Sigbog has been playing League of Legends since Season 1 and is currently a Grandmaster level jungler.
Playing in the Bot Lane
Duo Lane Intro
For the noobs out there, bottom lane is always the 2v2 lane. Primarily this consists of an attack damage carry (ADC) and a support but recently could consist of a mage such as Heimerdinger, Swain, Malzahar, Galio or even other champions like Yasuo or Darius. Sometimes cheese strategies can work! The support is there to assist the carry, helping them to stay alive, maximize gold/experience, and scale into becoming a terrifying threat in the mid to late game.
Support champions generally should have high utility, ideally some survivability, and be effective without too much gold. The meta varies from time to time, sometimes healing/shielding supports are in, sometimes engage or crowd control supports, sometimes damage. It helps to keep an eye on the win rate charts to see who's trending and how you can deal with them. Generally, I would try to learn a handful of key supports that offer various types of supporting so you can adapt to the game at hand. For some more details, check out my list of 10 must-know supports in League of Legends.
Here Are Some Basic Support Champions You Definitely Should Know!
Know your lane: Consider your match up and your win condition. If you’re playing early aggressive champions and need an early lead. Take aggressive vision control, push for lane priority, and try to set up clean kills or at the least force them to farm under turret so you can deny them cs or roam elsewhere for kills. Likewise, if you need to play defensively, consider how they will try to push on you and try to set up a gank, or at least scare them from full engaging, by clearing vision. You should also consider how to itemize, particularly your starting item, in these scenarios (Doran’s shield v. Doran’s Blade for example). I find it particularly helpful to use online tools to check champion synergies and match-up win rates when considering how to play your opponents.
Priority: Decide when you need priority versus when you should let them push in, or consider freezing the lane. Carefully watch the wave and plan. If they are pushing in and have no summoner spells, let them do so and tell your jungler you’ll be an easy gank soon. Similarly, pushing in and taking lane priority lets you get vision to start/prevent plays, get healing in the river, roam and get kills elsewhere, and is generally the right call when in doubt.
Farming: Learn what it takes to keep farming properly. For example, a turret shot will bring a ranged minion fairly low, but not low enough for 1 base auto attack to kill. This means a support should hit a ranged minion once so that an adc or other carry can last hit the minion after the turret shot. Similarly, it's usually 1 auto attack after 2 turret hits for a melee minion, but will vary depending on the exact stats and level of the minions. Pay attention to this to ensure higher cs farming. Don't do things like use an aoe ability on the minions as they come into the tower as it may leave many of them getting killed by the turret without your team being able to last hit.
Vision: Refer to the image for some tips on where to ward. The deeper the better, however how deep you can go depends heavily on your lane priority and confidence in the location of enemy champions. Be careful! However, a short river ward often isn’t enough vision to prevent your team from dying to a gank so don’t be lazy. As mentioned before, keep control wards on hand, clear enemy wards to prepare for ganks, and try to make plays when you have strong vision. This is obviously much easier when you've finished your support has finished their vision item such as Nomad's Eye.
Trading in Lane
Trading is when lane opponents attack each other in an attempt to 'trade' damage. It's called trading because in most cases attacking your opponent leaves you open for them to attack you, and you're trading health and damage. The goal is to make your opponent take more damage than you take in the trade. In bot lane trading gets a little more complicated because it's 2v2. This means there are more combinations of things that could occur and make it trickier to read whether or not you should go for a trade or what could happen if you do.
In the previous section I covered knowing your lane, which will help inform whether or not you can trade or would want to. Consider a countered matchup such as Vayne versus Caitlyn. Vayne wants to hit their opponent with 2 auto attacks, and then use her E "condemn" to knock her opponent away and also trigger a 3rd auto attack stack and her silver bolts passive granting extra damage. This can be effective, especially if you get the first shot off. However, Caitlyn has way more range than Vayne. This means Caitlyn is likely to get first shots off, can harass at a range, and her 90 caliber net, if landed on the Vayne, will leave her taking more damage. This is likely to make trading with Vayne against Caitlyn a fruitless endeavor.
Now start considering your support. In the same scenario, if you have a Soraka, you can take more damage in the trade, and be healed afterwards, for a net gain. But if they have crowd control and could potentially lock you down and kill you, it may be too risky. Generally speaking, you need to evaluate how well your match up is likely to fair and decide from there.
Vayne vs Caitlyn Matchup: Hard Countered!
Mechanics in Trading
Regardless of the matchup the players need to individually perform for it to matter and to execute on positive trades. There are 3 mechanical points to consider:
- Positioning in lane: How well you've positioned yourself to engage, escape, avoid a gank, dodge a skillshot, use minions to block a skill shot, etc.
- Skillshot accuracy: How well you use, or do not use, skillshots to fight your opponent.
