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If You Ain’t Push Fast, You’re Last! – A Discussion on the Fast Push Strategies in Season 4


If You Ain't Push Fast, You're Last! - A Discussion on the Fast Push Strategies in Season 4

Let’s have a discussion, to talk about the 2v1 fast push strategy, and then delve deeper into the finer points of the strategy. Many of the top Korean/Chinese professional teams have been utilizing the fast push strategy to bring create early leads, open up more of the map, and allow weaker early game ADCs into standard compositions. Hopefully by the end of this article, we will be able to identify a “fast push” strategy in champion draft, discover the strengths, weaknesses, and variants of this composition, and have a better idea of how to plan and predict the movements of the fast push.

A “fast push” or 2v1 lane strategy involves one team moving the duo lane to a solo lane (and vice-versa) in order to take down a turret quickly.

A Brief History Lesson

The 2v1 strategy is a tactic that originated in the Eastern League of Legends scene that was brought to North America roughly mid-to-late season 2. The first major appearance of the “fast push” was demonstrated at the MLG Summer Invitational by Azubu Blaze (now CJ Entus Blaze). Blaze would pick heavy pushers, like Graves_Square_0_25b and Lulu_Square_0_25b, and force down the turret as quickly as possible. At the time, this was a novel concept, as teams would not adequately prepare for the 2v1 lane.

RIP Heart of Gold, TSM vs Azubu Blaze, MLG Summer Invitational, 2012

At the time, fast push was seen as a way to catch opponents’ off-guard. Over time, the pushing became less expedient, and more deliberate to keep as much farm off the top lanes as possible. Counter-strategies were developed to take an early dragon, or to create a massive minion freeze to prevent the minion wave from moving.

So what was the purpose of the fast push? To provide an easy boost of gold to the entire team, while opening more of the jungle for both teams; making buffs contestable. In short, the game became much easier to snowball earlier on, and if measures weren’t taken to match the fast push tempo, teams that fell behind have a low chance of coming back into the game.

The Riot Intervention

Several drastic changes from back then to right now show just how far turrets (and global gold) have come.

  • In Patch 3.5, turrets were granted increased damage and damage scaling per hit, to make dives riskier and efforts more coordinated.
  • Patch 3.10 gave outer turrets an additional 60 armor for the first 8 minutes of the game (decaying starting at the 4 minute mark).
  • Patch 3.14 (pre-season 4 patch) adjusted the gold and XP rewards to favor champions nearby the turret when it fell.
  • Patch 3.14 adjusted Dragon reward gold to scale by the combined levels of all players in the game. What this did was lower the value of the early game dragon, and enhanced the value later.
  • Patch 4.1 top and mid outer turrets take 20 less damage from basic attacks (in reality, the damage difference is closer to 10 reduced damage).

Clearly Riot disapproves of the 2v1 strategy, yet it has been resilient for well over a year. With each attempt to smash the 2v1, teams find ways to innovate around the changes.

The Basics of Fast Pushing

A 2v1 “Fast Push” occurs when a team sends the duo lane (ADC/Support) to the top lane, while the jungler joins close to the 3-3:30 mark. The 3-man unit typically drops the first turret around the 4-minute mark, then proceeds to the next turret, dropping it as quickly as possible. When all is said and done, the duo lane is around low level 3 (with jungler around 4), with the enemy top lane being mid level 2 with under 10 CS (if he takes jungle farm).

The opponent should look to mirror this push and try to make the same progress (either 1 or 2 turrets), to equalize the global gold of both teams. Taking the first turret is paramount; as the fast push could end quickly after the 1st turret (depending on how much damage was dealt to their own) and the duo lane returns to lane with a turret advantage.

The most important aspect of this strategy is DO NOT DIE during the dive. In fact, taking too much damage in the dive hurts the timing of the push, and can easily spiral out of control where the enemy has a turret (or 2) advantage on the fast push, making recovery nearly impossible. When a member has to leave the fast push, it gives a champion advantage to the mirrored team, which means that greater turret damage for the opponent.

