Teamfighting, part two: duties and positioning by role and champion

Recap

I ended the last article with the following:

“Positioning follows two important principles.

• AD Carries and some champions almost always follow the same rule of positioning.

• For all other roles and for other champions, it depends.

All AD carries follow similar principles. Other roles, it depends on the champion. Some champions almost always do the same thing. Some champions have options depending on build or can and must adapt to who the other nine players picked.”

Now I’m going to use the terminology from the last article and then apply it to roles and basic champion types. While I can’t review every single champion, these guidelines should cover most of them.

AD Carry

The AD carry’s job is the most frequently misunderstood role in this game. Failing to understand an AD carry’s job and how an AD carry is supposed to play impacts the game even more than misunderstanding the other roles, because the AD Carry is the most valuable member of the team during team fights, but other players failing to recognize makes them screw themselves plus the carry.

If you misunderstand any other role, that’s bad too, but for teamfights, at least half of the other team can play stupidly just from misunderstanding carries, whereas if someone doesn’t get what a jungler or support is supposed to do, this won’t impact their performance as much.

The AD carries job is to deal as much damage as possible without dying.

That is it.

No “focusing the AD carry.” No “not hitting the tank.” No “hitting the most-fed enemy”. AD carries have less option to focus anyone than other roles because they tend to have only basic attacks and AOE abilities (some ults are exceptions, such as Caitlyn’s, Ashe’s, or Varus’).

When a fight happens, the AD carry is ideally in the back, next to the support, and hitting whoever is closest to him. That is it. The AD carry can be killed by anyone. If the tank on the other team is too big or fat and everyone dies before the carry can kill that tank or damage the tank to the point of forcing it’s retreat, there are only three possible issues: your tanks/bruisers aren’t fat enough, the carry isn’t fed enough, or both.

Teams that don’t play by this rule lose to those that do without fail. Think of a game where everyone ditches the carry, then the carry dies, then they blame the carry. Those players will lose every time to a team that simply does what it’s supposed to. They are only winning due to a huge lane smash, enemy teams arguing, disconnect, or a team that has players that also do not understand. This doesn’t make for good League play, or even League play that knows how the game works.

The AD carry tries to survive at all costs. If he loses 75% of his life and can get away without killing anyone, too bad for the team, but at least he’s not dead. The AD carry is the most valuable member of the team in a teamfight, and for pushing, and for taking objectives. This is why this position is always called carry, and mid is more often called mid than AP carry or Zed carry or whatever the heck they’re playing these days.

Rules will vary by carry a little. Ezreal, Graves, and Trist have a little more room for mistakes because of their abilities. Tristana even has a self-peel.

Still, you farm hard, then you kill everyone. Think of it as a World of Warcraft raid—if the DPS dies or doesn’t have the gear, the job will not be done. And it’s all stacked on one or two of your teammates, not 75%+ of a large group.

Do you notice what tanks buy in LCS? Stuff like Warmog’s, Spirit Visage, Frozen Heart, and Bulwark. Why? They know if they live longer their AD carry has more bought time, and the enemy carry takes longer.

Top

Let’s talk about top lane. Top lane has the most choices but chances are it’s a bruiser with high survivability and the capability of doing high damage early game and moderate damage mid and late, even without damage items. Sometimes, you’ll see Katarina or a Kha’Zix. Mid champs that can go top are still primarily mid—see the next section.

A good top laner plays passively for three reasons:

  • Junglers and Snowballing
  • Junglers and Snowballing
  • Junglers and Snowballing

The real reason though is that top laners are the least likely to carry the game hard. Don’t get me wrong. Top lane has a high range for skill level and is a very complex and frustrating role. But even really good top laners getting fed doesn’t do the same thing as it does for a mid or the carry.

And if a top laner is squishy he’s useless, and the rest of the team can’t do their jobs. The first person to take damage is the top and the jungler, and if they have to retreat quickly, the fight ends quickly. A carry can get his life back or be healed by the support; a mid can poke and deal damage from a distance; a jungler and a top is in the thick of the fray.

