General Guide by Ur Little Sister
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.
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.
Hi everybody, and welcome to my guide to mid lane.
I, Ur Little Sister, am pretty much your average LoL player in most aspects of the game. I truely love mid lane, and after many games mid I've become pretty decent at it.
This guide has the following goals:
- Give players new to mid lane (or LoL in general) a feeling for what this lane is, and information on how to get started
- Provide in depth information about mid lane, and helping mediocre mid lane players improve their general influence on the game and carry.
- Offer an extensive guide to what is possible, and maybe give some insight into when unconventional picks are viable, or why they are unconventional to begin with. This part includes the AP yi build I posted, and is also meant to give mid players who get bored with "the same old thing" some new ideas!
This guide only covers current meta picks in mid lane (Mages for the most). The guide is meant to become quite extensive eventually. Suggestions to what you would like to read or sections of the guide you disagree with are always welcome.
For now it's still under construction. I'm not going to give guides on all champions that are playable mid, but the idea is to have some information on the ones I play (info on what type of champion they are, where you can find reliable guides on them, and how to counter them. I have however decided not to share information that I didn't obtain first-hand.
Please do note that the builds posted on top here are NOT meant to be the optimal builds for level 30 players with runes, masteries and experience. They are meant to be evenly distributed across all different types of builds (funzie builds, different champion types, different skill levels).
Grammar Nazi's are invited to give me their best shot too!
A note on the builds I posted
The builds that come top with this guide are meant to be:
- Representative of different types of mid champions
- Representations of different levels of play (The Annie build posted is a beginner's build; the posted Kat build is used at 2k+ ELO)
- Sampled from champions that I personally have a good deal of experience with
- Examples that can be used for reference material throughout this guide
They are NOT meant to be full builds of said champions.
If you want to master specific champions, the section "The Great Champion List!" gives you an idea of what a champion is like, and where to find reliable information on how to build them properly. If you find any of these descriptions lacking, feel free to leave a message and I'll update to the best of my abilities. (Meaning I'm not an expert on ALL of the champions that are played mid. For example: don't ask me for Cassiopeia guides. I know who and what she is, but I have not come close to mastering her.)
What is mid lane?
Mid lane is the lane running through the middle of the map. (Name kind of gave it away, didn't it?)
Mid lane is the shortest route between the 2 teams' bases. The turrets in this lane are packed the closest together. For the laning phase, this implies that it is easy to quickly retreat to your turret in mid. For this reason, quishy high-damage ranged champions (mages / AP carries) are played mid during the laning phase.
Said mages can fulfill different roles or playstyles. The champions in mid lane are in most cases at their strongest in the midgame. Usually, these mages are high damage ranged burst-type champions. Their goal is to quickly annihalate key targets on the ennemy team.
Types of mid champions
In this section I try to divide the most common mid champions / strategies into categories. Mind that champions can be a combination of different types, and that not all champions will fit into these categories. Every category comes with a (or "the") classic example.
Combo Mage (eg: Brand)
A combo mage has a high burst damage potential. These guys are often capable of oblitherating entire teams in the right circomstances. However, they rely on chaining their spells together, and usually require one or more skillshots to be effective. They almost always have built-in cc, and usually have a nasty habit of lacking escape mechanisms.
DPS Mage (eg: Karthus)
These mages have a high damage per second. They have the potential to deal the most magic damage in the game, and typically scale very hard into the lategame. They are often notoriously difficult to play however, and can be more gold-reliant than their peers. They are also often frail.
Powerfarmers (eg: Morgana)
These mages generally focus on farming every minion off of every creep wave with one or more dedicated skills. Many champions can do this, but some better than others. They are often champions with a way of escaping ganks, who have strong teamfights. They choose this strategy because it's extremely safe, and they want to rely on their superior lategame.
Assassins (eg: LeBlanc)
Assassins are built for killing champions quickly, and getting away with it. They can flourish mid because they can basically run everywhere across the map to pick off overextending ennemies and snowball. They rely on a strong early / midgame, and generally fall off a bit more than their peers towards the lategame. Dynamic high risk / high reward champions.
