This guide is meant to improve your laning phase by focusing on important aspects of winning trades in lane or getting free harass. These concepts apply to all divisions and leagues from Bronze 5 to Challenger. Practice these concepts and apply them in-game consistently.
When do I go to harass/trade?
Before committing to a trade (an exchange of damage) or simply lane harassment (damage on an enemy champion receiving none in return), evaluate the situation. If you will lose more than one creep kill while trading, it is not worth it in the long run. Yea you may get that extra auto attack and more damage, but losing that 30-40 gold will slow down your item spikes.
Generally if you have the opportunity to kill the enemy or harassing them while forcing them to leave lane, then it doesn’t really matter how many minions you kill. A kill's gold bonus is equivalent to getting 19 creep kills and forcing them out of lane delay’s their itemization. If you do force the enemy champion to leave lane, make sure you deny them creep kills. There are two ways to deny the enemy creep kills :
Usually you hard push the lane forcing it under their tower killing off your creeps so they can’t kill them.
If you can’t push fast enough for the tower to kill at least around 3 creeps before they come back to lane then try to freeze the lane near your tower killing the enemy creeps off at the very last second for them to kill off your creeps as fast as possible.
For those who do now know what freezing a lane is or how to do it, you simply wait until the last possible moment to kill the enemy creep and only attack the creep during this window; do not attack any of the creeps to do damage to bring them to low health, rely on your creeps to do the damage
How do I set up the harass/trade?
Now that we know when and when not to harass we can get into how to do it efficiently. There are two basic ways to force the enemy into a lose-lose situation while trading. Predicting what the enemy will do is the easiest way to outplay them, so what is the easiest thing to predict while laning? Last killing. All your enemies will try to last hit your minions when it is safe to do so. There are two ways to position yourself to come out advantageous in a trading situation:
Most of the time you will position yourself on top of the minion, the logic behind this is you force your enemy champion until a disadvantageous situation since they are force to attack you and lose the creep kill. Make sure the trade is even and you get off as much damage as them (or more since you are one step ahead in the thought process), this way you will always come out ahead since you denied them a creep kill.
If the enemy has a spell that does splash or AOE damage off cool down then it is better to position yourself right beside the dying ally creep to set up the trade. If you sit inside the dying creep and the enemy is smart, they will use the spell to get the creep kill and get free harass on you. By positioning yourself beside the dying ally creep, you force the enemy into making a rough decision: either getting the creep kill and taking free damage, or trading evenly with you and losing the creep kill, either situation you come out ahead.
Now of course these two situations will work well 100% of the time in a perfect setting. Sadly, not everything will go your way, so be aware of enemy spells while trading so you don’t take more damage, be sure to dodge all possible skill shots and to not over commit.
When do I stop the harass/trade?
Know when to stop trading, as soon as you attack the enemy champion, all of their creeps in range will focus their aggro onto you. In the early game, the minions do a significant amount of damage and will lose you the trade. Try to walk out of the aggro while you are trading and don’t take too many hits if you can’t. If the minions are still attacking you after the trade is over, walk into the nearest unwarded brush, if there are none nearby walk away from the aggro in the safest direction. Sometimes, especially in the early game, it is not worth it to trade even if the situation presents itself because the minion aggro damages you significantly.
What do I do after I win a harass/trade?
If you have kill pressure, all in for the kill if the outcome is worth it in the end. A rule of thumb for the all in being worth it is going 1 for 1 while you’re behind is worth it, going 1 for 1 when you’re ahead is not worth it, and going 1 for 1 when your even is only worth it if your champion out scales them as the game progresses or if you are close to a significant item power spike (i.e. tri-force on Corki).
If you have no kill pressure, then simply zone them out from getting any more creep kills. After you win the trade they will be hesitant, seize this opportunity to position yourself aggressively zoning them from getting creep kills while freezing the lane for even more denial.
Things to keep in mind while harassing/trading:
Now one important thing to keep in mind is your champion’s auto attack range compared to theirs. If their range is significantly longer it will be harder to put yourself in a position to go even during trades since they can always get the last auto attack during that window where you are out of range. In this case, only trade when they are mid auto attack animation of killing off ally creeps. If you have the longer range, abuse it and constantly zone them from killing creeps while it is safe to do so.
Another thing to keep in mind is if the enemy is putting themselves in a position to lose a trade, it is not always a mistake, they could be baiting for a gank from the Jungler, another laner or even a teleport.
Keep in mind these tips and guidelines and laning should be a lot less stressful for you. Practice makes perfect so you may want to try this in a bot game so you are prepared for a real opponent. Eventually after hours of practicing this laning etiquette it will become muscle memory and you will do all of this reactionary without even thinking. Good luck on the rift!
Author: Ryan Bones