A Game of Resources

Which position has the greatest impact on the win? Who is most important? Which position is the best to “carry me out of (fill in the blank) league?” There’s an answer and rationale from almost everyone who gets asked that question, but the fact is that every member of the team contributes equally to the win; they all have the opportunity to carry.

The Quest

The most common mistake that people make when trying to figure who is most important is they assume that damage is more important than anything else. These champions are called a “Carry,” with the assumption that doing the most damage means they are making the biggest difference for their team. But what about the Nautilus and Leona who read each other well enough to chain-CC that out-of-position Shen for 10 seconds so that Caitlyn could get the kill? All the “carry” had to do was right-click Shen once and watch her champion do the rest? What about the Tryndamere and Orianna who were splitpushing, keeping the enemy team busy so they couldn’t go help their teammate? Caitlyn may have done the most damage in this scenario, but she certainly didn’t do the most work, her job was made simple by good teammates who were able to capitalize on a mistake.

Okay, so Damage isn’t the big thing, I need to play Utility champions/positions to carry, right? Wrong. While it may not seem like it sometimes, good AD marksmen do more than right-click the closest thing to them, and they have to work to do their job just as much as a Utility champion. The equation for kill potential goes something like this:

(Damage x Utility)/Durability = Kill potential

In other words, in order to win a fight you need both Utility and Damage. If either is missing, then someone has to misplay excessively in order for you to kill them. For example, lets say Caitlyn gets in a fight with Vayne, and neither is close to their tower. Caitlyn’s utility lies in her traps and her net. Because Cait’s net pushes her away from the target if she uses it as a slow and traps take a second to arm, she doesn’t have much utility in the fight. Vayne, on the other hand, can use her passive to chase Cait down, and use her tumble to close the gap, giving her Utility that Caitlyn doesn’t get. This chasing power gives her the ability to make a kill happen, which means the only way Cait will win a fight is if Vayne engages at the wrong time or misplays badly, and if you rely on your opponents doing things wrong instead of you doing things right, you’re gonna have a bad time.

 The Problem

So just play champions with a lot of Utility and Damage? Mages typically have high amounts of Utility and Damage, 5 Mages for new meta, right? Wrong. Assassins, Fizz being a good example, have high Mobility (which is just selfish Utility) along with high amounts of damage (resulting in supremely high individual kill potential, hence the title “Assassin”), but they have several drawbacks as well.

Champions who can get a lot of  kills are usually very reliant on that gold, and without it are ineffective. Back in the old days of League, the traditional team composition had 5 AD Marksmen. This fell to other, stronger metas for a lot of reasons, but largely because splitting the available resources between 5 people who are heavily reliant on them just doesn’t yield good results- some people are going to be completely starved of gold, or everyone is going to be noticeably short on it, or both. A similar problem occurs when you have champions with extremely high kill potential, because to balance out that high kill potential those champions have to be very high risk. Most Assassins fall into this category; Fizz, for example, is one of the hardest Assassins to play against if he gets enough items to nuke squishies, but if he doesn’t, he does practically nothing other than die. If he has a Vayne on his team who takes gold to the point that he can’t get his essential items at essential times, Fizz will go from being a burning terror to burning in terror, giving “feeding time!” a whole new meaning. At the same time, Vayne is a high-risk, high-reward champion as well, so if Fizz puts Vayne behind, Vayne will struggle to do her job, and if they’re splitting the gold flow then they both risk falling behind. So in the end, playing gold intensive, high-risk champions not only requires that you play them well, but also that you balance them out with more steady, reliable champions, such as Rumble.

The Answer

So what does a poor Solo Queuer do to carry themself into the next concentric circle of EloHell? Remember the equation for kill potential: Damage times Utility divided by Durability. The way to win fights, naturally, is to create the most positive net kill potential.

Analyzing champions while they are being picked and making sure you have a good mix of stats is a good start to making sure you will create scenarios  with better kill potential, and avoid getting too many champions that are heavily reliant on gold flow. Once you do that, you want to allocate resources optimally. While Utility is a relatively cheap stat to both make use of and maximize, Damage is much more expensive, and Durability is generally somewhere in between. In order to itemize damage effectively, damage dealers need to be getting kills/farm, and when it comes right down to it, there’s only so much of that to go around, which is why gold is funneled to Damage champions over Utility champions when possible.

Regardless of how resources get allocated to individuals, the most important step is to make sure that Utility is used to increase your team’s damage or negate their team’s. To put it in terms of the kill potential equation, you want to make sure you have Utility times Damage, not Utility plus Damage.

If Sona sees a good chance to flash-ult, and her team isn’t expecting it, the 1.5 second stun effectively becomes a .25 second stun by the time her team follows up, which is a tremendous waste of a momentous facet of fighting power. While perfect communication with teammates is impossible in Solo Queue, it is possible to read your teammates and forecast their actions. That means Damage dealers need to not only be looking out for threats to them and opportunities to do damage, but also be seeing how their Utility teammates are trying to create opportunities, and be ready to follow up. At the same time, Utility champions need to read their Damage dealer’s actions and positions to see when they’re ready to go (hint: it’s not when they’re farming). By reading your teammates as well as your enemies, preparing for and using abilities based around when it works with theirs, you will maximize the kill potential that your team has, and do the most work possible.

When a lack of communication does happen, remember that both parties involved could have done things differently to create a better outcome. Yes, if your teammate had done things differently things would have ended better, but if you had done things differently things would have ended better as well, and you can’t control what your teammate is going to do next time. Learning to read your allies’ and enemies’ actions is a necessary skill to progressing on the Fields of Justice.

But what about those times when you end up with Jax, Fizz, Vayne, Yi, and Nidalee? Remember that champions with high individual kill potential (the kind that are usually prone to needing more gold than usual) are almost always going to outperform in 1v1 fights. By turning your team into a full-splitpushing comp, you can make use of these strengths, while also creating higher gold counts for both sides (due to increased farm numbers), which will also shore up your gold-dependency weaknesses somewhat.

 Putting the pieces together

Tying everything together, winning fights requires superior coordination, in one form or another, with your team. Regardless of how much gold you have individually, basing your decisions around those of your team (particularly if they are the opposite of your Damage/Utility) will make the gold that everyone has go a lot farther. Superior coordination doesn’t necessarily mean good coordination, just better than the other team’s, so if synergy just isn’t happening, focus your efforts on nullifying your enemies’ efforts, and oftentimes you will find that the pressure you relieve from your teammates in doing so ends up making things come together. Recognize champions that are highly gold reliant (if they are super scary, they have a weakness) and make sure that they get as little gold as possible, even if that means you miss out on some, when they are enemies, and give them as much as you can when they’re on your team.

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I am a support main that went from Silver 4 to Platinum by learning instead of complaining, and from Platinum to Diamond by learning to relax and follow others. I enjoy teaching, so I decided to write articles about League when I reached Platinum, and play Silver vs. Platinum games when I can. I am extremely informal so feel free to ask me anything, anytime.

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