6 Ways to Play from Behind as a Mid Laner in League of Legends

6 Ways to Play from Behind as a Mid Laner in League of Legends

How to Make a Comeback as a Mid

No matter how good you are, eventually you’ll run into an opponent that builds a lead on you during the early game. In these cases, some players give up and opt to “ff” at 15.

In this guide PicklePants, we’ll show you 6 things you can do to make the most from a bad start and play from behind as a mid laner.

The topics we cover are:

  1. Adapting your build
  2. Avoiding unfavorable trades
  3. Optimally warding
  4. Catching up in farm
  5. Managing minion waves

GPI Advice

1 ) Start building defensive items

You would be surprised by how many players do not adapt their item build when they’re ahead, even or behind. Many players continue to build the same items over and over again even when they’re financially unable to do so.

You’ll need to buy defensive items to protect you from falling further behind as they offer you some protection. This protection, in turn can save your life and allow you to deal extra damage in team fights that may not have been possible if you went for full damage.

In addition to this, you will be on the map for longer as you will have increased survivability; meaning you’ll be able to pick up more farm, XP and gold to you can get back into the game.

Many mid laners can adapt their item builds to get some defensive stats to protect them from the enemy. For example, an AP mage like Syndra or Lissandra could get Zhonya’s Hourglass when laning against an assassin like Zed or Talon.

Zhonyas Hourglass Description

The armor and active from Zhonya’s will provide them with some extra protection and should reduce their deaths. Buying this item can directly counter Zed’s execution as you would be in stasis when it pops.

Alternatively, if they’re against an AP champion like Ahri or Zoe, you would benefit from taking Banshee’s Veil.

Banshee's Veil Description

Banshee’s will provide the champion in question with a little more protection against poke abilities as it provides a spell shield. In addition to this, if the enemy has champions with pick abilities like Blitzcrank or Sejuani, then Banshee’s can save your life and prevent you from falling behind any further.

It’s not just mages in the middle lane who can buy defensive items. Assassins and AD champions like Talon and Zed can get defensive items too. When they’re laning against an AP champion with lots of burst like Syndra, they would benefit from taking Hexdrinker.

Maw of Malmortius Description

Maw of Malmortius Description

Hexdrinker (and Maw of Malmortius) will provide you with a small shield that can prevent the enemy from bursting you down. This only works against magic damage, so it’s not good when you’re an AD champion against an AD champion. However, this item will provide you with AD and some protection which is invaluable when behind as an AD champion.

We’ve already made a separate guide for mid lane items on and tank itemization which you may be interested in if you want to learn more.

2) Avoid trading

When you’re behind, you don’t exactly have the luxury to pick your fights. A lot of your trades have to be in retaliation, or reactive to what the enemy does. Let’s face it, mid laners usually have the most damage in the game with many burst champions playing there.

When laning against a burst champion, there is an increased emphasis on avoiding trading with these champions as they will usually come out ahead.

Instead, try to play as smart as possible and avoid trading blows with the enemy. If you notice that they’re starting to position or play aggressively, start playing safer and be wary of where you walk as they may be looking to all in you.

GPI low health Prohibit

With that in mind, don’t be afraid to poke the enemy. Just be careful and do not overextend as it may cost you more in the long run.

3) Start warding

When you are behind, the enemy mid laner may roam a lot more as they have kill pressure. They may also try to snowball their lead into other lanes to get their allies ahead or to pick up more kills.

Purchasing and placing wards around your lane and inside the jungle will protect you and the rest of your allies from being killed or pounced upon by the enemy mid laner.

If the area is warded and you spot the enemy rotating, make sure you ping your teammates and tell them that the enemy is moving towards their lane.

Wards that give your allies lots of reaction time is crucial as not everybody reacts as quickly as others. So pinging the enemy when they leave the lane and when they walk past a ward is highly favorable.

Here are some ideal warding locations for the Blue team to spot the enemy roaming:

Where to ward in the mid lane
This is just an example of some areas where you can ward. If you want to learn more about warding, we’ve created a very in-depth warding guide that can help you ward in every lane.

It’s not just about the enemy mid laner roaming. Vision around your lane and the map will also tell you where the enemy jungler is. If you know where they’re you shouldn’t be surprised by them popping up in your lane: and neither should you get killed by them.

Vision will also help you power farm as you will know if an area is safe and you will not get killed by overextending. If you see that the enemy is not nearby, you might be able to continue farming.

P.S. Don’t forget to use your trinket and buy Control Wards and place them around your lane.

4) Start to power farm

In order for you to get your items, you need to get as much gold as you can. One way this can be achieved is by focusing on power farming and not much else. Power farming will allow you to get as much gold as you can in the shortest amount of time: by accumulating gold through last hitting and taking monsters.


To power farm, you need to stay in your lane and pick up as much farm as you can. Occasionally, you will walk into your own jungle and take the Raptor camp, or you may steal the enemies one away. However, it does depend on how fast you can clear and some other factors too such as:

  • The location of your jungler
    • You don’t want to steal their farm if they’re about to take it.
  • The location of the enemy jungler
    • If you don’t know where the enemy Jungler is, you can’t risk going into the jungle to take their raptors. This can be made less risky with vision.
  • Your mana pool.
    • If you cannot clear the camp quickly without using all your mana, you shouldn’t take the camp as it will leave you vulnerable and unable to go back to lane. One reason for this is that the enemy may try to all in you as they know that you have no abilities or the mana pool to retaliate.

