Jarvan IV Build Guide by Chickenuggs

Not Updated For Current Season

This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.

League of Legends Build Guide Author Chickenuggs

Mid Lane Jarvan IV: A Royal Pain in their AP's Rear

Chickenuggs Last updated on August 13, 2013
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Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

Not Updated For Current Season

The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.



Offense: 21

Honor Guard

Defense: 9


Utility: 0

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Notes on this Guide

I'm not so hot at embedding pictures and whatnot so this isn't going to be the flashiest guide you've ever seen, and it's going to be very easy to write off this guide as the ramblings of some n00b. That's fine. I understand this. But if you're going to bother reading it, you should know that I've been playing League since Season 1, I've been maining Jarvan since halfway through season 2 or so. Hopefully what I've written can be beneficial.

I also plan to update and improve this guide with time so if you have constructive criticism, want me to include any more information or have any success/problems with my guide I'd love to hear it.

I'll write a match-ups section eventually. It's just gonna take some time considering the wide variety of champs that can go mid lane. In the mean time, there's a small guide in this build. There's a lot of good information in there, but I've been playing Mid J4 for a long time and I tend to disagree with his defensive choices and his dedication to Blade of the Ruined King.

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Jarvan IV: Prince of Demacia and Lord of the Midlane

J4s played in the jungle typically under the current meta. While this is functional and all and is actually my main role, the jungle doesn't provide enough gold to really capitalize on J4's wonderful kit. I've played Jarvan top, jungle, Mid, support, and in kill lanes with champs like Pantheon and Rengar. I have to say though, mid is an almost guaranteed win that allows you to snowball and really carry games.


    High mobility
    Easy to gank for
    Hard to gank
    Good Ratios
    Good Base Damage
    Naturally Tanky
    Crowd Control
    Armor Shred
    AS Buff Aura for team


    Not magic damage
    Often raged at for "trolling"
    Struggles with high health mids
    Falls off Late Game
    melee damage can make farming harder

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There's nothing too flashy going on with runes and masteries, but I'll do my best to explain what I've chosen.


For runes I chose Flat AD Reds, Life Steal Quints, Flat Armor Yellows, and Flat MR Blues.

I'm a firm believer that runes should really be designed to get a lead early game (that's why their impact is minuscule compared to lategame items). That's why I don't use, for instance, scaling mr blues or armor pen reds. Both of these options are totally viable, especially the armor pen reds, but I find that I have an easier time in lane with this set up.

Life Steal Quints vs. AD Quints

Jarvan's passive, Martial Cadence, makes last hitting super easy, as it adds additional percent health damage to targets on the first hit. This means that once you get The Brutalizer, you should be able to last hit most minions from half health. Honestly, if you struggle to farm with J4, that's pretty sad. He's, IMO, one of the easiest champs to last hit with in the game. For this reason, you really shouldn't need the extra bit of damage from AD quints to farm.

That being said, life steal quints don't give you much from farming either. Because Martial Cadence is an on hit effect, it does not proc life steal. The amount of healing you get from life steal quints, for this reason is pretty neglible.

Where the difference really comes, is your late game vs early game strength. With life steal quints, you have an additional 6% life steal for late game which is huge. With AD quints you have an additional 7 AD early game which is also huge for those early trades. I've run both. You can run any combination of them. They're both viable but I'd advise AD quints in the current meta.


I'm too lazy to figure out how to copy the masteries from up above into the text here, so just scroll up. They're pretty standard ADC masteries with one exception.

Throw 21 into offense. But you do not want any points in Lethality or Frenzy because you're not going to build any crit chance. Instead you can throw those points into Summoner's Wrath and Destruction . This leaves 1 point. I put mine in Sorcery for CDR to get my ult a whole 1 second earlier before I hit max CDR. You can put it in Butcher because 1 extra damage on minions is just so overwhelming. Honestly, just put it anywhere and so that you can get down to Executioner which is what really matters.

Then of throw the remaining 9 into the defense tree.

You can put 9 into the utility tree and get some good stuff from Summoner's Insight , Meditation , and Runic Affinity but I find the extra bulk is better.

