The secrets of life, the universe and bot lane - Part 1
Sun 15th Jul 2012 - 8:36pm
Ah bot lane. The lane where the game is made or broken. The lane where people vie for the smallest of advantages. The lane of the most beautiful friendships or the darkest despises.
Today I’d like to throw on my analysis glasses and take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the various AD carries. I’ll be going over the various compositions we see dominating the lane, the way you play and counter these compositions and even some of the more unconventional bot lane buddies we occasionally encounter. Can anyone say Sunlight Slam-dunk?
Tristana is my favourite AD carry. One of the strongest and safest champions late-game due to having the highest range in the game late-game at 703, she can sit behind a wall and shred you to pieces. Not to mention she has two abilities that create distance between you and any bruisers that decide to hunt you down.
- Extremely strong burst in at levels 2, 4 and 6. Combined with a bursty support, can easily pick up kills in lane.
- Highest range and strongest AS steroid on a ranged champion in the game, at 703 and 90% respectively.
- Excellent lane pusher due to the passive on her Explosive Shot, which will damage surrounding minions when one of them is killed.
- Incredibly mobile due to her Rocket Jump, allows you to discard Flash in exchange for a different summoner spell.
- Tristana’s mid-game is far weaker than other AD carries because her burst damage is less effective and she doesn’t have the items needed for huge damage output.
- Needs to go all-in when trying to kill someone in lane which can be disastrous if an enemy jungler is lurking around.
- Impossible to freeze the lane as her passive on Explosive shot will constantly push the lane.
- Has very low base AD in comparison to other AD carries and so relies on abilities to outdamage enemies.
Supports with the most synergy
Leona – Leona Tristana is a high damage super aggressive lane. If you are caught by a Zenith Blade, you are consigned to lose ¾ of your health. Both champions are mobile and Leona will be able to protect Tristana from any gank attempts by a jungler. However, this lane depends on landing skillshots for damage (Leona’s Zenith Blade generally being the combo opener and Tristana’s Rocket Jump being her main damage source) so it’s advisable to run a mobile/peel composition against this, Graves and Janna being a good example.
Alistar – Alistar Tristana is another aggressive lane, similar to Leona. The difference with this lane is that they have a huge amount of position displacement – enough to fire you backwards into their tower at Level 6. Because of this setup, it’s nearly impossible to gank post-6. The best thing you could run against this lane would be a lane with a strong mid-game and a protective support like Janna or Taric.
Lulu – Slowed to oblivion. There is an incredible amount of poke in this lane, combined with the ability to go all-in on a seconds notice. This lane is impossible to run a sustain lane against, as the poke in combination with the healing reduction from Tristana is far too much for the sustain supports to keep up with. Against this lane, the best way to win is go aggressive yourself. A Graves/Leona combination is a great way to win, locking them down for an extended period of time and bursting them.
How to combat Tristana’s weaknesses
Tristana’s main weakness is her weak midgame. Unless you have managed to completely stomp your counterparts and racked up huge advantage, you’ll find yourself doing much less damage than other carries whose abilities scale of AD rather than AP. To mitigate the effects of this weakness, I would advise you to max Q after getting two points in both Explosive Shot and Rocket Jump. This trades some further lane domination after Level 6 for a much more effective midgame, with the effective equivalent of 1 ½ Phantom Dancers. In tandem with the Infinity Edge you should have as your first core item, you should find yourself doing as much damage in trades and teamfights as the enemy AD carry, despite your abilities being weaker.
Flash/Cleanse/Heal and Ignite.
Ignite is an excellent summoner spell for Tristana, as it increases the amount of burst damage she has and gives a total of 10 seconds of healing reduction against sustain lanes.
The choice between Flash, Cleanse and Heal depends entirely on the enemy you are against.
Up against an enemy lane that relies on an initiating CC skill? Take Cleanse.
Up against an enemy lane with large burst? Take Heal.
Up against an enemy lane with a jungler who is able to lock you down if caught (Alistar or Warwick)? Take Flash.
