What is an “engage”?
In League of Legends, every competitive match involves a sort of dance where you’re trying to kill your enemies to destroy their Nexus while you’re trying to stay alive and defend yours. No matter how passive both teams are, it’s inevitable that a fight will happen. The motion that creates this clashes is the engage.
An engage occurs when a player or team commits to initiating action and interaction with their enemies. When an engage happens, the state of the game changes to where the involved players must either react to fight back or look to escape to minimize their losses.
Smart players will look to engage when they have an advantage and avoid fighting when they’re behind until the right opportunity presents itself. Lesser-skilled players may tunnel vision and look to fight in risky conditions, often causing their team the game.
In this article, we’ll teach you the art of the engage. We’ll be discussing the different types of engage, the best times to do so, and how to use Mobalytics scores to improve your engaging ability.
Different types of engage in League of Legends
Over the course of a League of Legends competitive season, you’re bound to face countless situations due to the sheer amount of champions, items, and patches. To stay on top of your game, you’ll need to recognize the different types of engage that can based on the champions and circumstances in your matches. In the following sections, we’ll be covering common methods of engaging. Since League has so many champions, there are a few unique niche ways that we won’t be mentioning but these should cover most bases.
Big fights are a staple of your typical LoL match. Bloodbaths are bound to happen when players are contesting crucial objectives, sieging turrets, and trying to finish off a Nexus. In these fights, you should be on the look out for AoE engages.
The AoE engage excels at locking down multiple enemies while the rest of your team piles on damage. They usually have long cooldowns because they have huge impact potential depending on how many champions are caught in the ability.
If your team is able to land an AoE engage ability on 3 or more enemies, you should be able to win in most cases. To improve your chances, look to engage in enclosed spaces such as in the Jungle or at objective pits to increase the likelihood that they’ll be bunched together. You can also look for an angle where they won’t see you coming and won’t have time to spread out and minimize the ability’s effect.
Here is an essential example of AoE engage, Amumu’s ultimate, Curse of the Sad Mummy:
The clip also includes another strong AoE ability, Sona’s ultimate, Crescendo, which could have been used as an engage in its own right. When you stack AoE abilities in this fashion, you create what’s known as a “wombo combo”.
Wombo combo’s occur when your team composition has multiple AoE crowd control options, and you’re able to land them sequentially so that your foes are unable to escape. It’s very potent and one of the easiest team comps to execute.
Other examples of good AoE engages:
Depending on the compositions of the teams, big 5v5’s may be less likely. Some champions will prefer to avoid large engagements in favor of small skirmishes, split-pushes, and making picks during rotations.
In these types of games, it’ll be hard to land AoE ultimates on more than two enemies – this is where single-target engages will shine. At first, you may think, how can a single-target engage be better than an AoE ultimate?
Well, you have to remember that the AoE engages tend to have very long cooldowns – Amumu’s ult cooldown is over 2 minutes at rank 1. If you miss this ability or only one or two enemies, you’ll have a long window where the enemy team can take advantage of its downtime. Against a team that wants to keep pressure with split pushing and rotations, the poor mummy will have a tough time finding a good opportunity.
Now let’s compare to one of the signature single-target engages in the game, Blitzcrank’s dreaded Rocket Grab. At rank 1, Rocket Grab has a cooldown of 20 seconds – compared to most regular abilities, it’s quite a long time. However, when you think of it compared to Amumu’s engage, it’s much, much shorter.
Some single-target engages like Malzahar’s ultimate, Nether Grasp, have long cooldowns but make up for it in power and reliability. It’s much more powerful than most single-target crowd control abilities and will often mean death for the victim it’s casted on.To maximize single-target CC, you’ll need to focus on maintaining vision control so you can find lone targets. Keep an eye out for where waves are pushing in and try to predict who will catch the wave, and their route in getting there. If you successfully make a pick, you can then look to fight in favorable numbers, such as a 5v4.
Do keep in mind who you try to make a pick on. For example, if you look to pick off a lone tank, they may be able to survive long enough for reinforcements to arrive. Ideally, you’ll want to pick off their squishy carry but sometimes you’ll have to take what you can get.