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Summoner Skills


Que Queen playing the Flash Gordon Theme song. There's a hawk man constantly telling you to "Dive! DIIIIIVE!" and that's exactly what you can do with flash. I mean, this is pretty straight foreward. Flash is stupidly op. Jarvan has a built in flash with his combo and another gap closer with his ulti. Grabbing flash on top of that makes Jarvan both one of the slipperiest and hardest to escape champions in the game.

Now you may ask; why would anyone really need to jump 3 times? This is a good question and my only real response without game footage is this...


Ignite is just ignite. It hurts mids that run spell vamp and life steal like Zed, Katarina, Kennen etc especially if you use it at the beginning of the fight rather than the end so that their healing is halved for the entire duration of the fight. It can also be used as a finisher to get that extra bit of damage. I love ignite. I run ignite. It's just what I do.

Other Viable Options

works well, makes your ganks stronger and makes ganks for you stronger. It helps with chasing, increases your damage while cutting theirs and all in all just wins trades. I think exhaust is underused in the current meta and I take it whenever we already have several ignites on the team.

I really should take TP more, those TP ganks can be excellent. Jarvan can teleport to his standard for some op E,B, and TP surprise ganks. Plus, late game buff and objective control are huge.

I think Ghost is pretty strong on Jungle J4 and I can see it being viable in mid lane but I personally think that flash is better.

This one is probably the least viable in this section, but if you're against a Malzahar or something god awfully obnoxious like that. It can come in handy. I do highly suggest building merc treds for tenacity, so cc shouldnt be that big. Personally, if I really need the cleanse, I build a Quicksilver Sash.

Less Viable Options

I guess could work but you already have a shield which works fine on a much lower cool down.

is not good like at all, especially in a solo lane. Late game, when you'd have a team to use it on, it's basically useless.

Jarvan has mana problems but you should just learn to conserve mana. Clarity is a waste of kill potential.

You're not a season 1 support... don't take clairvoyance.

I run it as a jungler and I guess it gives you... late game buff control? But really, dont get this unless you're jungling.

Revive/ Garrison Trolling is fun and all... but these are just bad.

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TL;DR- R > Q > E > W

Martial Cadence

Martial Cadence is J4's passive and really adds to his burst potential. It scales really well with armor shred and is best proced immediately after landing your Q, Dragon Strike. This, along with high base damages on Dragon Strike and Cataclysm are the reason you buy The Black Cleaver and Last Whisper.

Martial Cadence is considered an on hit effect and resets every 6 seconds for each target. The cool-down is target specific so if J4 auto attacks multiple targets, the damage will proc multiple times. As an on hit effect, life steal does not proc based on damage from martial cadence.

Dragon Strike

J4's Q ability is dragon strike. This is a pass-through linear skill shot. It scales 120% with AD and does up to 26% armor reduction to any targets it hits.

This skill is J4's bread and butter. It has a low cooldown (6 seconds at max level with 0% cdr). It shreds armor like butter for your future auto attacks/ult/adc. It does absurd amounts of poke damage. It's excellent for pushing. AND BEST OF ALL, when comboed with your E, Demacian Standard, creates a wicked aoe knock up. A well placed EQ Jarvan combo can be more effective than a Malphite Ultimate.

I max this first.

Golden Aegis

Jarvan's W is Golden Aegis. This gem is a wonderful 2 part skill. It slows and provides a shield. Unfortunately, everything about this skill is mediocre.

The slow is, at most, 35% which isn't awful but it only lasts for 2 seconds. It's nice, but pretty insignificant.

The shield adds, at max level, 210 effective health. It doesn't increase your own armor or mr stats. It gets stronger with more surrounding enemy champions.

You can use it for chasing. I typically use it right after the targets of my EQ combo land. This makes sure that you get both the slow and the shield out before they're able to come back at you or run away. The other time I use it is when I have ignite on me. It does an excellent job of soaking up any sort of DOT spell. Overall, the high mana cost and CD makes it less significant and useful.

I max this skill last.

Demacian Standard

Jarvan's E is Demacian Standard. This skill is amazing. It buffs your armor and attack speed passively, then buffs the attack speed of your allies when cast. It has pretty high base damages too.

