Duking it out in Summoner’s Rift is almost always a good time. In many ways, League of Legends is a battle of cohesive minds. During the laning phase, you have to keep some degree of attention on the different lanes, particularly because you won’t want to see the enemy champions from the other lanes missing, only to find them creeping up towards you from a blind spot 3 seconds later.
However, with good ward placement and some map awareness, you’ll be focusing on your lane for the most part.
Also read: Easiest Supports in League of Legends
What is Trading?
Trading is basically the act of hitting your opponent while he attempts to do the same to you, hence the name. This happens every so often during the laning phase mainly because you and your opponent will still somewhat prioritize CS in order to get gold, and more importantly, experience.
Trading is basically an art form. Try to deal as much damage while mitigating the damage you take. It sounds simple enough, but in practice, it can be a bit tricky. Specifically, the bot lane has extra information to factor in just because there are 2 additional champions. You not only have to think about yourself and your opponent, but your partner and their counterpart as well.
The same goes for Jungle champions, as you’re never really quite sure where they could be at any given time. Today, let’s look at some of the things we can do to ensure we get the best possible trade from our opponents.
Try to Maintain Levels Ahead
In the early levels of the game, experience is very important, especially on specific champions. This is exponentially more important early game compared to the late game, especially on utility or combo-driven champions. Having even one level over your opponent could potentially mean that you can complete your combo while he can’t.
An example of this would be Blitzcrank. At level 1, he could pull you with his Rocket Arm, but unless his allied AD carry has some sort of CC follow-up, it isn’t as punishing as a level 2 Blitzcrank who can knock you up right after while he pounds away at you.
Some champions also do better at level 3. Examples of champions who are excellent at trading at level 3 are Pantheon and Shen. For squishier opponents, sometimes they just decide to avoid trading altogether. At level 3, Pantheon can jump on you and stun you, auto-attack, stab you with a spear, all while you’re still stunned, and by the time the stun duration finishes, he will be blocking all the damage from one direction (hint: the direction your attacks are coming from), and at that point, the only sane thing to do in most cases is to retreat.
At level 2, it wouldn’t nearly be as potent, and it gives you an opportunity to retaliate. This is why levels early on, particularly 2 and 3, are so important for certain power spikes. What would originally be a victory for your late game could be a loss due to your opponent snowballing and ending the game early.
Master Yourself, Master the Enemy
Yes, the quote from Lee Sin. I’m aware this isn’t what he meant, but in this context, it just means that knowing your champion is very important when you are about to engage in trades. Knowing the enemy champion is just as if not more important. Combine these 2 factors together, and you can make an educated guess.
Let’s take Shen once more as an example and put him against someone like Garen in the top lane. This could go either way, but would kind of lean towards Garen in most cases. Decisive Strike counts as a basic attack, which Spirit’s Refuge should technically be able to counter, but oftentimes it comes as a surprise.
If Shen is unable to dash away with his E, then he takes a huge loss from Judgment and therefore loses the trade. If he is able to block it, then he can simply dash away and auto-attack Garen when he’s done spinning.
Now imagine you’re still using Shen and you’re going against Teemo. Most of your damage comes from Twilight Assault. While you can mitigate some damage from Teemo’s auto attacks, his Blinding Dart can block your first two empowered hits, which is a lot of time for him to scuttle away like the maniac he is.
There are ways to play around this of course, and these are just general scenarios. Knowing your opponent’s cookie-cutter combo helps. Will you come out of this trade on top, or will you be at a disadvantage? If the answer is the latter, then you can opt not to do it and focus on killing minions, or…
Also read: Best Carry Supports
Bait out Skills
Yes, baiting out skills. This basically refers to the process in which you either wait for your opponents to use a skill on the minions or you make them waste an essential skill part of a combo on you. For the sake of simplicity, let’s use Blitzcrank again as an example. A very common tactic is just to make your movements semi-predictable on purpose, then when you see Blitzcrank move towards you, you could just dodge out of the way.
Mentally counting when it cools down helps, as this gives you a window of time to make plays knowing Rocket Grab is on cooldown. In real-life scenarios, this gives you a chance to ward or deward brush or simply go for the carry knowing you can’t be pulled under turret range.
It doesn’t always work though, as heavy auto-attack dependent champions like Tryndamere have few things to bait out. You could feign a heavy combo to bait out his ultimate while not using your ultimate yourself, or as Blitzcrank (again, using this for uniform simplicity) just walk towards your opponents to potentially bait a flash.
Either way, baiting out skills is an excellent way to improve your chances of winning a trade since their full kit won’t be available for a while.
League of Legends heavily emphasizes the use of champs for certain roles. Yes, there are off-meta picks like Lee Sin support, but generally speaking, you should know who you’re going against. Why is this important? Well, as easy as cookie-cutter builds are to follow, you should still be very adaptable.
Simply knowing what kind of damage will be primarily dealt from your lane can help you make informed choices. Going a heavy-handed physical damage champion? Maybe go for armor or hybrid items instead of your usual build. Is it a poke-heavy AP champion? Magic resist or maybe lethality to take him out of the picture faster. You get the idea. It’s very dependent on a lot of things.
Also read: Best Burst Mages
Mind the Minions and Turrets
In the late game, you could be effectively a raid boss who dives under turrets and 1v5s everyone while never dipping below 40% health, but we all have our humble beginnings, and subsequently, have to start somewhere. Both minions and turrets hurt. Focusing on what your opponent is trying to do helps a bunch.
Are they trying to CS? Control the lane? Mindlessly push toward your turret? Sometimes baiting them to hit you when you have the siege minions there can do them more harm than good. 1v1 you could lose, but people – especially in the lower elo range – don’t take caster and siege minions seriously, which could work to your advantage. Having just one CC could make up for the damage you took by having your minions pummel your opponent for you.
Paying attention to your minions helps as well. You could use them as a shield for skillshots that don’t go through minions, such as Thresh’s Death Sentence. You still need to be careful when dealing with champions with skills that go through minions, such as Varus’ Piercing Arrow.
Other skills also diminish in damage the more units they pass through, so keeping that in mind is useful when you hide behind stacks of minions before going in for a trade. When you see your minions low on HP, more often than not, the enemy champion is going to go for the last hit. This gives you a chance to poke them while their animation is focused on hitting the minion.
This gives you a 1 hit advantage at the very least, which is amplified if he decides to go for the trade. It’s also a great opportunity to use your area of effect spells that typically need aiming. He or she either gets the last hit and gold but gets hit by you, or he or she misses out on the gold by avoiding your potential damage.
Either way is a win for you. Another tip is that area of effect spells that hit your opponent don’t actually get minion aggro. Use this to your advantage.
Timing Your Shields and Heals
This goes both ways. Heals are a bit less timing-dependent compared to shields. If you or your carry are at full health, then heals won’t do much. Shields, however, tend to offer better value in terms of damage mitigation, with the trade-off of being usually temporary (exceptions like dragon buff and persistent shields don’t count).
That being said, you should pop your shield during trades, as it mitigates damage. In the same vein, you could bait your opponent into using their shield, back off, then initiate another trade. This time without their shield. This is especially important for stronger shields that are less spammable and absorb more damage.
There are many factors that go into trades, and it can be a lot of information to keep track of at times. However, playing enough matches will eventually make all this second nature to you, which is great for you, and not so great for your opponents.
Check out this list of the best juke champions in LoL.