Assassins usually have strong early or midgames, but fall off the hardest of all champions if they get denied during their time in the spotlight. In general, they have the largest realistic strength range (ranging anywhere from absolutely useless to single-handedly winning games depending on how denied/fed they are.)
Tanky Bruiser-mages (eg: Swain)
These mages pack a punch, and can take one too. They are generally good at skirmishes and prolongued fights. How they scale, how much utility they have and where their strong points are vary quite largely in this group.
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration is THE best mark choice for all mages. Period.
Other runes vary.
Almost all mana using mages benefit from Greater Seal of Replenishment. Flat mana regen usually beats scaling, because you'll be getting the blue buff late, and probabely buying some mana or mana regen anyway.
Non-mana using mages generally get Greater Seal of Vitality. Partially because the lack of alternatives.
For glyphs, Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power and Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist are by far the most popular choices.
As for quints, Greater Quintessence of Ability Power is the most popular pick, though there are other quints that are very powerful too depending on who you play and personal preference. Common stats to go into are Health, Movement speed, AP or Movement Speed. Almost everybody I know prefers a flat bonus over a scaling one off of quints, for the early game boost.
Beginners, what do?
You're new to mid lane and want to get started? This is your section!
First, try to get the main runes I suggested in the previous section. They work on the vast majority of mid champions.
For champions, might I suggest Annie, Morgana and Brand.
Annie is a very easy champion. She's very robuste, and barely requires any aiming at all. She's a short ranged burst mage. I feel she has less potential than most of her peers, but she's still very strong when mastered, and she's easy to master :). The build I added for Annie on this page is a beginners build by the way!
Morgana is the queen of the powerpushers. This is a very safe playstyle, so it's beginner-friendly.
Brand is WAY more difficult than Annie or Morgana. The thing about brand though, is that he's one of the most versitile mid champions. He's king combo mage, and requires hitting several skillshots to be effective. Learning him takes some time as a beginner, but he teaches you every general principle you need to know for mid lane. He's rewarding to learn, and a very potent killing machine.
On all of these champions, you can buy boots + 3 health potions early, farm up gold for a Catalyst The Protector, and then get Rod of Ages. The Rod of Ages gives you sustainability, health, mana and AP. It's a very good and balanced out item for beginning players. Weather or not you should get it once you have gotten the hang of mid depends on several factors, but in general it becomes obsolete.
Mid lane is difficult to gank. There are many escape routes, and many mid champions are highly mobile. Ganking mid against an aware player almost always implies burning summoner spells. Ganks are also sometimes unfavorable mid because unsuccesful ganks generally create an experience disadvantage over your opponent. (Minions die, you split the xp with your jungler, and if you didn't harm your laning opponent enough in the gank, you can get a temporary level disadvantage. And level (dis)advantages are a HUGE factor mid.)
Generally, you should be fine without jungler ganks mid, and you can possibly be better off without early jungler help. This isn't to say that you shoulnd't ever get ganks, but that you should think 2ce about them. Ask for them against ennemies with no innate escape mechanisms ( Malzahar, Mordekaizer, pre-6 Kassadin), but don't bother when it's not doable (post-6 Kassadin, post-6 Ahri,...).
If you want to gank a mobile champion, it is often necessary to bait them into using their escape skill. Beware you don't get bursted down in the process though!
Minion wave control
Minion wave control is very important mid. Mages scale off of experience very hard, so zoning your opponent out of experience gives you a huge lead. Creep score is important, and you should get every lasthit you can. However, mid usually has the lowest farm of the 3 lanes due to the heavy harassment going on. Eating a nuke in order to get a creep is almost never worth it.
When you're mid, pushing waves out and getting pushed out is common and it's essential that you understand what to do when. If you can safely let an ennemy turret lasthit minions, it's almost always worth doing so, because you create a gold advantage over your ennemy and possibly a level advantage. (<-- This is why you push out your wave if your ennemy recalled.)
