In a certain other real-time strategy game that is extremely popular in Korea, the concept of exploiting known timings is one of the central tactics in obtaining victory. Players utilize timings to exploit their opponents’ weaknesses, attacking when their enemy isn’t quite ready to defend it. I’m Eph289, and today I want to talk about how the concept of timings translates to League of Legends, mostly revolving around four specific known timings focused on the jungle and support roles.
What is a known timing? A known timing is a point in the game when the opponent is likely to do a particular thing. This article will discuss some of the known timings and how to prepare for and exploit them. Now, I’m not talking about power spikes. Power spikes refer to levels or item acquisitions and the time that those can occur is fairly varied. I’m talking about points in the game that you can use to exploit your opponent’s tendencies.
I’m also not going to discuss dragon/baron spawn timers, because that’s something that’s fairly elementary to LoL. Most level 30 players know that the Dragon spawns at 2:30 and every six minutes after killed, and Baron Nashor spawns at 15 minutes and every seven minutes after killed. Moreover, dragon/baron timings are variable dependent on the team composition and how the game is going.
Known timings are more-or-less restricted to specific times in the game. Knowing respawn timers is important, certainly, but that’s not what we’re talking about today.
Timing 1: 3:15 Double Buff gank
Most junglers do not like to gank at level 2. There are a few junglers who are more prone to it than others, particularly with red buff starts, but most junglers like to get a smiteless leash on their first buff, head directly to their other buff (or invade), and take that with Smite before proceeding to a gank. For the fastest junglers, that means they can hit the two lanes nearest their opposite buff around 3:15. That’s mid and top if you’re on red side, or mid and bot on the blue side, but only if the jungler goes blue to red. What if he goes the other way? How do you know what buff the jungler is starting on?
The answer lies with your midlaner. Your midlaner needs to report to the team which direction the opposing mid came from to get to lane. If they came from wraiths, then the jungler started red. If they came from wolves, the jungler started blue. One possible exception of course is that the midlaner did not help with the leash—in which case your toplaner or bottom lane should notice that their counterparts came into lane quite late. For example, if the blue side mid sees their opponent come straight up the midlane around 2:00, but the blue side bottom lane doesn’t see their opponents until 2:15ish, then the mid didn’t help leash but the redside ADC and support did. That’s still a read on the opposing jungler’s start, and it means that the blueside mid and top need to be very careful around 3:15 for the incoming gank.
Timing 2: 7:00 buff transfer
This timing is closely connected to the first. Whatever buff the enemy jungler started will respawn around 7:05. That means that there’s a window where you (preferably with your jungler) can contest that buff. This of course is dependent on things like having mana, health, and your ultimate/summoners off of cooldown, but particularly for champions with big AOE ultimates, creating a 2v2 in the jungle is more advantageous than a 1v1 scenario.
Most likely, the 7 minute buff is the blue buff (based on your read from earlier). If you have an advantage in the nearby lanes and the jungler is able to help, go contest that buff. This is significantly easier on blue side if the river by dragon is pink-warded so the opposing team cannot see your approach. (Note to supports: pink dragon around 6:30 if you want to help make this play possible).
Getting the blue buff (and/or kills) helps snowball your midlaner and sets the opponents behind, particularly if they’re not itemizing mana regen and need it. Plus, this area is usually far less warded than the opponent’s midlane, meaning that junglers with weaker gank potential will have an easier time getting a kill on an otherwise safe midlaner such as Gragas or Zed.
Do note that if your midlaner, jungler, and nearer lane (top or bot) can’t actually fight the opposing two lanes and jungler by the buff, then the timing attack doesn’t exist. The only thing you can try is a risky steal. You have to gauge your strength and save up mana/cooldowns for this fight before you commit to it, because it can seriously backfire.
Timing 3: 20-minute Oracles
This timing is more and more important as the map gets increasingly littered with wards. If you’re playing a team that doesn’t really buy wards (stereotypical Nidalee “support” players), then this isn’t as important. If you’re playing against a team that believes in vision and wards and uses them both to their advantage, then this is extremely important.
By twenty minutes, it’s highly likely that one or more outer turrets have fallen, and that means grouping and roaming! By this point, the support should also have Ruby Sightstone and at least basic boots, which are the other core components of their build. If you are ahead as a support, you can either upgrade boots, or get a faster Oracle Elixir. The twenty minute Oracle Elixir does two things. First, it makes enemy roaming less safe and less likely to pick someone off. If they can’t see your half-health jungle Riven doing Wraiths, then they aren’t as apt to ambush her. Second, it facilitates your roaming. Clearing out defensive wards from entire sections of the jungle (particularly the opposing jungle) is hugely advantageous. Not only does it allow you to set up the infamous “Fnatic bush,” or other such sneaky tactics, but it discourages the enemy’s solo laners from pushing out too far from the turrets to get farm. And that means that if you can intimidate them into staying by their turrets by denying vision, you are essentially denying them gold.
Timing 4: Flash timings
Flash has a five minute cooldown. This timing (along with #1) is probably one of the first timings that players learn when they’re playing League of Legends. The best junglers know that a successful gank results in your team getting an advantage via A) an objective, B) kills, C) Summoner Spells, D) Force-backs, or E) Long-cooldown ultimates, in roughly that order. For the sake of this argument, I’m going to say that “getting an advantage” means that you are getting more of the things than you give up. In other words, if you get a kill at top that results in a lost turret, two force-backs, and a Dragon given up at bot, that is not a successful gank.
Champions without Flash either have to play far more cautiously due to increased vulnerability to ganks, or have some obnoxious escape move that is going to require the jungler to bring in additional reinforcements to tower-dive them. Whenever you gank a lane and force their Flash, that’s a win. Note the time roughly and try to visit that lane again within the next five minutes. For laners, if you are able to force out a Flash/Barrier/Exhaust/Cleanse/Heal from your opponents, let your jungler know so they can try and exploit the timing window before that spell is off cooldown.
Known timings are points of predictability in the game that you can use to punish or avoid your opponents. If you started with a ward for your mid build, you should place it down on the side of the opposing jungler’s second buff around three minutes to watch out for the 3:15 gank if your lane is pushing. You can use the 7:00 buff transfer to ambush the enemy jungler and possibly their mid at the their third buff. And the 20 minute oracles will help your team control vision. Timing Flash (along with other summoner spells) is something that most high-level and professional teams do out of habit, and incorporating these timings into your gameplay will help you understand windows of vulnerability or predictability in your opponents which you can then exploit.
Good luck on the Fields of Justice!