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Beginner's Guide to Meta: Laning

By Hill 'Hiecaro' Culbertson
Mar 12, 2012 22:52

ImageThis is a guide for fresh level thirty players to help them understand the current meta-game in League of legends. It is not an end all ‘do this or fail’ guide, but it’s a description and explanation of why the lane selection choices are made.

Congratulations, Summoner! You have reached level 30! It is the max level you can achieve in-game, and it’s time to start working on gaining as much IP as possible for those new champions But what’s this? Everyone keeps screaming at you when you pick Kassadin and try to go top lane with Wukong? Why is that? Fret not, fellow summoner, this article will offer understanding in the logic behind the current lane choices in the Meta-Game.

The first question asked by most novice summoners is “What is this Meta thing I keep hearing about?” The definition of meta is thought, so the meta is simply the thoughts that go behind League of Legends play. These thoughts range from what champions go where, to when to baron to where wards are most effective and when team fights should happen. This article will cover the lane choices part of the meta game, and clarify the answers in more than “because it’s meta.”

The current lane choices for the meta are: Bruiser top lane, Ability Power Carry mid, Ranged Attack Damage Carry and 0cs Support bottom, and Tank in the jungle. The meta is not the only choice in playstyle, however it is widely accepted as the most viable strategy.

Top lane
The Bruiser is the choice for top lane because he needs a lot of minion kills, and needs to be able to be defensive enough to survive in a lane by himself. The Bruiser is a secondary focus target, able to hold his own defensively while still dishing out a lot of damage, a sort of anti-carry. Top lane is the farthest lane from any help early game, and the farthest from Dragon, the big objective in the laning phase. The bruiser has to survive by themselves, as often the Jungler and mid lane will be worrying more about bottom, where Dragon is. The optimum choice for bruisers is a high-sustain, ability damage focused champion. Irelia has been queen of bruisers for a long time thanks to her true-damage, healing, and dashes. Warwick is an immovable object in lane with his life steal and is another good choice. Bruisers are mainly Attack Damage, but sustain based casters work here as well, such as Vladimir and Swain.

Mid lane
Mid lane is the home of Ability Power Carry. Like top it is a solo-lane so early-game the AP carry has an experience point advantage. This is necessary, as in early game, most of the damage an AP carry does is based on the base damage of his spells. Mid lane can be squishier than top lane, as every other lane can move mid rapidly in case it is needed. Mid is also the most direct path to the nexus, another reason it is the most watched lane. The ideals for an AP carry are of course, Ability Power based champions that do almost 100% of damage as magic damage through their abilities. A good AP Carry will also be long range and offer good harassment options as well as high damage. Champions that fit this role are Morgana, Cassiopeia, Ahri and Ryze.

Bottom Lane
Bottom lane is the only lane with two people in it; the Support and the ranged AD Carry. The reason these champions are placed here is they scale in adverse to each-other. The Support champion is very strong in the early-game, while the AD Carry is strongest during late-game. The Support uses their high bases and buff/heal oriented spells to ‘babysit’ the AD Carry while he gets creep score and kills. The Support relies on gold-per-five items and usually avoids taking minion kills from the AD Carry. The reason these two champions go bottom lane and not the bruiser is for better control of Dragon. The Support usually carries wards, and the AD Carry can harass any bruiser away from attempting dragon if that bruiser is alone. Ranged carries are usually chosen over Melee carries simply because they are ranged, it allows them to stay in a much safer position while killing minions or while dishing out Harassment, champions like Ashe, Graves and Vayne all fit this role. The most common Support characters are Janna, Sona, Alistar, Soraka, and Taric.


The last member of the team is the Jungler. The Jungler runs about the jungle, killing neutral monster camps for their farm. This allows top lane to get all the creep kills they need, while giving the Jungler roughly the same amount of gold and experience as a laner. This gives an advantage that one member of your team is ‘missing’ for the entirety of the laning phase. It keeps people constantly worried about moving too far down the lane. Or going for that tower-dive kill, because what if the Jungler is right there waiting for them. This is called Ganking. It is one of the Jungler’s primary focuses in the early game and does many things. A successful gank means a kill for that team, which allows that lane to push. This denies the opponents gold and minion experience by letting the minions die to the tower while the champion is running back. The tank is usually the Jungler in most teams. The lanes usually can provide the damage to get a kill, while the jungler provides the crowd control or disruption to secure the kill.

Overall, the placement of the solo top, solo mid, AD-Bot and 0CS Support is to maximize gold and experience to the champions that need it, while keeping control of the important early-game objectives. The meta evolved to this strategy for a reason. It works well. There are some variations that can work, such as the ‘kill lane’ bottom, or running a second AD carry top, however most of the time these are the lane choices you’ll see, and the choices you should at least somewhat adhere to if you don’t want your teammates screaming at you the entire game.



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