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10 Steps to Improve Your CS to Challenger Level

CS’ing is one of the most important factors in the early game lane phase. It’s simple, the more gold you have, the quicker you will obtain your items which will translate to doing more damage (or tanking more). Before we get into the steps, we must first understand creep waves. Minions initially spawn at 1:30 and meet the enemy minions at ~2:00. The minion waves spawn every 30 seconds with each minion wave consisting of 3 ranged (caster) minions and 3 melee minions, and every 3rd wave has a cannon minion as well.  So this comes out to be 19 minions every single rotation of waves, every 1 minute and 30 seconds. Assuming the average minion kill gives you 20 gold, that’s 380 gold every one and a half minutes, roughly a BF Sword every 6 minutes. So as you can see, getting as many creep kills as possible is crucial for gold income. To put things into perspective, a fed champion with a score of 5 kills, 0 deaths, 0 assists and 100 creep score at 20 minutes is equally as fed as a champion with 0 kills, 0 deaths, 0 assists and a 175 creep score. 

Now, the easiest way to improve your creep score is to practice in a custom game. Yes, I know that it’s boring and you rather queue up to climb, but do you think Team SoloMid Bjergsen’s elite cs’ing is a result of no practice in custom games?  Early game is the hardest to kill creeps due to lack of items so we will be focusing on practicing cs’ing during the first 5 minutes of the game. Because of our math earlier in the guide, we can figure out that the maximum creep score you can have after the wave at 5:00 is 38 (including travel time). Not everyone will cs perfectly and there are certainly things you cannot control such as ganks and Jungler taxing, but while practicing you want to aim for this number with an error rate of no more than -2. Once you completed a step a minimum 5 times with obtaining 36-38 creep score every time, you can move on to the next step. You can do all steps as many times over as you want if you want to keep improving, there is always room for improvement.

 A few things to keep in mind while practicing and cs’ing:

-If you are not sure whether or not your auto attack will kill a creep, simply left click on them and look at their health in the HUD. Creep armor is negligible so compare your attack damage to their health and you will know if you can kill it. 

-One of the biggest problems everyone has is cs’ing under their turret so here is a breakdown of how to do so efficiently in game and while practicing. When creeps hit your tower you can work with the tower shots to ensure you get the creep kill as follows (Note: this is focused for the pre-6 minute phase with starting items with starting AD above 45)

  • At full health, ranged creeps take one turret shot and one auto attacks, so AA à turret shot --> AA
  • At full health, melee creeps take two turret shots and one auto attack, so turret shot (x2) --> AA
  • At full health, cannon creeps... well to be honest I don’t have a definite answer for you here, they take 50% less damage to turrets and by practicing enough you will know when your auto attack will kill it and when to let it take another turret shot.

-Not all creeps will be full health when they hit your turret so judge accordingly and learn the health bars. You can even click on your turret and check its damage compared to the minions health for some quick mental math. After awhile it will become muscle memory and you will just 'know' when to auto attack. And if worse comes to worse, and there is no way to get the cs before it dies from either the turret or you being out of range/mid animation, use a spell to secure it, but this is the last thing you want to do since you want to conserve mana and cool downs for trades and escapes.

-When the creeps hit your turret this is the order in which they will be targeted (given that nothing is hitting you, if you are aggro'ed, the turret will hit whatever aggro'ed you first):

  •   Traps (Zyra plant, Heimer turret, etc.) --> Pets (Tibbers, Wukong clone, etc.)               --> Cannon creeps --> Melee creeps --> Ranged creepss --> Champions 

 So now that you have a basic understanding of how it all works, here are the steps to practice:

Step 1:

Load up a game with full runes/masteries, no enemy laner and normal starting items. This will let you focus on the timing of last hitting minions so you can get a feel for when to last hit. Nothing is more embarrassing than being in a lane completely alone with no threat and missing creeps. 

Step 2: 

Load up a game with full runes/masteries, no enemy laner and normal starting items. This time you have to move in between every auto attack by staying out of range of the minion wave aggro and only going in to cs when the creep is ready to be last hit. By doing this you practice cs’ing while being mobile and staying a safe distance. 

Step 3:

Load up a game with full runes/masteries, no enemy laner and normal starting items. On top of moving in between every single auto attack, you alternate between killing the minions as fast as possible in one wave to killing them at the last moment possible in the other wave. This is done to practice pushing and freezing lanes while getting all the creep kills. 

Step 4:

Load up a game with full runes/masteries, one enemy laner (bot or friend) and normal starting items. Do the same as step 3, this time there will be one enemy to harass and simulate pressure. 

Step 5:

Load up a game with full runes/masteries, two enemy laners (bots or friends) and normal starting items. Do the same as step 4, this time there will be two enemies to harass you harder and put on more pressure. 

Step 6:

Load up a game no runes/masteries, two enemy laners (bots or friends) and no starting items. Do the same as step 5, it will be a lot harder since there will be more pressure and damage coming from the enemies since they have a rune/mastery and item advantage. Also, you will have to practice hitting the creeps at the last possible moment since your ad will be significantly lower. 

Step 7:

Load up a game no runes/masteries, two enemy laners (bots or friends) and no starting items. Do the same as Step 6, but this time before you start an auto attack animation, press “tab” and look at the game information, look at the enemy’s items, who is fed/feeding, what kind of summoners they have, look at your HUD, teammates summoners and ultimate cool downs, look at the minimap and where everyone is (especially enemy Jungler), look at enemies cs, look at teammates health and mana, etc.  All of this will help deter you from tunnel visioning while cs’ing, it promotes map and game awareness so you can plan out mid game and possible all-ins, ganks, trades, etc. 

Step 8:

 Load up a game no runes/masteries, two enemy laners (bots or friends) and no starting items. Do the same as Step 7, but on top of all that, keep track of not only the enemy minion wave but yours as well. So note the health of ally and enemy minions, this helps predict the enemies movement for trades and free harass. 

Step 9:

Load up a game no runes/masteries, two enemy laners (bots or friends) and no starting items. Do the same as Step 8, but add on another layer by try to alternate the minions dying between enemy creeps and ally creeps. This will promote lane control and will help you harass in mid game. 

Step 10:

Practice, practice, practice. 

You probably won’t get through all the steps in your first try, so keep going over them and practicing ones you keep failing. Once you have gone through them all try out your skills in a few games, if you still need improvement then go over some steps again. Eventually you will have to give little effort into cs’ing and it will come naturally. Good luck on the rift!

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Author: Winglei Huynh

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