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League of Legends Build Guide Author Carrn

General Tips & Tricks

Carrn Last updated on September 19, 2012
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Guide Top

The Basics


Congratulations! You've finally hit level 30 and are ready to start playing in the big leagues now! There is only a ton of things that you have to remember and think about as you step into the game, from something as simple as where your champion belongs in terms of role on the team and what lane you will take, to more complicated things such as knowing when your opponent's abilities and summoner spells are on cooldown for you to attack.

You know there are 3 lanes and a jungle, that there are buffs and map objectives. That is all very basic, and you have already learned this simply by reaching level 30. My intention here is to try and point out some tips and tricks that take a while to catch on to, and even longer to master.

Before I go into the lane-specific parts of this, I'm going to go over some general points that apply to every lane.

1) Minion Waves:

As obvious as this is, minion waves give you gold and experience. Everybody knows this, but not everybody knows just how much of an advantage having a wave or two on your opponent gives you. Especially early on, it is crucial that you have as much time in lane as possible and get as many last hits as you can in order to get your first items. If you are able to get an extra Doran's item in advantage over your opponent, or even only a level or two, you have a significant enough advantage to win fights. If you leave lane to roam with no reason and allow your opponent to free farm and push towers, he will have every advantage on you: level, gold, and lane pressure.

While I don't really feel like this needs more explanation, last hitting is getting the gold for the minion kill without pushing your own lane. I'll get more into this later, but there are very important techniques to know that related to last hitting/farming: Harassing, Denying, and Lane Position. For now, the important thing is that you don't just auto attack and push your lane, but you also make sure you get the gold from the minions.

2) Rock, Paper, Scissors:

Paper beats Rock, Scissors beats Paper, Rock beats Scissors.
Sustain beats Poke, Burst beats Sustain, Poke beats Burst.

What I mean by that is as a general rule these kinds of lane matchups beat one another. "Sustain Champions" should at the very least not lose to "Poke Champions", but they will often be less tanky because of their reliance on healing to stay in a lane and will lose to champions who can front load tons of damage.For example, Riven should beat Vladimir on a regular basis. He is too weak early on, and once they hit 6 Riven has the power to outright kill him before he can heal back up. On the flip side, Teemo is almost a sure win against Riven because of his poke and ability to avoid her heavy burst damage.
Burst Champions
- Riven
- Irelia
- Wukong
SPACE Sustain Champions
- Vladimir
- Shen
- Cho'Gath
SPACE Poke Champions
- Teemo
- Jayce
- Nidalee

Keep in mind that these are incredibly general categories - you can change up a champion's style by how you play and build them; where I would normally expect to see Cho'Gath as a tank who restores his health and mana on a kill (really good sustain), he can also be built as a burst caster by gaining an early lead and getting some AP with a Rod of Ages.

2) Warding:

Good warding is CRUCIAL. Everybody knows this, but very rarely do people actually do it (especially at lower levels). They claim it is the job of the support, and don't think anything about it. It's very important to ward as a team though; if the Top player and Mid player both help out the jungle and support, then you can easily double the number of wards on the map during laning. This allows you to not only protect yourselves better, but also to see the enemy jungler when he is at his camps or if he invades.

Make sure that if your flash or other defensive spells are on cooldown that you always have a ward. If you don't, and any members of the enemy team are missing, don't push past the middle of your lane. I wouldn't go any farther than the range of the tower if there is a decent chance that you will be ganked.

This is what pro teams look like when they have any open item slot (and in many cases they will avoid buying a minor item to make sure that they have wards). You might notice that Saintvicious (Jungler for Curse Gaming, playing Shyvana in the picture) is not carrying any; he has his Lantern that he used recently to place one, and if their 5 wards currently on the map are any indication he probably had more.

I saw an excellent picture on where to place wards a while ago:
I have added the exclamation points in as my own suggestions for ward placement; if your jungle is being invaded, having a ward outside your wraiths will help notify your team when the enemy jungler is crossing the river. If your jungler is more in control and is able to counter jungle, or if you just want more awareness as to where the enemy jungler is, you can ward outside his wraith camp.

