At times, the complexity of League of Legends can feel overwhelming! There are so many ways to improve your game as a support or ADC player… But there’s one step that many players skip: breaking down your matchup and creating an appropriate game plan! Especially if you’re aiming to master bot lane, understanding matchups is critical for a consistent (and successful) laning phase! Of course, the presence of additional heroes can make the situation quite complex as either a support or ADC. Luckily, there are some tricks you can use – not only to break down matchups but make use of the knowledge as well!
Understanding Matchups: Constants and Variables
The best way to explain breaking down matchups involves thinking of your champion of choice as a “constant.” The strengths and weaknesses you bring to the lane are always the same, while the other three champions are the “variables.” It’s crucial for you to understand your constant and how to correctly adapt to the variables at hand. By honing these skills, you will become a master of matchups. Let’s get started with an example!
Step 1: Master Your Constant
Let’s say our constant is Ashe in the ADC role. Our goal in this first step is to identify what we bring to the lane with our champion kit. This helps us deduce our win condition as well (as discussed in my previous article here). Generally speaking, Ashe is a solid laner. She has a reliable slow and decent damage output, even in the early game. She scales very well and has insanely high kill potential post-level 6 with her ultimate. However, she’s immobile, which means we’re weak to crowd control and poke!
Typically, our win condition as Ashe is to scale and make plays with our ultimate post-level 6. If we’re up against a lane with good poke or crowd control, we’re the underdog and should play accordingly.
Step 2: Identify Your Ally Variable
Since we chose Ashe as ADC in step one, let’s use Nami as our support. Nami brings a lot of power to lane between her heals, crowd control and utility. Her win condition is using her deadly poke / sustain combo to starve opponents out of lane, then have superior engage / disengage at level 6 with her ultimate. This combination with Ashe feels great! Their level 6 combo is quite powerful, and their chained crowd control can easily prove fatal. On the flip side, they can also play extra safe and disengage easily with their ultimates.
Step 3: Identifying Your Enemy Variables
With our side down, next is determining the enemy’s bottom lane and their win conditions for each champion.
Let’s assume that the enemy bottom lane is Thresh as support and Miss Fortune ADC. Thresh is our lane’s worst enemy. His win condition is to get kills in lane and help his ADC snowball, since both Nami and Ashe are relatively immobile. A successful Thresh hook likely means a forced Summoner Spell from the victim, since Ashe and Nami lack reliable escapes. From there, catching a Flash-less champion with an additional hook spells certain death! Thresh’s lantern (W – Dark Passage) is another talking point, as it can provide a very easy escape for his ADC if positioned correctly.
Miss Fortune can be a dominant laner in the right hands. She provides constant pressure by poking enemies with her E (Make It Rain) and Q (Double Up). Her E also synergizes well with Thresh, as it’s a long-range AoE slow to make landing hooks easy. Her ultimate (Bullet Time) can be incredibly powerful if enemies are unable to interrupt it or quickly escape. Miss Fortune herself has pretty low mobility, but Thresh’s lantern helps balance this weakness out. Therefore, Miss Fortune’s win condition is typically to get ahead in lane. Afterwards, she transitions into a powerful team-fighting asset with her ultimate.
Let’s look at the 2v2 matchup even further!
Step 4: Break Down the 2v2 Matchup
It’s best to start with your own lane, considering how each of your strengths and weaknesses fare versus the opposition.
Our lane’s strength is in our poke and sustain during early levels, with decent “all in” potential post- level 6. Our weakness is our low mobility and unreliable crowd control until level 6 (Nami’s Q, Aqua Prison, can be pretty tricky to land). And we’ll always lose trades if caught by a hook! To combat this, we should ensure we’re always behind minions. This way, Thresh can’t get a hook off without walking past our minion wave.
Generally speaking, if we avoid hooks, we shine in this matchup. We have superior trade potential due to Nami’s heal, and our overall damage is greater than theirs, regardless of sustain. This means that whenever Thresh’s hook is on cooldown or we’re shielded by the minion wave, we can look for a trade. On the other hand, things change a bit after level 6!
At this point, Miss Fortune and Thresh gain an insane amount of damage potential with their ultimates, while we… don’t. However, you can promptly interrupt Miss Fortune’s ultimate with our own. This means that landing either Ashe’s Enchanted Crystal Arrow or Nami’s Tidal Wave will halt their level 6 win condition – putting us in a heavily favored lane, regardless of Thresh’s hook!
Step 5: Respect Jungle Pressure
Jungle is another variable to consider. Because of the endless potential interactions, let’s focus on the generic situations instead. You should know both junglers’ win conditions in the early game, so that you know what to expect from each. If you have issues identifying a jungler’s win condition, I highly suggest you read my article on Jungler Archetypes here!
Always consider how your jungler synergizes with your lane. If your jungler has guaranteed crowd control, let them use it then follow up with unreliable crowd control such as Nami’s Bubble or Ashe’s Arrow. Follow this same process for the enemy jungler to know what to avoid in case they gank. This way, you’ll be prepared to play out the gank!
Practice Makes Perfect!
Now that you know the entire process, I encourage you to identify the core champions in your pool and find your constants. From there, follow these steps and practice breaking down your matchups! Try to communicate your matchup win conditions with your ally laner. This is a certain way to positively impact your win rate!
If you’re having issues creating a champion pool, identifying constants, or breaking down matchups, bring this up with your coach! As always, thanks for reading, guys. If you have any questions in regards to breaking down bottom lane matchups, please check out my profile below! I’m always happy to answer any questions you may have. Keep an eye out for my upcoming articles on game mechanics starting next week!