Minion damage is usually negligable mid due to fights being short (burst damage!) and due to (most) spells not triggering minion focus contrary to auto-attacks. Early on however (due to you not having armor), these guys hurt!
Many (most) lanes mid have skillshots. Whenever there are skillshots involved, the importance of minion wave control increases drastically! You want to hit your skillshots, and avoid getting hit by the ennemy ones. Minions serve two purposes:
- blocking skillshots
- bodyblocking champions trying to avoid skillshots
Keep this in mind. Positioning relative to minions is something only experience can teach you. As a rule of thumb, try not to let a champion with linear skillshots (like Thundering Shuriken) get a larger minion wave than you, and try not to be near minions when juking AoE skillshots (like Pillar of Flame).
Good players will time their agression not only with the ennemy's HP and position, but also with favorable minion positions. (A good example is when fighting say Kennen, who's main damage comes from a linear skillshot ( Thundering Shuriken), to agress on him when you have a friendly minion wave incoming. If he tries to counterharass, you can juke behind the incoming wave.)
Experience and level advantage.
This is a focus point for mid lane. Mages scale with levels more than with items. The most surefire way to win your lane mid is to get a significant experience advantage over your opponent. It's also the best way to win mid!
Let me explain that last statement:
Mages get their damage from their spells. A huge portion of this damage (usually between 100% and 40% depending on the stage of the game and the mage in question) comes from the base damages on their spells, and magic penetration. This means that even if you dominate your laning opponent in lane, or have a good cs lead on him, he's still a threat. All it takes is a bit of luck or a couple of mistakes from your teammates to feed this mage some kills. He can get back into the game fast!
However, if you deny him of levels, then you deny him of damage hugely (higher cooldowns + less base damage on his skills), making it A LOT harder for him to get back into the game than had you only gotten a large gold advantage.
In conclusion: do whatever you can to deny your opponent of experience, and to get experience yourself. If your opponent leaves the lane, push it hard so that the ennemy turret kills your wave and that experience is lost.
Also note that in the laning phase, most mages have abrupt power increases, coinciding with level gain (Assassins hitting level 6 is in general an extreme example of this). This means that getting a level advantage (even if it only lasts for a short time) is a good trigger to get agressive. If you read the section on killing: this is the kind of trigger I'm talking about. If you can anticipate a level advantage (for example because you avoided an ennemy jungler gank and you saw the ennemy jungler take 1 or 2 creeps), you can prepare an attack.
Skillshots are a plenty in mid lane. Therefore, you MUST learn how to avoid getting hit!
A previous section explained minion wave control, and how this can help you juke (or screw it up). However, you need basic dodging skills and reflexes.
Most of this comes from experience. However, here are some pointers:
Linear skillshots (eg: Infected Cleaver, Thundering Shuriken, Dark Binding)
Beginners often suddenly take a 90 degree angle when running away from a skillshot champion chasing them. This is wrong. The angle you have to take when trying to escape a skillshot champion depends on how far you are away from them, and how fast their skillshot is.
Think of it this way: running directly away from a linear skillshot increases the time it takes for the skill to reach (and hit) you. But by how much? That depends on how far you are away from the ennemy champion when he casts the skillshot.
Rule of thumb: the further away you are from a linear skillshot champion, the more you can approximate running in a straight line. The closer you are to them, the more you need to approximate running in circles around them (purely tangential motion).
AoE skillshots (eg: Nevermove, Pillar of Flame, Rupture)
These are hard to juke. Usually you'll get led into it (meaning they'll cast it in the path that you are taking). Changing paths abruptly can help you juke this. The best escape is to run directly away from the center of the spell. Often however, you cannot do this without dying. In this case, use a dash/blink or be ****ed.
A lot of mid champions have skillshots, and hitting them is key to winning mid. Skillshots have the annoying possibility to just waste mana and do nothing at all. You definately want to avoid this!