JAFvSSB2Death

The Falcons end up losing 3 members without taking the second tower, and forfeit the early dragon, ending up with a massive gold deficit.
(JA Falcons vs SS Blue, OGN Spring 2014)

The Advanced Strategies

The duo lane and jungler can early invade the buff closest to the top lane (Blue Side -> enemy Red Buff, Purple Side -> enemy Blue Buff). The best-case scenario is zoning the enemy jungler and securing the buff, but taking an uncontested enemy buff is a fine consolation. The jungler then returns to the top side buff and secures it, then joins the team. This creates a dive timing between the 3 to 3:30 mark to secure first blood just before the enemy solo lane hits 2.

If the enemy jungler and duo lane can be accounted for (such as pushing to the inhibitor turret), that team can shove out the mid lane and secure a quick dragon around the 5-minute mark, AND return to base before the inhibitor turret falls. The inhibitor turret recovers HP over time, so as long as the turret stands, it will rejuvenate to full health by the 20-minute mark.

The solo lane can also “deep freeze” the lane by absorbing minion auto attacks right before the turret. This denies opponent CS and forces the opponent to roam (usually to the mid lane) or take jungle farm. This creates a massive minion wave that has about a 30-second window to be dealt with before the wave hits the turret and XP/gold starts to be denied. Since the roamers are likely mid, a team can collapse on the rotation. To counter the deep freeze to begin with, the team fast pushing can shove the wave into the inhibitor turret and leave, effectively resetting the wave to be further away from the turret.

CLG Nien’s Ryze “Deep Freeze” highlights from NA LCS Week 8

Jungler Decision-Making

In older patches, the jungler would have to make a decision of which 2v1 lane to visit: the team’s duo, or the team’s solo.

  • If the jungler starts on their own jungle buff, then the lane closest to the 2nd buff taken.
  • If the jungler invades, then the lane that helped with the buff.
  • If the 2v1 lane does not fast push or looks to extend the 2v1 lane, the jungler goes to the solo lane to help create a 2v2.
  • If the team NOT initiating the 2v1, the jungler needs to secure their own bottom buff and have the support contest the bottom blue buff before the enemy top lane can secure it.

The jungler must also scout deep into the enemy jungle to ensure that the opposing jungler did NOT move to defend the fast push, as well as restrict escape routes from the solo laner.

SSBvsJAFTurretSecure

Lee Sin looking for the enemy top lane, and scouting to see if the enemy jungler is top.
(SS Blue vs JA Falcons, OGN Spring 2014)

Which champions are favorable for 2v1 fast push lanes?

Low-range AD Carries: SivirNewSquare   JinxSquare   Vayne_Square_0_25b   Draven_Square_0_25b   Twitch_Square_0_25b

With the popularity of long range AD carries Caitlyn_Square_0_25b/LucianSquare, lower range champions will often become bullied out of lane early on (around level 2). With the longer range to get “free damage”, Caitlyn_Square_0_25b/LucianSquarecan easily deny CS by punishing others who have to move forward to hit the creep. Getting this early harass quickly puts pressure on the bottom, requiring jungler assistance or returning to base for more sustain in lane.

With the freedom to get level 3 (unlocking of all skills) and some early gold, this gives the lower-ranged ADCs more ways to stave off the long-ranged harass. This opens up the opportunity for champions like Vayne_Square_0_25b and JinxSquare to be fully utilized early on and not suffer as many disadvantages through the laning phase. This also sets up the early split-push possibility for an AD Carry (through wave manipulation). Additionally, this allows ADCs to run a 10% attack speed/attack damage runepage without much repercussions, as the first buy from taking 2 turrets can equate to an early Vamp Scepter without having to run early Lifesteal Quints.