Ever played a game with a Xin Zhao or Warwick that rushes like Black Cleaver or Blade of the Ruined King without getting defensive items, gets fed, then just goes on a 0-4-0 run and your team ruins the game?

You are there to tank, be a meat shield, and focus on doing good positioning. Standard thing to do is stay at the front of your team, not get separated too far from your own. If you start to lose, cc and retreat and play defensively. If you start to win, start pushing the enemies out or targeting squishier targets. If a carry or mid makes a mistake, feel free to cc them so your team can follow up, but if they’re smart, it won’t work that way.

Even Rumble, who is more of a damage-dealer than a meatshield, follows a lot of this.

Jungler

A jungler is a bruiser, initiator, or support of some sort. Like top, he is there to be meat, but he is likely to do less damage and do more tanking and utility. At least ideally.

Junglers get less gold yet have to fight with other champions much more throughout the game and on both counts, it’s easier and safer to build defensively.

Initiating junglers have to get timing down to ensure a wombo-combo goes down or to pick someone off. If it isn’t strong enough, the gambit is lost. At high level play, Skarner, Malphite, Vi and Amumu are considered low and mid-tier junglers. Their clear is mediocre or average, leaving them open to being bullied in early game, and in late game, if they aren’t fed they can’t do much. Even if they are fed, if they ult poorly, the teamfight can automatically be lost.

Support junglers are not much in style—they were a season 2 phenomenon. Nunu just throws down his buff and slows and a big ult and isn’t about killing but about helping his team escape or pursue.

Bruiser junglers are much more common. They try to catch someone out, start the fight smoothly, peel, and tank. Again, like top, but more tank, less damage, and usually more utility.

Jarvan, for example, can knockup numerous people, put out an AOE slow, and trap people inside a circle-shaped wall. Off his use of these abilities alone, he can save teammates or doom enemies (or doom teammates, heh).

Mid

A mid either has great burst or a continuous stream of damage. CC is all over the map.

A steady, low cooldown mage tries to do as much damage to the team as a whole, like the ad carry (Karthus, Ziggs). An AOE mid maximizes their higher cooldown abilities to peel or catch an enemy, focusing on positioning first, and letting the damage just happen. They will deal a lot at the beginning of the fight, then try to finish people off at the end (think Lux or Morgana). An assassin pokes some until he tries to pick someone off to immediately make it a 5v4, even if a kill isn’t made (Zed, LeBlanc, Kassadin).

This leads to a scale of sorts. There’s mids that always have something to do, mids that have a big beginning and ending with a mediocre midfight, and those whose game hinges on their ult or on making something happen immediately, do or die. Some mids, such as Annie, will be a mixture. Her Q is continuous, but the rest are longer cooldown, putting her inbetween the AOE and steady damage categories.

Know what kind of mid you are.

Support

Supports typically come in two flavors, tank and mage. A tank will play like a jungler, who focuses on initiating and/or peeling. Tanks always peel and sometimes initiate. If you’re Taric, you only stun offensively to ensure a kill or flash, or to catch someone way out of position. Otherwise you save it. If you’re Blitzcrank or Leona you’ll have more options.

All supports will focus on having good vision to dictate favorable conditions for starting fights. Supports usually provide cc or auras.

Mage supports play like mages, but mainly the middle ground mages that have good cc. Lux, Zyra, or Lulu will use abilities to peel or catch, but they tend to be more focused more on protection than damage. They’ll start off, use abilities, try to avoid getting caught while waiting for cooldowns, use them again, and then at that point the fight is usually decided. If ahead, chase and catch, if not, snare and disengage.

Soraka heals, spams, and times silences.

Summary

In really really simple terms, your job is to deal damage, protect, provide good positioning, take damage, or catch. That and the terms from the last article.

Watch a lot of LCS team fights and you’ll see the consistency. Do you see the AD carry “focusing the AD carry”? Do you?

Best,

Old Man Eyebrows 

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