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Looking at the Laner

Who is the best laner in the world? Before Worlds, everyone had a different opinion. Laners such as Cloud9’s Oldskool (formerly of GankStars), TSM’s BestChuckNa and GankStar’s IraqiZorro were often mentioned in the debate, due to their high level of play across the board. However, following Phoenix Armada (now Invincible Armada) taking out the championship, it has been almost unanimously established that the true star laner of Vainglory is Druid. Surprisingly, many of us hadn’t even heard of him previously due to his team competing on the East Asian​ server. Sporting a 17.36 KDA ratio and averaging 147 CS per game, while also holding the #2 world rank on VGPRO and winning 98% of his ranked games, Druid is an unrivaled star whom no one would want to verse in ranked queue. Judging by his impressive accomplishments, I believe that everyone can learn more about laning by watching him in action and imitating some of his habits – according to my teammates, I definitely should. In this article I’ll be referencing some of his matches in public ranked queue. Let’s break down what it means to be a laner, and what it takes to be the best laner in the world

The Role: An Overview

In Vainglory, the laner, also known as the carry, is basically responsible for being the highest damage threat on the team. As the name “carry” implies, the laner must often carry their team to victory. In order to do the most damage, they need to obtain as much gold as possible, allowing them to buy tier 3 items as soon as they can. Additionally, they must be knowledgeable of the capabilities of their opposing laner, as well as always thinking about where their team and where the enemies are on the map. To simplify, there are three main areas where you must be proficient:

  1. Accumulating gold through a variety of methods
  2. Being map-aware
  3. Understanding hero matchups

1. Being greedy for gold

As a laner, you must acquire as much gold as you can in order to buy items and dish out as much damage as possible. How do you do this?

  • Last hit consistently: simply put, you need to time your attack to kill the minions in lane by looking at their health-bars (when they turn orange, one basic attack will kill them). If they are killed by other minions or the turret, you don’t receive any gold. High CS (creep-score, the number of minions you kill) is vital as a laner.
  • Control the minion wave: this refers to either pushing the wave forward by farming quicker (or with minion candies) or strictly last hitting and letting the wave come closer. This can make it much easier to last hit minions, and allows you to manipulate lane pressure. For more info, refer to this awesome article on BrokenMyth. (http://brokenmyth.net/vainglory-mastery-wave-control-101/)
  • Share farm with the jungler: probably the hardest of the steps, a good laner will attempt to gain gold not only from his own lane but from one or both jungles. Now let’s look at Druid doing exactly this.

At this point in the match Druid had just returned out onto the map after shopping at base. Seeing that his jungler was going to clear backs and the lane was in a good position, Druid decides to take farm with samuel. Now, this is a relatively difficult strategy to implement, because it requires that the laner keeps up with the junglers rotation, the jungler doesn’t get tilted by his laner “stealing farm” (in solo queue, this can be avoided by just picking up ambient gold), and the support stays in the lane to hold the minion wave. I have implemented this particular strategy into my laning gameplay, and it has helped me stay close to a perfect CS in many games.

2. Thinking about the map

As a laner, it’s imperative you always know what’s happening on the map. Map awareness helps with knowing when to rotate into jungle, and ensuring you aren’t ganked by any pesky junglers (i.e. that annoying Taka who keeps two-shotting you). Always remember to:

  • Check the minimap for enemy movement: this tip works better if your Captain has set down consistent vision, but you may be able to spot your enemies if both junglers are at shop. Keeping tabs on your enemies allows you to do decide if you should act more aggressively or if you must play passive. Further on in the article is an example of how Druid was able to do just this.
  • Keep an eye on the junglers’ rotations: attempt to coordinate your minion wave control with your jungler’s movement. Furthermore, you can gauge where the enemy might be if they have been clearing their jungle faster than your jungler.

In the match shown in the above pictures, Druid had just destroyed the choke point turret and was chasing a kill on Skye. On the map you can see that Ardan and Taka are in the enemy jungle as they had killed the other two members of the enemy team, and were clearing the backs. Therefore, Druid knew that he could have a 1v1 fight against the Skye without worrying about any other enemies.

Furthermore, in this other picture we can see Druid is taking the enemy backs while his team pushes the turret.

Prior to him rotating into the enemy jungle, his team had engaged their opponents and forced them back to spawn. This allowed Druid to obtain more farm because he knew his team was pushing lane and the enemy team wouldn’t be able to reach their jungle. Taking this kind of information and using it to capitalize on advantages is how Druid is able to consistently be aggressive and successfully build leads.

3. Knowing both thy enemy and thyself

As a laner, a big part of your role is outperforming your opposing carry. In order to use the correct amount of aggression in the lane, and to know when to chase a kill and when to play cautiously, the laner must look at whether they have an advantage or disadvantage against the other laner and the enemy team.

  • Take stats such as range and fire rate into account: someone like Adagio can have an advantage over Gwen in terms of range, but Gwen has a higher potential for bursting you down.
  • Look at itemisation of the enemy laner. A crystal-power Vox is a big threat in a team fight, but not in a 1v1. Conversely, a weapon Vox is very strong in a 1v1, but can also be melted down easier as he needs to stay closer to the opposing team. Also, depending on whether your opponent buys pure damage, or buys items with lifesteal will affect your playstyle and own itemisation.
  • Beware of ganks: a great tip is to think about how the enemy might want to kill you. If you know the enemy team has a Glaive or Catherine, then you don’t want to get in range of their stuns, or need to be ready with a Reflex Block. However, if the laner is someone like Gwen (who has the shortest range) with a Reim jungling (slow with a short engage range) the enemy will try to bring the minion wave closer to their turret where they can quickly dive on you for the gank. You need to be thinking about that possibility in such a matchup.
  • Consider the potential of enemy abilities: for example, a Skye cannot harass with her Forward Barrage if there are lane minions between you. Also, a Skaarf will try to use the Spitfire and his Goop together on the minions, so it would be wise to stay away from them and force him to decide between wave clear or attempting to trade damage. In the following scenario, Druid uses his knowledge of the enemies abilities to score some kills.

In these pictures, it’s evident that Druid was not at all afraid of the enemy Skye. He was aware that as long as his mechanics were quick enough, he could dodge around her Forward Barrage and blow her up. In a Skye vs Vox matchup, and indeed almost any matchup between a weapon laner and a crystal Skye, the laner must juke the Forward Barrage, fight in a spacious area to negate her kiting abilities, and try to melt the Skye before she acquires a Target Lock. In the two pictures shown, Druid had just taken damage from both the Skye and Lance. Afterwards, he had retreated back towards his captain, and having received an extra barrier and movement speed from Ardan’s Vanguard, uses it to re-engage onto Skye and Lance. Druid played to his hero’s win condition and was able to turn the tables on the other team.

After considering all the points here, I hope that you can implement some of these tips into your laning – I have definitely tried to do this myself. I know that bad teammates and ranked solo queue often go hand in hand with each other, but if we, as improving laners, attempt to emulate the best laner in the world, we will eventually find success.

Article written by Ryann17 and edited by hoIIand


Screen captures taken by author from the following sources:

https://www.twitch.tv/druidea
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGu9eqwkOYo&t=587s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBdE1EqdMuo&t=836s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baeDPU6_zYo&t=935s