I’m back from the holidays with an important theme I keep referencing in most of my articles: minion control. I’d like to give you insight of what I understand as minion control and some points to remember and use every game that will grant you a huge advantage when the enemy is not using them. For this purpose, I’ve collected some rather easy steps to follow which can are not hard to execute and only a matter of getting used to.
What I label as “minion control”
While in lane, the main actions happening are trading and farming. The important thing to understand here is that both can be heavily influenced by the status of the minions – their position, their health, and their count. Especially early, this is a very deciding factor in lanes; but in the later phases of the game, minions are very important for pushes against towers.
What I call “minion control” is the ability of a champion to change or protect the flow of lane minions, given by his kit. The best case scenario here is fast damage against multiple minions with low resource cost, due to the fact that it gives you more options to deal with the minion situation the longer you keep laning.
This can actually be an important part of deciding your pick: when you go against champions like Kassadin and Warwick, it is often a good idea to go for champions with AoE-waveclearing abilities to push the enemy to their turret as much as possible since they often have a hard time picking up last hits below the turret. This is in general good against every champion since the turret destroys one or two last hits every two waves for sure, but it is even more devastating against certain champions with relatively bad minion control.
Examples of champions with strong minion control: Riven (manaless, AoE), Yasuo (manaless, AoE), Ziggs (massive and fast AoE damage), Lissandra (massive and fast AoE damage), Singed (cheap AoE damage)
Examples of champions with minion control problems: early game Kassadin (high mana costs, rarely avaiable AoE), pre-6 Nidalee (no AoE), LeBlanc (escape = waveclear), Fizz (escape = waveclear and best trading skill)
Remember: when you pick a champion, think about his waveclear and damage to minions when thinking about the matchup. Is a control disadvantage worth risking?
Denying gold and experience through timed pushing
This is something I picked up through watching higher level players, be it on streams or via tournaments. When you leave your lane, you want the least possible amount of minions to die since every minion death out of your range means lost experience and gold.
This is a good way to gain an advantage over your enemy in terms of creep score: when you know or think that your enemy is leaving the lane (to take farm somewhere else, roam the map, ward), it is a good practice to push your lane as hard as your can to make his tower accelerate the death of the minions.
To counteract this, you should also try and push the lane as hard as possible when you intend to leave the lane afterwards – your enemy will have to kill more minions this way when he wants to push the lane to your tower, giving you time to get back to lane without losing too many last hits.
Remember: simply push the lane every time you want to leave, be it for a back, taking wraiths, or roaming to another lane – this is even more effective when your enemy realizes too late what you plan to do.
Pushed lanes and jungle pressure (mainly top lane)
This concept is mainly relevant in soloQ – the most popular example is druiddroid’s proxy Singed and the related discussion about jungle attention. When you win your lane, you can try and push your lane to give the enemy jungler a seemingly good option of ganking your lane. If you do this, you take a big risk – when you memorize summoner cooldowns wrong or the jungler is ahead and has more damage than you expected, this “seemingly” good chance to go for you can turn into a guaranteed kill very fast.
The most important point here is timing. A good time to try and force the enemy jungler to top lane is when your bottom laners just came back to lane, your middle laner and jungler are in good condition and proximity and the dragon is available. When the enemy jungler appears top, the bottom half of your team can instantly go for dragon while having the Smite and number advantage.
This works best for tanky champions with good ways to escape sticky scenarios like Singed, Rengar and post-6 Kassadin.
Remember: pushing can “force” the enemy jungler to come to your lane, either due to it being an overly attractive target or due to the lack of alternatives. When your team understands that this is happening, they can more often than not make use of this to get an advantage. Only use this if you are sure that you can estimate the risk!
Vision through minions (mainly mid lane)
When your team, especially your jungler, decides to make an aggressive advance into enemy territory, it is often a good idea to push your lane. This stems from the danger that your enemy laner and jungler can ambush your mate relatively easy when he walks through a ward. Having a pushed lane also makes it easier for you to leave the lane to help your jungler since your lane will already be pushed when you decide to react.
Remember: when you see an ally invading the enemy jungle, pushing your lane is a good idea even if you do not plan to leave or follow him. The vision the minions give will make it far easier for your mate and yourself to react to enemy movement.
Aggression with timed pushes
While this tactic is exceptionally strong, not many people use it in soloQ currently. I will present to you the principle of the “slow push” which is very strong when you want to force Nashor or a push on the other side of the map. In solo queue, most people tend to just shove the lanes as fast as they can to get as many last hits for themselves – this makes the slow push often hard to execute. Explaining this to your team can make it usable for you.
When you slow push bot lane, you kill only two minions of a wave or damage the minions with one spell while not killing them. This gives your minion wave an advantage over the enemy wave; they will win the fight against the enemy waves over time. Due to the time this takes, a lot of minions will amass to push the lane forward. The mass of minions will be big enough to take outer and inner turrets quite fast, even being a danger for inhibitor turrets. To abuse this, you can clear vision around Baron Nashor and slow push the bottom lane for example, waiting until one enemy is forced to clear the bot lane to start Baron or try and initiate a fight (since the enemy will stay close to try and poke you). This is harder to execute against champions with global presence like Shen or teleport users, but still possible if you monitor and track their cooldowns. Another possible use for the slow push would be to slow push either top or bot to take the other lane in conjunction.
Timed pushes are also very important early in the game, mainly in the first four levels: most champions acquire crazy kill potential through level advantage. The most basic application of this is the level 2 all-in: to abuse this, you try and autoattack as much as possible at level 1, pushing your lane and giving level 2 to you faster than to your enemy – an instant all-in as soon as you ping level 2 can determine your lane very early. This is also still important for level 3 and 4 (for all levels actually but mostly for the first four), depending on the champion played and the ability taken. I myself rarely abuse this at mid – I prefer to hang back when I see my enemy pushing and avoid his all-in, probably gaining advantage trough his overextension. But this decision always depends on the matchup – when you play Riven against Kassadin mid, there is no real disadvantage in going hard via a level 2 all-in!
Remember: pushing just hard enough to gain a level advantage for a split second can mean First Blood; this is both important for your aggression and your reaction to your enemies play! Also try and predict the future lane movement before late game advances.
A matter of habit
While all these things are not difficult to execute at all, they all are a matter of habit. When you get used to following these steps in every game when handling minions, you will soon stop to think about them, executing them just like you last hit. While they are not hard to learn, they can be quite impactful for your lane and your team’s overall gold advantage, making them worth to learn for sure.