tactic of holding the minion wave's position towards your side of the lane (usually just outside your tower range). This is done by minimizing the use of both AoE skills and auto attacks. Any damage you deal to the enemy minion wave is "extra" damage that will eventually shove your lane (unless the opponent is also putting in damage).
The function of this strategy is both defensive and offensive. It is defensive because having the minion wave so close to your tower forces your opponent(s) to dive under tower to attack you. Freezing is offensive in a passive-aggressive sort of way: because the minion wave is close to your tower, your opponent is forced to play far out in lane if they want to farm. This not only makes them vulnerable to ganks, but if you choose to aggress on them directly you'll have much more room to chase them down for the kill.
Freezing is not all sunshine and rainbows however. The cost to freezing is that it becomes much easier for your opponent to push the wave onto your tower. This can lead to damage on your tower as well as a loss in CS if you have trouble farming under tower. If you have to leave to base from a frozen lane, you're sure to lose a significant chunk of tower health and CS unless you manage to push out your wave first.
|Pushing is a dangerous, full aggression lane strategy. After reading the section on freezing, you should have a good idea of some of the pros of pushing, but I'll go over them here.|
Pushing is a strategy in which you force the minion wave onto the enemy tower. This is most easily done by using AoE skills (not enough to run yourself out of mana) and spamming auto attacks (you should never stop autoing if you want to push, even if you're an AP champion). Having the minion wave so close to the enemy tower forces your opponent to farm under tower, which can be a challenge depending on their experience and champion (generally speaking, champions with low cost spammable skills or high AD are good at farming under tower). Additionally, forcing the minion wave away from your tower gives you much more time to either back to buy or to roam before the wave reaches your tower. It's therefore a pretty obvious tell in mid lane or a teleport top lane that your opponent wants to roam if they start AoEing the creep wave.
One of the costs to pushing are that you become much more vulnerable to ganks and in-lane aggression. When you position yourself so close to the enemy tower, the enemy jungler and laner has much more room to chase you down for a kill. On that same note, it becomes much more difficult for you to kill your lane opponent unless you're willing to dive their tower.
When to push
Choosing when to push/freeze is dependent on the following three factors: jungler positions, objective availability, and global gold status, each of which I will go over below.
Enemy jungler position:
If you know where he/she is, visual confirmation or knowledge of his/her clear cycle. Then you can push. This does not mean you must/should. Depending on your enemy laner(s) pushing can allow you to get tower damage or force your opponent to lose farm. On the other hand you can still put yourself out of position if the opponent freezes lane at their tower.
Allied jungler position:
If you want a gank try and freeze your lane; you want your jungler to have ample time to get on the enemy before taking tower hits. Of course if your jungler isn't on your side of the map, then you can't rely on them for ganks so ask or ping for assistance as you set your lane up.
Objectives:Objectives include dragon, towers (yours and the other lanes), blue/red buffs, and baron. Your goal is simple, secure objectives for your team while minimizing objective loss to your opponents. The best way to do this is to push your lane before roaming to help. Pushing your lane allows you to roam while forcing your opponent to lose CS should they choose to follow.
Note for Mid Lane:
While pushing, you have the choice of autoing the tower or farming the wraith camp. Early game (i.e. before 7 minutes, while the tower Fortification passive is still live) your autos won't deal too much damage to towers anyway, therefore it is more important to focus on farming the minion wave or taking wraiths (or, if you have a lot of gold, backing to buy).
Typically, most champs will only be able to farm the minion wave while landing tower autos on the side, but some champions with either high sustain, good early clear, or a couple of extra health potions can take the opponents (or allied) wraith camp. Early game I always favor farming, especially if I'm on someone like Orianna, Fizz, or Karthus who can clear wraiths with relative safety. Later in lane you need to think about map pressure and global gold.
Map pressure: destroying a tower grants map pressure because it allows you to push your lane further, granting you more time to roam before your wave is pushed back. Of course if you're in top lane and you don't have teleport, then you're priority is usually to farm as much as possible since you're further away from the most popular early game objective: dragon.
Global gold: Allows your team to snowball or overcome losses in other lanes or of other objectives.
If you anticipate the need to roam to secure more objectives or ganks, focus on taking down your tower while still taking out the creeps with mana (autos should be favored for the tower). If your team losses an objective or another lane is having trouble, then your goal (when you're not/if you can't be directly assisting them with ganks) should be to try and take your tower down as fast as possible.
CS for Supports
CS? Supports? Those don't go together! You're right, they don't, however that doesn't mean you're not involved in the farming process.
Enabling your marksman:
Recall from the earlier section on last hitting under tower that ranged minions require two auto attacks plus a tower hit to take down. Without attack speed, timing this sequence of hits can be pretty tough to pull off, thus it's often left to the support to land the first auto on each ranged minion so the marksman can finish it off after the tower hit.
Freezing the lane:
If your marksman has backed before you or you returned to lane before they did (keep in mind, it's generally advisable that you back simultaneously), you can save the CS for your partner by freezing or tanking the enemy minion wave before it hits the tower (if tanking, be sure the enemy laners are absent!). During times like this you should take the last hits any minions that get low, but try not to land more than one auto per minion so as not to push the wave.
Protecting your tower:
There may be times during a match where there is an open lane to farm and you're the only one near it. Unless the minion wave is on your tower, ping for one of your carries to take it and roam to support your team.
CSing is not something only high ranked players can do and it's not the only way to climb in ranked. Don't get intimidated by some fantastic goal of hitting 100 cs by 10 minutes or 200+ by twenty minutes; it's not only unnecessary in most tiers of play but it's also overwhelming. Instead, if you really want to boost your skills, set smaller goals you know you can achieve and work your way up (like a 20% increase in your CS by 20 minutes).
Special thanks to Jhoijhoi for his guide on Making a Guide