- Dodging: Slightly different than positioning, this is how well you can predict and dodge incoming projectiles and skillshots to cause your opponent to waste mana and open themselves up to retaliation.
Positioning is very circumstantial so you'll have to consider your matchup closely. But when it comes to trading, positioning is likely to trigger the trade. After that, it's all about your skillshot accuracy and dodging. Every champion in League of Legends is built around a playstyle and a combination of skills. Over time you learn what that combo is and how to execute on it effectively (consider the earlier Vayne example). Missing a piece of that combo is normally very punitive although it does depend on the champion and the runes. Many runes, such as Electrocute, require hitting a number of skills before triggering an effect. If you miss a skillshot and don't trigger an effect, you've missed a big opportunity. Consider the champion Brand, when hitting enemy champions with 3 abilities, it triggers an aoe explosion to occur. Brand also has 2 skillshots in his kit, one of which can stun. So it's easiest to execute on the combo with a targeted skill, land the skillshot stun, and then use a 3rd skillshot on a stunned target to trigger the explosion.
Obviously I won't cover every champion, but it's essential to learn your champion's ability to execute on these combos in trades in connection with how your ally, and enemy champions, will participate in the trade.
If you miss your combo and can't execute, at any stage, it's probably better to stop the fight! In reasonably close matchups, or even ones where you have the advantage, a missed key ability or ultimate ability can cause you to lose the fight. A missed crowd control ability opens you up entirely to bad trades or even death. It can be the wiser decision to focus on making your opponent miss their combo before trying to execute your own combo!
Bottom League Map
Outside Bot Lane Responsibilities: Dragon, Mid, Jungle
Even though bot players generally roam less than a mid lane, they still have a few key responsibilities. Of course, these are in addition to maintaining your lane and farming, and often depend on your ability to get lane priority, force the enemy champions back to base, or even get a kill.
Dragon Control: It’s up to bot lane to help maintain control around the dragon. You generally want vision of the dragon, deny enemy vision of the dragon, or make a play to take dragon with your jungler should all the variables line up. For more tips on dragon control check out my other article.
The more time your enemy spends not knowing if someone could be on dragon, or the more time you know they are not on dragon, the better off you’ll be. It limits the junglers ability to roam top as you could make a play for dragon. It also prevents them from trying to sneak a dragon.
If you get lane priority(you are pushing towards them), your opponent will be pushed underneath turret where they will be forced to farm fairly slowly in order to not miss gold. This gives you an opportunity to roam mid. Primarily this would be an offensive support with crowd control like Alistar or Thresh. This could let your dominance in lane spread to another lane and help you take control of the game. A kill at mid, could potentially lead to a dragon or turret, so pay attention to the map and look for an opportunity. However, be careful, if you roam to mid, you risk getting caught out, getting pushed back in, or just wasting time. It's generally best to make these kinds of roams if you have proper vision and can reasonably guess the enemy jungler will not be around, or that your ally jungler will be around to participate.
In line with above, it’s also your job to maintain vision control. At least cover the river so you know if you’ll be ganked, but ideally you need to see if the enemy jungler is near your lane. Preferably this means warding their bottom buff. Be sure to grab their blast cone on the way. Establishing this vision and knowing where the enemy jungler is or isn’t will let you make plays, either in your own lane, or roaming to another. It will also help prevent them from making plays against you or your team opponents. Pinging the enemy jungler when you see them on the minimap can be really useful. If you see the enemy jungler clearing camps at bottom, and your jungler is near top, it's a clear and safe sign that they can make an aggressive play and even a tower dive because no one will be around to help.
All of the above 3 points are best executed with strong vision control, which means be sure to buy 1–3 control wards when you’re at your base shopping! These are critical in creating ganks, preventing enemy ganks, and cleanly taking a dragon. I cannot emphasize this enough! It's everyone's responsibility to get control wards, not just supports, because you can only place one at a time! Look at the professional players, they always pick up control wards.
A Few Extra Thoughts
Another quick tip, use the bushes to your advantage! If your abilities are on cool down and they have a ranged attack damage champion coming after you, hop in a bush so they can't hit you or they lose targeting or might miss a skill shot. This is particularly useful if you are able to move back behind your minions so the minions will chase them and do damage to them or take a skillshot for you. Always use minions and bushes to your advantage!
Lastly, deep wards in lane can also open up opportunities for your teammates to teleport in for a gank if your opponent is continually pushing to tower. Be sure to let your teammates know several minutes in advance so they can plan around this. This can also lead to an objective take like first tower or dragon if the gank is successful.
Hopefully, these basic tips help you get the hang of playing bot lane. If you’re looking to climb ranked, check out my article on getting out of elo hell.
© 2011 sigbog
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