In League of Legends, it’s easy to be distracted by the shimmer of your enemy’s bounty as you hyper-focus on getting that sweet kill. After all, who doesn’t want to have an overwhelmingly positive KDA ratio in the post-match lobby?
However, champion kills are not the only source of gold in the game, which is one of the most important metrics that can spell your victory. The grueling task of killing the lane minions and pushing that CS lead up is actually the biggest contributor to your gold and perhaps even bigger than consecutive kills on your enemy laner.
The Short Answer
A kill on any enemy champion is worth at least two full minion waves and one or two more minions, which would be around 15 CS. The equivalent gold value of the minion wave can even go higher with a siege minion, hence the crazed obsession with killing the cannon minion. If your enemy laner has more kills than you, yet you have accrued an equivalent lead in CS, your individual gold value should be relatively close, if not equal.
Of course, it is a bit more nuanced than that, and the math is a bit complex, so we’ll break it down for you!
Gold from Kills
League of Legends rewards kills primarily through gold in the form of bounties, but the amount you earn per kill is not consistent. Bounties are calculated through various factors to balance the game, primarily focusing on the consecutive kills or deaths that a player has accrued.
The first death of a champion rewards the killer with 300 gold. If it is the first kill in the game, the killer is also granted a First Blood bounty, giving 100 gold. If that same champion is killed in succession without killing anyone else, the bounty earned on killing that player is reduced per consecutive death. This bounty can drop as low as 100 gold on the 6th consecutive death. This is to prevent a complete snowball by repeatedly killing a weakened player.
Gold from CS
CS, or Creep Score, is a metric that measures the number of the enemy and neutral minions that a champion has dealt a killing blow on. CS is often used as an in-game measure of any single player’s gold value, as it can translate into the amount of gold that a champion has earned. However, computing total gold directly from CS is a bit complex, as the gold earned from lane minions increases throughout a game.
At the start of the game, a minion wave consisting of three melee minions and three caster minions is worth around 105 gold. Every three waves, a siege minion joins the wave, worth 60 gold and consequently increasing that wave’s gold value to 165 gold.
That means that getting all minions on the first three waves, equal to 13 CS in the first 3 minutes of the game, will grant you 375 gold, worth more than a normal kill and almost equal to a First Blood bounty. Earning at least a 13 CS lead in lane is equivalent to a kill to your enemy laner. Furthermore, a minion wave will always be worth more than killing an enemy with 6 consecutive deaths or more at any point in the game.
Moreover, the gold value of siege minions ramps up as the game progresses, maxing out at 90 gold at around 17 minutes of game time. Additionally, the frequency of siege minions increases over time, spawning every two waves at 15 minutes and every wave at 25 minutes.
At around 17 minutes, the total gold value of a siege minion wave becomes 195 gold, and the same three waves, still 13 CS, will net you 405 gold. At 25 minutes, the same three waves will net you 585 gold, with 195 gold per wave. At this point in the game, a siege minion wave is worth more than a champion who has died three times in a row or more, with a maximum kill bounty of 176 gold.
In short, accruing an equivalent CS lead can recoup your losses for every death or even give you a sizable advantage at any point in the game.
Also read: What is Considered as Good CS per Minute?
Caveats in the Math
Of course, the elephant in the room is the consistency of killing all the minions in every wave and the other factors that play into every kill. There are things like experience lead by the killer, especially if they stay to take another wave, assists that players can get from skirmishes outside of the lane, and shutdown kills. Additionally, the equivalent CS lead that you need to get into equal footing can prove even harder to achieve, given the disadvantages of dying.
The dynamic nature of the game can make all calculations on gold value become estimates at best. CS and kills do not tell the entire story, but they are very good performance indicators and current player strength. Players can adjust accordingly and change their strategies so that they can eventually get that well-earned Victory screen.