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Team Guide by General Shanks

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League of Legends Build Guide Author General Shanks

Art of Team compositions (part 1)

General Shanks Last updated on August 30, 2012
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Split-push late game


aggressive mid game

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Karthus Build

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: 2

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 7

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Hello Summoners! This is General Shanks and in a series of guides I will analyze some of the most common team compositions that are consistently used in competitive league of legends. The Goal is to introduce the potential of these team compositions ways to counter it and in general each compositions pros and cons.

I will add a section at the end of similar champions you can replace to make these compositions work as well. Please leave comments on what you guys think of my analysis. I am hoping to be as detailed as possible.

As far as individual champion's ability and normal builds are concerned, this guide will not be of assistance. I will try to maximize a compositions potential with specific items rather than maximizing a champion's potential. For instance a Death Cap would be more costly efficient than Abyssal+ Death fire Grasp combination, but the latter benefits the entire team far more.

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Split Push composition

Split-push composition seems to be one of the oldest and most viable strategies in League of Legends. The greatest split pusher in the game is Shen due to his Stand United being a targeted blink ability that applies an absorption shield on a target allied champion for up to 5 seconds; but he's not the only one and there are many ways of split pushing....

1. Split pushing by Teleport: This startegy works for champions who either have some sort of global teleport among their abilities Twisted Fate, Pantheon and Shen being the most prominent ones, or are simply top laners who elect to pick the summoner spell Teleport and will Teleport to a ward near their team when team fights start.

2. Split pushing by escape mechanism: In this strategy you have champions that are not particularly strong in team fights but they can push a lane constantly and put pressure on the opposing team, these champions should have easy escape from ganks some of the more notable speed pushers are Nidalee, Shaco, Teemo.

3. Split pushing by speed mechanism: This is a less popular strategy by competitive teams but still very viable. In this particular split push you need champions that are basically unkillable due to their ridiculous speed, notable champions are Hecarim, Singed.

How various teams use split push is rather important, usually if you have the first type of split pusher you want to have them as far away as possible from your particular objective, for instance if there's the "baron dance" (usually both teams dance around Baron after all initial inhibitors are down), you want your split pusher to be top lane pushing and forcing the other team to react and you create a 5 v 4 situation or they'll lose top inhibitor.

Note: this is one of the main reasons Shen and Twisted Fate are very popular bans aside from their amazing laning potential they can be terror end game with creating a lot of uneven fights for the opposing team.

Team1's composition is a Split Push composition simply because of Shen, with the global presence Shen has and Karthus's global presence you can guarantee yourself a very potent laning phase and if you're still even this composition allows for tremendous end game potentional aside from Shen's split push. Shyvanna, Karthusand Corki are great late game champions.

The way you play this team composition which is a very flexible one is very simple, aggression bottom lane with Corki and Sona, Karthus only stays mid and farms all day long, Shyvana counter jungles extremely aggressively since she has Requiem and Stand United after level 6 to turn a 1 v 1 fight 3 v 1 pretty quickly. Shyvana's Burnout allows her to be extremely aggressive since it speeds her up and she can clear jungle exceptionally fast.

For Item choice and game play there are a few basics in the strategy you have to keep in mind.

1. It's always a good idea to have double Aegis of the Legion on support and jungle as soon as possible, this gives a tremendous advantage to your team . The cost of this item is 1925g and its Aura gives +12 armor,+15 magic resist and +8 attack damage. Note: the Range of its Aura is 1200 which is twice the range of most ad carries). Stats mean a lot more early game that's why rushing this could help you win mid game and dragon objective fights. This a recommendation on all sort of compositions regardless of what you are running.

2. Max AP Karthus: In this composition it is actually beneficial if Karthus dies in the middle of the fight. Defile does a tremendous amount of damange and you don't want your Requiem to be interrupted by crowd control like silences,stuns and knockups. generally you have time to Lay Waste twice and then channel your Requiem.
Note: Lay Waste's damage is doubled if it hits single unit, late game this damage is ridiculous to enemy carries so try to land it so it will hit single target.
Note: diameter of Lay Waste's AOE is 100 that's how you know whether it will hit a single target to multiple by placing it away from non-targets.
(Note: This is the general way to play Karthus in team fights I will add this section to other compositions without much change.

3. Tanky Shen, Sub tanky Shyvana:

Build Sunfire Cape and Ionic Spark on Shen for effective minion wave clear then convert your Heart of Gold to a Randiun's Omen and you'll be one tanky dude.

Build Frozen Mallet and Wit's End and Shurelya's Reverie in addition to Aegis of the Legion on Shyvanna and you're a very competent initiator/subtank for your team and in Dragon's Descent Form you do a lot of damage and you can take a lot too.

Note: Shyvana can be a more effective initiator with other supports such as Lulu or Orianna, they are not however as strong as Sona in laning phase.

4. Clean up Crew: your carry Corki with the help of Sona's Crescendo are there to clean up the fight, after Karthus dies he can Channel his Requiem and if it is late game it is hard for the other team to really respond to this.

