What is Presence, Anyway?
A lot of times you hear people use the word "presence" to describe a player, usually to denote lack of it. I'm going to explain what presence is to you.
Unlike some jargon, it is a self-evident term. To have presence in the game is like having presence in real life. When you are in a place, you fill the space. If you're at a meeting or a party, and you have presence, people know who you are, and if they don't know who you are, they will soon.You have physical characteristics or a charisma that forces you into people's minds, whether they like you or not. Hence, presence. It means you're there. You are filling up space. Remember that: having presence means you take up space.
Recognizing presence is important too in assessing your teammates and opponents. For example, if you are mid and you notice the enemy top ducking into the gank bush or tribush a lot and a minute later he ganks you, you can guess he's doing to do that a lot more. That top is displaying presence. On the other hand, there are some top lanes where no matter how many times they receive ganks, or how much cs they receive, they will never know what to do vs. their opponent or in a team fight. Had a Wukong on my team last week, 1-8-7 at the end of the game. He got stomped in lane. He did okay in a couple of team fights but he still went brutalizer and triforce ingredients. He had 8x armor and 8x MR at 35 minutes or so. He either died or left fights immediately. No presence. We weren't able to carry him.
On the other hand, I've seen people lose a lane by kills and cs, but they stubbornly stay in the game and make plays. Yesterday I played as Twisted Fate. I went 1-3-2 in lane. I got ganked by Udyr 5 times, and the enemy Cass was something like 6-4-1. At the end of the game, I was 4-4-10, Cass was 8-8-1, and the Udyr was 1-6-3. What happened? I had stronger and smarter presence post lane. And our own jungler made plays at bottom and top while Udyr didn't do much in the other lanes. Our Vlad was super fed, and on the whole, our team had larger presence. I went 3-1-8 in postlane after a 1-3-2 start. Cass went 2-4-0 after a 6-4-1 start. She was the most fed on the team. On the whole, the game was very even at a casual glance, but I feel we were always the stronger team. The Cass took Doran's Ring first and Heal/Ignite and cheesed our Skarner, for starters. Later, she got ganked by 4 people, got skarner ulted, then healed, then gold carded, then died without dealing damage to any of us. Presence counts.
Entire games are won based on teams having a total stronger presence. This is why they say don't surrender, and why sometimes people know a game is winnable even if behind in some cs and kills.
Here's another common example: Karthus and Singed. Ever see a bad Karthus just die a lot but still get a lot of kills, and be a general all around pain? It's because Karthus, as a champ, generates a lot of presence, just from his ultimate. The entire map must beware lest their health get too low. You won't really get away after all. And his passive means it's okay if dies--that's strong presence too. As has been written: Karthus isn't about winning the lane, he's about winning the game.
As for Singed, more than once have I seen a Singed feed at top then quietly just gas the entire map and slowly take towers down one by one. Any Singed that has even a basic understanding of Singed gets this: if he gets beefy enough, he is very hard to push against, but he himself pushes with ease, simply by running around a little bit to choke down minions. He also baits easily and gets away easily and has a lot of sustain. He is extremely annoying. Everyone hates playing against him and he is a popular candidate for laugh-spamming to troll for this reason. I've watched in horror as a team ganks Singed two or three times, takes his tower quickly, and then ignores him for 10-15 minutes while he farms and pushes top, getting another dragon or tower or two, winning one or two small team fights. Then, he pushes so hard you have to pay attention to him. Then, he wins, because the rest of his team didn't own hard enough and your ad carry, the only one who can really stop him now, isn't good enough and/or farmed enough. Sad days.
What presence means in a Top
A top with presence isn't scared because he is countered. He wards. He is not afraid of the enemy jungler. He knows how to countergank and to help his jungler gank, and roam to help steal the enemy's buffs. He might teleport to bottom lane. He helps with dragon sometimes. He ganks mid. He initiates and/or peels, he can kill anyone on the enemy team in a 1v1 situation. If he wins, he starts spreading domination to mid, then bottom.
What presence means in a Mid
A mid with presence has a good handle on where the enemy mid and jungler are at all times. He knows when blue is going to come up. He knows to go and get it. He knows how to farm and take both his and the enemy's wraiths. He knows when to push and defend his lane, knowing that mid towers are the most important. He knows when to go in and out of the jungle. He wards. He ganks bottom and top. He knows how to get a ton of cs. He can pick off stragglers.
What presence means in a Jungle
A jungler with presence knows when everything gets back up and usually knows where the other jungler is. He ganks, counterganks, and knows which lane needs the most help. He knows when to ditch a lane. He knows that if other jungler has stronger presence that all his lanes will do better. He knows how to steal stuff. He has a good idea how warded the map is. He buys wards, especially if he has no lantern. He buys oracles. He knows who is best to be fed. He knows when to dragon or baron, cover a lane, and when to push a tower down.
What presence means in an AD Carry
An AD carry with presence knows who to hit in lane (the other carry usually) and afterwards (whoever is nearest to you). An ADC with presence can CS and is farmed. An ADC with presence evades ganks and follows up on them. AN ADC with presence helps burn dragon down and has enough damage that anyone on the other team, even a Singed, Amumu, or other scary fatty, knows that they have a time limit to get their stuff done, otherwise they will die to the carry first. A team with an ADC who doesn't get this is crippled, and the other team knows it. In lower elo games, tanks and fat people from top and jungle know this and run the team over, because the carry has no presence. At late game, a carry often is the only possibility of pushing out a buff top or jungler.
What presence means in a Support
A good support gets in the bush, knows where to ward, knows where the wards are, knows who to buff and when, and doesn't feed. A support with presence saves lives over and over again, baits well, and gets kills for the team. A good support has great map awareness, just as good or better than the jungler's. A good support doesn't waste wards. A good support doesn't get caught. A good support knows where to go. A good support buys wards even when the other team has an Oracle's. A support with presence knows to buy Shurelya's and use GP10 quints and the Greed mastery to have the gold flowing.
Summary: Characteristics of people with presence
- Plays stronger champions (see above). They pick champions with globals, AOEs, mobility, cc, or otherwise strong, commanding moves.
- They understand every champion on the map. Some people are scared to engage because they feel they are countered, or don't know their opponent well enough.
- They have a deep understanding of their own champion and what he/she can do. They know many combos and don't only do the same thing over and over again. They have a good sense of whether or not they win the fight. They understand when they can't win, or what it takes to beat someone in a fight. They are fearless, yet not stupid. You can't write this guy off. He is always taken seriously.
- They use their strength to control areas. Simply by going somewhere, they demand that the enemy team either flee or die, or for the enemy to send someone to address them--the more of the other team they require, the stronger the presence. If one or even two of the enemy team's members aren't enough, the better. Ever see a singed or Cho'Gath or Dr. Mundo wailing on a tower, ignoring a non-support champion that is throwing everything at them for a while, or even for the duration of the whole tower? That's presence. Ever see them simply just go somewhere and everyone has to flee? That's presence. You are a stronger actual force in the game. Your tower is unkillable, theirs indefensible (or harder to defend), or the section of the jungle simply belongs to you. Hence...Mundo goes where he pleases.
May you always have great presence.
Old Man Eyebrows
This week's eyebrows: