How to Improve Dueling in League of Legends
Trading and dueling are some of the most important skills a player needs to master if they want to increase their chances of climbing in League of Legends.
Through constant and favorable trades, you’ll be able to take over the lane and eventually the game by getting an early lead.
In this Mobalytics guide, we will break down some tips and tricks to help you become a master tactician and make dueling second nature for you.
Here are the topics we’ll be covering:
- What is dueling in League of Legends?
- Examples of good duelist champions
- How to improve your dueling (5 tips)
- Understand when you should and shouldn’t duel the enemy
- Track the enemy’s global Ultimates and adjust your gameplan
- Make sure your mechanics and combos are sharp
- Understand when your champ and your enemy’s champ power spike
- Track the enemy Jungler
What is dueling in League of Legends?
Dueling in League of Legends is 1v1 fights that you take with an enemy champion. These fights can be quick trades or long drawn out battles that result in one of your deaths. Either way, dueling is where you pick fights with an enemy champion.
These duels can be straightforward auto-attack trades, long extended trades, or ability trades. The term “duel” is very loose, so anything that involves you trading with the enemy is basically a duel to some extent.
Examples of good duelist champions
A good duelist is a champion that is strong in a 1v1 skirmish. They could be strong in the early game, mid-game or even the late game. The point of the matter is that they’re good at fighting or trading with the enemy on their own.
Strong duelists are generally AD based and auto-attack more. They typically rely on their basic attacks rather than their abilities. However, this is not the rule; any champion can technically be a strong duelist if they’re trading at the right time.
Strong duelists include the likes of:
She is a strong 1v1 champion who can get kills over and over again. She has a strong all-in pre-6 and she’s even stronger once she has an item or two behind her.
Her Q allows her to close the gap and chase enemies down with ease.
If you want to learn how to play Fiora and improve your dueling ability, check out Fiora’s champion page.
Sett is incredibly strong in extended trades thanks to his Passive and Q.
He has strong all-in and is good at chasing enemies down and catching them out of position with his E and Ultimate.
Head to Sett’s champion page to learn his builds, combos, and more.
Darius has a lot of chase and all-in pressure thanks to his basic attacks and his Passive. He can also use his E to pull you in and take you down.
As Darius takes Flash + Ghost, he can also chase you down the long lane and kill you.
Take a deep dive into how to play Darius with our dedicated Darius champion page.
How to improve your dueling skill
To get better in dueling, it’s important to understand the stats related to your performance.
You can check this at any time by plugging in your Summoner name and seeing your GPI scores, as seen in the image below.
With these stats, you can easily see how often you duel and your overall success when you fight duels.
Before we break down the tips and tricks and how to improve your skill in 1v1’s, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
Information is your greatest ally in League. If you can estimate the distance your allies need to travel versus your enemies to collapse on your duel then you can always choose fights where your team will show up first.
Not only does this give you confidence in that your duel but it’s a way to possibly bait a bigger team fight where your team has the advantage.
Before you engage in a duel look at the minimap to see how far away the enemy team is so that you know approximately what the time limit on your duel is before allies show.
If they are far this means you can hold abilities longer and play the fight slower in the hopes to get higher effectiveness, if they are somewhat close it doesn’t mean you can’t fight!
Fights can be won in seconds all you need to do is know when you can take risks and execute and leave quickly. It takes experience so try, fail, and learn.
1. Understand when you should and shouldn’t duel the enemy
In this section, we’ll cover general things to keep in mind before you engage in a duel.
Note that this isn’t a rule book. These are just guidelines, and you may be able to skirmish or fight with the enemy depending on other factors.
Good times to initiate a trade with the enemy:
- Once they’ve used one of their main abilities.
- They will not deal as much damage in return as they will have one less ability to deal damage with.
- When their dash is down.
- If the enemy has used their dash or do not have enough mana to use it, it will be impossible for them to create distance and escape the skirmish. This can allow you to chase them down and kill them.
- When they’ve overextended
- In a long side lane, it’s very easy to kill someone if they’re overextended. The side lanes are longer, which allows you to chase the enemy down and kill them.
- Once their Ultimate is on cooldown
- If an enemy’s Ultimate is on cooldown, they will deal less damage in a fight as they will be unable to use their Ultimate if it’s on cooldown. If you’ve got a strong dueling Ultimate and the enemy has a utility Ultimate, you will be stronger at level 6.
- When you know you can win the 1v1
- Obviously, if you’re sure you can win the fight- you should go for it.
- When the enemy Jungler is on the opposite side of the map
- If the enemy Jungler is on the opposite side of the map, there is no way they can impact the duel with your enemy laner. Tracking the enemy Jungler has a huge range of benefits. Here’s a separate guide on how to track the enemy Jungler.
- When your Jungler is on the same side of the map and can gank you shortly
- Jungler’s will find it hard to gank a full health enemy. You could tempt your Jungler to help you kill the enemy by looking for a brief skirmish with the enemy laner to get them lower so your Jungler ganks your lane.
- Traversing the map takes a lot of time early in the game during the laning phase. If you know your Jungler is nearby and you see the enemy Jungler is on the other side of the map you can look to trade and duel as much as you like as you will always have the reinforcement advantage. Even if your Jungler is seen or does nothing this will give you a mental edge over your opponent as they naturally will be more passive when at a Jungler disadvantage.
- You’re stronger than the enemy
- If you have a 2 level lead or more on someone you should not be scared of a duel with them as you would have to have a major matchup disadvantage or make multiple errors in your fight. Whenever you have 2 or more levels- have the confidence to take this fight.
