2. Minions' little helper
3. Minion manipulation
4. Trading & the death zone
5. Get money, **** *******
6. Sources and acknowledgements
Minions' little helper
Let's start at the beginning. As we've firmly established in previous installments of Playing to Win, the optimal way to increase your Champion's power is by accumulating gold and experience. The most efficient and riskless way to do this is by being in experience range when minions die, and dealing them the killing blow to earn the gold bounty they carry. Unless affected by Teemo's hidden passive, minions will walk in a straight line or a 90% angle towards the enemy Nexus, until they encounter enemy forces on their way. When minions come across enemy troops, structures or Champions, they'll attempt to destroy them (in the above order) until their own health bar is depleted. They only want to reach the enemy Nexus and destroy it. They won't be distracted by a wounded enemy Champion fleeing the fray. In that sense, minions are better at winning games in League of Legends than 99% of the playerbase. What minions are very bad at however, is destroying the fragile balance that exists between them. Absent Champions, minions on opposing sides mirror each other. This creates a perfect balance between them. That balance provides the main tool for safely controlling the laning phase, in order to create advantage for yourself and disadvantage for the enemy. Let's find out how to use this tool.
Pushing is the term used to describe the aiding of allied minions in their efforts to destroy all enemy forces and structures on their path. Players new to the MOBA genre typically love pushing, because they initally think about the game in a very straightforward fashion, and pushing is the most straightforward way to win a game. While these MOBA newbies are doing heroic knight-like battle with the enemy minions (in their own minds at least), they are rapidly losing health and spellcasting resources , marking them as prime targets for ganks or even straight-up executions at the hands of more experienced players.
I remember playing Knight Davion in my first DotA game ever, when that Hero still had an ability which granted bonus gold for killing creeps, much like Ashe's Hawkshot. I went into my lane and started wailing on those creeps like they were piñatas! Needless to say I was like a wet dream to the enemy Queen of Pain, who quickly identified me as a complete newbie and farmed me all game long. After being showered in buckets of rape, I became aware of the fact that the more you behave like a minion, the easier it is for enemies to farm you like one. So instead of voluntarily entering the melee grindstone, I wisened up and learned to avoid minion damage while I last hit for gold. As I continued down that path, I became ever better at the game, and soon enough I was the one driving the paintrain.
In League of Legends, players at the very highest level have rediscovered their lost love for pushing. This is because pushing at the right time or in the right situation creates advantage. Below are some guidelines for pushing during the laning phase.
First of all, never push your lane when you know the enemy jungler is looking for a gank. Use the game clock, and wards at key locations to keep track of him/her. If you don't have a good idea of where all enemy champions are, don't risk pushing your lane out. Learn which Champions can gank from the jungle at level two. Lee Sin, Alistar, Dr. Mundo, and Shyvana are notoriously good at getting in level two ganks without hurting their skill build for optimal jungling speed. Nocturne and Maokai can gank at level two, but they have to alter their normal skill build. When a Noc or Mao ganks you at level two and fails, you can push your lane like hell and go hunt them in the jungle. They will be severely weakened and take more damage from jungle monsters due to the deviation from their optimal skill build. As a rule of thumb, the further the enemy jungler is, the safer it is to push.
Know why you push. Don't listen to those shortsighted rascals who tell you there is no denying in League of Legends. Denying exists in LoL, and it's a lot easier to do it than in DotA, too. You simply push your lane in to the enemy tower to put pressure on your enemy and/or deny them. This is because last hitting under a friendly tower, and/or leaving it, has a number of unpleasant side effects.
Mana spent lasthitting minions under your tower is mana that can't be spent harassing or fighting your enemy.
Can't risk going all-in. If you engage in a fight to the death while a big minionwave is near your tower, you will lose a lot of minion last hits while fighting, and may even lose all minions last hits and experience if you die. You'll also take a lot of extra minion damage during the fight.
Leaving your tower immediately results in disadvantage. Skipping out to heal, shop or (counter)gank when minions are approaching your tower will cause you to lose all the experience and gold from those minions.
Permanently visible to the enemy team. There's no terror for your enemies when they know where you are and that you're very busy.
Because enemy minions are tanking your tower damage, your opponent can freely walk past your tower to intercept an incoming minion wave, or dodge a ganker coming from behind him.
As you can tell, pushing your minions to the enemy tower pretty much "jails" your opponent there. You are free to camp under your own tower until the next enemy minion wave arrives, you can go warding, ganking, scouting the enemy jungle or even stealing camps there, harass your enemies from just outside tower range, go healing and/or shopping, do a quick ninja dragon, etc. Everything that your enemy can't do when the lane is pushed up to his tower, you are free to do. Pretty overpowered if you ask me, especially considering the only real drawback to pushing can be circumvented by buying a few wards every three minutes.
So next time you want to go ganking, push your lane. Need two extra Doran's from the shop? Push your lane. Is that pesky Leblanc harassing you? Push your lane. Want to steal a monster camp in the enemy jungle? Push your lane. Did Houdini playing Lee Sin survive the last tick of your ignite with his Safeguard? Push your lane. Want to delay Ryze's Tear of the Goddess? Push your lane. Did the enemy Warwick leave top lane to gank middle? Push your lane.
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* Previous Lead League of Legends Editor for SK-gaming
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