Skillshots are a threat! They are generally stronger than regular skills due to you actually having to hit them. For this reason, it's not a smart idea to spam them, as it usually means losing lane control until your skillshot is back up. (This goes for linear skillshots more than delayed AoE's).
Leading your skillshot
This is the first step in learning to hit them. If you cast a shot, they will try to juke it. So you should cast it towards the area where they are most likely to go. This generally is towards the open area (no minions, no terrain, no champions) closest to your opponent.
Leading skillshots is especially easy against fleeing opponents. Also mind that you can use terrain and minions to your advantage! Against ennemies close to a wall, don't aim into the wall, aim next to it so they just don't have enough room to dodge by wallhugging.
Timing is crucial. You should time skillshots whilst your ennemy is performing an action. Doing 2 things at the same time is hard, and if your timing is good, the opponent will have to choose between performing their action and juking your shot.
Good actions to interrupt with a shot are:
- agressing on you (whilst they're trying to close the gap! This will force them to either juke (thus move away and fail to get in range) or eat your shot)
Smartcasting is used to reduce the amount of clicks you take. Basically, activating smartcasting (check key bindings for this) makes your spells automatically target whatever is under your mouse when you cast them, without the need for clicking this target.
The obvious disadvantage is that you don't have the visual indicator of your spell's range, or (in case of skillshots) trajectory / area of effect anymore. The advantage however is the time it saves you.
Smartcasting is a great help on combo mages, and is in my mind imperative when playing as or against assassins. You can choose which spells you smartcast and which you don't. As an example, when I play LeBlanc, I smartcast all spells. When playing Brand however, I used to never smartcast my Pillar of Flame, as I want to be able to position it perfectly when powerfarming minions. (It's usually advantageous to hit every single minion when powerfarming/pushing. Sometimes, this requires pretty precise aiming of skills like Pillar of Flame or Tormented Soil.)
Note that you can, in the same menu, also find options to smartcast item slots. I greatly encourage this for assassins or combo mages who get Deathfire Grasp or Hextech Gunblade.
There are several champion types mid. However, reguardless of type, cs is important. Now this might sound like a weird intro for a "harass" section, but bare with me.
Mid champions are the kings of harassing. Their range and common ability to aim their spells (skillshots) makes it easy for them to damage opponents. However, they are also good jukers. Because of this (and because those minions give you your most important resource as AP carry: XP) harass is usually centered around minions.
Most harass abilities will try to force an ennemy to either miss lasthits or get damaged. If you are ahead of your opponent, you can harass to deny (this means keeping them out of range of the minions so they can't get gold and experience at all). Killing is NOT the primary goal.
As a sidenote, be aware of the concept "free harrass". It's simple: if you can get in harass without your opponent being able to retaliate, DO IT! I don't care if it's a low amount of damage that you got in, if there's no retaliation, then it puts you ahead in lane with no drawbacks whatsoever! Be aware that free harass exists, and try to analize in which situations/matchups you can acheive it. Examples:
- Using a targetted spell against a skillshot-reliant champion, whilst having a surefire way to juke his skillshots.
- Using targetted spells that outrange your opponent
- Any ranged harass used against a champion that has too little mana for his spells
When harassing with skillshots, it's often a good idea to time your shots with an opponent's lasthit. Keep track of the health of his minions as well as yours, because it's MUCH harder to dodge a skill when you want to get a lasthit than when you only have to focus on juking. Also keep track of the flow of the lane. Most lanes get patterns after a while, and breaking them can be powerful. Consider this example:
You are Brand. Your ennemy is Morgana, who is a notorious powerfarmer. You're both lvl 7. Every time the minion waves meet, she uses her Tormented Soil to clear the minions. She then walks back to avoid getting harassed, and tries auto-attacking melee minions for lasthits afterwards. (At lvl 7, her Tormented Soil is at lvl 4, kills all caster minions, but not the melee ones.) This is when you harass with Pillar of Flame. If you see a fit opportunity, you can break this pattern and get the kill: when the waves join in the middle, she will walk towards the minions to cast Tormented Soil again. This time, you Pillar of Flame her immediately. She will probabely use Black Shield to absorb most damage, but at this level you nuke should break her shield. Instantly Flash Conflagration Sear Ignite Pyroclasm and auto-attack her. It's imperative that you know how much health she needs to be at for this kill though.