Note: it is generally a good idea for Sona to wait until the other team's bruisers charge for your carry " Corki in this case" then Crescendo this buys your carry and tanks time to re position themselves to protect the carry during the team fight.

How to counter this composition:

1. Shut Shen down in laning phase and push when he uses Stand United to help out with ganks. generally if your top can put Shen behind in farming, if the ganks are not successful Shen will have a really hard time catching up and by the time he starts to get tanky the game might be out of hands already. Also if you have a comptetant top laner as soon as he sees Shen trying to use his ultimate you can disrupt it with a stun or some sort of knock up. ( Irelia and Jayce are exceptional at doing that)

2. Exploit Shyvana's weaknesses: Shyvana is extremely red buff dependent, steal it and protect yours and since she doesn't have any Crowd Control by good ward placement you can shut her down early (by ward placement I mean to protect your own jungle and your lanes).

3. Do not allow the game to get to late game be as aggressive as possible and take map control this effectively makes Shen play cautiously due to minion wave patterns so he will not be able to Split Push as effectively.

4. Late game compositions means champions that scale exceptionally well with items, this compositions happens to be a late game composition so if you see it you have to understand playing passive is playing their game so try to end the game before 35 min mark.

5. control objectives and again be aggressive.

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Super Aggression (Korean Style)

Koreans specifically Azubu Blaze came out of nowhere and completely took American Teams out of their comfort zone. The greatest misconception about their strategy is the fact that they like 2 v 1 lanes, the missed point here is that 2 v 1 is there for them to take tower and start rotating for all of the initial towers, not only will this give you map control it keeps the farming phase much much shorter (hence item dependent champions are really under pressure in this composition), this composition also takes out the global factor and potent ganking jungle/mid champions out of the game most notably Nocturne and Twisted Fate.

Starved from farm and losing map control this becomes the battle of champions almost at their based stats with much less items, the king of item-less champions are Crowd Control heavy champions such as Alistar, Leona. Blitzcrank who all happen to be tanky with no items and are all play makers.

The perception in this composition is changed, the game usually ends in the mid-game phase, there's almost no way for you to sit back and rely on your ad carry to get farmed and carry you late game hence team 2 picked Urgot who's utility is exceptional and he has never been known as a late game champion. Maokai and Twisted Fate are 2 very CC heavy champions who don't necessarily need much farm to be effective and Irelia with that true damage is far more powerful than most item-less tops.

How to play this composition:

1. All about early game execution: This composition requires a tremendous amount of communication and specific champions for it to work, for instance in a 1 v 2 lane you'd like to have Irelia since she is probably the best farmer under turret, (naturally the other team wants to take out your tower so they push and you'd have to do a lot of under turret last hitting).

2. Your Jungle usually camps the 1 v 2 lane since it can quickly turn into a 3 v 1 lane and early game dives are easily possible. Urgot, Alistar, Maokai can dive the 3 v 1 pretty easily and get a first blood.

3. As soon as 1 turret is down you want to switch and give your top an advantage, aggression is extremely important here, sometimes as soon as their mid is down or recalling you want to take a 5 man mid and take mid inhibitor then rotate bottom and do the same and take Dragon right after.

4. Timing is everything if before 15 min mark all 3 initial towers are down you have done your job, aggression needs to be more since the other team can freeze the lanes and farm. Generally in this composition you don't want to farm that much you just want to take turrets and prevent the other team from farming (some habits American players couldn't adjust to).

5. with this composition you guarantee yourself to win any 5 v 5 due to your superior item-less team composition and those towers + dragon should have given you some excellent advantage to build Aura items such as Aegis of the Legion.

6. GP10 items are very common in this composition for both teams, Heart of Gold and Philosopher's Stone being the most prominent ones.

How to play against this composition:

1. Your jungle has to outplay the other jungle. It really comes down to that, if your jungle can control lanes and consistently have presence on the 1 v 2 lane you have a shot at stopping them.

2. return the aggression: if they are grouping to take down middle turret push your lane instead of going mid, main reason is their composition beats yours in a 5 v 5 situation without items, you might as well turn their aggression against them.

3. Do not pick extremely farm dependent champions in particular jungler, since the lanes are pushed every member of the team will raid jungle camps so there is less farm to go around Dr. Mundo is a prime example of a bad pick in this sort of games since he is pretty useless without items.

4. Play the game: you cannot panic against this strategy, a lot of times people lose sight of what they are supposed to do, if they team up to 4 v 1 you top lane, you may give up a kill but take advantage of it by taking 2 turrets down.

5. Stall: when a team picks Urgot, they are not giving themselves too much wiggle room late game, if you can drag the game long enough, your ad carry will outscale Urgot and gives you a great chance to win the game.

6. Map awareness and mental readiness: This line up will be as aggressive as you possibly can be, expect tower dives, expect crazy ganks early on and be prepare to counter it and react to it, because these are hit or miss plays if they fail they are set back way too much and you can sit back and farm and outscale them to an easy win.

recommended champion against the Korean Meta:

Shaco king of item-less aggression, you cannot beat a great Shaco early on and without items? he is probably one of the strongest champions at level 6.

