Before we begin, I’ll explain a little about myself. I’m Fridgecake. I used to be a content developer for another League tactics site before I moved over here. I’m active on /r/summonerschool and enjoy joining in the discussions about many aspects of League. I’m currently ranked Plat in 3s and Gold in solo queue on 2 accounts. I enjoyed theorycrafting as part of the game and look forward to providing you with some interesting content to read!
AOE, area of effect, Teams have been around in League ever since the first Fiddlesticks cast his ult and destroyed everyone in a 5-mile radius, declaring: “Why don’t we do this every game?!” But the team comps have evolved from “Press R and hope the enemy team dies” into a more coordinated structure. Admittedly a lot of this has come down to new champion releases and new AOE spells coming into play, but the intention has always been there.
But this begs the question:
How do you build an AOE team?
These are spells who’s focus is purely on damage to multiple targets and could be anything from the aforementioned Fiddlestick’s ultimate, Ahri’s Orb of Deception (Q) line skill shot or Brand’s Pyroclasm (R), which bounces between multiple targets.
Be sure to land your AOE spells on as many targets as you can, and prioritise hitting squishy champions as often as possible. It is usually better to focus your AOE spells on 2-4 targets and get them low enough to be cleaned up by your team than it is to try and hit everyone and spread your damage so thinly that the enemy team are able to fight back.
Control spells tend to come with a damage component, but the main focus here is to enable the rest of the team to land their damage. This group of abilities tend to be the main part of the teams initiation and can come from many different sources.
Examples of this are Amumu’s Curse of the Sad Mummy (R) from the jungle, Malphite’s Unstoppable Force (R) from top lane/jungle, Ashe’s Enchanted Crystal Arrow (R) from the AD Carry or Kennen’s Slicing Maelstrom (R) from Mid/Top.
Usually your team will have several control ultimates, and they should be layered on top of each other to create a killing zone. This could be anything from Jarvan’s Cataclysm (R) followed by Orianna’s Command: Shockwave (R), to Amumu’s Curse of the Sad Mummy (R) followed up by Varus’ Chain of Corruption (R).
These combinations of abilities allow for AOE damage to be piled on top of this area.
Ultimates tend to be the make or break of an AOE team. Landing the perfect CC combo on 5 members of the enemy team will usually result in an ace and several objectives for your team. Again, try and focus ultimates on squishier targets as best you can, but if you hit the tanky characters hard enough so they aren’t able to participate in a teamfight either (because they’re dead or low enough that they turn and run), then you’ve done your job and can move on to killing the squishier targets.
Clean up – Ability Resets and Single Target Damage
Ability resets can play a huge role in AOE damage teams and allow characters like Katarina or Kha’zix to clean up the enemy team once you’ve got them low from your AOE combo. If you’re running resets as a heavy part of your team set up then you need to ensure that you are actually killing people in a teamfight rather, than just blanketing damage in an area in order to force the enemy team to back off.
Single target damage seems like a stupid thing to include here, but realistically you are unlikely to kill a whole team using your AOE combo. If you do, it is usually because you’re fed. Most games you will require single target damage in order to finish off targets. This could be from an assassin, characters like Akali thrive in this sort of environment at lower ELOs due to people turning at running after a huge wombo combo, but AD Carries can fulfill this role as you move towards late game.
One big thing to consider is: does your team actually bring all the things regular teams want, in addition to AOE?
- Do you have a mix of damages? AOE teams can be crippled by efficient use of resistance items.
- Can you push towers/objectives?
- Do you have good initiate? No point having an AOE team if you can’t start the fight where you want it.
- Do you have strong CC?
- Are you sacrificing lane presence for teamfight presence? Although not a bad thing, you need to realise early on that your team needs to group up to win. So push early towers and focus on taking objectives.
Let us look at a few examples of AOE team comps and how they might want to fight.
Rumble – Top Lane; Vladimir – Mid Lane; Amumu – Jungle; Caitlyn – AD Carry; Sona – Support
This team is a triple AP composition with 4 AOE ults, one of which slows, two others hard CC the enemy and one amplifies damage. They have two good initiations with Amumu’s Bandage Toss -> Curse of the Sad Mummy or a Flash Crescendo from Sona, and a couple of softer initiations like Rumble’s Equalizer.
Ideally the team wants to start off with a Bandage Toss into Amumu ult to lock up 3+ members of the team. Rumble wants to Equalizer across as many people as he can to start the damage and get his slow up with Vlad coming in and dropping Hemoplague on as many people as he can hit, preferably the enemy carries. Sona’s Crescendo could then be laid across the team to continue the CC chain while everyone piled in to do damage, or it could be saved to protect Cait from any counter initiation. Rumble and Vlad also have some strong AOE damage in Flamespitter and Tides of blood, as well as Caitlyn’s Piltover Peacemaker, plus some effective single target damage from the AD carry.
This team hopes to have done enough damage in the opening few seconds of the teamfight that, even if the enemy has all of their abilities up, they’re too low to effectively use them all. Catching a carry in an Amumu ult, with Vlad’s ult on top and Rumble’s Equalizer damaging them, while Sona catches them in crescendo will usually spell the end for any squishy champion.