Other examples of good single-target pick engages:
Movement speed boost
The last method of engaging that we’ll be discussing is the movement speed boost. The movement speed engage is quite simple, you just take advantage of abilities that offer a burst of mobility and speed.
This engage excels in messy skirmishes, and in chasing down targets that are weak, unprepared, or caught out alone.
It’s not the most reliable form of engage, and usually wouldn’t be the primary option for most team compositions, but it is an option that is presented by some champion kits. With the return of Shurelya’s Reverie, you can even itemize to give your team the ability to use this type of engage as a supplement to your team’s strategy.Other examples of movement speed boost engages:
When to engage
Knowing when to engage involves understanding a wide range of possibilities and nuances due to the near-infinite amount of different situations that you’ll run into while playing League. We won’t discuss every single situation, but we do have the goal of helping you establish a good understanding and strong foundations to build upon.
Engaging basically comes down to looking to create a fight when you have an advantage, and can capitalize in the form of a gain (such as landing a kill, taking an objective, or even just forcing your enemy to blow their Summoner Spells).
In general, you’ll also need to understand when you have an acceptable amount of risk in the context of a given situation. For example, in an even game, you may want to engage when you have a slight advantage in a somewhat risky (but doable) situation because you’ll be able to pull ahead. However, if you have a good lead, you may want to consider a less risky opportunity because a failure could open the door for a comeback by the enemy team.
Here are some of the most important advantages to consider, in order of complexity :
Number of champions
This is the simplest indicator of when you may have an advantage, just count how many allies are around you versus how many enemies there are. Is your Jungler nearby and can turn your lane into a 2v1 or 3v2? In most cases, you probably want to consider engaging since you have a numbers advantage.
This advantage uses the least amount of game knowledge and is the most instinctual. The more numbers you have, the better your chances of success (compare a 3v2 to a 4v1). It’s a decent guideline because it’ll work in many cases, however, it can lead you astray in some cases. For example, if you lack game knowledge as a Jungler and try to gank a champion like Heimerdinger or Illaoi lane, you may be baiting your laner into losing a 1v2 since these champions are designed to excel in these situations.
The next step up for understanding when you should engage, is being able to keep track of resources such as health, mana, and energy. Depending on the amount of resources available between your allies and enemies that may participate in a fight, it may nullify or exacerbate the numbers advantage.
For example, if you’re alone and you have four enemies around you, having numbers as your criteria would tell you it probably isn’t a good idea to engage. However, imagine that in this situation, you have full health and your enemies are all at 10 hp. Sure it may be a 1v4, but if you play your cards right, you may be able to get a Quadra-kill and you should definitely consider engaging if you’re a champion like Katarina.
So when you’re counting how many champs are being involved from each team, also take a look at what resources they have available and the context if their kit. If your Mid mage is low on mana or energy, you probably don’t want to count them too highly in your assessment. If your auto-attacking ADC is low on mana but still has high health, you may want to consider still going for an engage since they can contribute with hard-hitting right-clicks.
Power-spikes (gold, items, and experience)
Once you get the hang of assessing the numbers of champions and their resources, your next goal should be to understand power-spikes. Power-spikes occur when champions accumulate experience and gold and attain ability levels or items that allow them to shine. Playing around these power-spikes will help increase your chances of making favorable engages – let’s take a look at examples of each.
Experience and ability level spikes
The most common power-spike is the level 6 ultimate. There are a few exceptions, but most champions get a very powerful ultimate ability when they hit 6. If you hit level 6 before your enemy laner or laners, you should have a huge advantage over them. For example, let’s say your bot lane has done a great job and you’ve managed to pull slightly ahead in experience. You could have equal numbers of champions and your amount of available resources could be pretty close, but if you manage to get a level or more above your enemies, you should definitely consider engaging.In the case where your bot lane hits level 6 first, and your enemies are still at 5, you’ll often have a huge advantage of 2 ultimates versus 0. All you need to do is keep a close eye on whether or not you are ahead, behind, or equal in levels, and watch how close you are to leveling up next (keep an eye on that purple experience bar!).