This skill has so many uses that it's ridiculous. I put a point in this level 1 for the scouting potential. It gives vision and the attack speed buff is huge in level 1 fights. This skill can be used to initiate J4's EQ combo. Whenever you're taking an objective like a tower or a buff, always throw down your e because it buffs your and your allies attack speeds when out, thus helping you take to the tower quicker.

I used to max this first in Season 2 and I still sometimes max it first, especially when jungling. Mid lane, the provided armor and attack speed just don't compare the to armor shred of Dragon Strike. Most of the time, I max this second. If you're up against an AD mid or you're losing your lane to auto attack harass, it can sometimes be worth it to max this first.


A wild Varus has appeared. Jarvander used rock smash, it was super effective. enemy Varus tried to flee. Jarvander's Cataclysm prevents it from leaving the battle. Jarvander uses badassery. Wild varus has fainted.

That's pretty much how it goes. EQ combo. Auto attack them until they flash or use their escape. Then ult and go for the finish. You can also use your ult to dunk unsuspecting targets and as a large source of damage in 1 v 1s. Another use is separating your enemy from your team.

REMEMBER TO CANCEL YOUR ULTI IF YOU MESS UP. You cannot cancel your ult when silenced so be careful around champions like Soraka, Malzahar, Garen, and Fiddlesticks.

Also, remember that you don't have to cancel your ulti to leave. You can EQ combo out of your ult thus isolating an enemy without risking yourself.

Anyways, take points in this at 6, 11, and 16 just like every other champion with a useful ultimate.

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Choosing Mid Jarvan in Champion Select

Communicate with your team! Jarvan does not deal magic damage except on his E. This means that you're probably going to need some sort of magic damage elsewhere on your team. If you can convince your team to play an AP top or jungler, you're going to be in a lot better position come mid to late game.

Another thing, having a toxic team can really mess up your teamwork and ability to win. If you're team starts raging at you the second you even try to suggest J4 Mid. It may be best to just hold off and try it in a different game. It's viable, but it's not meta and some people really hate breaking the meta.

In terms of strategic team comp, Jarvan can be a crucial part of several standard team comps. His ulti makes him amazing for poke, aoe and hard engage team comps. But understand that in these comps, you may not get to build the way you want, and going mid lane might not be the best choice.

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Starting Items

You've got to analyze your matchup. This is massive. Against most traditional mids, I take a Long Sword and 2 Health Potions. This is going to give you a lot of early lane dominance and the longsword builds into items you're going to need later. If you're dealing with an AP mid that's strong early game like Kennen, Kayle, or Diana I might consider going Null-Magic Mantle or Crystalline Flask and pots. Against AD mids like Pantheon or Zed, it's sometimes worth it to start Cloth Armor and 5 pots.

You might notice that I don't pick up wards in any of my starting items and here's why: I love wards. Wards are excellent. But to be safe of ganks, you have to drop 150 of your starting 475 gold on wards. That's not a small amount. Especially when there are a few tricks to keep you safe.
  • It's the start of the game, your flash is up. It's far better to flash than to die.
  • You're going to put a lot of damage on the enemy mid laner at level 2. At this point, the enemy mid should start playing pretty passive. If you see the enemy getting more aggressive, even with lower health, for instance trying to flank you, RUN. This means you're getting ganked. It's that simple.
  • If you do get ganked, the natural move for junglers is to come in behind you and cut off your escape. Aim you EQ combo over the jungler so as to get back towards your tower and knock him up in the process. This will buy you a little time.
  • Don't be stupid in lane. Understand that you have no wards so do your best not to push the lane, then if it does push, go do your wraiths or something. Don't go try to farm under the enemy tower.
All of that said, there is a pretty solid way to start J4 with some sight wards. If you start Rejuvenation Bead a couple sight wards and some pots, you'll be able to stay in lane for a good amount of time ane be pretty safe, but you're sacrificing kill potential and pretty much guaranteeing that you're going to build Ravenous Hydra.