AttackSpeedPage

An alternative to the %CDR blues is switching with Mana Regen (2.8mana/5sec)
(Dig imaqtpie runepage – NA Server)

Diving Junglers: LeeSin_Square_0_25b   Pantheon_Square_0_25b   Khazix_Square_0_25b   Elise_Square_0_25b   Vi_Square_0_25b

These junglers bring the ability to gap close, some sort of crowd control (LeeSin_Square_0_25b’s Cripple), and some substantial amount of damage to help burst down the target. These popular junglers are excellent at achieving these objectives through early power spikes. If a kill isn’t secured at the dive, forcing the Flash out of the solo laner is an admirable consolation.

Pusher Mids: Ziggs_Square_0_25b   Gragas_Square_0_25b   Orianna_Square_0_25b   Karthus_Square_0_25b

The second stage of the “fast push” strategy is to not let off the throttle, and keep the pressure on in all lanes. Pusher mids help clear waves to keep the opponent at the turret (which draws attention from jungler AND reveals the location of the enemy mid), which give opportunities for roaming to contest buffs (such as dragon or enemy blue). Additionally, these sustained DPS mages fare well in the mid lane when the enemy jungler can be accounted for, giving mental ease about not having to worry about a gank between the 3-5 minute mark (when the mid is most vulnerable).

Passive Early Game Tops: Shen_Square_0_25b   DrMundo_Square_0_25b   Vladimir_Square_0_25b   Jax_Square_0   Shyvana_Square_0_25b

The new top-lane popularity favors lane bullies (Renekton_Square_0_25b, Ryze_Square_0_25b, Aatrox_Square_0_25b, Jayce_Square_0_25b, Riven_Square_0_25b) against some of the more passive laners, for the sheer reason that it gives extra time to ramp up in the early vulnerable levels. Again, champions with escapes that can be taken at level 2 are better to evade the dive. Generally, this is just to give the top lane some breathing room and guaranteed even CS around the 5-minute mark with the opposing laner, without actually facing it.

Snaring Supports: Thresh_Square_0_25b   Zyra_Square_0_25b   Morgana_Square_0_25b   Nami_Square_0_25b

While these supports are adequate in the 2v2 match up, these champions are extremely good at pushing the lane and snaring under the turret. By landing a snare first, the support can absorb 2-3 turret shots (at level 2), while the ADC and jungler damage the solo lane being dived, practically ensuring the kill.

How to deal with the 2v1 lane:

Predicting the swap:

In champion draft, if a team notices a weak duo lane match-up, this is the biggest cue if a team is going to want a 2v1 fast push. If your team takes Caitlyn_Square_0_25b or LucianSquare (lane bullies) with a strong early support (Thresh_Square_0_25b, Leona_Square_0_25b, AnnieSquare), and the opponent takes Vayne_Square_0_25b/SivirSquare/JinxSquare, it is likely that they will want to avoid the direct 2v2 for as long as possible (because those lanes normally fall behind early).

A team can make this read and preemptively move the duo lane to the top side of the map. Waiting in the fog of war anticipating the invade (due to the lack of pre-2 minute vision) and springing an ambush is a great way to get very far ahead. I expect this “ambush” tactic will be popular in the early weeks until teams adapt by delaying until 2:05, using an early green ward from the support, or avoid the invade entirely.

POvKTAEarlyDetection

Annie notices that she was able to ward the enemy Blue uncontested, deducing that the Arrows were looking for a lane swap.
(Prime Optimus vs KT Arrows, OGN Spring 2014)

Mirroring the turret trade (and take more!):

If a team matches the push, the gold disparity will be equalized. Usually, the team that initiates the top lane push tends to leave later, giving a 20-30 second window where a team can quickly collapse to do a quick dragon, or take an additional creep wave. This gives a slight gold advantage towards the bottom side of the map, however the extra gold is not as significant. Taking an early dragon gives the team timing knowledge of when the next dragon will spawn, which allows plenty of time to prepare/pressure in order to secure the 2nd dragon (which is the real prize of the fast push).