Killing is something you do if your opponent has made mistakes (bad positioning, not counting summoner spells, staying in lane after eating too much harass) or if you have a big lead over him for some reason.
Mid is the burst damage lane. Kills happen fast. It's important that you have a feel for exactly what it will take to kill an opponent, and once you decide to go for the kill you must go all in and do what it takes. A kill is a high risk / high reward investment, so make sure you get it! Surprise your opponents! Don't plan the kill out whilst you're doing it, make sure you have the plan ready before you jump. Generally going for a kill requires a certain trigger ("If he walks to this exact area, I can flash+stun him and get the kill"; "if my jungler runs up to that spot..."; if he wastes his main damage skill on minions... )
Always know what can go wrong (which is almost never nothing). Anticipate what the risks of your kill attempt are and have a plan for when they occur. Don't towerdive without a blink ready to escape. Don't engage full on when you have no idea where everybody else is.
General item choices and build paths
Almost every mage benefits from starting with Boots of Speed + 3 Health Potions. The added mobility allows for you to dodge ennemy skillshots easyer, reposition yourself faster, and thus farm better. The health potions allow you to stay in lane longer early, until you get your early items.
For mages, their first items are generally the most important. Most mid champions are fully ready to play their role after getting 1 major item and boots.
A classic opening after the boots is buying 2 Doran's Rings, because this gives you very powerful base stats. After this, you're pretty much free to invest in huge offense ( Rabbadon's Deathcap). If you have a strong frontline, this is generally followed up with a Void Staff. The combination of deathcap and void staff is the highest damaging item combo for most mages in the game.
Another opening that's played often is not getting any doran's rings, and instead doing for a Catalyst The Protector early, and quickly upgrading it into a Rod of Ages. This makes you more durable, but you lose some damage.
Manaless champions generally don't play either of these openings (due to not wanting to invest money into mana or mana regeneration). Instead, they usually build Hextech Revolver and build it into a Will of the Ancients or Hextech Gunblade depending on the champion and circomstances. This abuses how well spell vamp and no mana costs go together.
For upgrading the boots, Sorcorer's Shoes are the most popular choice. They are also almost always the best choice (only Vladimir can really pull off another set). Upgrading boots is something you generally do somewhere between when you're building towards your first big item, and right after you've built it.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter is a popular item for tanky mages and long ranged mages. It adds some utility, and makes you more durable.
Will of the Ancients is a classic item on mages with high AoE damage. It gives them good sustainability in lane. Also syergises well with manaless champions in general.
Abyssal Scepter is a good item to get if you're a short-ranged mage, or if in general the opposing team is very heavily focussed on magic damage. However, it's very bad to get this item in combination with Void Staff due to how magic penetration works. Never buy both items.
Deathfire Grasp is a cool item since the remake. It used to be niche, but right now it's pretty much a solid item choice against champions with high health pools. You typically want to get this on high damage burst mages (combo mages or assassins).
Athene's Unholy Grail is the Trinity Force of mages. I do NOT recommend getting this early (unless you're Galio), but it is a very, VERY strong followup item once you have your main damage items. It's basically 80 AP + a blue buff. Sidenote: obviously a no-go for manaless champions.
Zhonya's Hourglass is a great item for burst mages in general (especially combo mages). It gives you a "save me" button if you're about to die because your spells are on cooldown. It also synergises very well with ultimates that create damaging aura's around your champion ( Slicing Maelstrom, Crowstorm, Soul Shackles). The best time to use the active is when you're getting focussed. Sounds logical, but many mages use it prematurely.
Ignite and Flash are the most common combination. And for a good reason! There is no other combination that outclasses it on any mage, and there are few alternatives.
