Skillshot Dodging and Over-Juking
Fri 13th Dec 2013 - 6:07pm: League of Legends
This the first in a multi-part article series on avoiding skillshots. Topics covered in this article include the various Types of Skillshots and Over-Juking.
In League of Legends, consistently hitting your skillshots is unanimously agreed to be a distinctive trait of a good player. There are two sides to every coin however; you need to be able to dodge incoming skillshots from your opponents as well!
The ‘mechanics’ behind juking are most often and best learned through practice and gaining actual experience in various high-pressure situations. However, if you’re like me and want to read up on whatever you can to get better, the lack of documented skillshot theory & juking advice is a bit of an issue. Theory and practice go hand-in-hand, both are useful.
I’m writing this article not only to try to get some of this information out there for players who are having trouble with this less-publicized mechanic, but also to concretely record some of the principles that I’ve been unconsciously following in the hopes of improving my own consistency. Many of the strategies I’ll be discussing might seem natural to you already - because you’ve learned them as you’ve played and employed them subconsciously - but reading about them might help make you more consistent at practicing your own techniques, and could open your mind to new way of looking at something which we often take for granted.
What exactly does dodging a skillshot entail, and how does one actually juke? Most jukes are simply small, twitchy movements to either side of the direction you want to travel in, intended to throw off your pursuer’s aiming. Juking is most often done when you lack a mobility skill or it is on cooldown. Now, there is indeed a nuance between dodging and juking (to juke is to force an error from your opponent, while dodging is to avoid a well-placed projectile), but I’ll be using them synonymously for this article. Later on, when this distinction becomes important, I’ll separate the two clearly.
I consider there to be 3 main types of skillshots: linear (Lee Sin’s Q, Sonic wave), conic (Chogath’s W, Feral Scream), and directed AoE projectiles (Galio’s Q, Resolute Smite). According to the League wiki, the latter is actually not considered a skillshot; but since the principles behind juking those are similar, I’ll be considering them as well for the purposes of this article. There are also vector (Rumble ult) and curving skillshots (uniquely associated with Diana’s Crescent Strike), which I will address briefly as well. Each one of these types of projectiles have its own nuances, both in using them as the aggressor and dodging them as the escape artist. However, there’s one core principle that all of them have in common.
In order to successfully juke skillshots, you must first have a basic understanding of the philosophies behind landing them. In essence, you need to understand what whoever’s trying to throw a projectile at you is thinking. To begin our main discussion, I first want to talk about a simple way juking can work against you – over-juking. Over-juking is a common error; recognizing and understanding it will help set the context for the dynamics of avoiding projectiles. Let’s jump into an example, breaking it down!
You’re being chased straight down mid lane by the enemy Lee Sin. You’re about 700 units away from him, and you know that Sonic Wave is a 975 range linear skillshot (let’s ignore his safeguard ability for now which could potentially gap close). You’ve got good room to throw a juke and dodge the projectile, so you start making small jerks to the left and right, trying to throw him off. However, Lee doesn’t throw out his Q; instead, since you’ve been losing much of the distance you had initially, he’s now in range to use Tempest/Cripple, slowing you and allowing him to land an easy Sonic Wave to pick up a kill. ;__;
What happened here? This is a classic example of a patient pursuer waiting for you to over-juke. An important thing to remember is that whenever you throw a juke, you’re increasing the time needed to travel to your point of escape - you’re no longer traveling the shortest straight line distance to the area in which you’re safe. This could be your tower, a teammate rushing to save you, or a maybe a line beyond which the opponent is no longer comfortable pursuing you.
Lee Sin knows that he doesn’t need to Q if you’re closing the distance for him; he recognizes you’re over-juking, and lands Tempest when he’s in range. There’s no need to even risk missing Sonic Wave when he can wait a bit longer, slow you, and guarantee a successful skillshot. Patience is an extremely important skill to learn when trying to land skillshots; there are numerous situations, with various champions and with several areas on Summoners Rift where it is more advantageous to wait a bit for your target to move into a position easier for you land your ability. Another great example, almost identical to Lee Sin’s, is in Blitzcrank’s chasing strategy. Keep trying to juke the hook, and you’ll eventually be in range for a knockup.
Hopefully this example primed the discussion on dodging skillshots and got you thinking. Remember, you’ve got to first consider how to land skillshots before you can start a juke with the best chance of success. In the next article, we’ll discuss what options the target (us!) has for counterplay.