Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Summoner's Wrath or Block: Which Mastery to Take?

I always take the following masteries on support, with the circled masteries being the points I consider optional:
Why are the selected (but not circled) points required?  Having the extra 30 HP at level 1 is huge on every support, and so 9 points in defense is required.  Additionally, having the extra 50 gold, explorer ward, and biscuit at level 1 are for the most part required.  That leaves the summoner spell and item cooldown masteries; I consider all 5 of those points to be needed because it's important that your cooldowns of those spells/actives be no longer than those of the enemy support.

The last four points can go into any of the circled masteries, with the two options that I usually take being 1/11/18 (Exhaust/Unyielding x2/Pickpocket) or 0/13/17 (Resistance/Unyielding x2/Block).  Of these two options, which is better?  Would we rather have Block or Summoner's Wrath?

The answer is somewhat inconclusive.  If you are going for an early all-in, you'll probably want the exhaust mastery; otherwise Block will save you from taking as much damage as Wrath would allow you to deal.  However, if you have good sustain and want to guarantee a kill with a level-6 burst with your jungler helping, Wrath is probably still the superior choice.

Here are some charts of the damage differential you get from having Summoner's Wrath as opposed to not having it.  The way the chart works is that the row tells you how much physical damage you deal, and the column tells you how much magic damage you deal.  The number where they intersect tells you the difference in true damage that results from dealing that total amount of damage with Summoner's Wrath during an exhaust as opposed to there being no stat reductions.  The charts are color-coded so that green means you'd much rather run Block, and orange means you'd much rather run Summoner's Wrath.

First, some values of armor and MR at level 1, with different amounts of armor penetration on the ADC: None; Masteries; Masteries and Reds; and Masteries, Reds, and Quints.  For the level 1 damage, you're likely to be dealing two autoattacks from the ADC and two from the support, with also a physical-damage spell from the ADC,  or about 300 physical damage.  The amount of magic damage depends on the support but is likely to be near 75.  In this case, the exhaust mastery is absolutely worth it, especially when the ADC is running a significant amount of penetration.

Now we examine some damage levels slightly later in the game, when the enemy has significantly more armor.  However, the burst damage available will also increase.  This chart represents a Zyra who is level 6 and has no additional armor or MR items beyond her base stats and a standard armor/armor/MR/(HP/GP10/MS/HyPen/etc.) page.  Various amounts of armor penetration are not listed because that makes the chart similar to above ones.
And finally, this chart represents a jungler who might gank the lane with both an armor and a magic resist item.  As you can see, having the armor/MR reduction is significantly less significant here than it was at level 1 against targets with very low defensive stats.
Here is the equation that was used to generate these charts.  Note that Magic Penetration, both flat and percentage, is not included in any of these charts, but the option to include flat MPen is available and should be considered if the support is running magic penetration or hybrid penetration or if the midlaner is likely to come gank botlane early.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Botlane Pink Ward Placement

Pinking the side bushes in botlane can afford your team a lot of extra lane control, as you can be positioned very aggressively without receiving return damage unless the enemy facechecks your bush, which could be disastrous for them both if you're playing a high-CC support like Leona or Taric or if you're playing a high-damage support like Sona or Lulu.

But where is the most effective place to put a pink ward?

This guide assumes a standard lane where the enemy doesn't have any particular stealth that you're trying to ward against other than wards.  If there's a Shaco/Eve jungle/mid or a Twitch, everything becomes a lot more complicated and situational, and using a pink defensively becomes more important.

These pictures all assume that you're on blue side; do the analogous things if you're purple team.

If you walk into lane and have not yet used your explorer ward, you usually put that ward as shown in the above picture.  That's fine---but if you have already seen the enemy support's inventory, and they don't have a pink ward, and you expect to be able to push lane early, you can use a pink ward like this instead.

Now let's say you did use an explorer ward in the enemy bush, and it's expired already, or that you were able to gain control of the enemy support's bush without placing a ward yet.  You want to maintain control of this bush, and to do this you need to clear a ward that the enemy support placed.  Where should you put your pink?

This depends on whether the enemy support has a pink or not.
This is where you want to put your pink if they DON'T have a pink.  Why?  Because if the lane starts to push back to your side,  you want to have vision as deep as possible.  This way the pink functions both as a very effective deep ward and as a provider of true sight.