Ezreal is the favourite of a lot of Korean players. He is a high damage, high skillcap champion with the ability to win every trade in a lane when paired with the right support. He is mobile, has an incredible mid-game dominance but suffers from a noticeable lack of damage in the late-game because most of his abilities are skillshots and will be absorbed by the frontline in a teamfight. His abilities’ cooldowns are reduced when he lands a Mystic Shot, which allows him to reposition several times in a teamfight if the player is good.
- Has the ability to win every face-to-face trade in lane due to the AS debuff on his Essence Flux. People have recently begun maxing this over his Mystic Shot because of the trade potential it grants them. It also allows you to harass without pushing the lane, as Essence Flux doesn’t damage minions.
- Huge burst potential if all abilities are landed on a target.
- Tankier than most other AD carries due to his preference for having a Trinity Force on his person.
- Pretty much guaranteed to have a 50% AS steroid in teamfights after using his ultimate at the beginning of a fight.
- Loses a lot of damage output late-game because most of his abilities are blocked by the tank line in a teamfight.
- Vulnerable to being jumped on after he wastes his Arcane Shift.
- Can’t push very fast in comparison with most other AD carries as he has no other AoE clearing abilities apart from his ultimate.
- Pure skillshot dependant champion results in having a much lower DPS than other carries if you are not good at landing skillshots.
Supports with the most synergy
Soraka – Ezreal is one of the few champions that can be incredibly aggressive alongside a Soraka lane. Soraka is a support that practically screams “passive farming”, but Ezreal can make use of the sustain she has to completely harass the enemy out of lane. Every time the enemy AD carry goes for a CS, you can start poking him down. If they decide to jump on you, the armour buff from Astral Blessing in conjunction with the AS debuff from Essence Flux will make you untouchable.
When that happens, it’s the signal to jump straight onto your enemy and blow all your cooldowns on them, which will most likely take them out of lane. The best team to run against this would be Corki/Leona, as they can negate the effects of Soraka’s Astral Blessing and are both mobile champions who can switch targets fast.
Janna – Reduce the AS of the enemy and buff your own damage? Why not! Be prepared to take a lot of damage if you come up against this and pick a champion that scales into late-game better than Ezreal. It’s not possible to gank an Ezreal/Janna lane unless something goes horribly wrong, as this is a quintessential “We fight on our terms, when we like to” lane. The counter this, pick a composition that scales well past Ezreal or a poke comp. Kog’maw/Soraka is an excellent choice to go up against this, as Janna has no sustain to heal Ezreal up after Kog’maw’s great early harass.
Nunu – Remember when I said Tristana had the best AS steroid in the game at 90%? An Ezreal/Nunu lane can inflict a 100% AS debuff on an unlucky enemy, while increasing Ezreal’s AS to a potential 115%. Ezreal’s burst damage in conjunction with Nunu’s ultimate is huge as well, able to pull off an Empire move without even needing the assistance of a friendly Karthus. This lane is impossible to get away from without the use of Flash or a blink move as well if Ezreal decides to build an early Phage.
However, the weakness of this lane is that it relies on winning small skirmishes, which can be circumvented by using champions with large burst or lockdown abilities. Graves/Alistar is an excellent lane to run against this. Never run Soraka against this lane, or you will die.
How to combat Ezreal’s weaknesses
Ezreal’s late-game is what holds him back. Due to the fact that Ezreal is a hybrid autoattacker/AD caster and entirely skillshot dependant, it’s very hard to land your damage on the target you want in a teamfight as someone is going to intercept the projectiles before they reach your target.
There are two ways of trying to combat this – either attempting to capitalise on his extremely strong mid-game by building items that have a high potential during that phase, like Bloodthirster and Trinity Force or by attempting to increase his late-game damage by building like a regular AD carry with Infinity Edge and Phantom Dancer (or replacing the Phantom Dancer with a Triforce for a stronger transitional period), which eliminates the issue of losing half your damage because your spells aren’t getting through.
Flash and Ignite/Exhaust/Cleanse
Flash is a no-brainer. Along with his Arcane Shift, it provides an extra level of positional advantage and a second escape if under threat.
Ignite is a good choice when you have an aggressive lane and need the additional burst damage for that added spice.
