The importance of a solo mid

Veigar.

I caught a game late this afternoon with a four-man premade. Everything looked good except that our fifth picked Yi. I asked him to switch and he went to Veigar. Not a great swap, but that stun is still better than Yi’s nothing.

This guy also wanted to solo. When I’m premading I try to make sure that one of us is always in mid because solo is so important. I decided that as TF I should probably take mid over Veigar. That was all well and good until I went to gank top, as TF is prone to do, and Veigar came middle. When I came back to resume solo farming, he wouldn’t leave. This stranded our Shen bottom alone and while I was top, my opponent’s mid, Annie, stayed and farmed. I was a level and a half behind her, but nothing I couldn’t fix by farming solo. Even after many requests Veigar wouldn’t leave. By the time Annie hit ten, he had just hit level six and proceeded to feed her two kills.

Things went downhill from there. With solo experience and three kills (sadly I died to Annie once early because I fell for a very nice cleanse bait on her part) Annie was hugely ahead. Veigar wouldn’t leave middle so I was falling behind and our bottom lane was losing traction. By the 14-minute mark we had lost five towers and were on the way to losing our sixth.

Nearly all of this could have been avoided had Veigar let me solo. The importance of a solo is not just easy farming. It’s about evening out the level advantage the other team gains with their solo. That’s the reason junglers are so strong – they create a level advantage in two lanes. By leeching XP mid, Veigar stole our level advantage and gave the other team a 2v1 opportunity to push a lane against our Shen.

This isn’t to say a 2v1 mid is a bad idea – it can work, but it needs to be done from the beginning of the game so that your own lane facing a 2v1 can get level gapped. If he’s given a 2v1 too late, it’s just a 2v1 and h’s probably going to get pushed.

Whenever you can avoid it, try not to lane juggle your mid. You need that level gap.

  

LoL: Throwing out the rules

TT Matchmaking.I’ve never been great at moderation – when I get interested in something I tend to be completely absorbed, which is why I usually only give my time to a single game at a time. That also means I want to get the most out of whatever game I’m hooked on, if only because I don’t focus my time on any other titles. For LoL that’s meant developing a set of rules for my playtime to hopefully maximize my enjoyment. I’ve written about some of those rules here – avoiding TT when I don’t have a full premade, trying to choose the best team comp possible, playing toons with strong CC – but the rules don’t always work. I had my worst losing streak a few weeks ago and I’ve been struggling to bring up my ELO ever since. I took a week off to visit with my family, but having come back, I realized I had to try something new – I had to throw out all the rules.

So far, I haven’t seen huge success. I’ve still had the mix of good and bad players, both on Summoner’s Rift and Twisted Treeline, but I think I’m having more fun. I’m playing some toons I haven’t played in a while, including Shaco, who I used to be completely addicted to, and trying to play some new strats to pick up some wins. I had forgotten how much I love Twisted Treeline – the pace is just so much more enjoyable than SR – which was easy to do with that last losing streak.

Moral of the story is this, though. When the rules stop working, it’s time to get some new rules. I could beat my head against a wall all day trying to play the most OP toons in the most favorable situations but the bottom line is that there are too many variables outside my control for the variables within my control to make much of a difference. I know I’m a solid player, and as long as I’m playing smart every game and focusing on assisting my team and farming as heavily as possible, I’m sure I’ll be just fine.

  

LoL: Sometimes you just have to turn and fight

Kennen rockin out. Since my recent Kennen winning streak it’s been tough to stomach losses, and I’ve had my fair share. In a few of the most recent encounters I’ve felt confident of the win but we managed a pretty severe loss. Our team comp looked great, but we just couldn’t initiate well and once we initiated it seemed everything went to hell.

Then I saw an encounter that explained to me a lot of our problems. We had just won a gank-turned-teamfight fairly handily. All five on our team were up with just two of theirs. We started to backdoor a turret because we were close and our creeps were on the way. Two of my own teammates were injured and when our two standing opponents made a show of defense, our whole team ran off. Luckily we were on Skype so I stood my ground, encouraging everyone to fight. We killed off one of the remaining two and pushed the turret.

It made me realize that sometimes you just need to sack up and fight. Early in the game it seems people are willing to take risks to get some kills, but once late game hits, everyone is so conscious of the consequences that you forego a number of chances to get an ace or simply win a teamfight and gain time to push.

In a more recent encounter, my teammates and I were pushing a turret on TT. We had already taken the bottom inhibitor and, though were low, we stayed to try to push. As our opponents slowly respawned, we fought back just to get aced. Over the course of our skirmish, though, we pushed their last remaining inhibitor turret down to just 15% health and their bottom inhibitor respawned and was subsequently killed by the wave of super minions our opponents weren’t there to stop. Sure, it sucked getting aced, but overall it was a successful push. We shackled them to their base for defense, respawned, regained map control and pushed for the win.

Long story short – don’t be afraid to fight, especially if you have a good initiator. If your team is standing around, drop Tibbers on the next person to get close. Your allies will get the message and go all in.