First Back

I like to stay in lane for as long as possible, usually until I hit 6 or 7. At this point, you should have plenty of cash. BUY TWO WARDS. Right off the bat. If it means you can't buy the item you wanted to buy, then you should have stayed in lane a little longer. Next, if you can afford a B. F. Sword, get it. If not, grab a The Brutalizer. And if you can't afford that, get a Vampiric Scepter. With any extra gold grab boots and pots.

Getting the Damages

Before laning phase is over, you ideally want to have your main damage item, Mercury's Treads, and a The Brutalizer. This is assuming you're not losing horribly, at which point you should be building your defensive items first. Anyways, I provided 3 options for main damage items and here's how you choose between them:

The Bloodthirster
This used to be my favorite option. It gives you MASSIVE burst potential with your ult and your q. Plus, it gives really good sustain, which Jarvan lacks entirely. The only draw back to this, is that it's really hard to itemize. B. F. Sword is hard to buy in one back. Also, even though it boosts the power on your auto attacks, it doesn't quite do what Ravenous Hydra or Blade of the Ruined King can do.

Ravenous Hydra
This item seems like it would split the difference between auto attacking and burst potential while not doing either as well as The Bloodthirster or Blade of the Ruined King, but it's definitely your best choice. It is a bit easier to itemize than The Bloodthirster and provides almost as good damage and sustain. Surprisingly enough, the health regen which is generally considered ridiculous on this item stacks with your Spirit Visage if you decide to pick one up (which you should), it lets you split push super quickly, and the real reason this item is amazing is the auto attack reset. I don't suggest jumping into their whole team and whiddling them down with the splash damage passive. Get nice and alone with their carries, blow your skills then mash the active on hydra and watch their health instantly melt away. Your burst potential once you get Ravenous Hydra is by far larger than The Bloodthirster with that active ability and its on hit effects are so much more usefull than Blade of the Ruined King

Blade of the Ruined King
This is by far the easiest to itemize and is honestly one of the best items in the game. That's why it's built in nearly 100% of games right now. That being said, this is not a damage item, and as J4 you need the damages. BOTRK has an excellent active, an ok passive and provides attack speed and sustain. You just sacrifice a lot of burst potential to get it. Plus, as stated before, its on hit passive has nothing on Ravenous Hydra.

Getting Tanky

For tank items, I almost always build Spirit Visage and either Randuin's Omen or Frozen Heart. But other options include Guardian Angel, Frozen Mallet, and Locket of the Iron Solari

Spirit Visage
This is hands down the best magic resist item out there. It gives health regen, MR health and boosts your sustain. That's huge considering the damage items discussed previously all give lifesteal. This items just synergizes with the rest of the build too well to pass it up. The only time I don't get this item is when I'm absurdly fed and I go straight for a GA. Also, 20% cdr ZOMG thank you.

Randuin's Omen/ Frozen Heart
Attack speed redux is so op right now. Choosing between these two items is really a matter of preference. I usually build Frozen Heart if my team is doing well because its really good in team fights and applies that attack speed debuff to their whole team, even when I'm not being focused. Plus just like Spirit Visage, you get 20% cdr. Radouin's is excellent if you've got to carry because it provides more health, an active slow, and the attack speed debuff is still going to work because you're going to be focused. Buuuuut no cdr. Sad day.

Guardian Angel
Little bit of MR, little bit of Armor plus and EXTRA LIFE! GA is amazing if you can afford it. If you're fed beyond belief, get it. I like to pair it with Frozen Mallet personally for the health, but it can work with any other defensive items.

Frozen Mallet
If you want health, get a FroMal. I like warmogs just as much as the next guy, but FroMal gives chase potential, damage, and health as opposed to just health and health regen. Both are good options but I like FroMal on J4. Note: BOTRK, liandry's and other % health damage ***** on FroMal, so choose when you buy it wisely.

Locket of the Iron Solari
I get this when I'm behind. It's easy to itemize and your team will love you. Plus if you're behind, you're going to need your team to stay alive and this is the best item for that. It doesn't really compare to other tank items though, so let your jungler or support get it if you're ahead.

Finishing Up

As soon as team fighting starts, finish whatever tank item you're building then build The Black Cleaver. It's huge to have that armor shred in team fights and the other ADs on your team will thank you.