When you shouldn’t* retaliate (or look to trade with the enemy)
- You’re low on mana or health
- Avoid fighting with the enemy if you’re low on resources as the enemy will have the advantage. If they’re healthier, it will be harder for you to kill them. If you have no mana or a limitted mana pool, you will not be able to use all of your abilities.
- The enemy has the Summoner Spell advantage
- Fighting in 1v1 when the enemy has the Ignite advantage will be hard as the enemy will get a lot of free damage down in the trade. Either wait for your Ignite to be up or avoid committing to a full all-in: bait out the Ignite and then retreat.
- When the enemy Jungler is nearby
- The enemy Jungler will show up and turn the 1v1 duel into a 1v2, favouring the enemy. For the best chances of coming out ahead, look to duel when you know where the enemy Jungler is.
- The fight is 50/50 (or too close to call)
- It’s not worth retaliating or trying to win a fight if it’s too close to call who will win. Instead, you could look to go for a very short trade and not fully commit, or you could look to poke and harass the enemy instead.
- If you’re behind
- Do not fight if you’re behind. Focus on farming, surviving and getting as much gold and XP as possible. To make the lane safer when you’re behind, focus on wave management. Here’s a guide that provides everything you need to know about wave control.
- Dueling people who are even 1 level higher than you can be a large risk due to the increase in stats as they get can be the tipping point in a close fight. This means that you must be certain that you can dodge or negate some of the enemy abilities because if the fight is even you will lose.
If the enemy initiates a trade with you and you’re not in a position to fight back, just retreat and try to disengage. It’s better to survive a fight rather than fall behind- especially in a tough matchup that can run you down over and over such as against a Darius or Irelia.
2. Track the enemy’s global ultimates and adjust your gameplan
Does the enemy team consist of champions like Karthus, Nocturne, Shen, Soraka, Twisted Fate, or anyone with a global Ultimate? When looking to fight an enemy champion, you need to keep in mind that any one of those champions could come or impact the fight.
Keep track of the enemy teams global map ability cooldowns like Teleport or things like Shen, Twisted Fate or Karthus Ultimate before entering a duel. These abilities will have a high impact on the outcome so make sure to track those cooldowns and add them into your calculations.
Before initiating a fight, ask yourself if the enemy team has a global Ultimate that can impact the fight. If it’s on cooldown, now would be a good time to go for it. If it’s up, avoid committing to a risky all-in and go for a shorter trade instead.
3. Make sure your mechanics and combos are sharp
When it comes to taking fights with the enemy, you need to make sure you’re able to beat them in the 1v1. You can come out ahead of a trade by knowing how to fully utilise your champion’s kit. This can be achieved by having a good understanding of your champions combos and knowing what combination you should use your abilities in to deal as much damage to the enemy as possible. To utilise your champion fully
There are a few ways you can fine-tune your mechanics:
- Play the champion more often.
Naturally, the more you play the champion, the better you’ll be on them. You’ll also find what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to ability combinations.
- Look up combos Mobalytics combos
Mobalytics has already done the hard work for you with champion combos. If you look at your favourite champion champions page, you can check out various combos for them. Going into the practice tool and trying them out, then taking them into an actual game, is one way of mastering a champions combos.
Sometimes, you’ll never know the perfect combo until somebody else shows you or tells you, so looking at the Mobalytics site will help you out. Check out this how to learn and practice combos guide
4. Understand when your champ and your enemy’s champ power spike
You should always keep in mind when your champion is strong and when they’re weak. Some champions are not very good in the early game and should avoid fighting at all costs, while others are incredibly potent and should look for constant fights.
When playing as a strong early game champion, try to abuse your early game strength. If you’re not very strong, only fight if you’re sure you’re going to come out ahead. If you give kills to a strong enemy, you’re going to make your laning phase a living hell!
Some champions spike at level 2 or 3, while others may not spike until level 6. Lucian is made fun of for his level 2 power spike, but him and many other champions are very strong at level 2.
On the other hand, most champions spike at level 6. However, some champions like Ryze or Shen are not any stronger (in a 1v1) at level 6. If you’re playing somebody with a very strong level 6 all-in, you’ll win duels with somebody like a Ryze.
Note the enemies specific level powers before thinking about the 1v1. Do they rely on their Ultimate damage? Do they rely on one ability for damage? Were you able to reach your level power spike before they were able to? Ask yourself these kinds of questions when looking to duel.
Here’s a separate guide that breaks down and helps you understand different champion power spikes.
5. Track the enemy Jungler
Tracking the enemy Jungler is a crucial skill to learn in League of Legends. If you’re not able to track the enemy Jungler, or if you don’t know where the Jungler is, they could rock up and counter your duel at any given time.
Before going in, look at the minimap and see where the enemy Jungler is. If they’re nearby, or if you know that they’re on your side of the map, avoid fighting or over-committing as once you’ve overextended, they could show up. The enemy may also be baiting you into overextending where they’ll kill you.
One way of tracking the enemy Jungler or at least knowing that they’re not nearby is by placing wards around your lane and the map. Having good vision is key and will provide you with enough time to back off if you see the enemy Jungler coming.
Here are some good warding locations for a Mid laner. You can find more good warding spots for every role with our in-depth warding guide.
There are plenty of things you can do to track the enemy Jungler and warding is just one of the main things. Here’s a separate guide that has a few other tips to help you track the enemy Jungler.
Understanding how to duel correctly will make you better as a whole. We hope that this guide has provided you with some additional tips and tricks to help you understand when you should and shouldn’t duel the enemy.
If you have any questions or want to learn more, check out PicklePants’s stream.