Exhaust isn’t generally picked up by the AD carry anymore, as we’ve recently seen a change from supports running Clairvoyance and instead picking up Exhaust. However, if you don’t trust your support or you’re looking to go 1vs1 with a predominantly autoattacking dependant champion like Vayne, picking up Exhaust is an excellent choice. It’ll allow you to reduce your enemies’ AS for a long while and Ezreal Essence Flux can be used to prolong an AS debuff duration.
Cleanse is for when you are up against heavy CC oriented enemies, or a comp that relies on getting an initial stun for a combo like Leona.
Ashe was the very first AD carry ever designed and suffers slightly from outdated design. She doesn’t have a steroid, she doesn’t have a high-damage kit and she doesn’t have an escape. What she does have, is one of the best initiating powers in the game and the ability to kite enemies to their deaths while they despair. These facts in combination with her longer than average range make her a force to be reckoned with, especially if you have no gapcloser.
- 600 range - 50 more than most other AD carries as well as the ability to maintain that distance indefinitely.
- Only regular AD carry with a hard CC in the form of her global ultimate.
- Skillset entirely based around kiting enemies means she can kill enemies without ever being in range to take damage herself.
- Great initiating/counter-initiating abilities.
- Vulnerable to being bursted in lane as she has no escape from gapclosers.
- No conventional steroid results in lower than average DPS.
- Skillset entirely based around kiting enemies means she’ll be much weaker than other AD carries if you aren’t able to pull it off.-
- Lot of “bad” or hard matchups at this moment in time.
Supports with the most synergy
Soraka – Ashe/Soraka is a passive farm lane. Ashe is a great late-game carry, but has a hard time getting there because of a weaker early and midgame to other carries. Soraka keeps her safe from harassment and allows Ashe to farm up until she can make arrows made of pure gold.
Soraka also allows Ashe to harass back just as well as other AD carries, as Ashe’s Volley is on a 4 second cooldown and the only thing keeping her back from using it continually is the mana cost – incoming Soraka Infuse topping Ashe off endlessly. This lane suffers from a complete lack of escape and peel abilities however, so aggressive supports and gapclosers can wreck the passivity this comp entails. Corki/Leona is a perfect choice against his lane.
Janna – Pretty much the same thing as Soraka, a passive farm lane. However, Ashe/Janna has the bonus of being able to initiate fights as well as de-initiate at will. It’s very hard to dominate against this lane as Ashe slows in combination with Janna knock-ups/slows will punish you for the slightest mistake you make. At Level 6, you’re looking at a combined CC period of 2 seconds in addition to a permanent slow. This lane has very little sustain however, so they are vulnerable to constant poke which will run Janna out of mana and health. Corki/Lulu is an interesting lane to run against an Ashe/Janna.
Fiddlesticks – “Brittlesticks support!” I hear you cry. Just hear me out on this. Fiddlesticks and Ashe have an incredible amount of synergy. Their harassment can completely shut down their enemies, Fiddlesticks is able to keep Ashe safe from all-in burst comps like Corki/Leona by silencing the support and fearing the carry and at Level 6, a double ultimate combo from Fiddle/Ashe will result in a kill as Ashe’s constant slowing will keep enemies in range of Fiddlesticks’ ultimate for the full duration. The only flaw in this setup is the lack of sustain for Ashe, making her a prime target for poke damage.
How to combat Ashe’s weaknesses
Ashe has a weak early laning phase due to the lack of an escape, any burst or even a steroid. It’s a rare Ashe player than can play aggressive against an enemy player of equal skill on a champion like Corki or Ezreal for example. To help Ashe in this period of the game try and freeze the lane on your side of the map and just farm.
Defensive warding and a defensive support can win a game. During this defensive time, make sure to take every opportunity to get some harassment in. You have 50 extra range and the ability to keep that distance, so abuse it at every window. At level 6, start co-ordinating ganks with your jungler in timing with the cooldown on your Crystal Arrow to pick up some kills and make the mid-game that much easier for you.
Flash and Cleanse/Ghost
Flash gives Ashe a much-needed escape ability. Without Flash, she has no way of quickly removing herself from danger.
Cleanse is excellent with Ashe, allowing her to escape from any hard CC that someone jumps on her with. In addition to her kiting abilities and Flash, Cleanse should keep her safe from most bad situations.
