Okay… Tower or Dragon?

Posted: August 22, 2011 by atenthirtyone in General

In a previous article of mine, I talked about the importance of playing proactively instead of reactionary using the situation of defending towers. In this article, I would like to further explain on the idea of being active in League of Legends match. League of Legends is a game where advantages can build upon previous advantages into the point of snowballing. We often see this with a champion getting a lot of farm and/or kills in the early game allowing them to become a superstar and do things like win 1v2-5s. Another example would include a jungler who manages to keep counter-jungling successfully, causing a significant strength difference between him and his opposing jungler. This ends up allowing your team to have far stronger presence on the map resulting in your team gaining more farm with safety – thus becoming far stronger in a team fight during mid-game. In both examples, you see something that is consistently present: gold. The winning side tends to have more gold, which means more/better items which means stronger champions. While, the majority of gold in a match is gained through creeps and champion kills in the lane, global gold creates an inequality of gold.

Global gold comes from: creep bosses (dragons and baron) and enemy towers. In normal circumstances, you cannot just freely kill any of these without interference from the enemy team. The enemy needs to be either unable to stop you or simply not there (distracted, dead, etc) to stop you. So let’s say you do manage to get into a situation where your team is able to pick up one of these global gold. For the most part, baron is generally the best choice unless you can immediately end the game. However, baron also gives the awesome advantage of gaining his buff. Because of this buff, he is simply not just global gold… so we really should focus on the remaining choices: Tower or Dragon?

A dragon kill gives your team 190 gold per player (or 950 gold for the team) and it is on a 5 minute respawn timer. On the other hand, a tower kill gives your team 150 gold per player (or 750 gold for the team). Towers don’t respawn nor do they regenerate their health (unless it is a nexus tower or the enemy team has a Heimerdinger). But generally, once a tower is dead, it’s dead. I promise you, reader. At first glance, a dragon kill gives your team a lot more relative strength (through gold gain which turns into items). However, I think when given the opportunity to pick either – a tower is a lot stronger of a play.

While, a tower yields less gold than a dragon, it gives two things that cannot be measured by gold – pressure and map control. When a tower is killed, the team loses sight around that area. In addition, the creep waves (with some assistance from the players) will start to push towards the nexus. This creates a need for the team to send at least one champion to go and clear the minion waves and push the creep waves back. The loss of the tower creates insecurity for that team forcing them to play a lot safer or be willing to make plays without the safety of a tower. Essentially, the death of a tower constrains the team’s map knowledge, options, plays, and even mentality. This allows the team (that killed the tower) to make further plays that create advantages, and we all know advantages that keep building upon each other is good because it becomes a big fat snowball of winning.

But, does that mean we ignore dragon killing completely? Absolutely not, dragon is still worth a lot more gold for yourself and your team. Dragons are generally killed in two fashions – ninja killing or when the enemy team cannot do anything about it. For the ninja killing, this generally occurs when the team manages to kill dragon when the other team is unaware (due to poor map awareness and warding). However, decent teams will quite often keep dragon warded to prevent the enemy from getting free dragon kills (and gold). Instead, a team will attempt to kill dragon when there is an imbalance in team strength (players dead or out of position). In fact, if you ever see professional players’ matches, dragon kills are attempted immediately after someone just died from a gank or team fight. But back to topic. Why dragon? Dragon is located in the lower river which is a relatively open area and is generally a safe area with one exception – bushes. Bushes allow a team to interrupt the other with the aid of stealth. However, wards remove this attacker’s advantage, and even gives sight, which in turns gives the defender the advantage. Furthermore, items such as Mandred’s Razor (and its’ upgrades) allow the dragon killing team to get the job done extremely fast. I would argue that as long as a team has the opportunity and resources to set up for a dragon, it is a far safer kill (although certain champions backdooring a tower may be comparable in safety).

Both global gold kills give different advantages. A tower kill creates immediate map situations that allows your team to capitalize on it and create immediate further advantages (including killing dragon 😛 ). On the other hand, dragon kills builds up your team’s strength but it does not weaken the enemy team. Overall, both towers and dragons give your team an advantage, and should be a major focus of a team’s attempts in winning the game. When fighting an evenly matched team, it’s generally a lot safer to create opportunities to get a tower or dragon down instead of trying to get multiple champion kills.

Once again, I apologize for my tardiness in submitting articles. I have been lacking in both time and inspiration of late.

  1. Gorgosch says:

    Very well written.
    Gave me a fresh look on tower and dragons. In my level of play, dragon and even more baron is mostly just ignored by either team.
    Usually it is enough to get one other player of my team motivated to get dragon down.
    I love to do this most, right after getting upper hand on button, with either one champion kill. They are scared to death, which gives you the time needed.

    Warding is genereally not done often. I am currently practicing to use more wards, and find good postions for wards.

    • Warding is a great way to drastically get better. You get caught off guard so much less. More on topic, I like to get dragon right after breaking bottom tower, as usually the enemy team is trying to stop the creep push/ died recently.

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