Link’s Basic Guide to Laning


Hi, I’m Link from CLG here to talk to you about some basics on laning. As this is a text post, this is meant to cover just the general basics that is meant to get you to think about some stuff that you may perhaps never thought of. It won’t be a very specific guide, but rather just a general one.

Laning phase is one of the most important parts of the game because it dictates your transition into the mid and late game. Having an important laning phase usually means you get to take control of the game if you know to utilize your advantage. If you lose laning phase, it generally means you are going to be behind in terms of gold, cs, experience, and a tower. These are all important factors because gold means items, experience means levels/skills, and towers mean map control.

Laning phase in all three lanes (mid/bot/top) are all played differently. This is because of how the match-ups work as well as how long the lanes are. To be more specific, top/bot lane are a much longer lane than mid lane. So naturally, it is more dangerous if you get ganked or caught in a bad spot because it takes longer for you to get to your turret. Arguably, top lane would be the “scariest” lane because there is no support to provide you wards unlike in the bottom lane. Also, top lane is a 1v1 while bot lane is a 2v2 (mid lane being 1v1).

But despite these differences, there are still core things you should focus on. These are:

Lane control


Passive vs Aggressive

Experience values

Calling your Jungler


Lane control is extremely important when it comes to laning because sometimes you need to dictate where the lane has to be in order for you to win the match-up. Knowing where the lane has to be comes from experience and playing the game. For example, in the Orianna vs Ahri matchup, Ahri has a lot of trouble in the early game phase dealing with pushers. So Orianna should be constantly shoving the lane and harassing Ahri under the turret (pre 6). Of course, once Ahri hits 6 the lane changes because if Orianna gets charmed she could be in trouble. Another example is the Caitlyn/Zyra vs Vayne/Thresh match-up bottom lane. There are very few things Vayne/Thresh will be able to do if they are shoved into a tower. All they can do is get poked and hope for a god hook or a gank utilizing Thresh’s lantern. Otherwise, they will be subject to Caitlyn’s long range and Zyra’s insane poke pressure under tower.

But wait, these examples all seem to deal with pushing people under tower and harassing them with long range. Well, you should not always be pushing in. If you are playing someone melee and you need to utilize distance to kill them then you should freeze (the act of not pushing and maintaining creeps in a certain place). For example, when you are ahead on riven/rumble, if you do push up to turret, what are you going to do? You won’t be able to touch them under turret unless you count flamespitter as harassment. But why do small amounts of damage when you can potentially kill them in an all in if you just were able to get to them. This is why knowing how to manipulate the lane comes in. Once the lane starts pushing back, you should freeze the lane somewhere near the middle (assuming this is top lane). Now if your opponent ever overextends, you can chase them down with your combos quite easily and kill them. This is also why Riven/Rumble are much harder to play mid lane. They are melee and have little chase power due to the short lane. It is also why if you ever do see them mid lane it is a HARD counter pick or they keep shoving and roaming.

Harassment is extremely hard for players who don’t exactly get it. It takes a lot of time and patience to understand how to harass effectively. You always do want to get cs, but at the same time, you want to apply pressure on your opponent. It is a matter of learning how to find a balance between csing and harassing. I see people harass way too much that they take an extremely bad trade while missing the cs they were supposed to get. Never compromise your own position to try to make something happen. In lane you should be watching for how your opponent is playing in terms of passive vs aggressive. There is something that everyone has in common. They all want cs. So what do you do? You can take advantage of this. Everyone will stop for a brief 0.3~ second (unless they are casting a spell) to auto a low hp creep. There are 6~ creeps per minion wave. This means there are 6 chances to potentially harass them. So when I play heroes like Syndra/Caitlyn who are long range with strong poke, I look to punish on every creep. This means, Q them with Syndra when they walk up for an auto. But the thing is, you don’t need to play long range champions to do this. You can utilize ever mid-range champions like Ahri or even Corki to do this. If your trades win, then you should be aiming for an opportunity to do it. Use your Ahri Q to get 2 cs while harassing him. Use your auto Q on Corki (then walk away) to slowly poke down your opponents. This is all natural harass that should be mastered. The tricky part of this is of course, people start to realize what you are doing and start playing differently. It is up to you to adapt to how they play and utilize mind games.

Play passive when you are losing/scared. Play passive when you are afraid the jungler is going to come and gank you. This is why wards are extremely important in lane. If you are scared the jungler is going to come because you have no wards, then you are losing pressure. Wards are TOO important. Always buy one on base back. Playing aggressive is good and all, but it should be SMART aggressive. Don’t just walk up to their face and be like “hi.” Do it in a manner where you know you won’t die in the process. This takes practice and effort and the easiest way to learn when to be aggressive/passive is to think about the game and watch other people play.

Experience values are important in lane because there are a couple of key points in the lane that can completely change the tide. The two common ones are level two and level six. It takes 7 creeps for someone to turn level 2. This means, once your wave is gone and you see a opponent Riven with a red pot playing aggressive, guess what she is aiming for. Level 2 all in as soon as the next creep is dead. Level six is a bit more trickier to know when it is coming. However, there is one way you can tell. Your own experience bar tells you how much experience your opponents have. Keep an eye on it and you can estimate the experience between the both of you depending on how many times he based, you based, or if you both haven’t based. It is important to understand this because if you die to a level two all in or a level six all in, it means you just a lost a lot and the lane itself can snowball into oblivion. It is why when I play Ahri, I’m focusing on my experience values constantly near six so that I can instantly kill a creep or charm him at level 5.95, kill a creep, and kill him.

Calling your jungler at the right time is important when you need to either press your advantage, keep your advantage, or help regain control.  The reason for this is that maybe you can dive them under turret. This requires communication and trust. So explain to them exactly how it should go. Who goes first, does he have flash?, do you have flash etc. It can snowball your lane quite easily. Other times, you might need to back so you need your jungler to hold for you. Lastly, maybe your lane is just pushed and you need to regain lane control. This may be because he is freezing under his turret and you don’t have wards so you are afraid to walk up by yourself to push and reset the wave. In that case, call your jungler to help push so you can base knowing that the wave will start pushing back. Remember, this game is a team game.

Laning phase sometimes ends at different times for each lane. For example, in mid lane you might be snowballed and took their turret at 5 minutes because of a successful gank. You know you are godmode and you can smash their mid at any time because you are Zed and they will never ever walk up. In that case, stop worrying about your lane. Just go push the wave and create pressure in other lanes. Roam. Roam bot/top and walk with your jungler to create the easiest 4v2 or 4v3 dive of your live. If you do this properly knowing where their mid/jungler is, you will be able to snowball your bot or top’s laning phase so that you gain control over the entire map once you take their three outer towers. Roaming never applies to middle only. Both Bot and Top lane can do the same. It is just the matter of knowing how to push your opponents in so that they are too busy csing under tower while you go create pressure/dive in other lanes.

This pretty much wraps up laning. It is kind of long so I apologize for that, but I hope you learned a couple of things. Some terms in this segment are kind of advanced, so if you want to learn or understand more…go research!


by Austin Shin, on October 15, 2013