And this is where you put your pink if they DO have a pink.  Why?  Because if you put the ward where it is in the previous picture, and are standing where I am in the above picture, then the enemy support could put their pink right on top of yours and if your ADC was somewhat out of position, the enemy would be able to clear your pink before you could clear theirs.  This way, you need to be pushed very far back before losing control of your own ward.

This is  where you want to put your pink in the opposite scenario, where the enemy was able to push towards you initially and pink your bush, and now you've finally regained control of your own bush and want to remove their vision.  Not that you will necessarily care enough about removing their vision, but if you think that they'll likely push back to you or if your jungler wants to lane gank, then it's important to regain true sight control of this bush.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Tournament VoDs: Week 5

R1G1: Blitzcrank-Graves vs Thresh-Urgot
R1G2: Taric-Graves vs Leona-Tristana
R1G3: Janna-Caitlyn vs Leona-Draven
R1G4: Leona-Ezreal vs Thresh-Varus
R2G1: Blitzcrank-Sivir vs Taric-Caitlyn (The recording skipped about 30 minutes here, so this is somewhat into the match already.)
R2G2: Lulu-Caitlyn vs Sona-Ezreal
Finals: Blitzcrank-Miss Fortune vs Lulu-Caitlyn

Friday, February 22, 2013

Tips for Learning to CS

(Also check out this post on freezing: what it is and how to do it!)

I think I used this analogy in another post related to something different, but learning to CS is somewhat like learning to juggle.  You can beg people over and over again to teach you how to do it, and they'll try, but you really just need to practice it yourself for several hours before you'll be able to get it down.  That said, in both activities, I can tell you how to use those hours as efficiently as possible.

Also, I recommend that you do this even if you're a support player.  Not only will you sometimes need to play off-roles that require that you know how to CS well, but also sometimes you'll be holding lane for your ADC and so you need to know how to get as many of those creeps as possible.

So pick your favorite ADC (or any champion, really) and go into a custom by yourself.  Run your standard rune/mastery setup, and open the game with cloth/5.  (Why?  Because you don't want to be used to having more AD or more MS than you might in a real game.)  Go to botlane (or the lane of your choice), and start lasthitting.  Don't attack a single time unless it's going to be a lasthit.  The wave will start pushing to tower, and you'll get good practice lasthitting against a large wave.

After you've pushed all the way to tower one time, freeze for as long as possible.  In theory, you should be able to freeze indefinitely, and as you get more practice in, you will be able to do so.  Use whatever skills you want to clear creeps, but remember, you're trying to freeze, so using a Caitlyn Q on the entire wave isn't helping you accomplish your goal.

If you lose your freeze, don't give up!  It's also important to practice lasthitting when your wave is pushing out hard.  (This is why I don't start with a freeze from the very beginning, which you could do by tanking the enemy creeps in the first wave.)

Your second goal is to not use any potions.  You don't want to be tanking the minions at the end of a wave very much at all, and you should have to use at most 1-2 potions, but aim for not needing any.

Stay in the game as long as you want, I prefer to go until the wave that spawned at 10 minutes gets to lane.  If you stay for this long, perfect CS is 114.  You definitely need to practice more if you're not getting 90 CS every time you do this, and you should probably keep practicing until you're around 100 per "game."

Some things you might find helpful:
  • Try to keep 1-3 more enemy minions than allied minions, no more.
  • Don't let the enemy cannon creep outlast your cannon creep by more than 1-2 autoattacks.  It will rip through your minions.
  • Don't let the freeze push beyond the halfway mark, or your wave will start pushing out unless you have a massive surplus of enemy creeps, in which case you'll have a hard time tanking them between waves.
  • If the wave is reset completely, tank the enemy creeps right in front of the enemy tower until your wave pushes forward.  This will cause the next wave to push towards your side.
  • To practice lasthitting under tower, just accumulate a large stack and let it push to your turret.
And some things you'll want to pay attention to:
  • How quickly does the enemy creep wave accumulate in a normal wave?  What about when there's a cannon creep present?
  • How much health do you lose by tanking 2 ranged creeps?  What about 6?  (If you open boots or longsword sometimes, you'll get a better feeling for this.)
  • How quickly can a cannon creep rip through your creeps when your cannon creep is already dead?
  • What aggression patterns do creeps follow? 