If you are unable to match the enemy when they roam to another lane, there are a few things you need to do. Time is of the essence and you need to react quickly and as decisively as possible. For example, if you are not going to follow them, you will need to ping and tell your teammates immediately so they are aware of the issue. Giving them ample time to react should result in them getting way.

When the enemy has left lane, push the wave and force them to come back. Applying pressure to their tower should force them to go back to their lane as their tower may fall as no one will be around to protect it.

With the addition to armor plating on towers, pushing the wave and destroying the tower plates will give you some much-needed gold which will naturally help you get back into the game. Taking the tower will also give you and your allies some extra gold.

But, before you decide to push the wave, make sure the enemy is not baiting you into adjusting your wave management in their favor. They may want the wave to be on their side of the map, so they are able to all in you or receive help from their jungler.

Do not push the wave if you don’t think the enemy is going to follow through with their macro play. Again, vision can come in handy here as you can see if the enemy is either trying to bait you by walking out of vision, or if they are indeed roaming.

If they are trying to bait you, don’t push the wave or adjust your wave management. If they have walked and are going to another lane, push as hard as you can. If you can follow them, then go for it but be wary.

5) Manage those minion waves

Like suggested in our previous statement, you should not push the wave unless the enemy is not in lane. You need to avoid pushing the wave as you will be in an overextended position where the enemy may be able to all in you. In addition to this, if you’re pushing the wave without Summoner Spells like Flash or Cleanse, the enemy Jungler will be able to gank you as you’re an easy target: overextended, with no way of protecting yourself. A smart Jungler will abuse this and gank you repeatedly.

You will need to try and keep the minion wave as close to your side of the map as possible. This way, you will have the tower to protect you and keep you alive. You will also be able to pick up more farm as the enemy cannot zone you away from it.

We have already made a separate wave management guide that will help you learn how to wave manage correctly. So I would recommend you read that if you want to learn how to manage waves in a more-indepth way. But, here’s the basics to wave management (freezing).

You will need to keep the wave frozen outside of tower range by making sure that there are additional minions in the lane. There needs to be an advantage of at least 1 enemy minion to how minions you have in the lane. For example, if you have 3 minions alive, the enemy will need to have 4.

Depending on what stage of the game you’re in, for example pre-6, you need to trim the wave down as the wave will most likely reset or bounce off the tower. A reset or bounce is where the minion wave starts getting targeted by the tower. This is something you need to avoid because it will either kill all the minions- making the wave reset, or kill the minions slowly, making the wave bounce. Either way, this is something that needs to be avoided.

You need to trim the wave so it will freeze. Otherwise, it will keep pushing.
This image is taken from our wave management guide and shows top lane wave management. The concept is the same for mid lane.

You need to make sure that the minion wave stays out of tower range as much as possible to avoid it settling further down the lane as you may get denied or be unable to farm with it there.

To prevent it from resetting or bouncing, don’t let it go in your tower range. You can do this by:

  • Trimming the wave by killing excess minions.
    • Leaving the 1, 2 or 3 (excess) minions in lane to allow it to freeze.
  • Holding the wave in place.
    • This isn’t always advised because the enemy may be able to all in you.
  • Matching auto-attack damage and avoiding using your abilities on the wave.
    • By using your abilities on the wave, you will deal extra damage that will push the wave. If the enemy doesn’t equalize this damage, then the wave will start to push in their favor.
    • Matching the enemies damage to the minions so their health is roughly the same in lane: preventing it from pushing in either direction.

There is a lot more to it than what is discussed here. Make sure you check out the wave management guide if you want to learn more.

6) Don’t tilt!

While easier said than done, don’t tilt and continue playing poorly because of a bad start. Games can change rhythm incredibly fast, and the game is not over until it’s over. You can get back into the game and be a threat to the enemy by using everything we have suggested so far.

Consistency Skill Breakdown

Avoid making the same mistake twice by adjusting your game plan and how you play the rest of the game out. As you’re behind, don’t try to make outrageous plays and fall further behind. Play it safe, try to equal out their lead, and do whatever you can to win the game.

If you get outplayed and die through a miscalculation. Don’t make the same mistake twice by doing what you did beforehand. For example, if you tried to farm without looking at the map, the enemy Jungler may gank you. To minimize this from happening again, you can control the minion wave and watch the map.

Making the same mistake over and over again will naturally make you fall further behind and make you tilt. Avoid this by focusing on what you’re doing and trying to minimize your mistakes.

Mobalytics GPI Consistency

Closing Thoughts

Remember that there is a range of things you can’t control in League of Legends. Try to do whatever you can to prevent yourself from falling further behind. Your goal is not to beat the enemy when you’re behind, your goal is to get back into the game and become a threat. This can’t be achieved by playing recklessly, so you will need to put your thinking cap on and focus. We hope that these 6 tips can help you get back into the game from a less than stellar start.

If you have any questions or want to learn more, check out PicklePants stream.

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