How to play mid lane - a guide to 'the carriest' role in League of Legends
LoL Mid Lane Guide
We could use the NBA slogan: ‘Where amazing happens’. It’s the lane, where the bad Yasuo players live up to their name for the misery of League community. It’s where Zed - the low Elo stomper - rules, and where the epic assassin duels take place, like famous Ryu vs Faker or xPeke vs dade. It’s where the eyes look from each place on the Earth during World Championship, MSI or Rift Rivals. The birthplace of legends. It’s also a role where the most challenger players reside. Interested in how to play mid lane and what is the reason to play mid?
Or should I ask - what is the reason NOT TO play mid?
'Mid or feed'
Mid lane is kind of a coin flip. It’s like walking into the octagon in UFC. We have no clue whether our opponent is better or worse than us. Maybe we get the best of him, maybe not. In higher LoL divisions one mistake may set up the whole lane.
There may be three possible outcomes in the mid lane:
a) you are better,
b) enemy laner is better,
c) you’re even skilled.
Although this might seem clear, it does not predefine the outcome of the lane, let alone the game, since aside of both of you there are 8 different players, and each of them has an impact on the game and Riot Games cares about diversity.
In each case there is a win condition, as losing lane doesn’t mean losing the game (which players below Diamond seem to fail to understand):
a) when you’re better both mechanically and knowledge-wise, you will have no trouble winning lane; if so, you need to spread your advantage to other lanes and gather objectives. Keep in mind, that stomping your opponent makes enemies focus you, so be prepared,
b) when enemy laner is better, you’re more likely to get pushed, take bad trades or get killed. Don’t worry, it’s not over. On a scaling champion you will eventually reach the point where you become relevant. On roaming champion you always have the potential to take other lanes by surprise. As an Assassin you can look for flanks and carries. Hardest part is to understand, that the game is not over until Nexus is down. Just play passive when behind and farm up, you don't have to seek revenge right away,
c) when you’re equally skilled, it’s all on the rest of your team, and exploiting mistakes that your enemy makes. Whoever makes a mistake first, loses. Patience is the name of the game . You don’t always have to carry. When you see your top laner beasting on his opponent, push and gank for him.
Which mid lane champion should I pick
Here I’d like to divide mid lane champions into three main categories. It’s important because of the gameplay strategy.
These champs share the idea of kit and item build designed to have enemy key targets deleted. When played properly they always have a carry and outplay potential. Usually mobile and hard to master, with a high skill ceiling. They require a lot of strategic thinking, planning, cunning, and game knowledge, more than mechanical skills, which will become more important as the game goes and builds become more equal in power. Assassins are hard to play from behind, so make sure you are at least remotely close to winning your lane.
Example Champions: Ahri, Akali, Annie, Diana, Ekko, Fizz, Katarina, Kassadin, LeBlanc, Qiyana, Talon, Wukong, Zed.
How to play: you need to lane around your power spikes. E. g. Talon has insane level two power spike, which makes him a king of the first blood. Any matchup vs an assassin is a skill matchup. Whoever controls wave better, hits 6 first or has mechanical superiority - wins the encounter. Against casters if you don't get poked with auto attacks to 150 HP or CC’d, you win, as most of the times they will have no possibility of escaping.
In the mid to late game you have one job - kill the carry. Highest priority is Soraka, no matter what. Then you go for whoever is fed, provided it’s not a tank. Then you go for damage or whoever is out of position.
Vision control is key here. This is why you go for Duskblade and Sweeper to avoid wards.
Assassins are usually mechanically demanding but rewarding. If you have a lot of patience to master them, go for it, as it will repay big time.
How to counter: poke counters all-in. Chunking enemy assassin’s health bar will diminish his will to go at you. It’s also easier to outplay them, when they’re low. Vs AD assassins Seekers Armguard is a must have, vs AP buy Mercury’s Threads and Banshee’s Veil later on if you’re still losing. Zilean, Kayle, Fizz and Lissandra are all natural counters to an all-in.
