The One Wave Management Guide to Rule Them All
Wave Management is one of the most beneficial subjects to learn in League of Legends thanks to it being required in every single lane. Everybody has heard of wave management, but not everybody knows how to use it the right way. There are so many guides out there, but they all lack information that is crucial to understanding the subject fully. In this Mobalytics guide, we will teach you how to manage minion waves like a pro and help you understand what is needed for effective wave management in its entirety.
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This guide is aimed at anyone who wants to learn about wave management at a ground level, and anybody who wants to expand their knowledge on the subject. Wave management takes concentration and dedication to perfect. You will need to stay concentrated when managing the waves as one slip up can cost you the wave. This can make all your efforts of wave manipulation go down the drain, however, one way of improving at wave management is by messing it up completely.
If you understand where you went wrong, you can improve on it for future games. At the end of the day, wave management is all about learning and improving- so don’t get disheartened if you struggle with it to start with. Our goal is to make you understand how to use wave management in your games and use them to your advantage.
Before we begin, let me introduce myself. My name’s Picklepants, I am a former Diamond 1 Support main on the EUW server. I have been playing League of Legends since Season 3 and have been Diamond for the last 3 of them. If you have any questions or feedback about this guide, feel free to contact me on Twitter.Do note that this guide is huge and may be hard to properly consume in one sitting. Feel free to skip around as needed by clicking on the chapters in the selection below:
1. How Minions Spawn
Minions start to spawn on the map from both sides at 1:05 and continue spawning every 30 seconds after until the game has ended. In the early game, they take 32 seconds to reach the middle of the lane after spawning. Depending on where the current wave is in lane, they may take longer or less time to get to the middle of the lane. Because the middle lane is shorter in length, minions arriving will only take 22 seconds to reach the middle of the lane instead of the 32 seconds in the side lanes.In every standard wave, there are 6 minions and in every cannon wave there is 7. For terminology purposes and to make it easier to understand, let’s say that there is only 1 block of minions (up until 20 minutes.) The first and second wave consists of 3 melee minions and 3 caster minions which is considered a standard wave. On every third wave up until 20 minutes, there are 7 minions: 3 melee minions, 1 siege minion, and 3 caster minions. This block of minions contains 3 waves before resetting. For each block of minions on the rift, there is a replacement block that is even stronger than the previous one. Every 90 seconds, aka 1 block, the minions become stronger and increase in health, survivability and damage.
Up until 20 minutes, each third minion wave will be a cannon wave which includes one siege (cannon) minion. The first siege minion will spawn in at 2:05, and get to lane at around 2:37 in the side lanes and 2:27 in the mid lane. After 20 minutes, one will spawn every 2 waves. Instead of there being a block which consists of 3 waves, every block after 20 minutes will consist of 2 waves (1 standard wave and 1 cannon wave). After 35 minutes, there will no longer be any blocks and instead, every minion wave will be a cannon wave.
If you’ve taken down an enemy inhibitor, every 30 seconds for 5 minutes (the length of the inhibitors respawn timer). there will be a super minion that will spawn with the wave. Each super minion will only go down the lane with the missing inhibitor. If you’ve destroyed all three of the enemies inhibitors, 2 super minions will spawn on each minion wave. While you take down an inhibitor, no cannon minions will spawn in that lane until it’s resurrected.
All waves outside of the standard waves have one additional minion added to them. This will aid you in taking down the enemies defenses and achieving victory. Did you know that The Baron also empowers minions and makes them faster as well as deal more damage? When you’ve killed the Baron, everybody who is alive on the slayer’s team receives the “Hand of Baron” buff.
This buff gives your allies and your minions a plethora of bonuses which can allow your team to siege and take objectives with ease. One of the best buffs is the bonus movement speed that champions can give the minions when near them. This will speed them up and allow them to get into the action quicker. If you want to know exactly what bonuses your minions receive, here’s a preview:Minion pushing advantage
This section here isn’t necessarily super important to know the exact detail inside and out, but here’s a summary if you want to skip this part of the guide. Basically, if your team is ahead, your minions will be stronger than the enemies – it’s as simple as that.
There are 3 types of bonuses that your minions get if you’re ahead. The bonuses they obtain revolve around having a larger average level on your team than the enemies, as well as having more turrets down in any specific lane.
The way this is worked out is: the average level of your team, minus the average level of the enemy team. Which is always capped at 3.0.
If your team has the level advantage, your minions will deal bonus damage to the enemy minions equal to 5% + 5% per turret advantage in a specific lane. This is then multiplied by your teams level advantage.
For example, if you’re two towers ahead of the enemy- it would be: (5% + (5% x 2)) x team level advantage. = bonus damage. We cannot answer this mathematical question because A, I’m no good at maths and B, it’s a very situational answer that changes from game to game depending on in game factors which would make knowing the answer useless.But hey, that’s the bonus damage your minions will do to enemy minions.
Your minions will also receive less damage from the enemy minions equal to 1 + 1 per turret advantage in lane.
For example, if you’re two towers ahead of the enemy- it would be: 1 + (team level advantage x 2) = damage reduction.
If the difference between average team levels is 3 or higher and the leading team has destroyed two or more towers than the enemy in a single lane, the minions on that team will become enraged which gives them even more bonuses. The minions bonus damage is increased by a further 90%, and the flat damage reduction is increased by 7 more points per auto attack.
We’ve tried really hard to make this section understandable, but it’s still quite complicated. If you’re struggling to grasp this concept, Riot’s Dev Corner has got you covered with Riot Axes’s description on this topic if you want to learn more.
You do not really need to know what the exact numbers and bonuses your minions will receive because it is constantly changing and really hard to check- and not necessary. Just remember that if you’re ahead, the minions will receive reduced damage and deal extra damage.
Here’s a very basic rundown of when and where you should expect minions to be at any given time around major objectives. The reference timers are just as the first minion passes each objective. Please note that this is a reference and the numbers might be slightly out depending on in-game factors or user discrepancy. How can this help me?
While knowing the exact timers is not going to be of much use to you, having an understanding of when and where the minions will be on the map at any given time can help you to improve your back timing. If you know when and where the minions will be, you can back at the right time to miss out on minimal farm and experience. This will allow you to stay even with the enemy and not fall behind. Backing at the wrong time or being killed and missing out on CS is devastating in a snowball heavy meta.
Another way of knowing the location of the minion wave is looking at your own minion wave on the map. This is a favored method commonly used by players. As every lane is mirrored, you should expect all minions to get to certain areas of the map at the same time. If you see that your cannon wave is approaching, the enemies cannon wave will also be coming shortly.
Unless you’re forced to back, you should try to never Recall on a cannon wave. A cannon minion gives more gold and experience than any other minion during the laning phase so you need to try and get it to avoid falling behind. If the enemy gets the cannon minion and you do not, they will gain the lead. If a cannon minion wave has already started making its way across the map and has left the base, you may miss out on it if you decide to back. Ideally, you should back before the cannon wave gets out of the base.
It takes roughly 25 seconds in the mid lane and 30 seconds in the side lanes to get back in the action (without boots.) This means that in the early game, you should not be in the fountain when a minion wave is approaching the tier 2 towers (in the side lane) as you may miss out on them. In the later stages of the laning phase, you have a little bit more leniency.
We’ve made an infographic to help you understand and have a visual image on travel times in League. You should try to back after shoving the wave into the enemies tower as quickly as you can. This will slow down the enemies minion wave allowing you to return to lane without missing much in terms of farm and experience. If you push the wave under the enemies tower, the wave will start pushing it back towards you and stopping either in the middle of the lane or closer to the enemies tower.
If the wave resets, that’s good for you as it will stay in the middle of the lane and not push in either direction. However, if the minion wave is on the enemies side, then it will start pushing towards you- allowing for a big wave to form and it giving you a ton of CS as we can see in this video.
If you cannot push the wave quick enough, you want it to start freezing near your tower instead. To do this, leave alive 2 or 3 ranged minions outside of your tower range and then Recall as soon as they come into contact with your minion wave.
2. Minion Targeting System
Minions will continuously walk down a lane until they seek out an enemy and keep focusing down the chosen target until the target dies or another, higher priority target approaches them. The minions have a priority order that they will follow if there is more than one potential target in the area. They re-evaluate their focus every few seconds, so if a higher target approaches them, they will stop focusing on that target and switch.
