Sometimes you end up bringing a blade to a gunfight…
One of the worst feelings in League of Legends is when you’re the first pick in champion select and have to lock in your champion before the enemy. We all know that it’s fifty-fifty if we are going to get countered or not. Then it hits you, you’re going to be playing as a melee champion against a ranged one. You know you’re going to have a rough time in the early game and you may feel helpless. Don’t worry though, we’ve got you covered.
In this Mobalytics guide by PicklePants, we will provide you with some helpful information that you can use to your advantage when playing at a melee versus ranged disadvantage. While you may be unable to win lane, there are some things that you can do to help yourself out and give you more protection against the enemy. Winning your lane isn’t always about smashing the enemy, it can include going even with them when you have a disadvantage in lane.
Do your homework! Know the matchup before the fight
When playing League of Legends, you should know what every champion does, what abilities they have, and what items they will be building. You should also know when they’re strong, when they’re weak, and you should also have an idea of what to expect when laning against the enemy. For more on this, check out our recent article on power spikes! Knowing what everyone does is beneficial for understanding what to expect when playing against them. For example, if your enemy has a dash, untargetable spell or a blink, you may be unable to hit any of your skill shots until they waste or use their dash. A typical example would be Camille’s Hookshot which can be easily dodged by someone with an untargetable spell like Vladimir and his Sanguine Pool (W).
If you’re struggling to grasp the concept of every champion in League, you can always check out the Pre Game section on the Mobalytics website that gives you handy tips to help you lane against the enemy champion. We also make weekly Counterplay videos on our Youtube channel to teach you how to beat popular champs.
There is a lot of theory in League of Legends and you may consider yourself to be a theory player rather than a mechanical player. I would refer to myself as a theory player because I tend to know what I should be doing, but I may sometimes lack the actual ability to execute it…
This comes down to experience with certain matchups and games played as and against a specific champion. Playing lots of games on select champions and knowing how to actually play the matchup is much better than having an understanding of what you should be doing as a champion but lacking the doing part of the champion. As an example, above is the Pre Game advice you would get when facing Gangplank. There may be players out there who remember off the top of their head that Remove Scurvy (W) has a 22-second long cooldown at rank 1. This is incredibly valuable information since it’s a huge window to look to fight or call your Jungler since GP will be unable to escape as easily as usual.
Choose the right runes
As you will be at a disadvantage in lane and will be in range to get attacked by the enemy while you try to farm, you can take secondary runes that will give you some protection. Compared to the old rune system, they give you less stats to protect yourself with but nonetheless, are better than not taking them. Unless you take Resolve as your main rune tree, you should invest into taking it as part of your secondary rune path. With this path choice, there are 3 runes that are good at protecting you. The first is Bone Plating on line 1. This is a good rune to take even with it’s recent nerfs. It provides you with some protection through extended trades.
This is really good as it will stop some damage from the enemies early game combos. It can also prevent you from falling behind early as you will come out with more health compared to a normal fight without. On the secondary rune line, there is 2 runes that you can take. Chrysalis is a rune that many people take and for good measure. It gives you 60 more health level 1 which is super helpful if the enemy has kill potential early.
If the enemy doesn’t have much kill potential but does have lots of poke, then you should take a different rune called Second Wind. This is a good rune as it gives you some regeneration in lane after a trade with the enemy. This gives you more sustain in the early game and lets you stay in lane for longer.
Both Chrysalis and Second Wind are good runes to take with Bone Plating. Unfortunately, you can only pick one of them. There is a lot of discussion about these two and many arguments about which one is better. I’ve suggested one reason to take each, but honestly, it comes down to personal preference and the situation you’re in. If you don’t like Chrysalis, give Second Wind a go and vice versa.
Build your items wisely
Adaptation in League of Legends is key and you should try to adapt to every situation that you’re faced with. One way of adapting is by changing your starting item choices when playing in an unfavored matchup.
If you’re playing a fighting champion that traditionally takes Doran’s Blade, you may have to switch it up and choose different starting item instead. Items such as Doran’s Shield and Corrupting Potion are very good against ranged champions as they give you sustain in lane and allow you to stay alive for longer.
