With the League of Legends Summer Split just on the horizon, and Riot’s substitution for a Mid Season Invitational commencing later this week, we’re going to see a fresh start for LoL DFS. Rest assured our team here at GameOnDFS will be monitoring individual/team performances across the globe to ensure top quality analysis. That being said, there is a lot more to League of Legends than the kills and flashy plays that grab at our attention. Kills are undoubtedly the primary driving force in a DFS lineup, but to understand how these kills are likely to be divided in a matchup, one must understand how the game works. In this article, we’ll discuss three important aspects of the game and their implications for DFS. Think of this as an introduction to important concepts in League of Legends, while also assuming some basic knowledge of the fundamentals.
Team Composition/Gameplay Style: Champion Drafting and Beyond
Interestingly enough, one of the most important factors in determining a game’s outcome happens before the actual game starts: Champion Select, or in other words, drafting. You may have noticed how it works in past games, but we’ll lay it out here for you now.
|First Pick||Second Pick|
|1st, 3rd, 5th Bans||2nd, 4th, 6th Bans|
|Picks Player 1||Picks Players 1 and 2|
|Picks Players 2 and 3||Picks Player 3|
|First Pick||Second Pick|
|7th and 9th Bans||8th and 10th Bans|
|Picks Player 4||Picks Players 4 and 5|
|Picks Player 5|
This order might not seem all that important, but each ban and pick has the potential to give the other team crucial information about your strategy. If you see a team first pick Leblanc, a mid lane mage pick with heavy burst damage and good mobility, you know they will be playing aggressively. If you pick safe mid laners that will excel later in the game, you have a clear answer to the Leblanc already in place. At this point, the enemy team must pick champions to compliment Leblanc’s playstyle and commit to the strategy, or completely change things up and massacre their team composition. When you delve into specific matchups and the variety of tools champions can offer, things become a bit more complicated than early aggression versus playing safely, and that is a subject we will broach in a separate article coming soon. Even with a general understanding of drafting, however, you will begin to understand and anticipate the directions the game may take before it even begins.
There is one small problem with drafting in connection with DFS: our lineups are locked in and cannot be changed. A heavily favored team could easily fall apart if they mess up drafting enough, and there isn’t much we can do about that. However, just because we don’t know for sure what champions these teams will be playing doesn’t mean we can’t anticipate. You can use drafting to determine what play style teams tend to favor, keeping in mind which individual champions players tend to favor. Look at LPL’s eStar. They were dominant throughout a good deal of the Spring Split due to their incredibly aggressive play style. This made their players excellent choices as their kill and assist counts were often considerably higher than other winning teams. However, being proficient in one area like this could be a detriment, as we saw them fall apart in the end. This isn’t the only reason for their demise last split, but teams were able to adapt to this play style once we got closer to the playoffs. Draft serves as an important piece of the puzzle for LoL DFS, so be sure to keep track of it as we go forward.
Practical Application of Strategy P1: Different Stages of the Game/Objectives
When LoL was in its early stages as a game (2009 – 2011) things were a bit chaotic. Strange matchups saw champions like Ashe in the mid lane and Nidalee in the Top, with tankier characters like Garen in Bot lane. Honestly things were pretty all over the place for a time, but eventually players saw the value of babysitting the attack damage late game carry, while leaving other damage dealers to solo lanes. This led to the current Top/Jng/Mid/Adc/Sup Meta, and it’s followed that basic formula ever since. There have been interesting developments, such as mages being used in Bot, but that doesn’t change too much in the context of DFS. Going alongside this meta, LoL follows a standard but flexible formula, helping to dictate how your average game of LoL will go.
At 1:05 in game, a wave comprised of three melee and three caster minions will spawn and run towards their respective lane. They will attack any enemies in their path and continue down their lane towards the enemy nexus until killed. Minions give experience to all enemy champions nearby when they die, but the champion must deal the killing blow in order to gain gold as well. This establishes the first stage of the game: Laning phase, aka Early Game. Players spend a good deal of time securing last hits against minions to maximize income while also attempting to deny their opponents from last hitting. There are different ways to play the early game, and we’ll address this more in the third section of the article, but this is a time where you typically won’t see a lot of action. If you do, and one team gains a solid lead during the early game, then that will mean incredibly good things for that team going forward in the game.
There is no set time where laning phase ends, as it will depend on how the teams play the early game. In solo queue, laning phase tends to end when the first few towers fall, generally between 10 – 15 minutes into the game. Then, teams begin to group up and look for fights. Pro play is obviously different and usually makes more sense. You tend to see far more rotations in the early game as teams look to build advantages they can pressure, and it isn’t uncommon for all 5 team members to group up early on for a dragon or Rift Herald, something that’s as rare as a unicorn in solo queue. Depending on the team composition drafted (and this is one of the reasons draft is so important) early game could make or break a team’s performance in that match. Don’t count on 5 early game champions to score too highly if they reach the 30 minute mark against 5 late game champions.
Mid game in solo queue usually describes when players group up for turrets and other objectives, but as we mentioned above, pro games don’t see the same exact formula every time. Some teams might pick a champion with a very early power spike, so laning phase is short and sweet, while other teams will do their best to avoid a lot of fights so they can get items on their late game carries. Late game is pretty simple, as teams will always be grouped or attempting a split push while trying to secure major objectives.