The minion priority system works as follows (from the perspective of a minion):
1) Enemy champions attacking an allied champion
2) Enemy minions attacking an allied champion
3) Enemy minions attacking an allied minion
4) Enemy turrets attacking an allied minion
5) Enemy champions attacking an allied minion
6) The closest enemy minion
7) The closest enemy champion
The priority system is pretty straightforward, except for their highest priority target and their number one nemesis – the enemy champion who is attacking their guardian. Many may think that it’s only auto-attacking that makes the enemy minions focus you. Congratulations, you’re half correct! But, it is not the only way the minions will start focusing you down. If you have target spells and use them on the enemy, then the minions will also focus you.
Check out this video by Rafizz, one of our Discord Honorable Community members to see this in action:
Things that are considered target spells are abilities that you point and click on an enemy champion. These include,- but are not limited to: Annie’s Q, Brand’s E, Pantheon’s Q and Janna’s W. Skill shots are not considered target spells and you will not draw minion aggression from priority 1, however you may still draw aggro if you’re on the minions hit list. Abilities that are also auto attack orientated like Dr. Mundo’s E, Darius’s W and Camille’s Q will also draw agro.
If you accidentally auto attack the enemy or use one of your target spells on them, then the enemies will focus you. They have a range of 350, and they are not afraid to chase you down. Keep this in mind when laning as it can often interrupt and mess up your desired management tool. If the minions start focusing you, you need to run out of sight and out of range of them. You can drop minion aggro by running into un-warded bushes as well as leaving the localized area.
The minions priority never changes and they follow this strict ruling for every attack that they do. They will continuously look for higher priority targets and you will see this in your gameplay. For example, if you’re the only target in lane with no friendly minions nearby, the enemy minions will focus you. When your reinforcements arrive, the minions will switch aggro to your minions instead. This is because (if you’re not attacking them) you will be the lowest priority of the minions and when your minions arrive, they will be higher up in the chain.
3. How to Freeze
Freezing is one of the more complicated types of wave management to perfect in League of Legends because you have to manipulate the enemy and keep a constant eye on what they’re doing. Using the technique in Solo Queue is best done when you’re ahead of the enemy or if you’re even with them. It is quite difficult (but not impossible) to freeze when you’re behind. When freezing, you want to be able to zone the enemy off the farm and make them overextend if they want to get any farm.
If you want to freeze the wave, all you need to do is last-hit the enemy minions at the last possible second. Sounds simple right? Well…it’s going to get a bit more complicated. Whenever the enemy damages a minion through either auto attacks or ability use outside of last-hitting, you will need to match their damage.
This is because your allied minions will die quicker as they have less health and as a result, the enemies wave will be pushing towards you. Because you would be matching the damage, all the minions (both allied and axis) will die at roughly the same time which prevents the wave from pushing in either direction – thus creating the freeze.
If you didn’t match the damage, or you start randomly auto attacking the minions, then the wave will not freeze and instead start pushing in a direction you may not like. Attack too little, and the wave will push against you. Attack too much, and it’ll push harder.
How To Execute The Freeze
Depending on where you would like the freeze to occur, you will need to manipulate the enemy minion wave in order for it to stay there. The closer you are to your tower, the more enemy ranged minions you need in lane. This is because your reinforcement minions will get to lane quicker compared to the enemies.
If there was no minion advantage for the enemy, your minions would start pushing, however leaving alive some minions will prevent the wave from pushing towards the enemy. To make the concept super simple, count how many full health (or healthy) enemy caster minions there are in lane.
In the image below, we can see how many enemy minions you will need in different parts of the lane for the minion wave to freeze. Please use this image as a guide and at your own discretion as the image may be slightly off. Please note that this works for top and the bottom lane. We will discuss mid lane later on. If you do not want the minion wave to push against you and you don’t want to push it, all you need to do is make sure that the minion wave stays in the yellow zone. For this to happen, there needs to be no additional extra minions left alive in the lane (on either team.) If you have 3 minions alive, you want the enemy to also have 3. Most commonly, you will find 0 minions against 0 minions in this area for the wave to stay here – this is because around this area (the white line) is the middle of the lane where minions traditionally meet. At the start of the game, if the minion wave is not contested or pulled in any specific way, the minions will start forming here and fight in the middle of the lane.
If you want the minion wave to be slightly closer to your side of the lane, you need to have 1 extra healthy (100% or close to) enemy ranged minion alive. If you have 3 caster minions here, you will need the enemy to have 4. The closer you get to your tower, the more extra minions you will need the enemy wave to have. In the purple area you will need 2 extra minions, and in the green, you will need 3 extra minions.
Once a minion waves start building up, they can very easily and very quickly take down your minions and your tower. They can also force the wave to bounce leaving you in an unfavoured position. You do not want them to start attacking your tower and instead, you want them to focus you. If you’re healthy or have a reliable source of regeneration, you need to walk up to them and start tanking the minions. Pull them away and out of position of the tower. Forcing them to focus you either standing still or making them walk slightly back on themselves is highly beneficial for the freeze to stick.
Be careful not to walk too far away from them as you may drop minion aggro, and avoid tanking them for too long. Just do so long enough so they can start attacking your minions again outside of your tower range when they arrive.
As you can see from the video, if you have your Support nearby, they can tank the wave for you. Depending on in-game factors, they may be able to tank larger waves. If they cannot tank large waves, then you will need to thin it down.
When your minions die, start tanking the wave again and pull it away from your tower. Rinse and repeat, and you will indefinitely freeze the enemy out of gold. However, if you cannot freeze like this due to health or items problems, you may need to thin the wave down to an easier number to tank.
Be Prepared To Thin The Minion Wave
At the beginning of a game, champions are incredibly weak. Until the laning phase gets underway, you will not have much damage and no real way of protecting yourself. This is what can make freezing difficult and tanking them rather risky. If there are too many minions left alive and you’re not able to tank them, kill all the melee minions, and all of the ranged minions but leave 3 caster minions alive. Don’t forget to kill any cannon minions if possible.
You need to avoid tanking for extended periods of time because it may allow the enemy to engage on you or kill you. You also need to make sure that there are not too many minions coming at you because they will overwhelm you. If there are more than 4 additional minions in a wave, it will always be pushing no matter what. If you’re unable to tank the bonus minions, you will have to thin the wave down.
Mid Lane Wave Management
So far, we have only really talked about the side lanes and how you can use wave management in them. Since the middle lane is much shorter and as the minion waves arrive much quicker, wave management is less effective in some aspects.
In the middle lane, most champions lack the ability to hold and freeze waves because many of them do not buy defensive items until later on in the game and neither are they tanky enough to hold the minions in place. Another reason for this is that many mid lane orientated picks have damage and have high kill potential that makes freezing quite risky. With that said, you can still freeze in the middle lane and you should do so when you need to.
The zones are much smaller in the areas where it is safe to freeze and use other wave management techniques. The issue with this is that many champions can often break all your hard work and ruin what you’ve done. This makes wave management in the mid lane not useless – but very situational and quite difficult to work with if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Compared to the side lanes, the mid lane has the exact same features of freezing except the zones are smaller. Beware when holding or dragging the minion wave as the enemy may be able to engage on you.
Wave management in the early game in the middle lane is all about where you have the wave and what the enemy can do to you. As the middle lane is the most gankable lane in League, you need to have the wave in a favorable position where you can avoid cheesy ganks.
Recalling is something that every lane needs to do and should all look to do at the best time to prevent missing out on farm and experience. In the middle lane, the best time to back is when the wave is approaching your inhibitors. When you Recall, the wave will just be outside of the inhib tower and your tier 1. This is a great time to Recall to minimize gold lost. Before backing, make sure you shove the wave into the tower as this will either delay the enemies Recall, or make them miss out on gold. Also, when you return to lane, the wave would’ve reset in the middle which will allow you to start your wave management technique again.
Another very useful technique that some pros use is where they kill all the minions in lane, but leave 3 caster minions alive. They then hold the wave until their allied minions arrive and then they Recall. This is a good thing to do as it will allow the wave to freeze as soon as you return to lane. This only works if the enemy is not in lane, for example, they’ve backed or have died. This wave technique is really good if you have a cannon wave approaching as the enemies wave will kill the cannon minion before they return to lane.
There are some variations to this method. Some players leave 1, some leave 2 and some leave 3. Each has its pros and cons so you should leave the amount that is more applicable to you.
Early Game Freezing
Here are some good techniques you can use in the early game to help you get the most out of the early levels and start getting an advantage:
If you want to start to freeze as soon as the game starts, you can just last-hit the enemy minions at level 1 and have the wave slightly push towards you. This will set you up for a closer freeze. Keep in mind that you will need to match the enemies auto attacks and damage outside of last-hitting to prevent the wave from pushing too far or bouncing.