The reasons for this are:
Ignite gives you an extra burst skill. And burst damage/fights is what kill attempts at mid are all about. Combined with the heal reduction to negate ennemy sustain (spellvamp) or Sorakas that might thwart your kill attempt, this skill is vital.
Flash gives you an instantaneous surprise initiation/escape. Pretty much what this lane is about.
Teleport can be ok-ish if you have teammates you know. There are some tricks that you can pull off with it (like charging Rift Walk on the summoner platform, teleporting to a ward and instagibbing an ennemy) and it can be valuable on champions with low mobility, but overall it's usually not worth getting as mage.
Clarity is ok if you don't have runes yet and are playing a mana hungry champion.
Ghost can be used over flash by Vladimir due to synergy with Sanguine Pool.
Exhaust is sometimes taken, but almost never good on a mage. (Especially not on Katarina, despite it being one of the more popular summoner spells on her.)
Surge is a very weird niche skill that I've honastly never seen used succesfully mid. Remember, if it doesn't do more than Ignite, it's a waste of a slot! Champions that might benefit from this hypothetically are Fizz, Orianna and Kog'Maw mid. But honastly, don't do it if you're in a learning stage.
Consumables are a great help mid. Mid can be a very, very agressive lane, and consumables offer you a low cost temporary advantage over your opponent, that you can activate at will. I almost always have some consumables in my inventory, reguardless of which champion I'm playing mid.
Health Potions are the most used ones. They are great when you're getting harassed frequently. Basically, a health potion pretty much negates 1 harass nuke that you swallowed. They're especially good against long ranged harass champions ( Brand, Ziggs, Xerath). They're also good against champions that deal damage based on max health ( Fizz).
Sight Wards can be huge. If you can keep 1 spot warded, your team can ward the entire river and essentially have maximum map awareness with 4 wards. Wards can also act as objects to use Teleport or Shunpo on, or your friendly jungler's Leap Strike or Safeguard / Iron Will. Keep in mind: if you dominate your lane, you will probabely get ganked sooner or later.
Elixir of Brilliance is the next most logical item for mid champions. It should mainly be gotten for the cooldown reduction. The fact that this item exists is one of the reasons why it's generally bad to get Ionian Boots of Lucidity on mages. If you need the cooldown reduction, try getting the blue buff and one of these pots. Due to these babies, cooldown reduction is much easyer to get than magic pen. Hence usually Sorcerer's Shoes > Ionian Boots of Lucidity.
Elixir of Fortitude is a less common pick. However, it's strong on champions like Katarina or Fizz who still scale with AD in some way, and can use the health to win direct fights (and snowball off of them). These are basically a cheap way of acheiving a quick edge in fights to the death. Also mind, activating this pot works INSTANTLY, so it can save you from what could be a certain death *cough Requiem cough*.
The Great Champion List!
This section will probabely become big. The idea is to give some solid information on champions that I have experience with. The extent of this infomation is limited by which champions I play myself, and my own experiences in the mid lane.
Champions are put in alphabetical order.
Annie is a very robuste mage. She has short-ranged spells that are almost impossible to miss with. She has a mediocre potential at best, but it is very, VERY hard to stop her from acheiving it. She has one of the longest auto-attack ranges in the game, which gives her a funny harsssing tool. Her farming capibilities are good.
She's a slow, rather immobile champion. Though the robusteness of her kit make her great against mobile ennemies.
She has great cc!
How did I learn this champion?
Annie was the first champion I really mastered in LoL. I learned her from this guide: http://leaguecraft.com/strategies/guide/7837-in-depth-guide-to-annie.xhtml
This is the most in depth guide I've ever read. I don't agree with everything it sais anymore, but honastly if you can master all that's in this guide these days, you're still a damn good annie player.
Pyromania is Annie's stun skill. She uses it in combination with any of her other skills. Casting her Q, W or R spell will consume this mark and she won't be able to stun anymore for 4 casts. What not many players know is that there's an exception to this mechanic: if you use Pyromania with Disintegrate on a target that becomes untargettable *cough Sanguine Pool Seastone Trident cough*, your stun will NOT be consumed and you'll still have it.
