How to play ADC in LoL - tips on laning, positioning and teamfight tactics
Basic question - what is ADC in LoL? 'AD' stands for 'Attack damage', a stat line in League of Legends, which scales into your champion's auto attack damage or abilities. AD carry due to META traditionally is a ranged marksman champion. Do you want to know how to play adc? Let's begin.
how to play adc and How to succeed as an ADC
The answer to: 'What does an ADC do in League of Legends?' is simple - it delivers damage through auto attacks and kills people. Those, who main ADCs share the same opinion, that this role is the hardest to pull off properly. And we agree with that.
AD Carry role is harder, the lower you are. In divisions below Gold and Platinum there is a 'kill ADC' rule. It doesn't matter that you are 1/5 and your fed top laner is single-handedly killing the entire enemy team. 'KIll ADC'. Period.
It's harder also because you cannot depend on your team, especially support. In lane you will see if your support is competent or not. There are certain trading patterns for a support. E.g. Zyra will want to poke with her plants, Blitzcrank will try to hit the grab, and Alistar will likely go all-in level 2-3. If your support does anything else, than just fulfilling his duty, you can assume, he's not competent and you cannot rely on them.
All in all you should always assume that you cannot rely on your support. If you're wrong and they are good, it will be a nice surprise. If they’re not, you'll be already prepared.
What is the best ADC champion?
Let’s have a look at most common ADC champions.
And there is Draven, who statistically does not belong to any category. He’s insanely strong in lane, snowballing like crazy in mid game, and still powerful in late game. There is no stopping to good Draven, where ‘good’ is a keyword. It’s hard to play Draven, let alone to master him. Go play some normal games before taking the Glorious Executioner into ranked. He’s hard to learn, but when you do, it’s extremely rewarding.
Early game champions rely on high base damage and abilities. They dominate in lane, win early and snowball, cause they fall off later on. They work the best with aggressive supports, that can apply constant pressure.
Mid game champions are doing relatively well in lane, but mostly they want to farm for their core items and look for fighting over Dragon/Baron/towers. Usually have a lot cheaper item build than crit ADC champions.
Late game champions share their power source - it's attack speed and critical strike. They usually need 3-4 items to be relevant, but as they get them, they wreak havoc. A little exceptions here are Kog’Maw and Vayne, as their core is BoTRK + Rageblade, and Kai’Sa which is built differently each patch.
We can recommend Caitlyn. She rules in lane, has highest base (without abilities) auto attack range among ADCs (only Tristana has base range higher, however after lvl 16). Ashe, Varus and aforementioned Tristana are also not bad ADC champions to begin with.
Leave mechanically demanding champions for others. You should focus on basics first.
Don't try to create META. Most of the times it will end badly.
But make sure you practice a lot before entering ranked.
Early game and laning phase tips
Only the player who delivers the killing blow to the creep, receives the gold. And AD Carry needs a lot of gold.
Go to Practice Tool and train. There is no other way of getting better at CS-ing than CS-ing.
Sometimes you will be forced (or even wanting) to CS under your tower. Remember, that you can last hit melee creep after two tower shots but you need two auto attacks for caster minion. Either you prepare it yourself, or your support should.
How many CS should ADC have?
There is one ultimate answer to this question - more than your enemy. It’s not about having the perfect 10 CS/per minute stat line, or 14 CS/per minute like pro players. It’s about an advantage. If you have 20-30 more CS than your enemy, you are half an item ahead of him, which means you’re stronger.
Level 2 power spike
After killing first wave and three melee minions from the second wave, you will hit level 2. Do it before your opponents does, and you’re golden. If enemy jungler started bot side and didn’t gank you level 2, you should always go for a trade. You have one extra ability, which is an advantage, that is often overlooked by a lot of players.
You want to go for a trade, when enemy is busy last hitting. Especially when you have large minion wave and your counterpart goes for CS.
Always look at caster minions number before trade. When enemies have more creeps, stay passive.