How to control waves to prepare against early ganks
In some lanes, you may benefit from an early push if you’re subject to ganks at level 3. What you do is push the wave level 1 by only killing 1 or 2 of the back minions fast which will make the wave start pushing. You then proceed to last-hit the remaining minions. This will make the wave push to the enemy, but not so fast that you’re making yourself vulnerable.
Then on the second wave, you push the wave as hard as you can to the enemies tower and let it reset so on the third wave (the cannon wave) it is in the middle of the lane which will prevent ganks from the enemy. You can then choose to allow it to push towards you (prevent ganks, making it safer for you etc) and then deny the enemy.
This is a very good technique to use if you’re a ranged champion against a melee champion who has no all in potential early or any form of sustain. If you’re a melee champion, you may also be able to do this. However, if you’re playing a champion without sustain, you may struggle.
If you’re playing a champion with early pushing power such as Azir or Taliyah, you would benefit from using a pushing technique that can keep you safe from enemy ganks. At level 1, you want to push the wave and try to get it moving. You can do this if you have AOE abilities that make it quicker. With that said,you do not want to hard shove. On the second wave, it will bounce off the tower and start slow-pushing towards you.
On wave three and the cannon wave, it will continue pushing towards your side that will prevent enemy ganks. This is super helpful as it can stop cheesy ganks from the enemy. It will also give you early lane dominance and allow you to help the Jungler if they start to skirmish with the enemy over a Scuttle Crab.
Where To Freeze
You should get the wave to freeze on your side of the lane, just outside of your tower. You need to keep it outside of your tower range so your tower does not take free damage from the minion wave. You should avoid letting the enemy have pressure on your lane which you can do if you keep it outside of the tower.
Because of the way minions spawn and work, if you freeze in this area, you can pull off a harder and harsher freeze because your reinforcement minions will arrive to lane quicker compared to the enemies.
Why You Should Freeze Close To Your Tower
Freezing in this area is good for a number of reasons:
1) It can stop you from getting ganked by the enemy Jungler.
2) You will not get denied farm and experience by the enemy champion.
3) The enemy laner will have to overextend for farm and gold.
4) You will be able to set up ganks for your Jungler.
5) The enemy may be unable to trade with you effectively.
6) You will not be putting yourself in a position where you have to overextend for farm and experience.
When To Freeze
Freezing is incredibly situational and you should not use this section as a rule of thumb. Instead, use this as an example of what you could potentially do in this situation. Every game is different and just because you could freeze at a certain time, it doesn’t mean that you should be. You should only be using a freezing in the laning phase.
- If you’re receiving constant attention from the enemy Jungler
- If the enemy Jungler is providing you with their utmost attention, you should consider freezing on your side of the lane. If you blow a Summoner Spell, the enemy Jungler may be able to exploit that and repeat gank and put you further behind. To respond, freeze on your side of the lane to be able to continue to farm safely without fear of being ganked. This will also prevent you from being camped and tower dove if you keep it just outside of your tower. If the enemy Jungler comes to your lane, they will be wasting their time because you will not be in a position to be killed.
- If you notice that the enemy laner is premade with the Jungler, you may want to freeze from the get-go since there’s a high chance you’ll get camped. We’ve all done it when playing with friends and you know how bad it is to experience first hand. You can sometimes tell if someone is premade by their names and their clubs.
- If you’re behind in lane.
- If you’ve died and are slightly behind the enemy where you’re unable to trade with them, freezing in this situation is good. This is because you will be able to continue to farm without sacrificing health for farm, nor will you be able to be chased down by the enemy. You will also be able to stay alive with no real fear of being ganked or being put further behind by the enemy Jungler if the wave is on your side.
- We did say earlier that it is slightly harder to freeze from behind and in this situation,- you have to freeze. Do not put yourself in a position to far up in the lane to protect the freeze or zone them as the enemy will be able to fight you.
- If the enemy has Recalled, and the wave is not going to crash into your tower and reset or bounce
- Before Recalling, you generally want to push the wave to the enemy tower so it can bounce and reset allowing you to Recall without fear of the enemy attacking your tower. Pushing will allow you to walk back to lane without wasting your teleport and neither will they miss out on too much CS.
- However, not everybody does this properly. This is because they didn’t push quick enough or they didn’t push it to tower. If somebody does this to you, do not push it back to them. Instead, hold the wave just outside of your tower and let them over extend for farm and experience when they return. In the early game, death timers are short and many champions lack wave clear, so you cannot push it quick enough back. Why give them a juicy amount of farm to return back too?
Pros and cons to freezing
- Freezing can deny the enemy CS which will give you the gold advantage. This means that you will have more gold than the enemy and be able to get your items quicker.
- The enemy will have to overextend for farm and XP. Depending on the location of the wave (if it’s closer to your tower) this may open them up to gank opportunities for your Jungler which ultimately, can put the enemy further behind.
- You will not die to Jungle ganks. If the wave is on your side of the lane, assuming you have good ward coverage, you should not die to ganks because the wave is further up in the lane which makes any ganks rather risky.
- If you’re behind in lane, you can freeze to catch up in farm and gold without getting killed or denied by the enemy. If you do not freeze and start to push, the enemy will be able to freeze, zone and deny you.
- Because you’re freezing the lane, the enemy laner may be able to roam and get gold and XP by getting kills in other lanes. You should try to avoid this happening by pinging your enemy missing and trying to follow them if it’s safe to do so.
- It’s important to not freeze the minion wave too close or under your tower as it can get you killed. During the laning phase, having it under your tower may allow the enemy Jungler to dive you. It will also not freeze here. Because a tower is assisting the suicide of the minions, the wave will bounce and end up further up the lane.
- Freezing is not the easiest thing to do in the early game if you’re against champions who can quickly clear waves. This is because they may be able to poke you and fight you if you try to freeze. Freezing (in some cases) is best done after your first back when you have items and damage to protect yourself with.
4. Matchup Examples
In this section, we will discuss some real matchups and what you could look to do during the laning phase to have a better start in the game. Please remember that everything in this section, including the example matchups is highly situational and you may disagree with some of the suggestions that are presented. A lot of matchups and wave choices rely on the enemy Junglers pick as well. Example Matchup: Camille vs Gnar (reference timing: Levels 1-4)
Camille: Needs the wave close to her tower, but outside of tower range
- Gnar has the range advantage when he is not in mega form and he is able to poke or deny Camille if she decides to push.
- Camille is not very strong early, but she does have burst damage thanks to her kit. If the wave is in the middle or pushed up, she would be unable to go onto the Gnar if he mispositions.
- Camille would like the wave to be close to her tower so she can use her Hookshot (E) on a wall and then bounce onto Gnar to deal damage to him.
- As Camille is a very snowball heavy champion and as she can take over the map, having the wave close to your tower will prevent early game ganks while also being able to yourself up for ganks. Thanks to Camille’s ability to follow up, having the wave just outside tower is perfect for her early.
Gnar: Needs the wave close to his tower, but outside of tower range
- Gnar is quite immobile even with his jump and he can easily be jumped on by the Camille if she uses her Hookshot on him.
- Having the wave near the tower will prevent Camille from being able to play aggressive and kill the Gnar because she will not be able to dive him early. If she does jump on the Gnar, he can just hop away and prevent any more damage.
- Keeping the wave here will allow Gnar to deny and poke down Camille when she comes to farm as she will be overextended. This is also good because he has the range advantage and can poke her for free.
- If Gnar pushes the wave, he is giving Camille the best start to the laning phase. As many know, Camille is not incredibly strong early, so giving her a good and safe start to the lane is something Gnar wants to avoid.
Darius: Would like the wave either in the middle of the lane, or slightly closer to his tower
- Darius is a melee champion is quite immobile. This means he can easily get kited by ranged champions and poked down if he overextends.
- Thanks to Darius’ unique kit, he is able to deal lots of damage to squishy champions if he can get in range of them. With his Passive and Q, he is able to poke down enemies in extended trades if he can get in range of them to use his pull. To utilize and get the most out of his kit, he needs the wave to be in a position where he can farm and play aggressive whenever he wants.
- Darius needs to be very careful when it comes to using his abilities. His Q has an AOE indicator that can push waves. He wants to avoid using this ability unless he can get on the enemy.