Jax he's pretty awesome even without being super fed and his ultimate allows him to tank a bit

Tanky CC heavey supports such as Alistar, Leona, Blitzcrank

Darius this dude just does damage without any items

Galio can easily farm under pressure and is very tanky

Anivia can push down waves of minions and switch lanes with ease

There are many weaknesses with this meta as I said it is hit or miss and if you understand that this meta takes away the item war and turns it into Mechanics of champions war you can be mentally ready to win any game this style. It's all just a mindset you have to adjust to

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Picking compositions

The biggest mystery in competitive league of legends is how to pick an effective composition, in this chapter I will use the examples from Team 1 and Team 2 to demonstrate the mindset for team compositions

There are a few things that happen that determines a team's composition

1. Bans: The other team can research and find out a few of your common compositions and what champion/champions make that compositions such a lethal composition and try to ban those champions. For Instance in Double AP composition (which i will discuss later on), Rumble or Vladimir are very popular picks for top, if your team doesn't want to deal with that they can ban these champions so they are effectively banning Double AP Composition. Usually most bans are "respect bans", meaning they will ban champions that 1 or 2 of your best players are great at, for instance noone wants to play against Froggen's Anivia or WestRice's Akali (maybe not anymore ...). Hence you cannot have a mindset that these are the 5 champions we are playing you need to understand what your composition is trying to accomplish so you can replace the banned champions with similar ones that will still help you run the same strategies.

2. Counters: This happens especially in solo lanes, there are champions that absolutely counter another champion. If you are at the same level of skills you do not want to get counter-picked since this will almost always force your jungle to either camp the lane or pray the other team will not capitalize on it. In laning phase if you have a counter to the other team's champion as a jungle you want to pressure the "kill lane" to completely win that lane and start the snow ball effect. Since Counter picking exists you cannot just run the same 5 champions and expect to get the same results, you need to understand if you pick Ahri a great Ryze player could shut you down and you may be so behind that you cannot perform your role within your team compositions

3. safe picks: There are picks that are considered safe and great players learn those champions, most notably Yorick, Karthus,.. that no matter what happens they can still be very effective througout the game hence "safe pick"

4. strategy: what you are trying to accomplish with individual champions and with combining champion abilities for instance if you want to have a diving composition you may want to pick Xin Zhao and use Lulu's Wild Growth to completely dominate team fights in mid game, or like team 1 keep farming till late game or team 2 to be super aggressive and take the game before 30 min mark. Many abilities synergies greatly with each other and that will be another chapter to discuss 2 champion combination and 3 champion combination and so on and so forth (I am hoping to add exactly how much damage you can output with specific items).

5. Player's style: great players learn to adapt, but they also have a preferred way of playing, you need to as a team figure what your strength is, if you have the greatest Kassadin player in the world, do not make him play Morgana he'll die of boredom farming all day long, run a dive composition and just jump on people left and right and let him dominate

6. Back up plan: What if your composition was designed to dominate mid game and you have to go in the late game, do you have a back up? Is there a champion that can save you? do you have a Vayne? Then build around her, build tanky and position yourselves to protect her.

7. Just because you know how to play a champion in solo queue, it doesn't mean you can perform with that champion in a specific composition. Make sure you understand your role and stick to it, if your job is to protect your ap carry in mid game, stop chasing after their tank and protect your ap carry, these things are perfected through practice so if you're serious, practice and don't be Allen Iverson 2.0

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Other viable champions for composition 1 and 2:

For the split pushing part any champion is viable as long as that champion can clear waves fast and picks up a Teleport.

For Late game you need to research the most powerful champions late game since due to nerfs that changes all the time I will not state every powerful late game champion I will mention a few besides the ones in Team #1

ADC: Tristana, Vayne and Kog'Maw (ironic none of the most popular adcs today are that great late game)
Jungle: Dr. Mundo, Nunu, Amumu
Top: Jax, Poppy, Vladimir, Olaf, Yorick
Mid: Ryze, Morgana, Zyra, Karthus
Support: Leona, Sona

Now for composition #2 you are looking for champions who are great without many items and can be effectively with lower cs/min rate.

ADC: Urgot, Corki, Graves, Ezreal
Jungle: Shaco, Alistar, Skarner, Malphite
top: Irelia, Rumble, Darius
mid: Gragas, Anivia, Twisted Fate
Support: Blitzcrank, Alistar,

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In this guide I analyzed 2 of the most commonly used strategies in competitive play:

1. Split push late game: which is a passive strategy relying mainly on items
2. Aggressive Korean Meta: which relies on early aggression and less farm/min

Pros and cons of each strategy and effective champions in each was discussed and ways to counter each strategy was discussed as well.

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coming up next....

In the next guide I will focus on double AP and Triple Support strategies and will discuss ways to improve them and how to effectively counter them. I will also start adding actual matches from tournament play as a reference in my guides to help people further their understanding of strategies.


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