Knowledge is Power

Do you know your Zed’s from your Kha’zix’s? Annie’s coming to your lane and she’s got swirling particles around her. Are you in danger or is she a free kill? Who has an ability called Crystallize? Just what does Hecarim’s W do?!

These are the sort of problems that the newer players to League of Legends face all the time but, even as more experienced players, we can get into these sort of situations when we come across less played champions, new champions or even different item builds on familiar champions.

New Champions

A new champion is released. What do his moves do? What kind of damage does he do? Does his ult provide him with stats or is it a nuke? This is quite relevant at the moment as Lucian has been released fairly recently. Do you understand the threat that he can provide you in lane and a teamfight?

Playing against a champion for the first time is always going to be daunting because its something completely unfamiliar. However, having a basic knowledge of the champion will save you some of the headache. Knowing that you can and should build armour against a certain champion allows you to plan your build for the early game. Without this knowledge you may find yourself without the required tools to win the lane.

When a new champion is released ensure you read up about their abilities and watch the champion spotlight. This won’t give you all of the information you need to beat the champion but having a basic idea will allow you attempt to counter them.

Using Lucian as a quick example, i’ve currently not seen him in a game so i’m not sure if this correct but here is what i’ve got from the champion spotlight/lolwiki:

  • He’s a marksmen so he’s likely to be in the bot lane and be building AD/AS/Crit/Armour Pen items
  • He will look to trade by using an ability and then following that up with an auto attack + free auto from his passive
  • The above situation will be particularly potent if he has BotRK or other ‘on-hit’ items
  • His ult fires in a line so escaping up the river rather than back to your tower may avoid much of the damage
  • You can block his ult in teamfights by standing in the way

Obviously there are plenty of more advanced things like that he can potentially reveal me if i’m in the brush or that any move speed slows should be applied after he’s used his dash but for the basics I think it should set me up to fight Lucian if and when I see him.

Existing Champions

Do you know all there is to know about all the champions? How about the champions you’re likely to fight in lane? How about the champion you’re about to go against in mid lane? Having a working knowledge of other champions allows you to out play them by fighting when they’re weak and playing safe when they are strong.

Knowing more about the game gives you an edge against players that don’t know enough about the champion you’re playing. I’m a huge fan of Heimerdinger, my record is something like 15-1 on Heimer from this season and last season, both ranked and unranked, because people just don’t know how to play against him.

I’ve had Gragas players use their body slam move on me while I have both my turrets up. A quick ult, point blank concussion grenade and the Gragas player is in a whole world of trouble. But if he knew that turrets are the make or break of a good Heimer player and that he shouldn’t have engaged on me with them up, then he would have saved his life.

Now is this a good reason to play Heimer in ranked games? Well, Yes. I’ve played him enough to know his weaknesses and his strengths and I know the characters he beats and who stomps him. So I could pick Heimer if I found a favourable match up, a counter pick if you will. However I also know the effect having a Heimer on your team does to team morale. But that’s another article.

If you’re unsure of a champion you’re going to be against then it might be worth a quick glance to lolwiki to find out what his abilities do or just asking your teammates for some general advice against the character. I know the League seems toxic but many players would be happy to give you a few hints and tips to beating someone in lane.

Your Champion

Do you know everything about your own champion? Do you know the cooldown on your Q? Do you know the mana cost? The AP ratio? If not, why not?

You don’t need exact details but you need to know you’re going to struggle with mana if you have to spam out your W to wave clear. Maybe you should ask for help from your jungler earlier because you’ve had to blow your 3rd wave clearing W to stop Kass pushing and roaming and that you could end up becoming an easy target soon or that you can’t keep up and top/bot need to be on the look out for a Kassadin. If he can’t help you then you need to ward and be prepared to follow him.

What is the killing power of your champion without your ult up? Is it worth your jungler coming to gank now or should he help a different lane? Things like these will elevate your play to the next level. In most cases a gank is welcome on a lane even if its just to scare the opposing laner and get you some relief so you can pick up some easy CS. However if you’ve not got the mana or health to follow up effectively it could easily end up with one, or both of you, getting killed.