You should not need to ward your own buffs, because the wards from bottom, mid, and top lane will see the enemy jungler invading. The only route that will not be warded with the wards shown on the image above will be that path in front of wraiths; if the enemy mid lane pushes hard in to tower and runs bottom, that ward will pick him up as he goes down around behind Dragon.

That being said, even if your team is warding well it is very possible to not notice the enemy jungler running through a ward or the enemy mid lane going missing. That is why it is always a good idea to call out MIA's and warn your team using pings that somebody is coming their way. Do note though, that only one MAYBE two pings are required. Nobody likes people who spam pings. Ping once on their jungler's head to warn them, and then ping the people in lane back if required. *VIDEO WARDING DIFFERENT SPOTS, WARD TRICKS*

3) Pushing, Roaming, and Recalling:

The one thing that I would say is the most important in League of Legends is playing safe. Normally, this is accomplished by not pushing your lane and not trying to fight your opponent under their tower. Pushing your lane has benefits, however.

When a tower is attacking a minion wave that you are trying to farm, it can really screw up your last hitting. Similarly, when you aren't in lane and a huge wave of minions is fighting your tower alone, you are losing a lot of potential gold and experience to the tower. Because pushing is such a good way to deny these things to your opponent, it is good to push - you just have to be sure it is safe to do so.

Times when you should push:

- Lane opponent has recalled:

If you manage to force the person you are laning against back to base to heal, you have a free chance to push your lane. Sometimes, the jungle will attempt to cover the lane and keep the minions off the tower until his teammate gets back; in this case, you have to make a judgement call like you would against your regular opponent - the only difference being that you know where the jungler is, and don't have to be afraid of him ganking you.

- The enemy is making a play for a map objective: This is mostly directed towards top lane, but can apply to other lanes as well. If the enemy team is taking dragon, for example, you have free reign to push your lane knowing that the enemy won't be able to counter your push without sending somebody away from the dragon pit. This makes any fight around dragon an even 4v4

- The entire enemy team is accounted for: Whether they are pushing a lane of their own, seen by one of your team's wards, or dead, you know where everyone on the enemy team is and will be able to notice one of them going missing

WARNING: It take less than 20 seconds to get from the center of mid lane to the center of top/bottom lane through the river (and vice versa). This means that by the time you notice that the enemy has gone missing or are warned that they may be coming for you, you may have as little as 10 seconds or less to decide on how to escape, if you even can.

Before you push, you NEED to make sure that one of the above scenarios are present if you don't have a good number of wards. If your team is planning on pushing as a group, you should coordinate warding to protect the side that you are looking to push; set wards first, then push. If your team is going to make a push on bottom lane, for example, having wards all around top lane won't help very much. If there are already wards down, I suggest pushing that lane - that way you have more wards to use when you actually need them.

When pushing a lane, your objective is to slam the minion wave into the enemy's tower as quickly as you can. This means that you should use your abilities as well as auto attacks to attack minions, without leaving yourself defenseless because you have no mana/energy/whatever. You want to make sure that your minions get all the way to the tower; if the enemy minion wave is going to meet yours before the melee minions are able to attack the tower, you should stay to kill that wave too (if it is safe to do so). You can tell where the enemy minion wave is by looking at your minimap and checking where your own minions are - remember everything is symmetrical, so if your wave is approaching your second tower it means the enemy team has one doing the same

Once your lane is pushed and your opponent's tower is stealing all his gold and experience, your have 2 things that you can do. You can choose to recall, or you can choose to roam.

Roaming, somewhat obviously, is when you leave your lane to go someplace else. This can be either to gank another lane, or try to steal some of the enemy jungle. When you are roaming, you need to be even more careful than when you are pushing. Say, for example, that you are in top lane and go to steal the enemy's red buff after you push your lane. If you run into the river from your lane, the enemy's ward will see you entering their jungle; if they correctly guess where you are, or if they have a defensive ward, you will end up getting caught in a 3v1 ********.