- Avoid pushing in this lane because Teemo would be able to zone and deny Darius’ ability to get any farm which would put him behind.
Teemo: Wants to keep the wave close to his tower until 6, and then keep pushing after 6
- In the early game, Teemo is immobile even with his Quick Move (W.) This means he can get caught out and put behind if he gets caught out by Darius’ E or by a gank by the enemy. Teemo is quite squishy as well, which means he needs to not be in a position where Darius or the Jungler can get to him.
- Teemo is ranged and able to poke the enemy if they overextend. Teemo is also able to use his Blind on them if they try to auto attack him.
- At level 6, Teemo wants to start pushing and abusing his kit to the maximum. By placing shrooms around the lane, he can constantly get the wave pushing and take the First Tower.
- Having good ward coverage and placing his shrooms in the river will prevent Jungle ganks. Also, because Teemo can also go invisible, he can juke the enemy Jungler and Darius if they try to find him.
Example Matchup: Renekton vs Maokai (reference timing: Levels 1-4)
Renekton: Wants the wave to be even and close to the middle of the lane
- Renekton wants to be able to all in the enemy whenever he gets the level up or whenever he has a slight advantage over the enemy. Because of this, he needs the wave in the middle of the lane.
- If Renekton pushes the enemy to their tower and the enemy freezes, he will be unable to engage on the enemy and push his advantage in lane.
- Maokai is quite an immobile champion. If you let him push towards you, or if you let the wave stay in the middle, you will be able to engage on him as he would be overextended.
- As Renekton’s kit includes a stun and a gap closure, keeping the wave here lets you set up your Jungler for ganks to kill the Maokai.
Maokai: Needs to keep the wave on his side of the lane
- Renekton’s early game damage and kit is far superior to Maokai’s and he is able to kill him if Maokai miss positions or overextends.
- If Maokai pushes the wave, Renekton, just by using his E on the minions, will be able to get incredibly close and engage on him and may even be able to kill him. This means that Maokai needs to keep the lane in a safe place where Renekton will be unable to do this.
- Maokai has good sustain and good trade potential, however, he is much weaker compared to the Renekton.
- Maokai can set up his Jungler to gank with his W and his E. His E is a slow and the saplings do a lot of damage when they’re in a bush. If Renekton overextends near your tower, he will be unable to escape. One of the reasons for this is because he will be only allowed to use his E once and not twice as there would be no minions to get away quicker and let him use it twice.
Example Matchup: Twisted Fate vs Zed (reference timing: Level 1-3)
Twisted Fate: Needs the wave close to his tower, but outside of tower range
- Twisted Fate does have the range advantage and the means to poke Zed down, but he cannot effectively do it unless he is in a good position.
- If Twisted Fate has the wave near his tower, Zed will be unable to utilize his kit or early game damage. This is a good thing as it will prevent Zed from using his abilities to poke Twisted Fate down.
- Twisted Fate can set up cheesy level 2 and level 3 ganks thanks to his W. If you have a twitch Jungle or a Shaco, or anybody with a strong level 2 or 3, you can stun Zed and get an early kill.
- Zed is one of the hardest matchups for Twisted Fate so he needs to not overextend and let Zed be a threat to him.
Zed: Wants the wave to be even or closer to his side of the lane
- Zed is an assassin who does very well in short-burst exchanges which means if he gets on to Twisted Fate, TF will suffer.
- Zed wants the wave to be equal so he can get onto the Twisted Fate. If Zed pushes the lane under Twisted Fates tower, he would be unable to engage or fight him because of the tower.
- As a champion that relies on burst damage, Zed does benefit from going frequent trades and all-ins. One of the most common early all-ins is at level 3. If Zed pushes or gets pushed in, he would be unable to go in for a fight at level 3 as he would either A be unable to go on the Twisted Fate as there’s a tower there and B he would miss out on lots of minions knocking on his tower.
- The mid lane is the easiest lane to gank. If Twisted Fate is kept in the middle of the lane, it gives Zed’s Jungler a range of ways to gank him early.
Example Matchup: Kog’Maw and Lulu vs Twitch and Janna (Reference Timing: Levels 1-6)
Kog’Maw and Lulu: Keep it even in the middle of the lane
- Lulu can buff up her ADC making him fast and attack quickly. This gives you a lot of chase potential in the lane. Keeping it in the middle of the lane will allow them to chase the enemies down.
- While they do not have much kill potential early, they do have poke thanks to their abilities and auto attacks. If they push the enemy under their tower, they may be unable to be able to trade with the enemy.
- These two champions need to scale, they must not get put behind nor pushed under their tower and lose it. This means they need to keep it out of range of their tower and in a position where they can be aggressive- like in the middle of the lane.
- As stated, they need time to scale and not get put behind. If they push, they will be susceptible to ganks from the enemy Jungler. They do not want this obviously as they will be unable to scale efficiently while the enemy will be able to.
Twitch and Janna: Keep it closer to their side of the lane or close to the middle
- They do not want to overextend as they might get surprise ganks from the enemy Jungler. While Janna can keep her ADC alive, Twitch is rather squishy in the early game with no real way of protecting himself.
- They want to have the wave in the middle or close to their tower but out of the towers range so they do not lose their tower early. Kog’Maw and Lulu do a lot of damage over time thanks to the items they get. They can easily get first tower if you let them push you in.
- While Twitch has his Q, Janna will not be able to follow up if their Jungler ganks them. They need the wave to be in a suitable place where they can get ganks and be able to follow up if their Jungler comes.
- Twitch is not very strong unless he is ahead. It would be good to have the wave in the middle or closer on their side so he can farm without fear of ganks and the ability to set up ganks for his Jungler. As the enemy are quite immobile (even with Lulu’s E) they can set up ganks for their Jungler
Example Matchup: Miss Fortune and Zyra vs Vladimir and Soraka (reference timing: Levels 1-3)
Miss Fortune and Zyra: Need to push the enemy under their tower OR near their own tower
- This is a very strong lane duo with lots of poke. They want to push the enemy and have get them as low as possible.
- Because Miss Fortune and Zyra have insane damage and poke in the early game, they are able to zone and deny the enemy CS by freezing near their own tower. This is good against squishy enemies or enemies with sustain.
- This is a very good lane for the two of them and it’s going to be a fun one to play. You need to poke as much as possible and try to get them as low as you can. In this matchup, they will want to focus their main efforts in getting Soraka killed as Vladimir can dodge Zyra’s root and knock up with his W.
- Zyra is able to hug the bushes and launch her Root (E) at the enemy Soraka and try to lock her down. While this is happening, Miss Fortune can use her Q on a minion and make it bounce onto the Soraka to deal damage to her.
Vladimir and Soraka: Keep the wave even and in the middle of the lane
- This is a frustrating matchup for the laners because they have to constantly be able to dodge and disengage from the enemy. For the laners to succeed in this matchup, they need to not get caught out or over push the wave.
- If the enemy are pushing, you need to not let them take your tower early. Miss Fortune and Zyra are very good at snowballing their lead if they get one. One way of preventing them doing this is by keeping the wave outside of your tower range and ideally in the middle of the lane.
- Vladimir needs time to scale, so he must be able to get as much farm as possible. If you push, you will get denied by the enemy and get zoned of farm. It is crucial that they keep the wave in a position where they will not be denied nor will they have to use all their sustain to survive in lane.
- They lack any form of real damage in the early game. While they do have poke, they will not be able to match MF’s and Zyra’s or kill them without assistance. It would be beneficial if the two can try to farm it up until later on in the laning phase where they can get items and deal damage. It’s important for them to just farm up and try to dodge and not die.
Example matchup: Caitlyn and Fiddlesticks vs Kog’Maw and Lulu (reference timing: Levels 1-6)
Caitlyn and Fiddlesticks: Push, push, and push. Push the enemies tower and get kills
- This bot lane is one of the most frustrating to play against because of their early game damage and poke. Keep pushing and dealing damage to the enemy.
- Caitlyn outranges Kog’maw and can keep auto attack him whenever he tries to farm. Fiddlesticks also has a lot of damage and poke thanks to his ability to continuously poke the enemy down with his E.
- This bot lane duo can quickly push and keep it pushed thanks to their abilities and overall early game damage. They have great wave clear and should be no match for the enemy.
- Because they will be pushing frequently, they need to make sure that they have sufficient ward coverage around the lane to spot the enemy Jungler.
Kog’Maw and Lulu: Close to their tower, but outside of the tower’s range
- This scaling duo is going to have an incredibly hard time in the early game. They need time to farm and become strong, but they don’t want to be put behind by the enemy and get pushed under tower.