Further Knowledge

If we go a little deeper, what is the difference between a Vayne with Bloodthirster and a Vayne with Phantom Dancer? One has bigger burst (Vayne with Bloodthirster) because her individual attacks do more damage while the other wins extended trades because she gets more auto attacks in and therefore more silver bolt procs. So how do you want to fight these characters?

Vayne with a PD needs extended trades to take advantage of the gold she has spent on attack speed. Harassing with long range auto attacks or skills without allowing her to close on you negates this advantage. If she attempts a longer trade then using CC or escapes earlier will allow you to win the trade.

A Vayne with BT has stronger up front damage/burst, so if she engages you need to land CC from the start of the damage to win trades and then retreat if you’re not going for the kill.

In top lane you’re playing Rumble against Jayce and you’ve both just hit 6 at the same time. Who just got the biggest power spike? You, because you now have an ult, or Jayce, because of the bonus stats he gets? Will he beat you if you can’t use your ult effectively?

You need to know what enemy champions are capable of but also what your champion is capable of. Can you dive 1v2 under the turret get a kill and get out or does Janna have a way of making your life hell? Can you leap this wall with Vi’s Q? Zed has just used his shadow to help clear the wave, is he weak or strong right now?

Getting the mileage out of basic knowledge

Let’s look at something a lot more basic, when did they get Dragon? If you know this you know when you need a ward up in the dragon pit and that you should save your pink ward until they’ve already used theirs so you can retain vision in this area.

When is that ward in the river going to expire? If you know, tell your jungler! “Ward in top river expires 13.55, come gank just after then for free kill”. Based on this knowledge you know that at 13.55 if your jungler is coming top you can’t have the wave pushed to their turret. Use the knowledge you have to outsmart your opponent and win games.


Using basic knowledge of this game sets you up to beat opponents who choose to be ignorant. Using your knowledge of timings, both of champion skills as well as Baron/Dragon/Buff timers, allows you to be in the right places when your teams needs you to help win the game.

By forcing a trade while you’re at full power, or have hit a power spike, and the enemy is weak you abuse your knowledge of what’s going on to make gains that the enemy cannot respond to. By expanding your knowledge of the game you will find yourself being better able to deal with difficult situations and on top of this identifying situations where the game could be won or lost. Taking advantage of those situation is another matter.

It’s no accident that pro players use lots and lots of wards. They want to enhance their knowledge of the game by working out when the enemy jungler is going to take dragon or gank a lane. By backing off they waste the junglers time during a gank and force him to either take tax off the lane, putting the lane behind, or head back to the jungle, which has indirectly set him back.

What can you do to improve your play?

Read about enemy champions. Lol wiki is a great information tool. If you’re going to fight Jarvan in lane, read about what his moves do, how long the cooldowns are and what kinds of damage he does and gear accordingly. Attack him when his shield is down, when he missed his EQ combo and save your flash for his ultimate.

Time Dragons/Barons and Buffs. Make sure you are they when they spawn to steal them away from the enemy jungler. Frequently in games even as high as Gold or Plat, junglers leave their buffs alive for minutes at a time. If you can get in there safely and clear them quickly then you should be taking them away constantly.

Read guides on Lolpro.com or Solomid.net (or of course, Cloth5!). Enhance your knowledge of your own champions so you build the right items, skill your moves in the right order and just learn some tips and tricks that more experienced players have acquired.

Watching streams, including the championship streams like the LCS, provide you with a lot of information and you will end up picking up information just by proxy. I never knew that Zed’s ult was blocked by Zhonya’s until I watched his first games in the LCS and this allowed me to adjust my build the next time I went up against a Zed in the mid lane and I was able to beat him.

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Esports and Blogs Manager for Cloth5.com. I'm a Plat 5 all around player, I know I should pick a role but it's too much fun playing all of the champions! Add me on Fridgecake or Yawnedeverywhere and i'd be happy to have a game. Currently playing Hearthstone, Gangsters 2, GTA 5 and Football Manager. Follow me on twitter @C5Fridgecake or check out my stream

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