Target Selection: The Hows and Why's
You would think picking the proper target in a team-fight would be easy. The AD carry must always die first right? Or is it the AP carry? Surely not the support? The problem is that picking the right person to kill first is not that easy. There is a general order, but you pick who dies based on the team compositions and how the game is going. Then there is positioning and item builds. It is no wonder people often go after the wrong target at the wrong time. Hopefully after this article it will be clear that diving the enemy carries is not always the best strategy.
The General Idea on Who to Target
In a very general sense, the target order is:
1. AD Carry
2. AP Carry
3. Everyone Else
The basic idea is to kill the sources of damage before they do their work. With their damage dead, yours can then clean up the fight, even if you died. It is a very simplistic idea on who to target but it is a good place to start the theory.
The next part of the theory is Team Composition, Gold Value and Positioning. Each one comes into place to help pick what you should do in a team-fight.
For the sake of discussion, assume the only difference between teams is their composition. If I have a team of Singed, Udyr, Orianna, Sona and Vayne and I am playing against Jax, Diana, Jarvan, Ashe and Janna, what is the focus?
My front line is very tanky but has no gap closers. For them, does it make sense to dive the enemy Ashe? Not in the least. Ashe would kite both of them to eternity and Janna is a huge pain in the rear. However, the front line has plenty of peel to try to stop Jax, Diana and Jarvan from diving in. Vayne significantly out damages Ashe, so Vayne's value is much higher to my team. So my focus targets are not the usual carries, but those going after my carries. Orianna and Sona should do the same to protect Vayne as best they can.
Vayne's target priority is going to be based a lot on what happens. Vayne will want to target the nearest person she safely can while trying to stay alive. Jax is a big one to target. If she can attack him safely. Jax has high sustained damage himself and can easily make up for Ashe's lack of steroids if Jax is left unchecked.
The enemy team has an easy choice, Vayne. Even if Ashe is left out to die, the damage on the rest of their team is more than enough to finish the remainder.
Now take the above consideration, but throw in how each team member has a varying value based on how much gold they have accumulated. This can really throw a monkey wrench into the plan and makes it very important you understand the value of each teammate to the team overall, then their value compared to the enemy.
Using the above example, diving Ashe is a bad idea. But what if Ashe was 7/1 and Vayne was 0/4? While Vayne out damages Ashe by a wide margin in DPS meters based on kits, if Ashe is a full item ahead of her, then Ashe is going to hurt more in most cases. Now what if the rest of Ashe's team was behind and Ori/Singed/Udyr were ahead? Diving Ashe is still difficult, but it needs to be done as Ashe is worth much more to the enemy team than Vayne is to yours. Should you trade AD carries, you are likely to pull ahead in the 4v4.
Now what if Udyr, Singed and Orianna are equal but Vayne is behind? Now this is going to be tough. Ashe still needs to die, but your chances of winning the 4v4 drop dramatically without any gold lead. In this case, your better off forcing the game to go longer to let Vayne catch up. Ward up and defend until the relative value of Vayne is greater than the value of Ashe. It is not easy to do, but your playing from behind and your team composition requires Vayne to kill the enemy. Not fighting in fair fights is your best option.
In some ways, especially in solo que, gold value matters more than team composition. Gold value in each game per individual will swing wildly compared to organized play and that will dictate your actions. Team composition is important to keep in mind but in a lot of my games it is not the determining factor. Gold value and positioning are.
Straight forward and simple to understand but complex to master. Even if someone is not your theory target but they offer themselves up, you take it.
The target in the above situations is technically Ashe, but I will gladly target any other member of the team if they make a poor positioning error. If they die fast enough, it essentially becomes a 4v5 and dramatically increases my chances of winning a brawl.
Winning on positioning requires quick reflexes and vision. Quick reflexes is the ability to identify the positioning mistake and the ability to capitalize on it quickly. Wait too long and it is no longer a mistake they are making, but one you are. Vision is straight forward and is there to let you see the mistake. Such as overextending or walking around alone. Wards are legal hacks.
Unfortunately there are no hard and fast rules on who to target. Sure Kog'Maw is a horrifying little void creature, but if he is 4 kills down and has pitiful CS, do I really care to devote my resources to killing him? Vi diving my carry? Who cares when their carry is worth so much more! Karthus is in the middle of my team? He better die before I go after Graves. This kind of thinking can go on forever but it illustrates one thing.
IT IS SOMETIMES OK TO FOCUS THE TANK
Sometimes going after that Shen is actually the correct choice. I cannot tell you the number of times I have wanted to beat my teammates for going after the AD carry and not the tank that is actually being the problem....
RoGr's what else needs to be said about Target Selection? Tell me in the comments!
About the Author, Emeraldw:
- Loves psychology and philosophy. Then tries to apply it to even simple things like League of Legends.
- Cookies and Ice Cream have been known to buy Emeraldw's loyalty and affection.
- Basics are the most important thing in learning anything
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