Also you can ask your support to pick Soraka or Lulu. However I wouldn’t count on cooperation in Solo Queue, where ‘solo’ is the keyword.
Their power is based around casting abilities, that either provide pure damage, or Crowd Control. Mages are powerful in teamfights, but susceptible to all-ins. Usually they want to stand behind their frontline and harass enemies with high damage spells. I do not recommend picking those into team compositions without tanks, as enemies will easily get onto you and most likely kill you, since you’re not a tank yourself. Positioning is key here. One mistake can mess up your game, giving enemy team a chance to control the pace of the game. We covered the topic of positioning in our ADC guide.
Casters are relatively weaker in lower elo, like Silver to Platinum, because you will not have proper peeling. Usually you lack built-in mobility (Vel’koz, Syndra or Brand), which means that you’ll be standing there in the middle of the lane watching enemy Zed charging at you.
Another thing is wave clear. Most Caster mages can pretty much clear the whole wave with one rotation of spells, which gives them around 30 seconds of peace during siege. It's so much useful, when playing from behind and trying to stall the game. In lower division stalling doesn’t exists. The ultimate counterplay to everything is to rush mid head first and hope for it to work out this time. This means you either follow them out of your safe zone, or you’re staying behind, lowering their already mediocre chances to win.
Examples: Anivia, Azir, Brand, Karthus, Lissandra, Lux, Malzahar, Morgana, Orianna, Ryze, Syndra, Veigar, Vel'Koz, Viktor, Vladimir, Xerath, Ziggs, Zoe.
How to play: vs melee assassin you will want to freeze in the early game close to your turret. This gives you safety and exposes them to ganks. Bad opponent will neglect their safety and possibly die, good opponent will have respect to the situation and he’ll step back. Vs another caster it’s usually farm fest and poke attempts. Whoever makes a mistake in positioning - loses. Pay attention to your mana bar, as most of the times it will be your main limitation. This and an enemy jungler.
How to counter: as they’re dependant on abilities, they rely on cooldowns and mana most of the times. Anything that can outsustain them, is able to win. Champions without mana, like Aatrox, Riven, Akali or Zed are already ahead when it comes to resources. Usually squishy, requiring protection, which isn’t always there, as many players’ focus is to kill carries, rather than protect their teammates. This way a slippery, sneaky assassin is a good choice against caster mages. They are usually immobile and one hard CC is a death sentence.
Roaming mid laners
These champions share the concept of moving fast around the map either by using their abilities or movement speed boost.
Examples: Talon, Taliyah, Twisted Fate, Aurelion Sol, Galio, Pantheon.
How to play: you have two options:
- kill your enemy and roam,
- push your enemy and roam.
Your counterpart should not be able to catch up. Keeping the whole map under constant pressure is key to carrying games. Just by leaving your lane, you will make your enemies anxious. As long as you disappear from the map, even for a short time - the movement of each enemy may change to a bit safer passive playstyle. You can quickly turn a casual 2 v 2 in bot lane into a 3 v 2, and even 4 v 2 if you follow your jungler. Mid is the best lane for roaming, as you have easy access to every other lane, and each of the major jungle objectives.
Maintain priority in lane. It's crucial if you want to roam. Priority allows you to be everywhere a lot faster than enemy laner. Not only that. Roaming without proper lane setup - you can actually set yourself behind, as long as enemy midlaner remained on midlane, while you wasted your time trying to gank your botlane. This scenario can turn an easy matchup, into a true nightmare, as without a proper setup, your enemy can gain some item and level advantage
How to counter: their goal is to push and head straight to other lanes. To punish that shove back and pressure the tower, since if you don’t have priority in lane, you will always be late to follow. To match roaming, you can also go for a roaming champion, if you have one in your champion pool. Report to your team everytime enemy leaves.