- They will be able to farm without fear of being ganked by the enemy or put behind by a cheesy Jungler.
- It’s important to keep it close and outside of tower range to prevent losing first tower while also being able to farm and not get denied or zoned by Fiddlesticks or Caitlyn.
- Avoid pushing at all costs and don’t let them push you into tower. Try to keep it outside of the tower range to prevent it from bouncing or resetting.
Tips and Tricks
- If you’re ahead of the enemy and you’re freezing, you can position yourself in front of the minion wave to deny the enemy farm and gold. If they overextend in attempts to get the farm, you will be able to engage on them. Make sure you check the map before you engage on them though because they may be baiting you into a 1v2 skirmish. For this to work, you will need sufficient warding and not fool for the enemies tricks.
- If the enemy doesn’t have any all-in potential in the first few levels, you can try a certain wave management technique for the first couple of waves and then start to freeze. You should only do this technique if the enemy Jungler won’t level 3 gank you and the enemy has no kill potential early. All you have to do is kill a couple of minions on the first wave quickly, then kill the second wave of minions as quickly as possible and make them bounce on the tower which will result in the minion wave being in a favorable position on wave 3 and level 3.
- If the enemy is trying to make the wave reset, you can meet it before it hits your tower and thin it down while taking it and then dropping aggro when your minions arrive. This will create a freeze and will allow you to deny.
- Cannon minions are jerks. They’re very trolly in lane and it feels like their sole purpose is to mess up your wave management! Freezing on a cannon wave is 50/50 and it can work in your favor, but also against you. Keep this in mind when you try to wave manage when they’re in lane – no seriously, these guys are dicks don’t trust them.
How to break the enemy’s Freeze
Freezing is a great way of achieving a lot of things and you will find yourself being frozen against often if you do not take advantage of the things we’ve said in this guide – like the Shrunken Head said in Harry Potter “It’s going to be a bumpy ride!”
There are two things that you can do to break the enemies freeze. The first is to overwhelm the enemy minion wave and the second is by requesting your Jungler to help break the freeze. The first option is much more viable than the second because it doesn’t require assistance. If your Jungler comes to help, your team might be losing pressure around the map and this could put your Jungler and other lanes behind.
In order for you to break the freeze on your own, you need to clear the minions and shove it into the enemies tower. This will make the tower reset or bounce the wave and let it end up in a much more favorable position. You do this by using your auto attacks as well as abilities to kill the enemy minions faster. If you’re in a poor matchup, this is going to be a very hard thing to do and you will need your Jungler to come and help you.
Another way of doing this is by forcing the enemy out of lane. Ideally, you will be able to push the wave and deal damage to the enemy as well, but if you do not have sufficient wave clear through AOE abilities and damage output, then you may have to go for the latter and try to fight the enemy. Beware, if you cannot either push the enemy out of lane or clear the waves quickly, you will need to request Jungle assistance.
5. The Slow Push
Compared to freezing, slow pushing is something that is done in the later stages of the game. However, in the mid lane, it is more commonly used during the laning phase so you can roam. Slow pushing is used to create big waves and apply pressure while you’re away doing something different.
This technique will allow your minions to take less damage, and as a result, your minions will be able to slowly push the wave to the enemies tower. This is because your minions will last longer and not die quickly because they will always have the numbers advantage over the enemy.
Slow pushing is a term that is used in this sense of gameplay because your minions will – even with the numbers advantage, still take some time to kill the enemy minions.
How to Slow Push
Slow pushing is very simple to understand and perfect. To slow push a wave, all you need to do is kill the caster minions in the enemies wave. You can do this with your basic attacks as well as using your abilities to take them down faster. Another way of setting up a slow push is just by having a minion advantage. Whenever you have a minion advantage over the enemy, the wave will slow push.
If the minion wave is crashing on your side of the map, you will need to have around a 2 or 3 minion advantage over the enemy, whereas if it’s crashing on the enemies side, you will need a 4 or 5 minion advantage. Basically, if the enemy has a total of 2 minions alive in lane, you want to have 5 if it’s on your side. If it’s past the middle of the map and on the enemies side, you want to have at least 6 minions alive for the enemies 2.
Why You Should Slow Push
Slow pushing achieves something while you’re not in lane and when you’re unable to do something yourself. You should slow push a minion wave so it can draw the enemies attention which will allow you to take an objective or be somewhere else on the map.
A slow-pushed wave can take down multiple towers if done correctly and if it is left unattended by the enemy. Sometimes, a slow pushed wave will not achieve much in terms of overall damage, but in some cases, it can. The pressure the slow pushed wave achieves is more than enough for the fact that it didn’t take anything.
Because the Baron and the Dragon are highly contested objectives are not usually sneakily taken after the laning phase, you need to set up a minion wave to be slow pushed which will allow you to apply pressure in one lane as well as the objective.
When To Slow Push
Slow pushing is a great tool to use in the later stages of the laning phase and during the mid and late game. Generally, you want to avoid using slow pushing in the laning phase (the early stages) because it will mess up your laning and it can make you miss out on CS and gold. It can also put yourself in a bad spot in lane where you will be denied CS, opening yourself up to ganks and overall, have an unpleasant laning phase except in the mid lane when it can be beneficial.You should look to set up a slow pushing wave when you want to:
- Roam And Help Other Lanes
- Before you go to help other laners, you need to have the lane slow pushing. This is a must do before leaving your lane as it will stop the enemy from pushing quickly and taking down your tower while you’re missing. Roaming is a very nice and effective thing to do and it can help your laners out, but leaving your lane in a less than adequate state will leave you in needing assistance.
- While you’re gone, make sure to frequently check back at your lane to see what the minions are doing and where the enemy is. If they are pushing it back quickly, you will need to return to lane as soon as you can.
- Recall to Pick Up Items
- In the mid and late game, if you want to Recall, you should slow push the wave in order for it to start forming a big wave which will eventually start applying pressure to the closest objective. You only want to slow push to back if you’re in the later stages of the game and not in the early game, in this case, you want to fast push, not slow push.
- It’s a good idea to slow push the wave before leaving rather than leaving the wave to do as it pleases. If you leave the lane to slow push, it will get big and continue growing while until it is cleared by the enemies. If it’s left unattended, then the wave can take down a tower and will continue to do so until it’s contested. You do not want to slow push in the laning phase to Recall and pick up items.
- Make Plays Around The Map
- If you’re looking to pressure objectives like the Dragon, Rift Herald or the Baron, you need to set up a slow push before leaving your lane. Slow pushing in this situation is good because you will be able to catch the wave and continue applying pressure when you return.
- In the early game, you need to make it less obvious that you’re taking an early game objective (such as Rift Herald or the Dragon) which you can do by setting up a slow push and then leaving for the objective.
- Once you take Baron, you need to catch the wave and apply pressure to the closest tower. If you do not slow push the wave before leaving to take the objective, the enemy may push the lane and start taking your towers while you’re busy being occupied. This could also swing the advantage in the enemies favor and give them a chance to get back in the game.
- Set Up Large Minion Waves
- We’ve said it already, but here it goes again. The huge minion waves that you see in the LCS and in Solo Queue are all started by a player slow pushing the wave or a minion wave having an advantage.
- If a slow pushed wave has been growing in numbers, it will need an enemy to go and clear it once it gets to the tower. During this time, your team could pressure the objective and try to take it why the enemy goes to clear the wave. A good time to do this is as soon as it starts attacking the tower.
- Fighting like this will make any fight 4v5 as an enemy will be missing trying to clear the tower.
6. The Fast Push
Fast pushing is a term that is used in League of Legends to create immediate and attention seeking behavior that needs to be addressed quickly by the enemy. Without this, enemies could take liberty and be gone for a long time without missing much. Fast pushing is used to force the enemy to return to lane.
There are two types of fast pushes in League of Legends. The first, and something we won’t really go into detail about, is clearing the minion wave. This is what most people do when they hear the term “push.” It is a very useful thing to do when you want to clear a minion wave quickly and make your minions move around the map. It will allow your minions to get to the objectives quicker as well as they will not be stopped by a minion wave.
The second type of fast push is used when you want to Recall or leave lane. We will go into more detail about this subject briefly. The two types of fast pushing are both really good at denying the enemy minions and force them to come back to a lane.
How To Fast Push
To fast push a wave you need to kill all the melee minions (the front minions) as quickly as you can as well as any cannon minions in the lane. You should use your auto attacks as well as your AOE abilities to make the wave clearing quicker.
