Mid Lane: The Three Attributes of Lane Control

Today we’re going to focus on lane control and the choices you have to make to achieve lane control.

  • Firstly, you have lane aggression and at what points in the game you are most dangerous.

  • Another huge element of mid lane is controlling the enemy jungler with minion control and warding.

  • Finally, in order to control your lane, you have to know when to counter roam and when not to counter roam.

All three of these elements is critical to the success of mid lane.

Lane aggression

The first thing that you need to do when going into mid lane is consider what you know to expect from the enemy laner and from yourself. Starting off, determine what type of laner you chose in comparison to what the enemy has chosen. You should already be thinking about this from the start of champ select, particularly if you picked after the opposing laner. If you have a passive laner with an emphasis on farm, like Karthus or Anivia, you have to be very careful when dealing with strong and aggressive lane opponents, like Syndra, Veigar, Cassiopea, and Katarina. Similarly, if you know you have an advantage on the opponent then you know that you can start to zone out your enemy early, denying them both gold and experience, simply because of that threat. This is how to properly utilize lane aggression.

Let’s use an example:

  • You are laning as Syndra vs an enemy Diana. This is a great example of threat levels changing once both champions get their ultimates, which is very common with most mid lane champions. It’s one of the biggest threat changes in a mid lane matchup, in my opinion. Pre-6 Syndra has the ability to totally bully Diana out of meleeing for CS. Her harass + slow + superior range is too much for the pre-6 mobility of Diana. If the Syndra plays her cards right she can reliably get a pre-6 kill. However, once Diana hits 6 the dynamic of the lane  completely shifts; Diana becomes the aggressor while Syndra is the one on her heels. Because Diana can close the gap on Syndra twice, as soon as Syndra uses her defensive tools Diana can immediately attempt to close the gap again. You see a similar dynamic in an Akali lane, but Akali doesn’t have Diana’s defensive shield to properly handle Syndra’s level 6 burst. This threat shift happens for most matchups in every lane, but I would say that level 6 threat changes at mid are the most volatile in the game because of the sheer strength of mid lane ultimates.

You won’t always encounter a threat change, however. Some lanes are in favor of one side the entire lane phase. I’m not going to go through every matchup in the game right now, but after enough experience with your champions you will understand the basics behind your own threat levels.

Taking advantage of your threat level is how you get ahead in CS and hopefully get kills on your opponent. However, none of what I said above will matter if you have no mana to stay in lane. You need to be a mechanically adept player in order to take advantage of threat level. The less mana you spend on farming means more damage dealt in the form of harass. Make sure to focus on solid last hitting with just auto attacks.

Unfortunately, being skilled at threat level and CS will mean nothing if you don’t know how to control the enemy jungler.

How to pull jungle aggression

Every mid laner has to worry about the enemy jungle. Hell, every lane has to worry about the enemy jungler. However, there are some games where you absolutely do not want their jungler ganking your other lanes. Being able to draw attention to yourself and bait the enemy jungler without giving up any kills is a huge boon. You severely limit a jungler’s effectiveness and have the chance farm with your mid lane opponent. That’s fine, but can you handle repeated gank attempts? The answer to this question should be yes.

There are a few things that you can do to draw the focus of the enemy jungle without biting the dust every time they gank.

The first thing to do is ward. I know, I know, you know how to ward… Or, do you? Are you warding in plain sight of the enemy? Where are you warding? How many wards are you getting? I try to purchase 2 wards on every back. You can’t properly bait the enemy jungler without complete vision of where he is. If you don’t properly ward for baits, you will just die over and over again. Step one is warding. If I’m purposely trying to draw jungle agro I like to ward on the ramps of both wraith entrances.

ward spot 1

This gives me vision of when they enter the bushes and what route they are taking to gank me.

The next thing you need to do is coordinate with your jungler. Often times you can set up a counter gank in your favor if you preemptively bait out the enemy’s mobility/crowd control (depending on the enemy jungler). If your jungler isn’t around that’s fine, just keep calm and play passive until he gets there. “Acerunner, what if I have the aggression advantage?” This is almost always a dangerous situation unless you have the gold advantage to 2v1. Nine times out of ten fighting against two opponents on purpose will wind up with at least a wasted defensive summoner for yourself, and at most a death and summoner spell down. Bottom line, don’t be Rambo. The longer you can make the enemy think that you are in a vulnerable but not guaranteed gank zone, the longer they will spend time attempting to maneuver nearby for a gank. You end up wasting their jungler’s time which they could use to clear camps or gank other lanes.

This attempt at baiting the jungler doesn’t work vs all mid laners. Ahri for example is amazing at following up on ganks from a range where you think you were safe. You have to analyze the threat of both the jungler and the mid laner when attempting to pull jungle agro. If you get a bad read on a bait, it will turn into more than just a problem for your lane. If they get an advantage, you will find yourself in a situation where you’re forced to follow your lane opponent as they gank other lanes or take objectives.

When to counter roam

We’ve all been in the situation where our lane goes missing. Sometimes it’s a back, sometimes it’s them getting blue, and sometimes it’s them going to gank your teammates or grab an objective. Mid lane is all situational. One of the most important aspects of mid lane is knowing how to react when your opponent roams to another lane.

Before you blindly follow them, however, you need to ask yourself a question: can I make my counter-roam worth it by picking up a kill or securing an objective instead? If you find yourself saying yes, then maybe following is good for you.

“But Acerunner, how do I know I can secure a kill or objectives?”  You need to evaluate the situation of the game before counter-roaming. Are you winning your lane? Having a gold lead is a good indicator that roaming with the enemy mid, or even to a different lane to secure a kill, is a good idea. This is most efficient if you are carrying the gold/item advantage. It also helps spread your lead from your lane onto other lanes. Make your gold work for your team.

Second question. Is your lane pushed? Before you can counter-roam you need to make sure that you have pushed your lane back to at least even. What does this do? It ensures that your enemy is on the clock. If they don’t get their kill quickly, their lane is going to push back to their tower. Another effect of pushing your lane back is a lack of vision for the enemy team. You will often see Korean teams double ward mid lane in an attempt to catch when a player like Ambition is going to start his roam. Controlling your minion wave is key to counter roaming.

Lastly, ask yourself, “Am I safe to push the tower while they are roaming?” This is a much harder choice based on your vision of the map. However, if you have confidence in your safety, take the time time to put damage onto the enemy tower instead of going to roam. As the Korean teams have shown us, you should prioritize hard objectives first. I like to consider 2 deaths equivalent to a lost SOFT objective. 3 deaths equivalent to a soft objective AND a hard objective gone. Make your choice wisely. Choosing to stay mid and take mid tower is not worth it if they kill your bot lane and jungle, then proceed to take bot tower and dragon. At that point lane control is lost.

In Conclusion

Lane control is about 3 things: Both mid lane’s threat level at a given time, the enemy  jungler’s focus, and minion control. You need all three in order to dominate your opponent. One slip up will turn your lane from ok to unmanageable against the wrong opponent. Really think before going ham. Thanks for reading! I hope you guys tune in next time.


If you guys want to see my stream, it is http://www.twitch.tv/lol_acerunner. Thanks for subscribing!

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My name is Chris "Acerunner" Young. I've been playing League since 2010 and have played mid exclusively since then. 4700 games later I'm here writing to you guys about mid lane.

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