How to Succeed in the League, part 1

Posted: May 27, 2011 by xenocidebrm in Guides, Items, Laning

Let’s get down to business.  Even if you play this game primarily for fun, much like myself, winning is preferable to losing.  After all, getting stomped in the face for 20 minutes and then giving up isn’t really much fun, right?  So the question becomes “How do we win games?”  Lots of people will tell you that the basics are not dying, getting last hits, using wards, all kinds of things.  While these aren’t bad, with no context they don’t really help new players all that much.

However, there is one thing that above all will make you succeed in this or any other game.

Cost-efficiency.

I put that on a separate line so you can’t possibly miss it.  Go ahead, read it again.  Everything in this game is about being cost-efficient.  To illustrate it very simply, let’s look at Ashe, an AD (attack damage) based character, and her first purchase of an item.

Many new Ashe players will look at the recommended items, see Doran’s Blade, and take it without a second thought.  Doran’s Blade gives 100 health, 10 damage, and 3% lifesteal.  It also doesn’t build into anything.  This means that in order to build any legendary or advanced items, one must start from scratch.  Another popular option is to take the Long Sword and a Health Potion.  The Long Sword gives 10 damage, and the Health Potion restores 200 health.

The “laning phase” of a typical game lasts from level 1 through around 9, and ends when one or more towers is destroyed.  The most cost-efficient use of your time in the laning phase for most people is getting the last hit on minions, since this yields around 20g.  At 6 normal minions per wave, this is around 120g per wave.  The more time you as a player can spend getting last hits, the better off you’ll be.  For the moment, we’ll ignore the possibility of going and getting ganks, since it adds a whole new level of complexity.

Since you want to stay in the lane as long as possible, and it is inevitable that you will take damage, how can you heal that damage most effectively?  The Health Potion is straightforward – for 35g (the cost of ~1.5 minions), you can heal 200 hp over 20 seconds.  Ashe starts at level 1 with 359 hp, increasing by 79/level.  At level 1, 35g can heal over 66% of your hp.  Doran’s Blade grants 3% lifesteal and 10 damage.  Ashe starts with 46.3 damage every 1.6 seconds.  Add 10 from Doran’s Blade and with 3% lifesteal, it will take Ashe 119 hits to heal 200g at level 1; at level 5, it still takes 99 hits.

So – Doran’s Blade or Long Sword/Health Potion?  Add in the fact that while Long Blade can build into items later, Doran’s Blade just takes up space in your inventory.  So why take it?  The short answer is – don’t take Doran’s Blade.  It simply isn’t efficient for the money you put into it.  At while this may seem complicated, nitpicky, or over-analytical, it really isn’t.  I wrote this a bit long-winded just to illustrate a point, but you can get to the same conclusions just by looking at yourself during the game and asking “Am I efficient?”

Now, the previous item suggestion was for Ashe, and assuming that you’re in the mid lane and that the other team has a jungler.  As other characters, your mileage may vary picking Doran’s items or basic ones, but always be thinking about how to get the most benefit out of the smallest cost.  Time spent away from your lane and not killing minions is costly early game, and a tough laning phase leads to a tough rest of the game.

Be on the lookout for part 2, where we’ll explore mid-game tactics.  Also be sure to check out my Livestream, where I’ll be broadcasting live LoL games around 8pm EST on Saturday, 5/28!

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