Fast pushing requires one thing – more minions. The more minions you have compared to the enemies, the faster and more powerful the push will be.
When To Fast Push
Fast pushing is a good tool to use when you want to achieve something quickly. It is good to have at your disposal to grow a minion wave quickly which can allow you to get certain things done fast.Here are situations where you’ll want to fast push:
When you want to dive the enemy under tower
- When you want to dive the enemy, you should have as many minions around you as possible to help tank the tower shots and also help you deal damage to the enemy. Because of the way minions work, if the enemy auto attacks you once, they will also start taking minion damage which works in your favor.
- If the enemy lacks wave clear, you can pressure them heavily with just the advantage of minions by itself. If they do not respect you and are greeding for minions, then you can threaten to dive. If you have your Jungler nearby, you will be able to dive them.
If the enemy has left lane to base
- If the enemy has been forced to Recall or has died after a fight. You should fast push the wave so it pushes to the enemies tower. Doing this will allow you to deal damage to the enemy tower and apply pressure to it. Also, letting the wave bounce will leave it in a good place for when you finally come back to lane after Recalling. This can also draw the enemy Jungler to the lane which will potentially relieve some pressure on the other lanes.
- Generally speaking, in this situation you want to bend the rules to fast pushing and instead, fast push but continue auto attacking the remaining minions to make the wave move quicker. If the enemies back, you want the wave to go push under their tower so it resets.
- If the enemy has Teleport, a short death timer, or if you lack any form of wave clear then you will struggle to push the wave quick enough. Your goal is to make the wave bounce or reset in the middle of the lane. Depending on how many minions your wave has, the longer the tower will take to kill them and this may make the wave bounce and not fully reset.
- If your minion wave has a few minions, pushing is good and the wave will fully reset. If you have a lot of minions, your wave will not reset and instead, it will bounce.
- Before you think about pushing the wave in this situation, think about these things:
- Do I have time to push? Can I push quick enough? Is the wave too big?
- If the answers are no, no and yes, then you have one option on what you can do. You should make the wave slow push towards you.
- To do this, thin the wave down, kill all the enemy melee champions, and leave a few enemy ranged minions and then Recall. It will slowly push towards you but not quick enough for the tower to clear them. The number of remaining minions depends heavily on where the wave is; the closer to your tower, the more enemy minions you need alive.
- As fast pushing is used to apply immediate pressure and to punish the enemy, it is highly beneficial to start fast pushing when the enemy has left lane. If the enemy has gone to roam, or has Teleported to another lane, you should immediately start to fast push the wave.
- After you’ve started the fast push, you have 1 of 2 options. The first is to continue pushing in attempts to get the tower. This is a good thing to do as it will allow you to get something out of it and it may also make the enemy return back to lane quickly, or it may make the enemy Jungler come and stop your push.
- Alternatively, you can follow the enemy as the soon as you’ve started the fast push. This can be good as you can make any trade even but is also quite dangerous as you may not be able to follow the enemy when they leave your lane. The enemy may also be baiting you- so keep that in mind.
- *Before starting to fast push, make sure that the enemy has not baited into you ruining your wave management technique. Before choosing to fast push, leave it for a few seconds to make sure they’re not baiting you.
- When you want to help another lane
- During the laning phase, you may notice that one of your laners is having a rough time and is losing lane. One gank can help them out, but many Junglers feel obligated to help them.
- In the current meta, which involves a lot of skirmish and snowballing, you should try to help out your other lanes when applicable. It is important to note that you should not put yourself behind while you try to help out an ally. If they are a “lost cause” then just keep applying pressure and win your lane.
When you’re trying to get a lane pushing, you can do something that is called “wave clearing” or “killing the wave.” It has many terms and they all mean the same thing – kill all the minions as quickly as possible.
If you are wanting to back but also want the wave fast push quicker, you can leave the 3 minions alive, and then proceed to walk up to the next reinforcement wave and completely destroy all the minions. This is best done when you’re ahead of the enemy or when the enemy is either dead or out of lane and nobody is able to contest you.
This will allow the wave to get deeper into the enemy’s territory meaning that somebody needs to stop it which gives you time to move around the map after Recalling. This is also giving your team time to take an objective or achieve other things.
Pushing like this is best done when you’re full health and not subjectable to ganks or likely to get killed. It is a relatively risky thing to do because you will be overextended and over staying in lane to make the wave start pushing.
Fast pushing is something you need to do to punish enemies and create a noticeable difference in gold and experience. When the enemy is not around, you need to abuse the fact that they’re not there and get yourself as much gold and experience as you can.
7. The Ideal Lane Phase for Every Role
We’ve talked a lot about all the different types of wave management there is in League and we’ve already given you some examples. Playing and finding matchups and knowing what you can do during the laning phase is key to understanding wave management fully. In this section, we will talk about what you can be looking to do during the laning phase to help you achieve more in terms of wave management.
All of the wave management techniques we’ve listed in this guide are applicable to the top lane. There are many reasons why the top lane is the best lane and most successful lane to use wave management methods on. One of the main reasons is that there are mostly fighters and tanks played there. Another reason is that you’re usually isolated – there’s only one champion to worry about outside of the occasional gank.
- When trying to make a Teleport play or when you’re trying to help another lane out, you need to apply a fast push to the lane. This will benefit you in a few ways. First of all, the Top laner will have to respond to the wave otherwise he will miss out on gold and experience that may put him behind in lane. If the enemy laner does stay in lane to pick up the CS, he will be unable to contest your teleport or roam that makes your side have the numbers advantage.
- If you want to take the Rift Herald with your Jungler, you should set up a slow push. This will allow your lane to be pushing and doing something while you’re gone. If you do not push and instead have the wave frozen (for example) the enemy will be able to apply pressure to your tower whilst you’re gone to take the objective.
While knowing how wave management works directly for Junglers isn’t going to help you too much, it can, however, impact you as a player by knowing when you can gank an ally. One of the most frustrating things any laner can experience, and Junglers too, is when the lane is not in a position to be ganked or when the Jungler doesn’t come or comes at the wrong time.
- Unless you can dive the enemy, you may be unable to gank any lane that is pushed up. Instead of wasting your time, you should spend it farming or looking to take other objectives. If a lane is even, you may be able to gank it and if your allies are freezing, you will also be able to gank them.
- If your ally is being pushed under their tower and is having a hard time when they try to farm, you will need to help them out. You will probably be unable to kill the enemy unless you can 1v1 them because your laners may be unable to follow up. Try to relieve pressure, and do not expect to get the kill – so don’t flame them if they can’t follow up!
- After a successful gank, you should help push the wave and apply pressure to the tower. Depending on the length of the enemies death time, you may be able to take the tower. A tower in the early game is more important than most drakes, so try and get the first tower when you can. With that said, if your ally doesn’t want the lane to be pushed- do not push it. It may ruin their laning experience and might make them mad. Unless they specify not to push, push the wave if you can.
As the middle lane requires a certain different type of wave management, you need to be prepared to adapt to each situation. The middle lane is by far the easiest lane to gank and the most difficult to manage the waves in.
- Before going to help any lanes out, you need to shove in the minion wave. Like the top lane with TP plays, you need the lane to be pushing so it doesn’t push against you while you’re gone. This will also prevent the enemy from following you until they’ve cleared it
- If the enemy team has a champion who is notorious for level 2 ganks, be prepared for it. Do not push or overextend as they will gank and continue to camp you if they know you’re behind.
- Because the mid lane is arguably the easiest to gank and snowball, most of the time you will want the wave to be closer to your side of the lane rather than the enemies. Doing so can prevent enemy ganks, it can set up your Jungler to gank you, and it can prevent the enemy from engaging on you.
- When playing as a champion who shoves in early, have good map awareness and ward coverage to prevent any cheeky ganks from the enemy.
The bottom lane can find huge success in the laning phase when they manage waves properly, such as by getting early objectives and snowballing their lane. In the bottom lane, there are at least 4 champions at all times. This makes wave management more difficult to control so keep an eye on what all the players are doing and where they’re positioned in the lane.
The bottom lane has many different champions and many different play styles which makes describing what to do in every situation slightly more challenging. At champ select, try to choose a lane where you have good synergy between the ADC and Support. In a lane with little to no synergy, you will find yourself struggling to control waves as efficiently.
For example, if you have a Support who needs to hard engage, you should not be playing somebody who wants to push the enemy under tower as it will make them relatively useless in the early stages of the game.