Once you've gotten good at this, 1v1 a friend.  You're trying to get as much CS as possible; he's just trying to harass you and doesn't care about CS.  You'll lose every single match, but it'll help you learn how to CS under pressure.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

2v2 Tournament VoDs: Week 4

R1G1: Sona-Draven vs Zyra-Ezreal
R1G2: Blitzcrank-Draven vs Taric-Graves
R1G3: Taric-Caitlyn vs Sona-Draven
R1G4: Janna-Ashe vs Blitzcrank-Miss Fortune
R2G1: Sona-Varus vs Lulu-Draven
R2G2: Leona-Tristana vs Taric-Ashe Casting actually starts
R3G1: Leona-Graves vs Blitzcrank-Caitlyn
R3G2: Blitzcrank-Tristana vs Leona-Caitlyn
Finals: Leona-Tristana vs Taric-Miss Fortune

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Can my champion be played as a support?

This is a question that I see asked a lot, and the answer is usually yes, that champion could be a viable support in most Elo ranges/leagues.  There are three traits that make good supports, and not all supports have all of them, but most good supports will have at least two.

CROWD CONTROL.  This is probably the most important thing to have.  CC can be used to dive or to peel; in lane you are usually going to be using it to dive, and later you'll use it more to peel.  CC is something that literally scales only with CDR, and most support items give some amount of CDR, so it's good for the support to have a lot of CC.

HIGH BASE DAMAGES/STATS.  This is also something that scales really well with CDR, but it also scales with pen.  In particular, your high base damages will make you able to output a lot of damage in lane, when base damages are much more relevant than scalings.  Note that if you're playing a support for this trait alone, and you're unable to snowball your lane forward, you'll start to snowball back and become irrelevant very quickly.

ALLY BUFFS.  Heals, shields, invulnerability, speed boosts, stat boosts.  They let your team fight better both during and after laning.  They can help your ADC kite better or be less likely to die, and they can provide the necessary sustain to survive laning phase.

So the next time you wonder whether a champion will make a viable support, consider these three attributes and whether your champion has enough of them to make them viable as a support.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Five mechanically easy things that will let you win botlane

1.  Soft-push the lane at level 1.

Use your explorer ward to check for a level-2 jungle gank, and then keep river/tri warded starting a couple seconds before they could possibly gank bot after their second buff if they started topside.  Then soft-push the lane so that you hit 2 before your opponents.  What does this mean?  Attack the creeps a couple times so that your creeps die after theirs do.  If the support is ranged, then he can help the carry do this.

2.  Buy a pink ward at level 1.

Deny lane-bush vision.  Don't place your pink ward as the first ward into a bush unless the enemy support doesn't have a pink ward.  The goal is for you to be standing in a bush that you have pink-warded in a dominant lane position.

3.  Keep track of potions.

Know how many potions you have vs the enemy vs your lane partner, and try to trade damage when you have more potions than your enemy or your lane partner do, assuming you are still safe from an all-in and that the two lanes have comparable innate sustain.

4.  Use the skills that you're leveling.

This isn't something you do 100% of the time.  Soraka will almost always level her heal even if she's not using it frequently.  But for the most part, you should use the skills that you're leveling and level the skills that you're using.  A couple concrete examples are Sona (if you can never get in range to Q for some reason, start leveling W instead) and Nidalee (don't level your spears if you're running out of mana healing, and don't level your heal if you're just throwing spears).

5.  Build to counter your lane in the early game.

The goal of the early game is to exit it stronger than your opponents.  This can be because you're way ahead in kills, your comp is better, or you've taken so many objectives that the game is already essentially over.  So buying only early-game items will hurt you in the long run if you don't capitalize on them sufficiently, but frequently you can capitalize on them.  Also consider your goals in the lane when buying at level 1.  If you're a hypercarry and they're a trading carry, don't start doran's blade.  On the other hand, if you have lots of early-game burst and they're a trading carry, starting doran's blade can let you win the lane at level 1 by putting so much burst down.

I haven't forgotten about the posts I said I'd make...I've just been spending a lot of time organizing my tournament and so haven't had as much time to write long blog posts.  I'll post them eventually, I promise!