League of Legends 102: An Intermediate Guide to AD Carries
Play AD carry? Well here is an intermediate guide to help you proceed further in your gameplay.
If you have read our League of Legends 101 Beginner’s Guide, or have already been playing the game for some time, you may want some intermediate advice on how to advance your skills. The next step after learning how the game works is discovering how to improve your performance in specific goals. This guide will focus on the bottom lane, why the current meta-game calls for what it does, and how you can optimize your strategy to follow it.
Whether you win or lose the laning phase will give you advantages or disadvantages throughout the rest of the game’s stages as well. Coming out ahead in kills and farm can give you a significant edge over the enemy carry’s build, while losing can put you behind. Learning when to walk into harm’s way for a last hit, and when to let yourself get pushed away or zoned to avoid a death is not something that can be taught, but something that must be learned through practice. While repetition and experience are some of the most effective ways to improve your game, there are tips that can help you immediately as well.
Being aware of your lane is a very obvious skill that many players lack. Be mindful of where your enemies are at all times to avoid being taken off guard. Remain aware of the enemy support’s position especially if they have a form of hard crowd control, such as Leona, Blitzcrank, and Taric. Also be sure to know your auto attack range and how it compares to the enemy carry’s. If you have a longer range, you will find it easier to harass and farm from a safe distance, while a shorter range often means you need to position yourself as far away as possible while still being able to reach your last hits. Poking in and out of the lane can be extremely effective in a high-harass lane.
Hopefully your support is placing wards in the river, but if they are not, take it upon yourself to do so. While it does cost you, the 75 gold is worth your life every time it staves off a gank from the enemy Jungler. Even if you gain just a few creeps from remaining in lane, you have already earned back the expense. Once that ward is placed, be sure to keep an eye on the mini-map, or else the vision will not do you any good.
When you have an advantage in lane, either through range, harass, or flat damage, make sure to use it as well as you can. Any time that you can force your opponent out of lane deprives them of much needed gold and experience, giving you a bigger lead. Try to avoid one-for-one exchanges, however, as they offer little unless you are significantly behind the champion you kill. A better tactic is damaging them enough to force them back toward their tower, but resuming farm when you feel threatened instead of chasing within turret range. This being said, even when you are winning, try to avoid pushing the minion wave to the enemy tower, as it forces you to overextend to get farm, making you very susceptible to ganks.
One of the most valuable skills for an intermediate-level player to improve upon is their last-hitting and farming ability. Players at this stage have often not mastered the mechanic yet, and many underestimate just how much it can impact a game. While kills and deaths are often the predominant measure of which AD carry is in the lead, last-hitting two waves of minions effectively is often the same or even more gold than you would get with a kill. Of course, if first blood is up for grabs, or an enemy is on a spree, this will not be the case due to the bonus gold.
A great (though somewhat tedious) way to increase your farming skills is to play in a custom game without any enemy or allied champions. Go to bottom lane with normal items and farm using only auto attacks. A perfect creep score at the ten minute mark is 100, so getting as close to that number as possible is the ultimate goal. Do not be discouraged, however, if your initial score is in the twenties or thirties the point of the practice is to improve, after all. Farming uncontested will improve the way you last-hit in a controlled environment, which will ultimately help you when you have to lane against enemies. As a gauge for the effectiveness of this exercise, many professional players still do this on a regular basis to sharpen skills, including Doublelift, the AD carry for Counter Logic Gaming.
The second large improvement you can make as a carry is your positioning in team fights and even smaller engages. By nature, ranged carries tend to have lower health and defensive stats than many other champions do. While your defensive attributes are exchanged for offensive ones, they will not do you any good if you are instantly focused down and taken out of the fight. Staying behind your team's beefier players whenever possible is a good start to protecting yourself. Do your best to stay in damage range, or poke in and out of the fight if you cannot stay behind the tank line and do constant damage. A common tip you will hear from players in a constructive (or not so constructive) way is ‘Don’t focus the tanks.’ While this may make sense in theory, it is not always the most optimal strategy. Any time you have the opportunity to safely attack the enemy carries, by all means do so, but taking significant risk for one or two auto attacks is almost never worth it for your team. Sometimes, you simply cannot reach opposing carries without diving in past their tanks, and this is a nearly certain death sentence. If the only players you can reach are the tanks, then this is a better alternative than not being in the fight at all. If you can successfully eliminate one of the tanks, or make them back out of the fight, you will gain a much better opportunity to kill the offensive members of the enemy team anyway. This tactic can often be the difference between trading one death for one death, and securing one or more kills without cost to your team.
At this point, you may or may not have transitioned out of buying the shop’s recommended builds. If you have moved past this stage, you have probably taken advice from one of the many professional or amateur guides that exist in the League of Legends community. As an intermediate player, these guides are a great way to learn which items synchronise well with the strengths and weaknesses of each champion. Keep in mind that professional players have their own play styles and skills which may not exactly mirror yours, so what works best for them may not necessarily work for you. The best way to tailor a build to yourself as a player as well as to the specific game you are a part of is to remain flexible and experiment a little. If you find that you are taking heavy burst damage from their AP mid, or too much sustained damage from their AD carry, do not be afraid to delay your offensive items for defensive ones. Magic resistance and armor can be the difference between you staying in lane or a fight to gain gold and experience, and you dying before you get the chance.
As you get more used to what items work for you and make your champions strongest, watching professional streams and tournaments can often help you understand why each item works. Listening to a good caster analyse item builds can help you to specialise your build even more in the future. Sometimes, certain items can even help you to counter the enemy lane if you are losing. Learning about why items are built is even more important than following optimal builds exactly. Not only will it improve your ability to adapt, but it will give you a better understanding of the game as a whole.
Always remember that no guide is a substitute for practice and experience, but that many can give you a good idea at what skills to improve to become a better player. Good luck, and see you on the Rift!
Ambrielle 'KatanaMordecai' Army