When playing, you need to find an area to have the wave that benefits both the ADC and the Support. That means you need to not put each other in a position that will put them at risk. With that said, there is a sort of risk vs reward with wave management. If the reward is worth the risk, you may be able to push the lane to the limits.
As an ADC, you will usually be dictating the lane in the laning phase. This is because you will have more control over what you want to do. As the Support is all about engaging, protecting and fighting, you will need the wave in a more favorable position which allows them to do what they need to do, and you to do what you need to. In every matchup, you need to play your lane to your advantages.
- If you have a poke Support, it would be beneficial if you pick a champion that can also poke the enemies. This will allow you to make any lane a kill lane and allow you to apply high amounts of pressure to the enemy laners which in turn, will allow you to win lane and snowball your advantage.
- If your Support dies, try not to push the wave. Instead, let it come towards you and try to freeze it outside of your tower. Letting the wave freeze near your tower will allow your Support to pick up XP and CS that he missed. This will prevent them from falling too far behind.
- When your Support is missing in action, you have to keep the wave frozen outside of your tower. If you push, the enemy will be able to deny and zone you. Look to keep the wave outside of your tower though so they cannot dive you either.
- When behind and having an unlucky laning phase, you will need to catch up in farm. To do this, keep the wave frozen on your side of the map near your tier 2 tower. Avoid pushing at all costs because you will get denied and not be able to catch up. With that said, be prepared to roam and group.
As the Support, you have to act fast and be able to know what your ADC is thinking when it comes to wave management. As the ADC usually dictates the laning phase and where they want to keep it, the Support needs to help them in order to make it easier.
- If the ADC wants to freeze near their tower, your job as the Support is to hold the wave outside of the range so it doesn’t get pushed under your tower and reset. You need to hold it until the next minion wave comes. Alternatively, if the ADC wants to thin it down, you should help and if they want it to reset- you need to also help them.
- If the ADC wants to back and Recall or he wants to push the wave, you need to also help him do that. Continue auto attacking and (when possible) use your abilities to get the push going.
- Before you roam to help other lanes, make sure your ADC is going to be safe and not get killed while you’re gone. In most situations, if you’re not ahead but are even, he will want it froze outside of his tower. If you push the wave, the enemy will be able to deny your ADC which will put him behind as he won’t be able to farm. If the ADC stays under tower, the enemy may be able to dive him or take the tower.
- Roaming is super situational and going at the right time is key. You need to be on the same page with your ADC and not leave them alone if they’re going to die. To prevent them from getting killed, leave them in a good spot where they won’t get killed or denied.
8. Important Laning Phase Tips
We’ve talked a lot about techniques and when to use them, as well as what you can do to help yourself get a better start in game. Now we’ve come to a section that is slightly out of the usual context of wave management, but nonetheless, it has a significance to the subject.
Leashing for your Jungler
In most games, the Jungler requires some assistance in order for them to have a healthy clear. It is usually left to the Bot laners to help them out. Whenever you leash for your Jungler, you have to keep in mind that you need to get to lane as soon as you can in order to start farming and getting experience.
You should aim to leave no later than 1:37/1:38. If you leave later, you may miss out on some of the minions which will give the enemy the experience advantage over yourself which can allow them to hit level 2 and level 3 before you.
If you’ve invaded and stolen one of the enemies buffs, you will need to leave slightly earlier in order for you to not miss out anything. The latest you should leave is 1:33. This still gives you some time to help your Jungler out, but you really need to get back into your lane so you can start getting XP and gold. Just because your Jungler stole a buff and you put the enemy Jungler briefly behind, you do not want to end up being the weak link of your team.
Levels 1 to 3
Throughout the game, you need to keep an eye on your experience bar and have an understanding of whereabouts you and the enemies are in terms of experience. You will benefit from knowing roughly at what times you will be hitting major level such as level 2 and 3.
In the top and middle lane, you hit level 2 after the first 7 minions have been killed. This is the first minion wave followed by 1 of the melee minions on the second wave. If you kill one of the ranged minions first, you will not hit level 2. In the bottom lane, it’s slightly more as there are two players. For the Support and ADC to hit level 2, they will need to kill the first 9 minions in lane which is the first minion wave followed by the next 3 melee minions. If you kill 2 melee minions and one ranged, you will not hit level 2.
There are exceptions to this rule though. When playing as or with a Mordekaiser, realize that his passive grants him solo experience so he will hit level 2 as if he was in a solo lane. But for the Support, you will hit level 2 with 9 minions.
In the solo lane, you need to kill the first two waves and then the next 3 melee minions on the third wave. In total, this is the first 15 minions in the game. To hit level 3 in the bottom lane, you will need to kill the first 3 waves of minions (the first block) and then the next 3 melee minions on the fourth wave. In total, this is the first 22 minions in the lane. Note that you do not have to last-hit any of the minions- but it would be better if you did!
Ideally, you will be able to hit level 2 and level 3 before the enemy. Having the level up over the enemy champion also benefits your Jungler. With Scuttle Crabs needing to be taken as soon as they’re up and frequently being contested, having the level advantage over your enemy laner will allow you to rotate and help your Jungler out if they need it. Wave management in this situation is also important because you do not want to be pushed under tower where you’re unable to follow and help your allies.
Why a level advantage is important
Whenever you have a level over the enemy, you’re giving yourself an advantage in lane that can help you get a multitude of things. Firstly, the enemy has to respect you otherwise you will be able to engage upon them and hurt them. Secondly, you will be able to zone the enemy of off farm, and thirdly, you will be able to have more abilities than the enemy champion – especially at levels 2,3 and 6.
Whenever you hit a level advantage over the enemy, you should be prepared to engage on them or at the very least, put yourself in a position where you might be able to attack them. Hitting level 2 and level 3 first can also allow you to deny the enemy the level up for some time in some cases – especially when you’re against a scaling champion as an early game champion.
Every champion also has level power spikes, and each is different for many champions, but researching and having good knowledge on your champions logistics and dynamics will allow you to know when they are strong and when they are weak. Playing around your strengths and playing through your weaknesses builds character and makes you a better player. Many people don’t know when there champion peaks let alone how to abuse their strengths. Check out our article on power spikes for more on this.
Zoning in Lane
Our main focus has been on how to perfect wave management and how you can use it in every game. Unfortunately, we haven’t really talked about zoning and how you can win lanes just by zoning the enemy off a wave.
Zoning is where you stand in-between the minion wave, or in an offensive position in the lane where you could potentially poke or fight the enemy. Zoning is not just fighting the enemy, it’s also about applying mental pressure on them and making them respect (or even fear) you.In this picture, we can see that I have the advantage in lane. If Gangplank wants to be able to farm safely, he has to avoid pushing the wave. As he has been pushing the wave, I can proceed to walk up and put myself in a position where I can poke him down and try to fight him if he tries to farm.
If I was to not put myself in a position such as this, he would be able to continue pushing the wave and I would be unable to freeze the wave myself. Also, as he would want to stop my freeze by clearing the wave quickly and letting the wave bounce – I was preventing this by standing in an offensive position. In this specific example, I was receiving unwelcomed pressure from the enemy Jungler and was finding it very frustrating laning against the Gangplank because he was playing so passive.
When you try to zone an enemy champion, you need to keep a few things in mind. Firstly, you must have the advantage or the ability to out-trade them if they decide to fight you. If you do not have this advantage, you can’t really zone them. Secondly, you need to have good ward coverage so you do not get caught out while you’re overextended.
Zoning as a whole is a great way of getting poke down on the enemy and denying them CS.
The Level 1 Pull
You may have seen a level 1 pull in some of your games where one player goes into lane early and pulls the wave slightly towards the enemies side of the lane. This allows the minions to be slightly further up in the lane. The technique is good to manipulate the wave and have it start of pushing towards you on the following waves. Check out how the Jhin, in this video by Andrew VII, pulls the minions to have his wave start close to the enemy turret:
This will help you set up early ganks for your Jungler when they are level 3. For example, if your Jungler started bot side and your bot lane leashed for him, doing this method will make sure the minion wave is on your side of the map when the Jungler hits level 3 which can help you get your lane snowballing.
While not strictly for the laning phase, we’ve decided to include it here as this guide is getting pretty big and we needed to touch upon the subject of split pushing.
Split pushing is a helpful tool to use when attempting to take objectives while your team is doing something else. Working with a slow pushed wave can allow you to take down towers and apply pressure to objectives. Having a slow pushed wave also has the added benefit of growth so even if you do not catch it and apply pressure with it, it can still grow in size and take an objective on its own.