As the current state of gameplay is very volatile and very snowbally, you need to avoid being put behind or being forced to recall in the early levels as you will miss out on CS and XP. Taking Doran’s Blade would offer you little to no protection against a ranged champion as it offers little to no defense. Comparing this item to the other two, Doran’s Shield and Corrupting Potion both give much more sustain allowing you to survive in lane for longer.
Furthermore, in some matchups you will need to switch up your item build and change what you would usually buy first. For example, if you’re playing as an assassin versus a burst mage, you should invest in a Hexdrinker for added protection. Another example would be if you’re as a tank versus a mage in the top lane. Many champions may pick up a Sunfire Cape first, so you may have to pick up a Spirit Visage or Adaptive Helm instead.
Also, many champions including some fighters actually benefit from picking up early Ninja Tabi or Mercury’s Treads thanks to the reduced damage they both do. Here’s streamer Hashinshin “showing off” the benefits of Ninja Tabi.
All in all, picking certain items to prevent the enemy from killing you is an effective way of staying alive and not fall behind in lane. When you’re in a tough matchup, you need to defend yourself as much as possible which can be helped by redefining a traditional build and adapting your build to each situation for a better outcome in lane.
Utilize proper wave management
When you’re playing at a range disadvantage, you need to keep the wave in a favorable position where you will not get killed or denied by the enemy. The best place for you to keep the minion wave is close to your tower, but outside of the tower range. This is because it is close to your tower which will prevent you from overextending or getting zoned by the enemy.
It is very important to emphasize that you need the wave to stay outside of your tower range to prevent it from bouncing, resetting or messing up your ability to farm. If you play under tower, then your tower will suffer and you may lose your tower if you die. Also, if you’re under tower, you will not be able to follow up and help your Jungler if they decide to gank you.
For the wave to remain on your side of the lane, you need to keep it frozen. A freeze is where the wave doesn’t advance or retreat in lane and instead, stands its ground and fight. We’ve already made a very detailed wave management guide, which talks more in-depth about wave management which you might find useful.
Be prepared to sacrifice
You may be thinking, “Hey Mobalytics, why are you suggesting to sacrifice farm when I need gold?” Well, it’s for the greater good. In a tough melee vs ranged matchup, you should sacrifice some minions in the early game to have a better late game.
In some games you’ll have to give up a small amount of farm to stay alive in lane. In the early game, it’s better to prioritize experience over gold. This is so you do not fall behind in levels and be completely taken out of the game making it 4v5.
When comparing gold to experience, gold is not as important in the early laning phase whereas experience matters. Both gold and experience are limited resources, but experience matters more in the laning phase than gold does. Being behind in experience will make you fall behind in not only levels, but items as well as you will miss out on more than just one minion if you fall behind.
For example, if the enemy is zoning you, it would probably be better to miss out on 1 CS to avoid being burst down by the enemy. If you try to take one minion and the enemy starts attacking you, then you may be forced to Recall and return to base or stay in lane and play really passive. This means that getting a small amount of gold has cost you lane pressure and lane presence.
When deciding if you should leave a minion and give it up, you must calculate if it’s worth taking the enemies damage for the one CS. If it is a cannon minion, it may be necessary that you go for it if you can sacrifice the health. With the gold values on the caster minions down, you never really want to overextend and get burst down to take these minions. These minions are worth less than 20 gold and that’s not worth losing lane pressure over. The melee minions are less risky because they’re closer to you in lane which means you will not be overextending.You have to find a balance between taking what you can and sacrificing what you don’t need. While gold is important, so is health and staying in lane. You never really want to sacrifice health for a caster minion, but melee minions and cannons can be worth sacrificing some health for as long as you do not get burst down by the enemy or lose lane pressure over it. If you cannot take a minion, make sure to stay in range of it to still get the experience. Experience range is huge, so if you’re in the local area, you’ll be fine.
When playing in an out-ranged matchup, you have an inherent disadvantage from the get-go. Be prepared for an “interactive lane” where you have to buy items that counter the enemy. After all, some matchups are going to be bad for you – that’s the life of a League of Legends player, just play through it and try to come out even or ahead.
If you have any questions or want to learn more, check out PicklePants stream.
We hope you enjoyed and found this article helpful for your climb. Let us know if we missed anything in the comments below. As always, you can find Picklepants in our Discord if you have any questions!