Today we’ll discuss the Closing Phase, which will allow you to prevent throws, tip an even match in your favor, and sometimes make that desperate comeback. The Closing Phase is so named because this is when you can turn tangible leads into insurmountable ones and “close out” the game due to the overwhelming advantage gained from taking inhibitors. This phase exists during the time when the main focus shifts from T2 turrets to Inhibitor turrets and Inhibitors. The Closing Phase is quite similar to the Post-Laning Phase, the biggest difference being the extra distance between bases, which makes overstaying on a push both much more probable, and much more punishable.
Highly mobile champions, such as Vayne, are often able to make extreme comebacks during this stage because a small mistake is much more exploitable. The more mobile the enemy team is, the more you should be wary of making long pushes, because it increases the chance that you will make a mistake, and a mistake now will be significantly more impactful than an early game mistake. It’s important to keep in mind that defenders have easier access to their fountain. This allows quick recovery from an engagement, which can turn the tables on the pushing team. Even enemies who aren’t particularly mobile, like Caitlyn, can take advantage of their fountain, and turn a game around due to access to resources her opponents don’t have. On the same note, because of how much shorter of a trip it is from one end of the midlane to another, it’s usually best to push mid first, since you can’t be chased as successfully. Taking the middle inhibitor is less impactful, since the minions won’t be able to push as hard as they would on a sidelane, but is typically much safer.
Always remember that league is an objective-oriented game, and pressuring the right objective is the key to success. The Closing Phase is a stage where most objectives are open to choose from, so prioritizing them correctly will help keep you from making those highly punishable mistakes. Objective prioritization is a skill sadly lacking, even for many high elo players, but it’s one of the most essential skills for winning games, and is usually the most important factor in decision making at this stage. In general, Nexus>Inhibitor>Nexus Turret>Inhibitor Turret>Baron>Inner Turret> Dragon>Outer Turret>Red/Blue buff>Minion wave>Jungle camp. A mistake that everyone makes sooner or later, is going to farm a wave, clear a jungle camp, or push down an insignificant tower at a time when their teammates need them to take a more powerful objective. Similarly, many teams overrate the importance of Baron. Baron has been appropriately dubbed “the noob magnet,” because the risk that attempting to take it will create is usually not worth the reward that taking it gives. If you’re in a situation where you can take Baron, 90% of the time you will be better off going for turrets. Finally, consider that it’s not always best to take the biggest objective available to you on the map, but rather, the closest objective.
If, for example, at this stage top has been pushed to the enemy inhibitor, and mid pushed to the inner tower, but bot hasn’t been pushed at all (assuming waves are at the halfway point on the map), if you win a fight at Dragon, it’s most likely not worth your time to run toplane, since the enemy team will respawn before you are able to push the tower down, whereas if you were to push botlane, you could get two towers, and recall without being interfered with. While you may not get the most impactful objectives on the map, you will be getting objectives, which will further your lead, which will make getting those priority objectives more probable. You may be thinking “what’s the point of having a priority list if you should just go for the closest objective?” The answer is that you should be directing the location of the fight to be near the best objective for you to take, which will make it the closest objective. However, you won’t always have enough control of the game to do this, so you must work with what you have.
At this stage of the game 5v5 team fighting in one form or another will be the catalyst for most significant events, which means you need to be reading your teammates’ actions so you can coordinate well with them. Working your team composition optimally against their team composition is essential to winning these fights (and getting the objectives that come with them). Also, understanding who counters who in a team fight, and dealing with them accordingly will yield the results you want.
Now that we’ve gone over the basic game knowledge needed for this stage, let’s look at the plays available to the average Solo Queue team. As a small note about the plays for this stage, many of them will work well in the Post-Laning Phase, and those will still work decently in the Closing Phase. However, the difference in amount of open map created by the destruction of towers makes the plays in each article slightly better in their respective phases.
Roaming 5 Man Gank Squad: The name says it all: group as 5, roam the map, and look to catch out members of the enemy team. Oftentimes this will involve waiting in bushes, and using creep waves, Baron, or jungle camps as bait. An Oracle’s is certainly worthwhile to use in this tactic, but isn’t strictly necessary. Once you make your catch, move on to the appropriate objective. Most League players develop some caution for face checking bushes, but are much less wary of the fog of war that a bend in terrain or a wall can create for them. If you can predict their movements, this makes for an easy ambush that will give you both prime engagement opportunities, and an element of surprise that will cause them to react in more erratic ways, so don’t miss out on these opportunites.
Minion Splitpush: Using your knowledge of wave mechanics, have one person set up a slight creep buildup in a side lane (the slower it builds up, the more powerfully it will push), and then move to either mid or the side of the map, and immediately begin dancing. If an enemy goes to stop the minion wave, you get an easy 4v5. If they don’t you have insta-winions that will earn you free towers without even needing to fight.
The Accordion: There is usually a “dancing” phase before teamfights, where both sides maneuver to get advantages. When this happens, depending on how much terrain restricts your movements (and how easily either side can punish someone who takes one too many steps away from their team), it’s often best to gain an advantage by simply moving from side to side, roughly mirroring your teammate’s weaves, like an accordion. It’s simple, but it keeps you aware and in sync with your team, which is the recipe for a successful engagement opportunity.
The Comeback Baron: While Baron is usually an un-worth objective if you are ahead (unless you realllly need to bait them onto you), it is the prime catalyst for a losing team, after catching a throw, to make their comeback. If you’re desperately behind in the tower race, grabbing a few Outers or even Inners isn’t going to do as much as the buff, presuming you can take Baron uncontested. Using the gold from the won teamfight that allowed you to get Baron, The Baron gold, and the stats from the buff, you can quickly plug some leaks in your sinking ship. If it’s looking like it will be a blowout game, as a last resort, trying to bring the enemy team to Baron is a good way to bait them into making foolish decisions concerning it, which can help you to win that pre-Baron teamfight, which starts your comeback snowball.
As the match progresses, it gets more and more complex, with more factors to take into account than there was before. How turret destruction impacts areas of influence, how item builds affect roles, how team compositions come together, and how objectives influence fights are factors that should be assessed most at this stage. Using simple logic, you can deduce ways that you can manipulate these factors to your advantage. However, when logic isn’t working, the logical thing to do is to abandon logic, and endorse chance. If teamfights are repeatedly ending badly, and your doom seems assured, bringing mayhem to the match, suiciding for towers, spamming wards, jumping on the first target you see and going all-in without vision, etc. If what you are doing isn’t working, do something different– even if it doesn’t quite make sense.
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