SKTSvsNJBEarlyDragon

SKT S pushing faster than NJ Sword, and also take the early dragon before backing.
(SKT S vs NJ B Sword, OGN Masters 2014)

Punish Rotations:

After the turrets have fallen, the movements of the enemy become much more predictable: towards more objectives. Vision and picks can be made at the crucial intersects (especially in the early game when wards are scarce). If the team fast pushing top does not back after the 2nd turret, it is likely they are rotating to the mid lane (around level 3 without items). If they do back, they will quickly move towards dragon, if anything, to find the dragon timer. Is there an outer turret still up? It’s likely that will be the next target. The early map movements of the fast push are straightforward and predictable.

SSvJAFPick

Samsung Blue creating a pick by motioning that they were planning to take the early dragon.
(SS Blue vs JA Falcons, OGN Spring 2014)

Invade the enemy jungle:

Once a fast push has concluded, the farm for the ADC becomes extremely limited (or the top lane gets starved). The ADC/Support have very few options for farming until the wave returns, which means they will either push the mid lane, or start farming the lower jungle. While invading is always a dangerous feat and requires team coordination, the ADC will always be hungry for farm and tracking it down is not a difficult task, with the jungler being in the top-side jungle (to maintain farm and assist the top solo laner if something goes awry).

Mid Game Variants of the Fast Push:

When the mid game being forced earlier, teams need to capitalize on the mid-game strategies to close out the game.

Push, push, siege!

The strategy of always pushing applies pressure by forcing an enemy to always be present to clear the waves and not lose the XP/Gold. This allows for more opportunities to contest dragons and enemy blue buffs. If there are no neutral objectives to contest, a team and set up siege on the inner turrets. Taking down these turrets extends the gold advantage, AND grants even more map control. These compositions have good dive, and massive AoE in a teamfight.

Favored Champions: Gragas_Square_0_25b   Ziggs_Square_0_25b   Orianna_Square_0_25b   JinxSquare

Picks!

An alternative strategy uses high burst damage from the mid-lane/jungle combination to burst down single targets through superior vision advantage. While this is not the direct purpose of the fast push, the extra areas opened up by early fallen turrets create several pick opportunities in the enemy jungle. The team creating the pick expends several high-impact abilities to kill a single target, which forces the enemy team to retreat into a player disadvantage; or to charge the team that has used several resources to finish a target (this counter-intuitive and dangerous, do not do this if your team is behind). The key elements of this composition are mobility and high single-target damage.

Favored Mid/Jungle Champs: Leblanc_Square_0_25b   Khazix_Square_0_25b   LeeSin_Square_0_25b   Zed_Square_0_25b

4-1 Split Push:

This strategy can be a sub-category of the push/siege composition, which applies even more map pressure against a team being sieged. This removes a component of a full 5v5 teamfight (as most teams prepare for) and favors a 4v4 under a turret, or requires a 1v2 to stop the split push. As long as the 4-1 split team are comfortable with knowing when to retreat (and re-engage) from a 4v5 or 1v2, this strategy is incredibly powerful.

Favored Top Champs: Jax_Square_0   Shyvana_Square_0_25b   Tryndamere_Square_0_25b   LeeSin_Square_0_25b   Riven_Square_0_25b   Rengar_Square_0_25b   Vayne_Square_0_25b (ADC can fulfill this role)

 

The undying occurrence of the 2v1 fast push has been a trademark strategy for close to two years, with teams having to adapt to changes by Riot, as well as the development of counter-strategies. In short, the fast push helps weaker bottom lanes get an indirect foothold against stronger bottom lanes, as well as delaying the early game power of top lane champions. Teams also gain a substantial gold boost and allow for the early buy to safely utilize extra gold. This strategy opens up more of the map, making invades for enemy buffs more accessible. The flexibility in composition make-up for this strategy is difficult to ban out in champion draft, and provides versatility to execute many of the popular mid-game strategies.

A special thank you goes out to Anthony “SorenKurosaki” Houle for the header art used in this article!


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Jera

Jera is a former Human Factors psychologist, video game researcher, and avid follower of professional League of Legends. Jera enjoys taking a statistical approach to analyzing gameplay and discovering how small events cause ripple effects throughout the game. Follow Jera on twitter @coL_Jera

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