While League of Legends is about statistics in almost every thing you do, they are not the only thing deciding a lane or even a teamfight. There is another important factor to take into account: the better you are with the fundamental basics of the game, the more your behavior starts to decide interactions. Simplified, the better your basics are, the more your interactions against your opponent are not only decided by your amount of Ability Power, but also by your behavior. I’m DC941 and I’d like to help you learn a little about your “behavior” in your games.
Intimidation & respect in everyday life
This is a fairly self explanatory principle actually, and I’m sure many of you practice this in some form in every day life. Incidents like robberies often happen to people that make themselves attractive targets. To make that clear right away, I of course do not blame the victim for what is happening in such circumstances, but I want to point out that you can make yourself a less attractive target for such actions with being more “intimidating”, instilling respect for you in your surroundings. This starts with things as easy as standing upright without looking at the ground or not digging your hands into your pockets too deep. A lot of this is psychological stuff especially related to self-esteem, but let’s not dive too deep into this.
How the f*** is that relevant to my (in)game?
The better you get at League, the better you can expect and predict what will happen in certain situations. Saintvicious once explained this as the definition of the much-used word “mechanics”. While I’m not entirely sure if he was right with this, he hit the nail on the head in terms of in game behavior. You of course have no option to make your champion walk more upright or look at the enemy with an angry expression on your face (well, you can always taunt them), but a lot of similar intimidation is happening in the game trough other aspects of your playing behavior. Let’s look at example lanes to clarify what I mean:
Lane presence in solo lanes: aggressor or victim?
Let’s take a look at a midlane matchup: Swain versus Ryze. Both are not that great in the early game, but I’d say that Swain would have the edge due to Ryze’s low range – and we all know what happens when Swain gets into range to use his damage spells. You take a lot of stuff at once. That doesn’t guarantee a won lane though!
If the Swain is for example not used to playing in mid lane, and has less knowledge of the matchups, he could very well decide to play rather passively, snagging last hits where he can and avoiding trades. This would give Ryze the possibility to farm up and start out trading the Swain once he can overpower him. When Swain plays too passively, he could even take harass without daring to pay it back. This would result in a lost lane.
A similar situation would be a top lane matchup of Riven against Nasus. Riven clearly has the early game advantage (at least the last time I played her before the nerfs) – she can force trades and make Nasus lose a lot of minions due to fearing his death.
The place where lane presence is the most relevant overall is bottom lane though. The concept of the support is pretty much to provide lane presence – especially in the early laning, the supports actions make or break the lane. Carries mostly have pretty similar trading abilities, but the supports are diverse in terms of skill set and have more potential of catching the enemy out (esp. Tresh or Nami). If they decide to stand back, never autoattacking or being around their carry… that’s a pretty difficult lane to survive for our gun-wielding friend.
So, how do I show how dominant I am?
The first step is to actually know whats going on. When you know what your enemy can do, when you know where the enemy jungler is – you should try to pressure as hard as you can. This doesn’t mean you should constantly all-in your enemy; the amount of aggression you can throw out is still very dependent on your matchup.
The most important point is – as always – your positioning. When you play a champion with magnificent trading abilities like Swain (can’t miss any skillshots when you don’t cast nevermove), you should try to bully your enemy around the lane. Try to get in range between every single last hit you do – you will want to unload your cooldowns on him as often as possible. In a very uneven matchup, you can even sit between the enemy minions and your enemy, zoning him completely. Remember that you should only act that aggressive when you are 100% sure that he doesn’t have a ace up his sleeve (like a jungler, for example).
In bottom lane, every bit of aggression can decide the future of the lane. Autoattacks go a long way. Every time I am paired with a Thresh running attack damage runes, I have a fat grin on my face since he can put down such an incredible and sometimes unexpected load of damage in the first four levels with just his right click.
All this also counts for teamfights: sometimes simply walking a tad closer to the enemy team when playing a tank can intimidate their initiator (being scared of his squishies exploding) enough to fall back instead of picking up on the opportunity.
As with all advice in league, there are exceptions: champions like Karthus, Ziggs and to a certain degree Caitlyn can simply bypass this aggression dance by farming from huge range, making it relatively safe for the to hang back without losing too much.
I hope that this article was at least a bit helpful for people struggling with their laning presence. The big TL;DR pretty much is: don’t put yourself in the losing position before even taking a single point of damage! When you don’t know a matchup but know your champion, try a trade and see how it goes. To get a better grasp of what I’am writing about, I recommend watching some streams for a bit: it’s easy to see the positioning of midlaners pushing the other player around with the invisible force that is their trading range.