Understanding of roaming requires some game knowledge, sadly. In 2019 people still do not pay attention to Pantheon hitting level 6.
There are several examples how to punish laner after he leaves:
- hard shove. Make him lose minions each time, especially when he has no teleport to get back to lane fast,
- follow his roam if you have vision of him. If enemy picks Pantheon, pick Galio. You will be able to match his roams and also give damage reduction to your ally,
- force him to stay in lane and shut him down; perhaps the most difficult to execute since it sometimes involves jungle pressure. And in Solo Queue you can rarely count on a cooperative jungler.
- ward the middle of the lane if your enemy roamer is shoving hard. This way you will see where the enemy mid laner is going after he shoves the lane, whether he’s recalling or heading straight to other lane for a gank. Ping like crazy. At least it should force your ally to look at the minimap and hopefully save their life.
None of these tips are the One-And-Only-Truth, as each game is different. These are just some general rules you can find useful. Also let’s be clear - none of us is Nukeduck, who played almost 30 different champions in 2018 Summer Split. None of us is sOAZ who played professionally with over 60 champions. None of us is Redmercy, who has a different main every patch. There is no point of playing everything in Solo Queue cause you won’t be able to master all of them. Instead pick 3-4 champions and learn them, along with most common matchups. For instance pick one assassin, one caster and one roamer. And then switch between them depending on your composition
One quick note here - assassins share the purpose of one-shotting enemies, but don't pick your main Zed, Talon or Qiyana into a full AD team comp. Each enemy will go for defensive item - Zhonya, Guardian Angel, Ninja Tabi . Without an ability to kill anyone, you're useless. Pick an AP mage or assassin instead and mix your damage.
I don’t know about any mid laner not taking flash, not including those going for Unsealed Spellbook.
This can work in a sticky situation, granted that enemy mid laner doesn’t have Ignite or any other healing cut (Katarina ultimate, Morellonomicon).
Must have on assassins, if they want to have kill pressure.
Became more popular lately, especially in esports community. You must take Cleanse when playing against Lissandra, Malzahar or Skarner, possibly also Sejuani. Cleanse also removes Ignite and grants tenacity.
Used to be extremely popular due to low cooldown and roaming potential. Fell off after its nerfs and introduction of Predator keystone.
Probably the best choice to counter assassins. Automatic self cast, survivability, relatively low cooldown.
Can help lower the incoming damage, but wise man said: ‘If you’re close enough to cast Exhaust, you’re already too close’.
Also popular lately due to global pressure and ‘forgiving mechanics’, which allows you to return to lane quickly after making a mistake.
Your summoner spell choice depends on the matchup. When enemies have not that much CC, pass on Cleanse. When they have poor all-in potential, skip Barrier, Heal and Exhaust. When they have global pressure, Teleport might be your way to go. Versatility is important in adjusting to the game, which is after all changing frequently.
How you act in lane, affects the wave. Whoever is hitting creeps more, will push. AoE damage abilities from mages also count, so if you don’t want to be ganked before 5 minute mark in all games, let your opponent push.
When playing against poke champions, who have abilities colliding with first target (Zoe), position yourself behind minions and use them as a meatshield.
When against mages with abilities passing through minions (Ahri, Xerath), you have two options:
- stand beside the wave and force them to choose - hit you or the wave? If they hit you, they can’t hit the wave, which means you have the push. If they hit the wave, they are pushing into you. Allow them to do that and freeze close to your tower for your own protection,
- stand inside the wave and bait their abilities in order to force the push. Do this only if you are sure you are not getting help from the jungler, as sometimes it means trading HP for a freeze. Also you can bait for a gank, but beware of creep block.
Point-and-click abilities like Pantheon Q or Cassiopeia E drag minion aggro. You can use it to your advantage, as in the first three levels creeps can chunk you for ⅓ of your HP.