The other option that you have is to Recall and buy. If you managed to kill your opponent, you will have a significant advantage in gold over them, which will allow you to start snowballing really hard, but even if you didn't you should still have an advantage because of the extra minion kills and experience. The other advantage to recalling when your lane is pushed is that you can almost always get back to lane before you lose minions to your tower.

4) Snowballing vs. Catching Up:

When you get an advantage over your opponent, it (obviously) becomes much easier to kill them. The more you can press this advantage the better, and the easiest way to do that is by using the extra gold that you have properly. The best way to prevent your opponent from catching up is to stop him from farming, and the easiest way to do that is to try and keep them dead. That said, you should prioritize high damage and more aggressive play over defensive stats and farming. You can also zone your opponent, although that will be covered in the next section.

On the flip side, if your opponent gets an early advantage over you, you will need to do your best to catch up. The best way to do this is to kill them, but this is a lot harder than it sounds once they're ahead (depending on the champion, but still). The better way to catch up is by buying GP10 items (to give yourself a consistent source of gold even if you get denied farm) and by farming. You will want to put the gold that you get towards more defensive items; it is better for them to get less of an advantage than you to maybe be able to kill them.

Let's take a lane matchup that you should easily be able to win - Riven vs Gangplank
As Riven, you are able to deal a lot more front-loaded burst damage to him, and should be able to get an early kill and snowball very hard.

Assuming nothing goes wrong, your build should look something like this:

Start normally with Boots of Speed and 3 Health Potion. If you get an early kill, you should be able to push the lane and at the absolute least be able to buy a Doran's Blade. This will build in to another Doran's Blade and The Brutalizer coupled with your tier 2 boots Ninja Tabi. With this build, you will have a good amount of health, a lot of damage, and a little armor to help protect yourself.

If something does go wrong, I would build like this:

If I die early against GP, my build wouldn't change too much. I would still get a Doran's Blade early, because even Riven's defensive Valor scales off attack damage. If I still have trouble with the lane after that point, I would look at getting Heart of Gold, Wriggle's Lantern, Phage, and Ninja Tabi.

It is worth noting that if your opponent gets ahead and buys GP10 items instead of trying to snowball, there is a very good chance that you will be able to come back and win lane. Make sure that you check your opponent's items, and don't be afraid to ask your jungler to camp your lane to try and get you back on track.

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A Bit More Advanced

Knowing where people ward
Buff timers
Predicting ganks
Cooldowns of spells/summoners --> knowing your opponent's kit
Harassing, Denying, zoning
Last hitting under tower
Turret diving

This section is going to talk about a few things that are a little more complicated than the above section. I will touch on things like Minion Control, techniques for last hitting, exhanges, and how to predict the future. I'm still going to try and steer clear of lane specific details unless it is for an example, because these tips still apply to every lane.

1) Your Opponent:

Obviously, knowing who your opponent is and what they are capable of doing is extremely important when playing League of Legends. Playing in Blind Pick, you don't know who you are going to be up against until you hit the loading screen; because we will get into Picks and Counterpicks in Draft Mode later, for now I will only talk about things that you would see after the loading screen.

The Champion
Knowing the abilities of your opponent is the first step. The easiest way is to try the champion yourself; I highly suggest trying every free week champion every week to get a better idea of what they are like. If you haven't ever played a champion, the best place to go to learn is the champion's Wiki page here. Knowing what the enemy can do increases your ability to predict what they are going to do and therefore plan against it. If you have this plan in mind before you start the game, your reaction time will be that much better because you will already have thought about what to do. For example, if an enemy Blitzcrank steps out to the side to have a more direct line between you and him, he will likely try to land Rocket Grab. If Jayce's Acceleration Gate goes down, there is a good chance he will fire his Shock Blast. In either of these situations, you should begin moving to the side - moving backwards or forwards still gives your opponent a chance to land their spell, but moving to the side makes it nearly impossible for them to hit you.