Ghost is an excellent hybrid offensive/defensive spell. You can use it to continually chase down an enemy with Frost Shot activated, or you can use it to kite just that much more effectively.
Kog’maw is a squishy little corrosive ball of death. Huge mixed damage, highest range in the game and great lane control are offset by the fact that even the slightest puff of wind on Kog’maw will most likely take him down to critical health. One of the most versatile champions in the game, AD Kog’maw was only recently discovered and has since shown to be a dominating factor in many tournaments.
- %HP damage on his Bio-Arcane Barrage means that he can rush a Phantom Dancer instead of conventional damage items, giving him high damage and high mobility.
- Second best AD carry to deal with tanky line-ups, next to Vayne.
- Great control in lane and poke fights with his Void Ooze and Living Artillery.
- Potentially the highest mid-game damage from any AD carry.
- Strengths are reliant on having abilities available, loses a lot of damage and range when Bio-Arcane Barrage is on cooldown
- High mana costs make it hard for him to trade with champions in lane
- Incredibly squishy throughout the game and vulnerable to burst damage
- Will be zoned by burst composition in bot lane
Supports with the most synergy
Nunu – The quintessential Kog’maw support. Nunu’s Blood Boil works wonders with Kog’maw’s Bio-Arcane Barrage, allowing him to continually land the on-hit procs of 8%HP an attack. He’s also able to keep Kog’maw safe from stronger AD carries that want to trade face-to-face with him with his Ice Ball, as well as keep them in range for further Kog’maw poke. What he can’t do however, is protect Kog’maw from being bursted. As a result, burst champions like Tristana or Graves along with an Alistar or Leona are perfect to run against this lane
Janna – Huge physical and magic damage comes from this lane. The AD buff from Janna’s Eye of the Storm along with the % damage from Bio-Arcane Barrage will quickly leave the enemy in dire need of recalling. Along with the additional damage, Janna is able to do what Nunu is not and protect Kog’maw from burst champions. This results in Kog’maw being able to poke and farm to the point where he is far more effective than other AD carries.
There is no way to prevent poke damage in this lineup however, so running an Ezreal/Soraka lane and harassing until Janna is out of mana for shields is an excellent idea.
Soraka - As bored as I am to continually be putting Soraka on this list, she’s just so good. She’s able to keep Kog’maw safe and farmed up, letting him continuously poke once he reaches level 6 due to her Infuse. The magic shred on her Starcall is brilliant when used with Kog’maw predominantly magic based damage in lane. And to top it off, the defensive buffs she provides can keep Kog’maw alive through burst damage just like Janna. This doesn’t mean that Kog’maw is immune from burst though, so a traditional burst lane will still be able to force him to play defensive.
How to counter Kog’maw’s weaknesses
Kog’maw doesn’t have any real game-breaking weaknesses. He’s slightly weak in lane before a certain horizon point, at which he accelerates rapidly in terms of power. He also suffers from a range deficit when his Bio-Arcane Barrage is on cooldown. The only advice I can offer for these weaknesses is:
1 – Play defensive and constantly test your damage.
You are squishy as hell when playing Kog’maw. Until you reach the point where your damage is greater than the enemies’ damage by a fair amount, it’s unlikely you’ll win trades. Constantly try fighting small skirmishes until you feel you are in a position of power, then try and force that power for an advantage.
2 – Pay attention to cooldowns and try to communicate such with your team
Kog’maw is probably the only AD carry on whom you have to pay attention to ability cooldowns. The difference between 500 range and 710 range is huge and could cost you your life if you aren’t paying attention. Likewise, if your team initiates when your Bio-Arcane Barrage is on cooldown they could cost themselves objectives as you will be jumped on.
Flash and Ignite/Cleanse
Flash used along with Void Ooze will most likely give you an escape from any situation.
Ignite is useful if you want some extra burst damage or you’re playing against a heal lane.
Cleanse is good against a team with high CC, especially as Kog’maw. If you get CC’d, you’re likely to die unless you Cleanse out of the initiating skill.
Next article I'll be theorising about Corki, Graves, Draven and Sivir - and potentially one of the cheesiest lanes in the game
See you next time!