As for objectives, all of them are important to building your team score, but dragons are generally going to be the most important. There are 4 different dragons: Infernal (Bonus Attack Damge and Ability Power) Mountain (Bonus Armor and Magic Resistance) Cloud (Ultimate Cooldown Reduction) and Ocean (Health Regen) If a team acquires 4 dragons before their opponent, they claim the soul of a random dragon, giving even better bonuses to that team and spawning Elder Dragons which amplify these buffs. The other objectives would be turrets, the Rift Herald, and Baron. Turrets are pretty straight forward, but we’ll talk about just what they accomplish in the next section. Rift Herald is an early game objective that will no longer spawn when the game hits 20 minutes, and if you capture its soul, you can summon the Herald to charge a tower for incredible damage (very useful when destroying the 6 Turret Plates, which gives nearby allies gold each time a turret plating falls. A good rift charge will generally destroy 2 or 3. Everything here ties in with the team’s composition and strategy, for that will determine how they try to set the pace of the game and how they work around the different objectives.
Practical Application of Strategy P2: Minion Wave and Map Control
So you’re watching a pro match, and you see one team (Team A) has gone for a very aggressive, early game team comp while their opponents (Team B) want to farm it out and eventually take prolonged fights. Well, we know Team A will make moves during the early game and try to keep laning phase from dragging on too long, so how will Team B stop them if their champions are objectively weaker at this stage in the game? The answer lies within controlling the minion waves and the map. We’ll start with map control as it’s actually pretty straightforward at its core, and it also encompasses the idea of wave control.
Above is the map of Summoner’s Rift, the standard competitive map in LoL. Like most other Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas, or MOBAs, the turrets are positioned so both teams control equal territory. As the game progresses, territory shifts. This isn’t meant literally (although there are some physical changes when the dragon soul is announced upon spawning of the 3rd dragon) but is explained through a few different factors, such as income and vision. Vision is pretty basic, even if it is crucial: you use wards to gain vision of blind spots in your jungle, the river, or the enemy jungle, telling you where players are and aren’t so you can plan your next moves. You also try to minimize the enemy vision by destroying wards with Control Wards and trinkets. We’ll go more indepth into how vision is used in a future article.
Ultimately everything in LoL is decided by income. To get to the nexus you destroy turrets. To destroy turrets you push minion waves into them and attack. To do that you need to stop the enemy champions. To stop enemy champions you need items, which you won’t get if your income levels are low. If you’re in a lane, and you aren’t a support, you need to be killing the minions. At the end of the day, your primary goal in laning phase should be to get as many minions as possible while keeping your opponent from killing your minions (deciding to prioritize one of these goals depends on the team composition, but you generally want to focus especially on getting minions for yourself.) There are hundreds of guides on how to position yourself in lane so you can safely kill creeps while dealing damage to your opponent when they try to kill creeps, but wave management goes a bit beyond that. Wave management entails damaging or not damaging the creeps in a way that will let you control if the wave will push into the opponent’s tower, whether quickly or slowly, or if it will crash into your tower. Determining which you need to do is something we’ll look at in a future article, as it is incredibly important to understand. As it pertains to map control, teams such as Team A will likely make moves into the enemy jungle once the lanes nearby have minion waves shoved into the turrets. This forces the laners to make a choice: fight the invaders or give up the guaranteed gold sitting under your turret. Losing a few waves for a kill is a poor trade off economically speaking, but if you don’t respond properly it can put you behind and allow the enemy team to snowball. So, Team B’s job is to give some ground early on, don’t die and give Team A even more gold, and keep the waves in a good position where they can get a lot of last hits. If Team B does manage to keep what’s called a freeze in a lane, and Team A doesn’t group to kill the laner and break the freeze, they could miss a great deal of gold from the enemy minions that die. In a freeze, the minions are locked in combat generally outside of a turret, meaning the enemy laner will be very susceptible to ganks if they try to last hit. The laner working the freeze will ensure there are always more enemy minions than allied minions so his waves will die completely before the following wave arrives. Thus, in a well executed freeze, the opponent will miss out on a great deal of gold. This gives up some pressure as your laner is stuck maintaining the freeze, but if you are already behind, you might not want to be forcing too many fights.
That’s a lot of information to absorb, and there are a lot of guides out there to explain how wave manipulation works, as well as the other topics covered in this article. We’ll be releasing additional articles in the coming weeks to expand upon these subjects, with examination of past professional game play and the correlation (and sometimes causation) to fantasy points. There’s a lot to consider here, and you should remember not to over think every little detail; sometimes these concepts won’t apply because the teams in question will suck. But understanding the goals of the teams and the players will surely help those who bet on LoL thinking it’s all about who gets the most kills. Sure, for fantasy, it is about that, but it’s the tip of the iceberg. We plan on showing you what lies beneath.
If you’re interested in learning more about these subjects in the context of fantasy, we’ll be releasing articles expanding upon these issues for our premium members over the next few weeks. These articles will examine different strategies utilized by professional teams and how it relates to building your lineups. A premium subscription also gives you access to our Discord server where you can ask us questions and be the first to hear about new developments. Thanks for reading, and good luck during the Summer split!