Summoner Spells
In general, the only summoner spells you will see are the ones listed below:
- Flash: Far and away the most common Summoner, Flash is the most useful one to have. The ability to instantly reposition yourself can be used to escape over walls, dodge enemy spells, or surprising your enemies with an unexpected engage. It is possible to make it over walls which are much thicker than you should by flashing more than halfway over them. If the range on your flash is far enough, the game will successfully place you on the opposite site of the wall and (hopefully) out of danger
- Ignite: Ignite deals bonus true damage based on the level of the caster. This helps a lot to secure kills through early game, but once people start playing as a team its main use is the 50% Healing Reduction. This is an awesome debuff to apply to a Mundo ult, Swain ult, a fed AD Carry with lots of Lifesteal, or somebody else who is receiving massive amounts of healing.
- Exhaust: Often you will see Exhaust in bottom lane on the support, although junglers with exhaust are also relatively common. The main reason for this spell being common on supports is that it severely cripples AD Carries due to the massive reduction on their attack speed, which allows them to win fights more easily in bottom lane. Junglers, on the other hand, use it to slow movement speed so that they can gank more easily. When taking exhaust, you should try to place a point in Summoner's Wrath for the flat 10 reduction in the targets MR and Armour.
- Heal: Apart from on some of the squishier AD Carries, Heal has fallen out of popularity due to the recent use of Ignite in bottom lane. It can get you out of some tight spots, but other than that is pretty self explanatory
- Cleanse: Almost exclusively used on AD Carries, due to its ability to clear debuffs and crowd control. Cleanse does not clear Suppress effects though, you need Quicksilver Sash to do that
- Teleport: Similar to Cleanse on Carries, Teleport is almost always used on Top Lane champions. The reasoning for this is that having teleport allows whoever is in top lane to run down and help take objectives, and be able to get back in time to continue pushing the lane

What these mean in lane:
You need to know what Summoner Spells your opponent has, so you can plan your plays and counterplays. Let's take bottom lane as an example. If I'm playing Kog'Maw with support Janna against Graves and Leona, chances are good that the setups for each champion look like this:
Kog'Maw: will probably take Heal and Flash because he is very squishy in lane.
Janna: Almost guaranteed to have Exhaust and Flash, being in a support role.
Graves: There is a good chance he takes Ignite and Flash, with Ignite to help secure kills and Flash to help with escapes
Leona: Again, good chance she takes Exhaust and Flash
When I'm in the loading screen, I can see what summoner spells my opponents are bringing to the table. In this scenario, I can see that I'm in a rather tricky situation - Graves' Ignite will negate my Heal, and I have no other way of keeping myself safe other than my Flash. With this in mind, I need to change my strategy; instead of trying to bait my opponents with Heal, I need to make sure I use it early enough that Graves won't have used his Ignite. If they decide to go all-in for a kill in me, chances are he will use it after his main burst combo to make sure that when I try to heal back up I won't be able to. If I use heal a little earlier, I should be able to get the full effect. If, however, I notice that Ignite gets used early, I can hold my heal and bait with it without risk of getting screwed. All of that being said, if you play Draft Pick and notice that you are going to be up against a Graves/Leona team or anyone else who is likely to take Ignite or anyone else who will have a healing reduction (Miss Fortune and Tristana, for example) you may want to pick Cleanse. Cleanse will remove Leona's CC in addition to Exhaust and Ignite (and the passive healing debuff from MF or Trist's abilities) from your champion, and have a better chance of keeping you alive against all of the healing reduction.

It makes it a lot easier for you to attack an enemy champion if you know that their Heal or Flash is on Cooldown. Cooldown timers for all of the summoner spells I listed above are as follows:
Flash: 265 Seconds, or just under 4 and a half minutes
Ignite: 180 Seconds, or 3 minutes
Exhaust: 210 Seconds, or 3 and a half minutes
Heal: 270 Seconds, or 3 and a half minutes
Cleanse: 210 Seconds, 3 and a half minutes
Teleport: 300 Seconds, 5 minutes
When your opponent uses a Summoner Spell, you should take a look at the clock (if possible) and try to get an idea of when it will be available again. Often, a general idea is enough; if your jungler is ganking, being able to let him know that your target's Flash is down allows him to gank knowing that there is a much smaller chance that the enemy will escape. The easiest way to do this is to compare it to your own spells, because often multiple spells will be used in a fight. For example, if the other team's support casts Exhaust on me in bottom lane, I can cast Cleanse to remove the debuff and will therefore know exactly when his Exhaust will be up. If Graves casts Ignite as well, I know he will have it again when my Cleanse has 30 seconds left. If I Flash away and Graves comes after me, I know his spell will be up at the same time as mine will be.

