Each lane match-up/game requires different ways to play the laning phase. Down below, I will try to give you as much information about the laning phase so you can apply this to imrpove your gameplay. During the load-in screen, you want to be actively thinking how you want to play out the laning phase and come up with a strategy on how to come out with a lead during the laning phase. By planning ahead, you are able to follow guidelines and set yourself up for success because you are actively thinking about what to do next/how to react to certain scenarios.
Laning Phase is one of the most important parts in League of Legends. It is the start of the game and a strong laning phase helps you smoothly transition into the mid/late game.
The Laning Phase composes of CS (creep score), Wave Control, Trading, and Pressure. Most players know only one, two or maybe even three out of the four major components of the Laning Phase. High-elo players understand how to efficiently control all four major components of the Laning Phase and therefore, are able to play their champions optimally. In this guide, I will break down all four major components of the Laning Phase and hopefully, help you gain LP.
The first phase of Laning is creep score or commonly known as CS. CS is the number of minions that you have collected gold from through last-hitting them. CS will be your MAIN source of gold income and helps you build items.
A perfect CS score at the 10 minute mark will be around 107-114. The important part of CSing is that you are consistent game-to-game and that you are building a solid foundation through your mechanics. If you are currently getting around 50 CS at the 10 minute mark, aim to improve and get 70+ next game. You can achieve this through optimal back timings, wave control, trading, pressure, and mechanics, all which we will talk about later in this guide.
The second phase is Wave Control. Wave Control or Wave Manipulation can be broken down into 2 basic concepts. The wave is either Pushing or Freezing.
Let’s talk about Pushing first because the majority of players will subconsciously just Push the wave without knowing the advantages/disadvantages of Pushing the wave. Pushing the wave is damaging the enemy minions faster than the enemy can, which creates an imbalance of minions for each side. If you have more minions than the enemy, you will create a Push.
Let’s break down the two different types of Push(s): Slow Push vs Fast Push
A Slow Push
, simply put is killing the enemy caster minions first. By doing so, you are taking away the damage portion of the enemy minion wave. Remember, caster minions do the damage, melee minions do the tanking, and cannon minions do both. If you kill the caster minions first, you are taking away the damage portion from the minion wave and creating a slow push as the melee minions tank the minion damage. Slow Push(s) usually results in your minion wave stacking and becoming bigger (in numbers) than the enemy minion wave. Slow Push(s) are great if you are trying to roam, base, put down a ward, and/or tower dive. When you create a Slow Push into the enemy, the wave will eventually bounce back and cause a Slow Push back to you. Because of this, you will not lose out of much XP and CS from roaming or basing rather than if you didn’t Slow Push into the enemy tower and based/roamed.
is where you are killing the enemy melee minions first. By doing so, you are taking away the tank portion of the enemy minion wave and creating a Fash Push because there are less minions to tank your minions' damage. Also, a Fash Push can be created by just killing as many enemy minions as fast as possible. Fast Push(s) are great if the enemy laner just based and you want to deny them CS and XP. It is also great if the enemy is low and you want to tower dive with your jungler. If you are Split-Pushing, Fast Pushing creates Pressure onto an objective. Also, you can Fash Push to set up vision around your lane if you feel like you may be ganked soon. Remember, Fash Pushing leaves you vulnerable to enemy ganks and it is highly NOT recommended if you are low-HP and/or do NOT have vision on the enemy jungler/laners.
The important theme in Wave Control is you want to be conscious on what you want to achieve with the minion wave. Are you close to leveling up? You might want to push to get level 2 before the enemy so you can get a more favorable trade. Are you against an assassin who excels in gap-closer? Then you might not want to push and give him a long-lane to gap-close onto you. Are you planning to dive with your teammates? Then you might want to create a Slow Push in advance, so you have a huge minion wave to help with the tower dive. OR you can Fast Push if you are short on time.
Pushing the wave will help you gain EXP faster due to the enemy’s minions dying faster. It also creates Pressure in-lane because you can push in the wave and threaten to roam to other lanes or invade the enemy jungle. Lastly, it forces the enemy laner to CS under-tower and have their tower take damage from the minions.
Freezing the minion wave.
This is a harder concept for many players to apply to their gameplay. It requires patience and game knowledge. A Freeze is keeping the minions for both sides equal. To create a freeze, you would want to try to keep the number of minions for both lanes equal while last-hitting for CS at the very last possible second. The most optimal position for a Freeze would be right in-front of your tower but just outside your tower’s range. It creates Pressure on the enemy because they have to expose themselves to a gank by being so far up in-lane. Also, they cannot freely trade against you because they are threatened by the Tower. Also, CSing that far up in-lane will also open them up to being ganked. Just from this, a Freeze is great to set-up ganks and/or deny the enemy laner from CSing/trading with you. Also, Freezing the wave is great to limit the gank potential from the enemy jungler, if you are looking to deny XP and/or CS from your enemy laner, and if you want to base. Earlier we talked about Fash Pushing if you are looking to base. An alternative to having an optimal base timing, is to base on a frozen wave that is slightly pushing towards you. Not only do you get an optimal base timing but also get to deny CS/XP.
Let’s say you got a Freeze against you, how do you break a freeze?
You can either try to wave-clear and reset the wave OR you can call for your jungler to help push out the wave 2v1 and reset the wave that way. The important part of breaking a freeze and resetting the wave is understanding what caused the Freeze in the first place and not repeating it again.
The third phase is Trading.
Trading is dealing damage between laners. By doing so, you create Pressure by bringing down their HP. Now, you want to do more damage than your opponent in trades. But sometimes, you can get Trades where you take no damage while damaging the enemy laner. How? When the enemy goes to last hit a CS, they are in a vulnerable spot to take a bad trade. At that split-second they must make a decision. Do I go for that CS and take this unfavorable trade or do I forfeit that CS and not take this bad trade? This is what is called Pressure. They are pressured into making an uncomfortable decision in the heat of the moment. Abuse this to get favorable Trades in-lane. 99% of players do not actively look to trade when the opponent is about to go for a last hit on the CS. Trust me, this single concept alone can make your laning phase go from good to great!
The last and final major phase is called Pressure.
Pressure is extremely important because it can translate into Tempo. Pressure is created when you push in the wave and look to roam. Now the enemy laner feels pressured because they have to decide, do I CS these minions and be late to the roam or do I leave the CS and match the roam? The opportunity cost created from Pressure can expose players’ flaws and poor understanding of the Macro-game. ABUSE Fog of War to create Pressure. Just the threat alone on being off the map creates Pressure on other lanes and put them in an uncomfortable spot.
All four phases of the Laning Phase are connected to each other and by actively thinking about what you want to achieve in the lane and executing that plan will build a solid foundation so you can smoothly transition into the mid/late game with a lead/advantage.
Other Key Concepts:
Positioning: Ask yourself, should I be sitting in my minion wave or should I standing aside my minion wave? If I am pushed up this far, how exposed am I to being ganked? Based on your answers, you should adjust your positioning to cover your weaknesses.
Build small advantages over the laning phase and they will add up later in the game. If you get a lead, snowball that lead to your advantage by either roaming to other lanes or killing your laner.