Don't always follow your support into battle, when he goes into a huge wave. You'll end up losing a nice chunk of HP, or losing the lane in its entirety due to your enemy dictating the pace of the botlane.
Look for cooldown windows and trade within them. Especially when enemy support uses his key ability and misses (Blitz hook, Leona combo). You can deal damage to them for free and secure HP advantage, or even force them back.
Same rule applies to yourself. You may want to play passive, when you have your key abilities on cooldown.
Keep in mind that most skillshots stop, when they hit first target. It’s important both in trading and team fights. Blitzcrank hook will pull the minion if you hide behind it. Karma Q will not pass through them, same for Thresh Q, Morgana Q.
However some skillshots pass through minions (Zyra E, Caitlyn Q) or focus first champion hit (Leona E, Sona Q). Beware.
Don't stand between tower and wall - it's called a 'skillshot alley'. You’re asking for trouble if you are standing there.
How to play adc in Mid game
Here is where team fights begin. Make sure you are not fighting for nothing. Kills are useful, but risking your life for 300 gold is not worth it. When you get 300 gold and you give your enemy 300 gold, you gain no advantage. Especially if you have a shutdown bounty on your head.
In team fights make sure that there is always someone between you and enemies. Your death is always your fault. Wrong positioning, micro mistake or trusting in anyone. This is Solo Queue, where ‘solo’ is the keyword.
Keep hitting the closest target. Don’t listen to ‘no focus tank n00b’. There are three reasons:
- after you kill tank, there is no one else on your way to the backline,
- unless you’re Vayne, Kai’Sa, or Twitch there is no way for you to get to the backline without dying,
- getting to the backline is the mid laners/assassins job; not yours.
Good habit for farming is to push the wave beyond river and group with the team. The wave will bounce back bigger than usually. This way you waste less time for gathering the same amount of gold and experience.
How to play adc in Late game
Paradoxically, the hardest and the easiest part of the game for ADC. Easy, cause you have a clear goal. Hard, cause one mistake may result in a loss. Basically you repeat all your mid-game activities. Two things:
- deal damage,
- don’t die.
If you manage to fulfill those goals, you’re good to go. Really, there is not much more to say. If you manage to stand behind your frontline and allow your support to protect you, you’ll kill all enemies or force them back. Move around the map with your team and play to your strengths.
What is positioning? Simply put, it’s standing in a place that will be the best for avoiding the damage, and in the ideal situation - in a place from which you can still deal damage, while avoiding damage taken.
There are two schools of positioning:
- low Elo - ‘kill ADC’ rule. Enemy team will rush to kill you, and your team will do the same thing,
- high Elo - ‘protect ADC’ rule.
It’s hard to determine, where the borders lie, and it’s fully on you to recognize them. What’s the difference? Say, you have a Sion in your team. In low Elo he will most likely ult into the enemy team, aiming for the ADC, and when he gets in between foes, he will use his abilities to deal damage. And then he'll die. In higher Elo, Sion may want to save his ult and Decimating Smash for your protection, attack whoever wants to get onto you, slowing them down and helping you kite them. But beware of falling behind. You may not be worth protecting.
Correct positioning requires game knowledge. What is the range of Xerath’s Q? How far does Thresh reach with his Death Sentence? How wide is Janna’s ultimate aura? How far can I run away if enemy Jarvan IV jumps on me? Positioning is constantly asking yourself certain questions. Can I go there? Can I stand here? Can I safely attack this guy without risk of him attacking me?
When you make a mistake in positioning, there is still a slight chance, that your support will step in and save you, but you shouldn’t count on it. League of Legends is all about making less mistakes than your opponents. And sometimes - it’s best to count on yourself, and playing an early-mid focused ADC (Trist, Draven) will allow you to do most things single-handedly, if you play your lane right, as these two champions capitalize greatly, especially from mistakes made in the laning phase.