2) Your Own Champion:

Although this is possibly the most obvious thing that I will ever say, you need to know how yo play your own champion. This goes beyond simply knowing your champion's abilities; apart from knowing the basic "how to mash QWER to hurt the bad guy" and how much damage you can give/take etc, you need to know how else you can use your abilities.

Combining Abilities:
Every champion's abilities can be combined in multiple ways; there are very few champions who don't have a trick or two up their sleeves. Some are purposefully designed to be based around various combinations of spells, like Brand. His spells all cause the target to burn from his passive, and in turn cause the rest of his spells that hit an enemy to have other effects - Sear will stun a burning target, Pillar of Fire will deal 25% more damage, Conflagrate will deal damage to surrounding enemies and burn them, and Pyroclasm's missile speed drastically increases. Q > E > W does a lot of AoE damage, because E spreads the burn to everything close by giving W the extra damage against every target. E > Q > W is easier against a single target, because (assuming you land Q) it stuns the single target and guarantees that the extra damage on W will hit.

For another example, I'll use Lee Sin, Amumu, Wukong, and Jarvan IV. Their skills are all primarily used to deal damage and crowd control, but they can all be used to pull off some interesting escapes. It is common knowledge that you can use Lee Sin's Safeguard to jump to a ward or use his Dragon's Rage to knock away attackers and run to safety. However, his Sonic Wave can be used to escape as well, as demonstrated so well by oRB LiNK:

At the beginning, you can see how he uses Dragon's Rage to knock back Irelia and knock up Rammus. Then he places a ward over an impossibly thick wall (see my section on Flash above, same deal) and jumps to it. Then he uses Sonic Wave to hit Blue buff and jump over the wall that way. Because minions and neutral monsters like Blue Buff don't do a lot of damage, and it's an easy way to put a wall between yourself and whoever is chasing you without burning Flash.

In the same line of thinking, Amumu's Bandage Toss can be used to get out of sticky situations by latching on to a minion and jumping to it, and Curse of the Sad Mummy can be used for 2 free seconds of escape time.

4) Harassing, Denying, Trading:

As I kind of mentioned above

3) Minion Control:

Minion targetting
Positioning minion waves

2) Lane Position & Ganks:

2) Being Under Tower:

As I mentioned above, last hitting while the tower is also attacking the enemy minion wave is harder than doing it in the middle of your lane. Fortunately though, it is still simple enough when you know how. First off though, I want to talk about the tower's priority system. The towers pick their targets based on the following rules:
- Whatever target comes in range first. The tower will continue to attack this target until it dies, becomes untargetable (using Hourglass, Vlad's trollpool, GA proc, etc), moves out of range, or the turret is 'taunted'.
- Towers are 'taunted' when any friendly champion takes damage from an enemy champion. This includes Ignite and Poison ticks, AoE spells, and Player-controlled minions such as Tibbers. The turret obviously cannot attack Annie if she is out of range, however, and in this case will prioritize Tibbers himself
- The tower will not defend a friendly champion if they are out of its range, even if the enemy champion attacking them is in range
- The tower will pick Player-Minions before any normal minion. That is to say, if the current target dies and Tibbers is casually standing along with the minion wave and attacking the tower, the annoying flaming bear will be picked as the next target

Last Hitting:
Melee Minions: 2 tower hits + 1 champion hit. One minion hit will also finish this, so you need to be careful if your minions and the tower are targeting the same enemy melee minion.
Caster Minions: 1 tower hit + 2 champion hits. I find that caster minions are actually easier to last hit if your own minions are attacking them, because if you incorrectly guess which minion the tower will attack it makes it very tough to get the last hit without using mana.

5) Being Under Tower 2.0:

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Picks, Counterpicks, and Bans


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Playing as a Team