Similar to how experience fuels ability level spikes, gold income fuels item spikes. Farming turns gold into items, which turns into power – if you can engage before your enemies hit their items or when you and your allies hit yours, you’ll have an advantage in item power. Most items will have a certain build path which requires components.You should already be pressing TAB often to keep up with other information but be sure to keep an eye on the items your enemies have, and the ones they’re in the process of building. For example in the image above, the Ezreal has built a Tear of the Goddess.
The Tear itself only provides mana and is meant to create a larger resource pool for the Ezreal to pull from later in the game. The Tear will eventually build into a more powerful item, Manamune.When you see the Ezreal following this build path, you should understand that he is sacrificing gold and power in the early to mid game to make a long-term investment that will make him more powerful later in the game. It would be advantageous to engage in fights while Ezreal is still stacking the Tear, and before he gets his Manamune power spike.
Opportunity windows (Ult cooldowns, Summoner spells, and Recalls)
The final type of advantage we’ll discuss is the opportunity window. An opportunity window occurs in different ways, the most common ones relate to cooldowns and when your enemy goes back to base.
It’s the most advanced of the factors we’re discussing because it requires the most game sense and knowledge. For example, if you know that Flash has a 300 sec cooldown (without cooldown reduction), you can look to engage when your enemy doesn’t have it available. During this opportunity window, your enemy will have less escape potential and be easy to kill. Consult this LoL wiki page to keep a grasp on Summoner spell cooldowns
For similar reasons, you should look to engage when enemy Ultimates and other abilities are on cooldown. Earlier in the article, we mentioned that Blitzcrank’s Rocket Grab has a cooldown of 20 seconds at rank 1. If an enemy Blitz misses their hook, you have 20 seconds to play more aggressively knowing that the robot is missing one of his most powerful moves.
Another opportunity window is when you see an enemy (or multiple) Recall back to base. Knowing that they’re gone, you’ll have a time window where you’ll have a numbers advantage. Here, you’ll need the game sense to know how fast it’ll take the enemy to return back to the action. Check out our Travel Times Infographic for a general reference, but don’t forget to account for mobility options that champs have in their kits.
How to use Mobalytics to improve your engages
When looking to see if your engages have are effective and have positive effects overall, be sure to keep an eye on your Mobalytics scores and metrics. Although we don’t have a specific “Engage” score per se, there are things that you can relate and connect engages to within the GPI.Here are some examples:
- Fighting Skill
- Duels, Picks, Skirmishes, and Teamfights
- Your ability to engage can greatly increase your success in different types of fights – if you have low scores here, you may want to evaluate the effectiveness of your engages by watching your replays.
- If you’re too aggressive, and you may be dying early in a team fight, giving your team a numbers disadvantage.
- If you’re too passive and not looking to initiate, you may be getting zoned off from your farm and losing gold/experience.
- Duels, Picks, Skirmishes, and Teamfights
- Aggression Skill
- Forward Kills
- Killing people in enemy territory usually involves engaging in turret dives and Jungle invades. If you play champions with strong engage and have a high score here, you probably do a good job of understanding your boundaries in risk-taking.
- If you have a low Snowballing score, consider looking to engage more often or evaluate if your engages are failing and causing you to fall behind.
- Forward Kills
- Toughness Skill
- Forward Deaths
- If you have a high Forward Deaths score, you’ll probably want to consider the time and place of your engages. You may be getting baited into poor initiations in enemy territory, if so, you’ll want to tone down your bloodthirst.
- Even if you die, you can still have a successful engage. Sometimes your death can be for the greater good if your team makes positive gains due to your sacrifice. To evaluate these instances, Discernment is your key.
- Forward Deaths
- Vision Skill
- Does it feel like you’re having trouble finding good engage opportunities? Check out your Placement score. You may find gaps in the game where you forget to ward or don’t ward enough – these could be moments where you’re missing rotations or not spotting enemies that are isolated.
- If you’re able to deny your enemy’s vision, you can force them into situations ripe for an engage, such as the classic facecheck insta-death. The less information your enemies have, the more risky they’ll have to play if they want to establish vision control.
Thanks for reading! We hope you’ve picked up a few things that will help improve your climb. Let us know what you think in the comments section or join the discussion on our Discord.