Once you've built your second tank item, you've got your BC, and you're looking to win the game. I highly suggest a Last Whisper. It gives damage and armor pen. What more could you want.

Finally, you've got a choice. It's super late game. I rarely ever get to this point in my build, but you've got to make a choice. If you're winning sell your boots for a Zephyr if not, make sure you have that homeguard and start buying elixers.

Common Questions

Why not Hexdrinker?
One of the first comments on this guide was essentially: Why would you suggest an AD bruiser Mid and not have Hexdrinker as a possible item?

Hexdrinker is by no means a bad item to build, and Maw of Malmortius can be very good in certain situations, but its just too gold inefficient for me personally to consider. If you want to buy early magic resist, pick up a Null-Magic Mantle and build it into Mercury's Treads or a Locket of the Iron Solari later. Or, if you can afford it, rushing Spectre's Cowl is a really good way to get an early resistance advantage on their APC. Plus it builds into Spirit Visage which is hands down, my favorite magic resist item.

Let's talk about gold efficiency though, because that's my biggest issue with Maw of Malmortius and its daughter item Hexdrinker. Here's a quick description of Maw's gold efficiency:

This video suggests that (shield aside) this item is overpriced by 280 gold at max HP (which you're going to have when you initiate). You have to lose 17.5% of their health for this to even break gold efficiency. Now compare that to Ravenous Hydra which is 720 gold over gold efficient not considering its AMAZING Passive and Active. Beyond this, let's consider what you'd have to give up in your final build in order to incorporate Maw of Malmortius. My final build has 1 massive damage item, 2 defensive items, The Black Cleaver, Last Whisper and a movement speed item. I've already established that Ravenous Hydra is far more gold efficient than Maw of Malmortius so sacrificing one for the other would seem silly. Taking maw as your MR item would mean sacrificing Spirit Visage which gives you health, more mr, and synergizes with the life steal and health regen of Ravenous Hydra, plus you lose 20% CDR (only 10 really because of The Brutalizer and a 40% cap, but still)... I don't suggest this. You could flip Maw of Malmortius in for one of your armor shred items but then, you're sacrificing damage on your abilities and auto attacks. That 450 base damage on Cataclysm wouldn't be nearly as strong. Maw of Malmortius just doesn't have a place in this final build.

But what if you just bought Hexdrinker then sold it later? Good question. Doing this would mean throwing away 405 gold. That's ridiculous considering you could have just rushed Spectre's Cowl in the first place and kept it as part of your final build. This is just a guide. If you loooove Hexdrinker that much, then by all means, pick it up. I personally don't and I dont suggest it.

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Lane Phase


Jarvan has a solid auto attack animation and pretty good auto attack range for a melee. He also has Martial Cadence to help last hitting minions, which is really just stupidly op. If you decide to roam and you want to push your lane (assuming you have a The Brutalizer or similar amount of damage) you can auto attack each of the melee minions once, then q through all the melee minions and the ranged minions, and you should be able clear the whole wave. You can also just combo onto the back minions then turn and finish off the melees with a couple autos. However, it is important to note that you need both your e and q in order to perform your combo, so using either puts you at an increased risk to a gank, so after using one, back up a bit.

Your First Engage

I usually play pretty safe until Level 2 or 3 at which point I start looking for an opportunity to combo onto the enemy mid laner. Remember that if the enemy is in a position to get caught, you won't have wards so it could be a bait. Just play it by feel, and don't do anything too risky. When you get your chance, do your EQ combo onto the enemy mid. I try to land my E on the champ for maximum damage, but it's sometimes safer to aim the e behind the enemy and q through him to ensure the knock up. After the knock up, you should be able to immediately get one or two auto attacks off, procing your Martial Cadence and then just walk back. This type of engage will easy take half the health of most typical mid laners, especially if you started with a Long Sword. A lot of times this will be enough to bait a flash.