  

LoL: Kennen data for the haters

Kennen victory list.I can’t believe how many people think Kennen is underpowered. I just don’t understand. I’ve been playing him almost exclusively since the patch and I’ve been a dominant force in every single game. I could understand if I was playing at a fairly low ELO and noobstomping, but I know my stats aren’t so bad. Honestly, I’m just a few percentage points away from a high-ELO play if recent posts are to be believed.

Here’s a look at my last ten games as Kennen, all victories (yes, I finally pulled a nice winning streak). Several of them I did run with a premade, but for most it was either partial premade or solo queue.

Victory: 13-0-2
Victory: 5-0-2
Victory: 3-0-6
Victory: 13-2-6
Victory: 9-1-13
Victory: 10-3-10
Victory: 4-1-5
Victory: 10-0-4
Victory: 9-0-3
Victory: 13-2-3

Total numbers are 89-9-54. I’m averaging almost 9 kills a game on Kennen with less than one death per game. I’m sorry, I just don’t see how anyone could think he’s UP. I can’t wait to have this little ninja on my top 3 list.

  

LoL: Kennen Guide

Swamp Master Kennen.There’s been a lot of back and forth in the community about Kennen so I thought it would be appropriate to put together a full guide. I’ve fallen in love with the midget ninja and I’ve been playing him to great success in most every game I’ve tried. Kennen is one of the strongest gankers in the game and, when played well, provides excellent utility and killing power to a solid team. He will easily carry a team if his opponents allow him any kind of farm.

I build Kennen AP, despite all the claims of his poor AP ratios. Personally, I think his AP ratios are excellent, good enough that they might catch a nerf in the near future. For runes, I roll with magic pen marks, dodge seals, cooldown reduction per level glyphs, and health quints. I go back and forth on masteries but for this guide I’ll recommend a 9/21/0 build, taking the 15% spell pen from the offense tree and making sure to grab the extra health and the 4% damage reduction from defense. The rest is up to you.

For summoner skills I take Cleanse and Ignite, but Ghost, Exhaust, and Teleport if your team needs it are all good options.

Kennen is a very powerful farmer so I always like to take him mid solo. Grab a health crystal, get to lane, and get ready to farm. At level 1 I have 820 health, which is a ton for a mid toon. Most of my opponents are somewhere around 500, so I have a huge advantage early. I take Thundering Shuriken (his Q skill) first and focus on last hitting. At level 2 and 3 take one rank of your other skills to prep for your combo. Keep last hitting to get up a decent farm.

Kennen is an excellent harasser. I take Electrical Surge at level 2 so that I can keep my mark count on my target as often as possible. Whenever I have the chance I like to Shuriken my opponent. I’ll then use either the passive from Electrical Surge or the active to keep my marks up. The active has surprisingly good range and can be used any time a nearby target has a mark. Try to always have at least two marks on your target so he’s prepped for a gank. At level 3 you can start rolling with your combo. Without boots your opponent will have a hard time avoiding Lightning Rush. I try to get a stack or two on the target and then Lightning Rush in. The stun procs some extra energy so I can Shuriken again while I’m standing on top of my target and auto attack for some harass and hopefully another mark from the Electrical surge passive. The high early health pool allows me to soak a little minion damage and bring my opponents down to half health or so. Once you have your opponent to half health you should be able to get an easy kill. Again, work up two marks on the target while you farm, regen some energy, build up your Electrical Surge passive and Lightning Rush in. Your stun procs extra energy again and with an auto attack you gain a mark, Shuriken will net you a mark, set your ignite and then auto attack the target down. As they start to run away you should have plenty of energy for a quick Electrical Surge active for a second stun. This combo is your bread and butter until you have your ult. Obviously it relies on your ability to keep marks on your target, so get some practice, even on bots if you want.

For the rest of early game you’ll main Shuriken for the cooldown reduction and increased damage. I follow that with Lightning Rush, again for cooldown reduction and because the damage scales better for the early game than Electrical Surge. Obviously, you want to take your ultimate as often as possible and save consecutive ranks of Electrical Surge for the end of the game.

You should find it very easy to farm. In the mid lane it’s important that you only last hit. You want to keep your target closer to your turret so you don’t have to dive for the kill. I typically wait until I have 1400g, which should be around level 5 or 6, before heading back to base to pick up Haunting Guise and my boots.

At 6 your ganking power only improves. If you’ve done a good job farming your Guise will give the penetration needed for some early kills on targets with low magic resistance. Stack up a mark or two (preferably two) and Lightning Rush in. Once rush hits I Shuriken and start to auto attack for the duration of the stun, planting one mark on my target and dealing a little damage. Once stun ends (which is fast, don’t get me wrong), I pop my ult, which drops another mark and then Electrical Surge for a second stun. You may have to wait a second for the energy to Surge, but if you prepped your target correctly you should have a mark waiting on your Surge passive just in case. That combo alone will kill most targets at 6. Thankfully, you brought Ignite for anyone that might be a little more durable.
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