However, even the tanky champions will have taken a fair quantity of damage and may be forced to flee before they can do much disruption or damage to our initiating team. As with most AOE teams, picking fights in the jungle can make your comp even more devastating, especially because Rumble’s ult can take up almost an entire section of the jungle, if fired accurately. Obviously, the big issue here is if the ults don’t line up correctly. If Amumu only catches one or two people with his ult, the team’s ability to teamfight isn’t as strong. They do have Sona’s Crescendo if the enemy team groups up after the initiation, but its unlikely she’ll be able to get into the best position without dying.
Riven – Top lane; Anivia – Mid Lane; Jarvan – Jungle; Miss Fortune – AD Carry; Zyra – Support
This team has the initiation coming from its jungler, Jarvan, who can use either the E -> Q knock up combo, or just Cataclysm on to the enemy team. Setting up this impassable zone of terrain will allow Anivia and Zyra to drop their ults on top and create a very effective area of CC and damage that will probably cause a few Flashes from the enemy team.
Most of Riven‘s damage is AOE, and she has an execute to kill anyone who gets low enough from the onslaught of damage. All 5 members of the team bring AOE damage to table, but its the CC that may really win it for them. With 2 knockups, one from Jarvan and one Zyra (which are both AOE), they create an area of control that many bruisers will struggle to get through that can’t be mitigated with Tenacity. Additionally, with Riven’s AOE stun and Anivia’s stun and slow, they can usually keep a team at bay long enough for Miss Fortune to get a full channel of Bullet Time off.
Again, this team benefits from fighting in the jungle. Using Anivia walls to trap members of the enemy team from getting away, on top of Jarvan’s abilities to surprise them by leaping over a wall, the team might want to look to create fights as the enemy team moves for Baron.
Malphite – Top lane; Orianna – Mid Lane; Eve – Jungle; Ezrael – AD Carry; Taric – Support
This time, Initiation comes from top lane. By placing Orianna’s ball on Malphite, she can Shockwave straight after Malphite uses Unstoppable Force to do even more damage and CC those caught within the knock up. Eve’s ultimate applies a slow, as well as more damage to the team and Ezrael can combo this with his Trueshot Barrage.
The CC from this team isn’t quite as strong as the previous one, but it focuses more on burst damage. Fighting in the jungle is still useful for this team, due to enclosed spaces and Malphite being able to ult over walls while carrying Orianna’s ball.
Another good way to initiate with this team is putting Orianna’s ball on Eve, and letting her stealth into the enemy team. Blowing her ult will allow her to catch the enemies and use Dark Frenzy’s move speed boost to get into the middle of the team. Orianna’s ball then groups the team up allowing Malphite’s ult to knock them all up and finish the teamfight before it has even started.
From all the above examples, you can see that they combo heavy damage with heavy CC, in the hope of killing enemy squishies before they can react or by putting out so much damage on the front line that they can no longer fight effectively, while most of your team remains at full health. Although the teams I listed above all, more-or-less, bring AOE damage, usually in the form of an ultimate, having some variation within the team will allow you avoid being a 1-trick pony.
Zed can still do AOE damage once he’s used his ult to blow up the enemy AD carry, so he can be run as a single target damage source while the rest of your team AOE’d down the remainder of their team. Or run Nidalee as a split pusher in the hope that chaining your AOE together with the other 3 members will still make you a formidable teamfight presence during a siege.
These teams sound OP, why doesn’t everyone run them?
Well, they are hard to pull off without co-ordination. If Amumu goes in when his team isn’t ready, the other team will spread out quickly so they don’t get caught in the remaining AOE. Plus, even if he does catch enough members of the enemy team, strong disengages like Trundle, Janna or Gragas can stop an AOE team in its tracks by having causing them to waste ultimates and get their team away to safety.
How do you beat an AoE team?
You need to engage on them and disrupt their AOE before it occurs. Whether this is with heavy initiating champions like Malphite or Amumu, or whether you use someone like Zed to just destroy one member of their team so they can’t combo you in the way they want to.
Ensure you ward up properly, especially in the jungle, because AOE teams are incredibly effective at fighting in enclosed corridors. Additionally, if they jump you from a bush, when you aren’t expecting it, then it will basically spell the end of your game because, more than likely, your positioning isn’t prepared for the threat and this is exactly what an AOE team wants.
Try not picking a fight. This is of course easier said than done and, if they have strong enough initiation, which they normally do, then this can a bad idea. Grab some extra resistances or health than you would normally. Especially on a support. You’re already likely to get killed from random damage that is flying around, but even more so with an AOE team. So when the game moves to the teamfight stage, ensure you’re tanky enough to eat some of the damage while you use your skills.
But most importantly: Spread Out. They can’t AOE you if you all stand far enough away that it isn’t effective anymore. If you see Amumu’s bandage toss hit a friend then, you’ve got about 0.1 seconds to move the hell away from him. Blow Flash to get away if you have it, because there is about to be a whole world of pain raining down on you and your friends and you need every bit of damage you can to react to the new threat.