1. Recieving a Gank
When the jungler's ready, LAND YOUR COMBO! Auto attack while the enemy champ is knocked up. Use Golden Aegis once they've landed. Assuming your jungler lands his CC/is going to be able to do damage, proc ignite and keep autoing. If the enemy champ flashes or uses an escape, follow up with your ult. Otherwise save it for the dunk. You should be able to dive towers, but DO NOT TRAP A LOW HEALTH JUNGLER UNDER THE TOWER WITH YOUR ULT. That is the biggest scumbag thing you can do. If you're ulting under tower, use it for damage, then cancel it. Also, if they've burned flash or their escape, you should use your ult before they get under tower. With all of Jarvan's CC, it should be easy to secure a kill before the enemy reaches the tower.

2. Being Ganked
I talked about this a little in the item section, but I'll address it more here. If the enemy mid is playing really aggressive when you think they shouldn't be. It's probably not a mistake. You're probably about to get ganked so back up. Also, ward. I like to put a ward on the bottom side of red buff on the baron side and in the circluar brush just down river on dragon side. These should give you plenty of warning for most ganks except for instance Nocturne or Zac. As I said before, if you have to Flash, flash, because it's better than dying. If you're dead anyways, don't flash cause there's no point. If they let you get away with Ignite on you thinking it will kill you. eat a pot and use Golden Aegis. If you still die, you're only out 35 gold. If you don't die, then you've kept the enemy from getting 300 gold. It's worth. If the jungler somehow gets behind you, EQ combo through them, even if it takes you from the straightest path back to your tower. The knock up is huge and will actually buy you time.

3. Ganking other Lanes
As Jarvan, you can push really well. If you're winning your lane, sometimes it's best to push and then go gank other lanes. Ganking is pretty straight foreward. Land your combo and wait to ult until they've blown their escapes or you can finish them with it. You can also gank towers. If the enemy top laner leaves their lane and the minions are at about half, push your lane real fast then go top and try to finish off the tower with your top laner. You can throw your E down behind you while you're fighting the tower, this will let you q to it to escape if you get ganked while taking the tower, and it will give an attack speed buff to you and your allies. Furthermore, placing the standard right up by the tower sometimes has it too far away to grant the buff to ranged allies, so always throw it behind you.

4. When your Opponent goes to Roam
If your opponent leaves lane, one of three things is happening: they've gone back to buy and heal, they're going to their blue/dragon buff, or they're ganking another lane. If your opponent leaves, the first thing you should do is push. Threatening their tower can sometimes force them to abandon their previous plan and return to lane. The second thing to do is watch your minimap. If you know where they're going, you can counter gank. This can be DEVESTATING. Finally, if its about time for their blue to come up, tell your jungler and try to make a play. You can grant vision with your standard and your jungler can smite it over the wall. Giving the enemy mid blue buff can be the worst thing for you and will often cost you your lane. Similarly, getting blue buff can ensure you win your lane so be nice to your jungler and hope for the best.

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Team Fighting

Do destroy squishies, and you can go through their entire team without even blinking... what does this mean. It means kill those back line, high priority targets. Their adc should be no problem for you, and even if you can't kill him, you can make him run so he's not dishing out absurd amounts of damage in the team fight. An EQ Combo, auto attack, ult, auto attack, should be more than enough to burst most ADCs and APCs in less than a 1.5 seconds. If it's not, be sure to proc ignite earlier so as to cut their healing.

As an ADC when you're getting focused and bursted, your inclination is to stay further back away from the fight and be more cautious. This is great for you. Surprisingly, it's easier to kill carries when they're further back away from their team as Jarvan because of his triple jump gap closer that doesn't just pass through enemies, but knocks them up as he goes. Plus, when the adc is so far back, there are fewer people to peel for him. Anyways, it should be easy to get the ADC.

Once that's done turn and look for your next target. If you have anyone else trapped in your ult with you, kill them. If an enemy is channeling an ability, for instance Malzahar or Warwick ulting, use your combo to knock them up. Otherwise, just focus the APC and support and let the rest of your team finish of their tanks.

Other important objectives are to peel for your carries and stay alive. If it looks like you're going to lose a team fight, get away! Do not die if you can't win the team fight. Being alive to defend is so much more important. Similarly, do not let your ADC die if you can help it. If you can win the fight with just you and your adc alive, you can easily take objectives like dragon, towers and inhibs.

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I'll write these up as soon as I get the chance