Split pushing is a very big subject and we’ve already made a guide on it beforehand. If you want to check out our Split-pushing guide, click here.
Having an idea of what all your waves are doing and where they are on the map is very beneficial in learning about wave management. Here’s a good tip for you…
Because of the way minion reinforcements work, if a wave is even on any side of the map, it will eventually start slow pushing towards the enemy. This is because the reinforced minions will arrive quicker compared to the enemies. This means that, if a wave is 6 minions versus 6 minions fighting to the death and they’re past the halfway point of a map, it will start pushing for that team and it will grow in size.
If you don’t want this to happen, make sure that you always have a 4 minion advantage over the enemy in lane so it will keep pushing while you’re gone.
We haven’t really touched on warding in this guide because it wasn’t our main aim. However, when you are pushing at any point of the game, or when you’re using any type of wave management technique for that matter- you need to have efficient warding.
Pushing, freezing and trying to deny or zone the enemy is done at great risk without proper ward coverage. Make sure that you have wards around your lane and around the map when you try to use wave control techniques. Vision is super important and without it, you will end up killing yourself or getting yourself killed which then will make you farm drop and all your efforts of wave manipulation go to rest.
9. Cheat sheet
There is a lot of in-depth and highly detailed information that we have presented in this guide and we are not sure if everybody understands all the terminology that we’ve mentioned. As this wave management guide is aimed at everybody, we needed to have a sort of “cheat sheet” where we can give you some extra information about the terms we used in this guide to help you have additional understanding or use for review.
Slow Pushing: Slow pushing is when you make the wave slowly push towards the enemies objective by killing just the caster minions (and the cannon minion if there is one) in the wave. This will make the wave slowly push towards the enemy. As the melee minions are hard to kill, it will take time for your minions to kill them – this is how the slow push is formed.
When a slow push is not contested by an enemy champion, the wave will grow very large and take down objectives.
Pro Tip: Slow pushing is best when it’s set up a few minutes before a major objective is about to spawn. Depending on the starting point of the slow push, it will start pushing into the enemies side when the objective spawns giving your team time to take the objective or fight the enemy 4v5 or 5v5. If you fight the enemy and lose, they will only be able to take the objective and you will not lose any towers as the minion wave will not be in the enemies favor.
Fast Pushing: Fast pushing is when the wave quickly moves forward towards an objective. The wave needs to be answered by the enemy for it not to deal damage to the tower and reset the wave. To start a fast push, you need to kill all the melee minions in the lane. Ranged caster minions are easy to kill, so the wave will push quickly as your minions will not have to kill tankier enemy melee minions.
If a big fast pushing wave is being pushed against an enemy objective, the enemy will have to answer it or they will lose an objective.
Pro Tip: If the enemy has grouped and you’re split pushing, as soon as they are all shown on the map, fast push the minion wave in order for the enemy to answer you – then proceed to escape.
Freezing: Freezing is where you only auto attack the minions as soon as they’re about to die at the latest possible moment. To effectively freeze, you need to also match the enemies damage on the minion wave: if they auto attack a melee minion, you also auto attack a melee minion. For a successful freeze, you need to have an even number of minions in lane in order for it to not push in either direction.
The number of bonus enemy minions in a wave is the number of waves you can successfully freeze for. If there are 5 bonus minions in a wave, you could potentially deny the enemy at least 35 minions from the enemy.
Pro Tip: In the early game, you may be unable to zone or tank the minion wave. If you cannot tank the enemy minion wave, you will need thin it down to make it more bearable. You may also be unable to zone the enemy champion from the minion wave in the early game as you lack damage and sustain. Keep these in mind when you try to freeze in the early game.Holding the wave / Tanking the wave: This is where you or an ally holds the minion wave in a certain place to prevent it from pushing in either direction. Holding a wave can be done by Junglers and Supports when helping their laners out.
The only time you want to hold a minion wave is when it is outside of your tower’s range. The bigger the wave, the more damage they do and the harder you will need to tank. Keep this in mind and try to not hold a huge wave for too long. If you cannot hold a wave for long, you will need to thin the wave down to make it easier to tank.
Pro Tip: Do not stand around tanking minions for too long. If holding them reduces your health by a good portion, you will be putting yourself at added risk from the enemy which may allow them to dive or fight you and break your freeze.
Zoning / Denying: When you deny or zone an enemy champion, you put yourself directly in front of your minion wave or in the middle of it to prevent the enemy from last-hitting or being able to farm. When you zone an enemy champion, you need to be a threat and be prepared to engage and fight the enemy champion if they try to farm.
Pro Tip: Only zone if you can contest and fight the enemy if they try to farm or break your Freeze. If you cannot fight the enemy or deny them when the freeze is happening, you will be unable to zone them efficiently and it may get you killed.
Resetting the Wave / Bounce: Making the wave bounce is when you push the wave to the enemies tower. The wave will be killed by the tower, and then it will bounce off of it and then reset itself. The minion wave will either land close to the enemies tower or reset itself in the middle of the lane.
Depending on how many minions you push under the enemies tower, the longer it will take for them to die by firing squad. If few minions are pushed, then the wave will reset. If there are many minions, the tower will most likely bounce after some time.
Resetting a wave is a good way of forcing the enemy to miss out on farm and experience after they’ve Recalled or died. You will usually use this wave management technique just before backing.
Pro Tip: A wave will usually bounce off a tower first time around, if you kill and push the wave after it bounces, it will then reset. Trim the Wave: Trimming a wave is where you kill off some of the enemy minions to make the wave more bearable and prevent it from spiraling out of control. You will need to trim a wave down to use any sort of wave management technique; from fast pushing to slow pushing, to make any wave management tool work you have to trim down a wave.
Unless you can tank a minion wave without losing a good portion of health, you will need to trim the wave down to make a lane freeze. Remember that you need to keep extra enemy minions alive when freezing closer to your tower for it to stay there.
Pro Tip: When trimming down a wave, make sure to take the cannon minion. This will prevent the wave from pushing if you want to freeze, and it will also prevent the wave from taking to much damage.
Wave Reinforcement: Wave reinforcements are the next waves coming to lane. Every 30 seconds, a minion wave spawns and starts running it down. After a period of time, they will catch up and get into the action.
Pro Tip: If you don’t know where the enemies wave is, look at your map to see where your minion wave is – their timings are identical.
Clearing a Wave: Clearing a wave is where you kill all the minions in the lane. If you kill a minion wave in its entirety, your wave will keep walking until it’s met by a tower or another enemy wave.
Pro Tip: You can use your abilities to clear a wave to make it quicker.
Pull the wave: Pulling the wave is where you have no minions in lane and you make the minions focus you. While they are focusing you, you can start walking into them and around the lane to prevent them from walking under your tower and killing themselves.
You will usually pull a wave into the start of the river, or into the bushes. You want to keep the hold for as long as possible until your minions arrive where you can then drop the pull and let the minions start focusing your minions.
You can drop minion aggro by leaving the minions range or running out of site: such as running into an unwarded bush.
Pro Tip: When pulling a wave, you may have to thin it down and kill a few of the minions if you’re unable to tank them. Make sure that you do not pull the wave for too long as you will take a lot of damage from the minions.
Even Minions: When a minion wave is equal in numbers. Typically in a 6v6 or a 7v7 setting.
Pro Tip: If a wave is even on your side of the map, it will eventually start slow-pushing towards the enemies tower. This is because your reinforcement minions will get to their friends before the enemies will as they are closer to them. This also works for the enemies side- if they’re on there, it will push towards you.
Conclusion and Finale
Wave management is a frustrating and complex subject to learn and teach because everything in this game is super situational and everything is very subjective on what you can do and when. Every situation has a million different factors that make any decision difficult to pinpoint and say, “Do this every time when XYZ is possible”. This is caused by many things such as champion choice, enemy laner, enemy Jungler and your allies. League of Legends is a very situational game, and you should try to adapt to every game.
With that said, we hope that we provided you with a little light and helped you understand what wave management is, when and why to do it, and how. Do not beat yourself up if you’re unable to grasp the concept of wave management in its fullest – experience plays a huge part in learning how to lane effectively on every champion.
If you have any questions or want to learn more, check out PicklePants stream.
Wow, well that was epic. We hope you found this article helpful for your climb, let us know if we missed any wave management techniques in the comments below. As always, you can find Picklepants in our Discord if you have any questions!