Annie is very difficult to counter due to how robuste she is. Many players suggest LeBlanc, but that's NOT an option against a good Annie. In lower levels of play though, Leblanc does work like a charm.
Countering her with a mage I'd put my money on Brand due to Annie not having dashes or blinks, and Brand outranging her. He also outdamages her. However, acheiving Annie's guaranteed damage on Brand is difficult.
The best counter to an Annie who's truely mastered Annie is to break the meta and pick a tanky champion with gap-closer that outsustains her damage. Jarvan IV has worked like a charm before.
Brand is a long ranged combo mage. He has different spellcombos which are all optimal in different situations. He deals high damage, and has some utility too. The main attraction towards Brand in my case is that he is an archetype of what a mid champion is! There is pretty much not a single strategy he can't pull off, and on top of that it's very hard to stop him from farming.
He has huge area of effect damage, allowing you to take down disorganized teams hard.
How did I learn this champion?
I learned this champion back in the days when I mained Kennen. I got stomped so hard by a Brand who mained Kennen himself and just outplayed me hard. The build I used was Reginalds guide: http://www.solomid.net/guides.php?g=2587
Mind that if you have a bad team, you also have the option to rely on base damages with Brand, and just rush Rod of Ages and Rylai's Crystal Scepter. This combination makes you insanely tanky, whilst still dealing ok damage. Brand has high base damages if you can chain his spells together well :).
Brand excells at 2v1 fights if there are no minions around. All he really has to do to win in such a situation is smash his face against the keyboard. You can use this to fight off gankers: make sure your ultimate will fully bounce between both ennemy champions (you do this due to good positioning), and then you've pretty much won the fight.
Brand is a non-mobile combo mage. He is very, VERY vulnerable to opponents with silences. LeBlanc and Kassadin both make for very hard lanes.
Galio also hits him hard.
To a lesser extent, Gragas also has an advantage over Brand. Possibly Ahri counters him too, but oddly I haven't been put in this matchup much yet.
And that's it. Brand is a very strong laner, almost no guaranteed counters exist.
Katarina is a highly mobile assassin. She completely wrecks teams without hard cc. Her play is focussed around positioning and timing (on both teams). She punishes ennemy mistakes in either of these aspects very hard, and her team being good at them makes her that much more efficiënt.
She's a manaless champion with a horrible early laning phase, who gets stronger and stronger towards the midgame. From there on, she can snowball into a monster. Her lategame is good compared to other mages, mainly due to her snobwalling hard in teamfights. Her passive, Voracity is what defines her.
How did I learn this champion?
Be careful where you learn Kat from!!!!! Katarina is my favorite champion, and it's been painfully obvious to me that the vast majority of players play her dead wrong. The best advice I can give you if you want to learn Kat is to check out TiensiNoAkuma's youtube channel. The information he gives there is very extensive, and correct.
Bouncing Blades is bugged: if you fire the skill at somebody who enters the fog of war before he gets hit, he will not receive damage or the grievous wound debuff.
Tanky champions counter Katarina well.
The hardest counters to Kat are in my mind LeBlanc and Ahri. Gragas is also a strong pick against her.
Leblanc is a pure assassin. Her entire kit is based on dashing in, killing a target and dashing out again. She requires one of the most agressive playstyles in the game. She has a strong early game, and needs a good laning phase to snowball into mid and lategame. Her laning phase consists of constantly picking fights with her laning opponent to kill him or force him out of lane; her lategame focusses around being able to instagib 1 target on the ennemy team.
How did I learn this champion?
I did not find a guide that satisfies me. I learned her from watching Fnatic Shushei's stream. Having researched Leblanc guides, I found that Undiminished's guide to her (http://www.solomid.net/guides.php?g=18643) is almost exactly how I play her.
When her passive Mirror Image procs, you are only briefly invisible; NOT untargettable or undamagable.