Up until like Diamond/Master people will often ignore wave management in games and push blindly or let enemies push them. Get advantage out of it.
Always keep in mind, that crossing the River line leaves you exposed to ganks. Stick to the side your jungler is on. After placing wards, stay close to them. Unless it’s Zac with mile long jump or Fiddlesticks ulting from Raptors pit, you should be safe.
Pay attention to the map. ‘Enemy missing’ ping report is a good thing, but it requires team cooperation. It’s very important, because sometimes you will have to leave the wave in unfavorable spot, instead of sacrificing your life for pushing it into tower.
We’ll break it down really fast:
As I said, due to Riot Games matchmaking, statistically there are 25% odds, that your jungler will be better than enemy jungler.
Option number 1. is an equal jungle skill matchup. You should expect good moves from your jungler and also good moves from the enemies. If your jungler goes for Herald, enemy will answer with Drake. If your jungler ganks top, enemy will invade your forest and then gank bot lane. For your own good treat enemy jungler, as if he were better than yours. This gives you a little margin of mistake.
Option number 3. is the worst possible. Good jungler will not only have more pressure, but also will be capable of diving you, which leaves you totally unsafe. Try your best in carrying, but be prepared for the worst. Although it’s not the end of the world. Say your jungler is Sejuani, and enemies is Elise. Elise excels in the early game. If she doesn’t win in 25 minutes, she becomes almost useless, whereas Sejuani gets tankier and tankier. Who knows, maybe by accident she hits a clutch ultimate?
Option number 4. is a funky one. It’s like a chocolate box from ‘Forrest Gump’ - you never know, what’s inside. You can expect both junglers to fail miserably, so focus on your own matchup and play, as if it was option 3, but if you can capitalize on enemy jungler mistake - do it.
After first few minutes in most of your games you should be able to estimate the jungle matchup. Either you can rely on jungler a tiny bit, or not at all. Some matchups are unwinnable without jungle pressure. If you'll get none of it, you must end laning phase fast or lane swap.
Most common mistakes mid laners do
1. Bad roam timing - you don't have to roam at all time. Focus on your lane in the first place. After you pushed your lane, look at the minimap. Good roam opportunities are similar to jungle ganks indication, which we covered in our jungle guide. Look for roam if there is an important objective or some juicy shutdowns. Do not follow enemy roams, if you don't have vision of them. You might be stepping into a trap (famous 'NA brush'). Instead hard shove the wave and wait for your counterpart to reappear. Then follow or pressure the tower.
2. Freezing in an improper moment don't freeze when enemy goes for a roam. If needed, ask jungler to help you crash the wave into the tower or at least kill caster minions and recall.
3. Asking for ganks at the wrong time. 'Gank or report'. Don't call for gank when enemy is stronger and has full resources. Don't ask if the wave is in an unfavorable spot, as it will most likely waste your jungler's time. Don't call your jungler with your major cooldowns down.
Also if jungler comes to help and you know it's a bad idea, ping him back. If he listens, good. If not, let him die.
4. Bad vision - many times you will get ganked because of poor vision placement. Most of the time simply knowing enemy jungler whereabouts, is enough to prevent gank. You should ward the River or pixel brush around 20 seconds before the Crab spawns. Then you can roughly determine, where the jungler is and what is he up to. Later on ward the Raptors camp. This will most like spot him and also prevent some cheeky ganks like Annie flash-Tibbers, Fiddlesticks ult or Zac Slingshot. Warding the brush to the side of the midlane most of the time is pointless, since if jungler makes it to the brush, you already will have to burn summoners/report to the Fountain with gray screen.
5. Following jungler at the wrong time - don't listen to your jungler, when he asks for help, and you don't share the same view. Don't sacrifice your lane for his lack of game knowledge. Instead pay attention to his position and when you feel like he's about to be encountered, get lane priority and help him. Priority is the most important part here, because it allows you to maintain lane control and your opponent will find himself in a lose-lose scenario - sacrifice lane to help, or sacrifice jungler for lane?