General tips for LoL ADC
1st wave has to die before the 2nd one arrives. If you fail, you will find yourself in a unfavourable position. It also helps in level 2 rushing.
Punish enemy support for stepping up. Whenever you don't have a low-health minion to last hit and enemy is coming close to harass you, trade back. You should especially focus melee support, who rely on all-ins. If they are at low health, they are less likely to engage.
Watch enemy bot lane’s arrival. This gives you a slight idea about enemy jungler start. Most supports will have reduced HP or Mana, due to helping Junglers with abilities and tanking. And if they arrive late - then you can from the lane in a way that you want it to stay.
When pushing, ward deeper. When pushed, ward closer to your tower. Support isn't the only player carrying wards. You also have it, and it's free! It’s also a good idea to bring a Control Ward or two. If you play the lane smart, you will not really need potions. Wards have a better value. If you have some coin to spare after purchasing your B.F Sword - having that 150 gold - it’s better to purchase 2 control wards, instead of Health Potions, that are far weaker than Fleet Footwork / Legend:Bloodlust.
Try to recall with your support. It's much safer than staying in lane alone. You should always leave wave in a favorable position. If you forced enemies to recall, try to push it into their tower. Also it it's going to freeze, you can recall. Just don't leave wave in a random spot. Being one or two levels behind your enemies thanks to losing a few waves after a bad setup makes you completely unable to retaliate after their engage.
Don't get fancy when support leaves to roam. Whenever you are in a 1 v 2 scenario, don't engage, avoid fighting at all cost. Maybe you are Gosu or imaqtpie incarnated and maybe you will outplay. Maybe. Or maybe not. It's not worth dying to find out.
Study your opponents. In time you may be able to predict which way they are going to dodge or kite (most players have a favourite side for dodges, it’s pure muscle memory). Also if they play passive all the time and suddenly they charge forward, they’ve telegraphed an incoming gank. Get away from there ASAP.
Always try to punish Soraka, when she comes up for Q poke. She needs HP to heal.
Sacrifice 800 gold for Executioner's Calling, when enemies share a heavy healing factor - Vladimir, Dr. Mundo, Soraka, Aatrox etc.
Generally it's better to have pressure than not (if possible). If you absorb jungle/mid attention, it relieves pressure from elsewhere. If they don't gank you, you keep getting stronger.
After taking tower don't go bot like... well, bot. You are strong, you should spread your advantage. Go top and push with your top laner, take another tower and Rift Herald on your way back. Of course don’t forget about controlling the wave at bot lane. Make sure that it’s in a good spot, or that someone is taking care of it when you are gone. In mid game you go bot only for farm.
It happens. In such case I have three options:
- take something out of your champion pool (like Jayce, Vladimir, Ziggs, Yasuo),
- play ADC, that is easiest mechanically, like Miss Fortune,
- if you're really bad, ask for role swap.
Laning, trading and teamfight tactics are basically the same.
Junglers usually tend to lack last hitting proficiency due to not using it in the forest. It's better for jungler to swap to support role, but if you have to play ADC, take something that works in jungle, like Kindred, Graves or Twitch.
My personal tip on how to improve as ADC, is to play support sometimes. You share lane with another player. Stepping into his shoes will help you understand him better and play to your strengths. You will also see what supports expects from ADC and how do teamfight tactics look from 'the other side'.
I wish that you know how to play ADC now. When you're playing ADC League of Legends can be hard, but also very satisfying. You are the carry. You take kill credit, you deal the most damage and push objectives. You are the hero with a highest chances to score a Pentakill.
There was a time, when for ADCs LoL wasn't so good. ADCs were a complete joke, and it became a meme. AP Casters started showing up on bottom lane. Even Rekkles was forced to play Karma. When ADCs were gutted by nerfs and assassins treated them, how they treated caster minions. But after all Riot Games will find a way to bring them back and make META hurt only Riot’s chosen one - Hashinshin.
We will not tell you how to ADC like a pro, but from this guide you'll learn how to climb as ADC without boosting.
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