On another note, Distortion travels faster than Sigil of Silence. Combining these skills (q --> w) is one of your main harass combo's, so make sure to wait a short moment before distorting in so you'll proc Sigil's passive.
I'm sure I'll get criticised for this, but Annie. Early levels, their damage is about equal (as is their range), and by the time Leblanc's single target damage surpasses Annie's, Annie will have had time enough to build up a stun proc. The trick is to play hyperagressive as Annie, and never waste a stun proc on minions. And smartcast. Also, don't build her like the build I suggested here; that's a beginner's Annie build. R>W>Q. Don't use E.
The hardest counters in lane to Leblanc are without any doubt Alistar and Soraka. Leblanc cannot win any trade with alistar, and can barely initiate any trade with Soraka (due to getting outranged).
Master Yi has the potential to build AP and rock. This is generally considered to be a troll pick, though it can be quite fun and this build has it's uses.
AP Yi starts off as a lane counter to several champions. He has unbelievable sustain of all champions, good farm and very potent harass. In the lategame, he serves as a single target assassin who can snowball majorly in teamfights if he killsteals. He is a gimmicky champion with many flaws (dies instantly lategame if the ennemies have hard CC, very bad teamfights unless he killsteals everything, his main assassination combo requires a lot of items and has a hefty cooldown), who however is a very potent counterpick to strong harassing ennemies.
How did I learn this champion?
I smurfed and Yi was free. I knew this build existed, and trying it out was the most delightful thing ever. I've played it in somewhat more serious games too, and with some succes. I didn't really follow any build, just put some items together. Keep in mind, Deathfire Grasp is a must, Lich Bane is insane and the classic AP damage items are important too.
Also, he has weird skilling. Your E and R are situational skills that you should level differently every game. Don't play AP Yi if you're new to mid!
Killstealing with Highlander on gives you lolzy teamfights. Be careful however, because the cooldown refreshment has a delay (unlike Katarina's Voracity) so it's impossible to chain Alpha Strike's untargettability together.
Fiddlesticks is THE hardest counter.
For the rest, he doesn't have many hard counters. However, everybody who can keep up with him in lane (which is harder than it sounds) essentially counters him by becoming more versitile and generally more useful in teamfights. Except maybe AP Teemo.
Vladimir is something between a dps mage and a tanky bruiser-mage. He becomes stronger as fights last longer due to his short-cooldown (but relatively low damage) spells. He has some innate tankyness due to his passive, Crimson Pact, and he has built-in sustain through Tides of Blood and Transfusion.
His strong lategame is somewhat compensated by a lack of hard cc, and his very short spell range.
His laning phase is rather weak. Vladimir has always been a notoriously difficult champion to balance due to him snowballing very hard against certain opponents (though also being very reliant on said snowballing). Lacking utility, he needs to ramp up his damage hard in order to be effective.
How did I learn this champion?
By experimentation. I liked him conceptually, and had to give him a try. I based my playstyle around Reginald's guide (http://www.solomid.net/guides.php?g=1479) initially; but quickly discovered that there are a couple of paths you can take with vladimir. (Especially with the new mastery trees, I haven't figured out what I like speccing into as him yet fully). Experimentation is key with him, and I strongly believe that he (more than other champions) needs to change his setup depending on which ennemy he's facing to be effective.
Sanguine Pool doesn't dodge everything. It doesn't break channeled spells ( Drain, Nether Grasp,...), it doesn't remove DoT's ( Ignite, poison,...) and it can't move underneath wall-type spells without being blocked or suffering a cc effect the wall has ( Cataclysm, Wall of Pain, Event Horizon).
A bunch. Vladimir is a very polar champion who generally either facerolls or gets facerolled. He's susceptible to agressive ennemies, due to a bad early game and a necessity to snowball. Getting denied is insanely detrimental to him, to a level where he's on par with (or even worse off than) denied assassins.
His hardest counters are Kassadin and Malzahar.
Zilean comes in a close 3rd place, due to completely outranging and outspeeding Vlad.