6. Back timings - what I often see in lower divisions is refusing to recall, when the time is right. Staying in lane with less than half HP and almost no mana is like putting a noose on your neck handing the other end to your enemy for him to squeeze it. You should be backing in right time to replenish mana and HP. Pay attention to amount of gold you have and if possible coordinate your backs with buys. Returning to lane with an item advantage automatically gives you an upper hand. Sometimes when you need to back and the wave is in unfavorable spot you can fake back. Go into the Fog of War and make your enemy think, you're backing. This can lead him into hard shoving and backing himself. If he does so, simply last hit under tower and let the wave reset.
Knowing these tips will not only allow you to avoid mistakes, but also help you capitalize when enemies does it.
It’s a topic that is often overlooked by many players. It’s rarely happening in lower divisions, since these days everyone share the desire to play the ultimate carry mid, like Yasuo, Zed and Katarina, to make the decisive, breathtaking plays that will ignite the Reddit community. But some days Riot Games can make you a surprise and you'll face the question: ‘What should I do, if I’m autofilled mid lane?’. How to play those games and avoid a feeding report? What champion you should pick?
There are couple of ways:
1. Ask for swap. I guess more than enough teammates will be happy to ‘carry this burden’. What’s more nobody wants to play with autofilled team mates.
2. Take something from your champion pool. LoL is a versatile game. Some champions were played on a pro scene in more than one role. Some, like Gragas were played everywhere except ADC. Say you play top and main Camille and Irelia. They will fit perfectly mid. Jungle Aatrox or Karthus should be fine mid. Ezreal, Kai’Sa or Lucian were played mid. Support Morgana, Karma or Zilean and most recent Lux will fit mid lane. In lane you follow mid lane rules mentioned in this guide, in the mid game you do your job as if you were playing your main role.
3. Pick something easy and useful. Annie is most recommended for beginners, as she requires ‘tutorial level’ of skill. CS from range with Q, stack your stun, kill. Simple as that. Another one is Anivia, who is very useful post 6 and quite safe in lane thanks to her passive. Although be very conservative about her Wall, as it's dangerous also for allies. Last one might be Veigar.
4. Dodge. If you haven't already. No really fun option, but you won't have to watch your MMR inevitably dropping.
Sure, you can go tank. During days of when Banner of Command reigned supreme on the Field of Justice, it was META. It should also work now. Or at least it shouldn't fail.
General tips on how to play mid lane
- Faker once said, that every aspiring mid player has to learn how to play two champions:
1. Twisted Fate - for understanding map pressure, map control, roaming and influencing the whole Summoners Rift.
2. Ryze - for learning how to press correct buttons in correct moments.
- Don’t get surprised by Talon level 2 all-in. This champion is responsible for nearly ¼ first blood kills all over League of Legends. His early game damage is abnormal and early kill will only make it go higher.
- Queue up for an ARAM from time to time. It teaches the positioning in team fights, mana and cooldown management, avoiding skillshots, disengage, sieging and most important ARAM is a random pick match. This will get you to know basic mechanics of each champion and maybe prevent a report or two.
- Go to Practice Tool to train CS-ing. In every high Elo tips you'll read, that farming is more important than kills, with an exception for Draven in some scenarios.
- Play a lot, but not too much. It's always better to take a break, than receive a report for unsportsmanship. And Riot Games matchmaking system will get on your nerves enough.
Since Riot Games adjusted Dota 2 concept for their own purpose, there has been endless discussion about which role carries the hardest. Countless posts, links and it is still keeping LoL community restless. There's no ultimate report or hard data, but to me it's simple - it's not the role that carries or the champion. It's all about the players. A good player will make Leona a decent toplaner or jungler.
Mid lane is one of the most snowballing lanes in the game. One mistake, slight advantage can change the picture of the whole game.