Whenever people talk about skilled play in League of Legends, most think of action-packed outplays that show off a player’s mechanical skill. However, there’s also a lot of skill involved in a less flashy but perhaps even more impactful aspect of the game: lane control. Today, we’re going to talk about controlling your lane, why it is important, and how you can get better at it.
Lane Control in a Nutshell
Lane control refers to a player’s ability to manipulate the minion waves in a lane in order to turn the games in favor of your team. While lane control mostly focuses on minion waves, there are several other factors that can dictate your ability to control the lane:
- Your champ’s abilities
- Your enemy’s abilities
- Position of either team’s jungler
- Turret health
- Presence of nearby jungle camps or Drakes/Rift Herald/Baron
Why Should I Bother with Lane Control?
Lane control may not be as interesting as team fights or ganks, but it has a HUGE impact in all phases of the game. Here are the most important advantages that you get if you manage to control your lane:
- Stat advantage – You get more experience from minions if you get the killing blow. With good lane control, you get more opportunities to last hit without risk of taking damage.
- Safety – Lane control allows you to farm experience and gold at a relative distance from your nearest turret so you are less likely to get killed if someone ganks your lane.
- Offense – Controlling your lane allows you to time your push with bigger minion waves so you can wear down turrets in fewer attempts.
- Map advantage – Good lane control later translates into map pressure, freeing your team to secure more objectives while forcing the other team to stay on the defense.
The good thing about lane control is that it’s not as mechanically demanding as ganking or team fights. As long as you know how to last hit, you can already start working on lane control. The only thing you have to keep in mind is that there are several aspects of lane control, which we’ll be tackling one by one.
Zoning refers to the act of denying an area (or zone, hence the name) of the map from the enemy. When it comes to lane control, this usually refers to the area around where the opposing minion waves meet. If you’re good at zoning, enemies getting anywhere near the minion waves risk taking damage or outright killed. This also means they are forced to get fewer experience and gold, plus you get to control where the minions will fight.
There are many ways to zone out an enemy, but it all boils down to the following:
- Always being in range of your abilities or basic attacks
- Maintaining a clear line of sight (for skill-shots)
- Using ability on the ground to discourage enemies from entering the zone in the first place.
You’re probably already zoning the enemies even if you don’t realize it. If you try to attack enemies when you so them try to kill a minion, that’s already one form of zoning because you’re making it dangerous for the other team to stay within your basic attack range. You can turn this concept around by zoning WITHOUT even attacking. For example, hiding in a bush next to the minion lane presents a big threat to the enemy because they don’t know if they’ll get jumped, forcing them to stay away.
Zoning gets a bit more complicated when you’re using a melee champ (usually in top lane) since you don’t have the range to deny a large area. If you’re up against a champ who can outrange you, you’re better off playing passively and try to control the lane with a different approach, which brings us to our next topic…
Pushing (also known as “shoving”) is the act of manipulating the minion waves in a way that they meet at a certain part of the lane, usually closer to the enemy turret. This may not seem important for those new at the game, but pushing at the right time has a big effect on how you and the enemy should play the game. To make things easier to understand, here’s a rundown on what happens when you push a lane.
- When the minion waves clash within the enemy turret’s attack range, their turret will shoot at your minions, making it harder for the enemy team to land the last hit and they end up losing experience.
- On the other hand, letting the minion wave get pushed to YOUR turret places the enemy further away from theirs, which means they are more vulnerable from getting ganked by your jungler.
- Pushing the minion wave too soon allows the enemy turret to wipe your minions, which usually “resets” where the next minion waves will clash.
- Freezing a minion lane (more on that later!) and then pushing it right after the second wave arrives will result in more minions attacking the enemy turret and causing more damage.
- By pushing a minion lane before recalling, your enemies will have less chance to push back before you can return to your lane. This also makes it difficult for your lane opponents to catch up to your experience and gold lead. Also, by the time you get back, there will be plenty of enemy minions for you to farm experience and gold!
Knowing when to push is important, but how exactly to do you push? Depending on how urgent you need to push your lane, you can simply kill as many minions as you can with basic attacks or wipe an entire wave out with an AoE ability. You also have to remember that pushing too much could leave you overextended, so you will have to develop a better sense of timing. If you’re still new, this rule of thumb should help you remember:
- Push a lane to their turret to get EXP advantage, before going back, or to reset a wave.
- Don’t push if you need to avoid a gank or if you’re planning to gank the enemy.
If pushing is about killing the enemy minion wave as fast as possible, freezing is all about keeping the minion count the same. Because neither side has gets a numbers advantage, the next minion waves will end up fighting at the same spot. This tactic is usually done after you’ve pushed far enough to keep the pressure, or after you let the enemy push to keep them vulnerable to a gank. Freezing can be tricky compared to pushing a lane, but mastering it will greatly improve your lane control.
How would you earn more gold and experience if I just let the minions fight? The most basic method is to simply hold back on your basic attacks. Make sure each minion you try to last hit has as little HP as possible. Remember: every time you damage a minion, your own wave gets an HP advantage over the opposing wave. Land a few too many basic attacks too soon and you’ll end up shoving the lane and potentially giving up the advantage.
You also need to pay attention to what your lane opponent is doing. If they’re trying to push, you’ll have to counteract it by killing just as many minions to prevent them from advancing. If all attempts to freeze the lane fail, the least you can do is to let the waves get pushed next to a turret. The turret will kill off the enemy wave and it will force a reset instead of giving the enemy team an advantage.
An often overlooked part of lane control is “drawing agro”. This refers to the act of making the minions attack you. Soaking damage from minions may sound like a bad idea. However, drawing aggro will allow you to manipulate the minion waves even better than before if done properly. Here are just a few examples of what you can do by just drawing aggro:
- If you need to push a lane but you don’t have enough minions, you can draw agro from them and prevent them from advancing until the next fresh wave from your team arrives.
- If you need to bring the minion wave closer to your turret (when expecting an enemy gank), you can draw agro and run towards your turret. For a short duration, they will ignore your team’s minions and bring the fight a bit closer to your turret.
- If the enemy has frozen the minion waves just beyond your turret range, you can draw agro to bring the fight closer, allowing the turret to “reset” the lane and forcing the enemy to give up their advantage.
- You can also use minion agro to your advantage! By fighting next to your minion wave, enemy champs attacking you risk taking too much damage. This means you have a greater chance of surviving an all-in attack or winning trades.
This wraps up our guide on how to control your lane. We hope this will help you gain the advantage over your enemies during the laning phase, and well into the mid and late game! Got specific lane control tips that you want to share to other readers? Let us know in the comments section!