LoL Macro Guide - Play & Win Like Apdo
Welcome to our League of Legends Macro Guide. This article will help you understand how to turn your randomized games into strategy-based games like chess. A game in which you will be able to make a massive difference in every patch you play. If you've ever wondered how players like TFBlade, Dopa (APDO) can consistently win their games reaching the highest ranks, you came to the right place.
In this guide, you will find all the answers that will allow you to improve your playstyle beyond your champion's mechanics. We will talk about the basic game macro and macros for all specific lanes. You will also be able to read through certain scenarios that will help you understand that one decision can decide the pace of the entire match.
Table of Contents:
What is Macro?
Macro is essentially a game of decisions that go beyond things related to your champion or items that you purchase. It's a thing that will ask you many questions throughout the entire match. You and your team will have to answer those correctly to secure the game.
In a game like League of Legends, one thing is certain. You advance your strategy or react to the tactics of the enemy team. Each scenario is very complicated. When you are aggressively setting the pace of the game, you can control everything, and the enemy team will try to do their best to counter your decisions. On the other hand - one mistake can turn the tables around. Now you are on the defensive side. You are reacting to your enemy, and you will have to work very hard not to get overwhelmed by the enemy team. You wait for their mistakes or some holes in their strategy, and you pierce right through them to regain control. Especially in Solo Queue - going back and forth is common.
If we were to explain macro in one simple sentence, it would be: "Something happened, what do we do to make the most out of the situation to work together towards victory?" Winning games is essentially capitalizing on most opportunities that will occur within the game.
Way too many players base their wins purely on the micro. They pick a character they are best at, they outplay opponents, they get kills, and they try to do their job. However, as soon as they are placed against smart teams - not knowing how to play the map properly will send them on a losing streak. In theory - thanks to macro, you can take a braindead straightforward champion like Garen - that has close to no outplay potential - straight to master rank.
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Decisions you will have to make macro-wise can be as simple as "when to back?" or "should I give up CS now, so I don't get harassed?". And they can be complicated, like deciding whether you should go for tower + inhibitor, or for Baron when enemy death timers are at 15 seconds.
Sadly - you are you, and your team will have another idea. Not necessarily better. It happens a lot in literally every division. You have your plan, and no matter how bad or good it is - people will have other plans. Imagine a scenario. You are the strongest person in your team. You see enemies grouping up. You know that you will lose in a 5v5 teamfight, so you try to split push to pull some attention away from the rest of your team. You are split pushing the bottom lane, and you're close to the enemy inhibitor. The enemy team is currently doing Baron, and they are close to finishing it, just as you are with the inhibitor. Your team is pinging your Teleport spell. A teleport that won't change anything, since Baron will be killed before you have a chance to TP in. Now you are left with a choice. Should you keep pushing, asking your team to delay the recalls, or should you TP in to be with your team?
Remember, in this scenario, the enemy team is far stronger than yours. You are the only member of the team who is fed enough to compete with enemies. The right thing is to finish the inhibitor, allow your team to delay the recalls, take as much as you can, and stay alive. In some scenarios, the team will delay enemies to the point when you will down one or two turrets near the Nexus (if you are Tryndamere or Nasus, for example). In a scenario in which they don't - run like hell. Literally. As the strongest player in the team - you can't afford to get collapsed on by the enemy team, especially with Baron. In those 40-50 seconds of your death, the enemy team will take towers, an inhibitor, some of your teammates will die protecting a tower that will 100% fall, and the game should be over at that point.
Basic Game Macro
We will talk about some things that you can play around. Mainly - things that are kind of static in the game, and things that hold a very high value in the game.
Early Lane & Wave Control
An ideal player will know how and when to manipulate the minion wave to create various opportunities. Controlling the wave itself can easily decide the pace of the lane and how things will play out in the near future. You can see the example of APDO. He went into the lane as Twisted Fate against Fizz, and as soon as Fizz attacked a minion ONCE to set up a slow-push APDO immediately said: "That Fizz has just lost the lane."
And lo and behold - Fizz failed miserably. APDO managed the wave in such a way that prevented Fizz from taking full waves. Fizz was open to ganks 24/7. And as soon as TF reached the power-spike, Fizz had simply no chance of reacting to a far stronger enemy. Towers went down, and Twisted Fate controlled the entire game with his ults and split push at that point.
Scenario 1: You are in Control
It will be crucial for anyone who has lane priority or range advantage to zone the enemy out completely. It tilts enemy laners, and it prevents them from doing anything in the lane.
Let's say that you have a lane priority. It means that you are stronger, the enemy can't trade you, they can't follow you into the jungle, and they will lose if both of you went for all-in 1v1. What you are supposed to do is to cut your enemies from the source of gold, and ideally - XP as well. To do that reliably, you will go through a specific rotation. You either freeze the lane in a favorable place, or you set up a slow-push while trading with the enemy.
You will freeze the lane in one place and stand in it, so you can easily punish the enemy if they decide to go for CS. It does three things. One - if your enemy wants to take CS, they will be punished in a risky trade that will force them to back off. Two - your enemy has to go out of position and risk being ganked to get experience. Three - they will tilt themselves out of existence. In theory, as long as you leave three caster minions and one melee minion in the wave and enemy minions from the next wave step in front of those three caster minions - you will freeze the lane or make it slow-push depending on your next step. Again - leave three + one, and you'll be fine.
Slow-pushing is an excellent way of getting ahead even more, as long as you can prepare it properly. You set up a wave in a way that it advances slowly, setting up more and more minions that will sooner or later - crash at the tower. It is the perfect time to trade as much as you can with the enemy laner. And you will have a lot of opportunities to do so if your enemy doesn't want to lose XP. But they will lose even more if they come too close.
You see, your real objective is not the slow-push itself, but the things that it enables you to do. It gives you time to roam without losing farm and XP, and it allows you to push your advantage in the lane even more. How? By trading, or by diving.
You are setting up a slow-push. Force the enemy into trades, go in, lower their Health Pool bit by bit. If you've done this properly, your wave is going to crash on the enemy tower, while the enemy champion is at much lower HP than you. It is time to act. As long as you don't see the point in helping other laners at this moment - your main objective is to kill the enemy laner. Nothing will be more heartbreaking to your enemy than wasting all this time trying to get at least two minions from each wave, to then - die as the wave crashes on their tower. 2-3 waves worth of gold and XP is gone. Even if you fall in the process, as long as the enemy laner is dead - it's absolutely worth it for you.
It's also a perfect way of setting up a dive. If both you and your jungler come out of the encounter alive - you can quickly get some plates, or even finish the tower as your enemy loses a massive amount of resources. Even if you go in alone against your enemy when they are under the tower - as long as you kill them, while your minions are crashing on the tower - it's worth it. It doesn't matter if you died. They have a kill, but so do you, you took all minions, and your enemy is losing two waves of minions crashing on the tower. It's a fantastic strategy often overlooked by beginner players.
Scenario 2: You are on the other side of Scenario 1
Well, it's not hard to say that you won't be able to do much. All you can do is to wait for your jungler and wait for enemy mistakes you can capitalize on. Being in this scenario in Solo Queue is the worst feeling, both when it comes to your emotional side and gameplay. If you allow your enemy to set you back heavily - the game is entirely dependant on your team and enemy team's mistakes. And as you probably know by now - it's not the best way of reaching high ranks with high win-rate, especially in Solo Queue.
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Prevent yourself from being set further behind.
This one might be your win-condition. Do not allow more misplays to happen. Of course, your enemy will play around you, trying to dominate you, calling for dives, and denying you more and more. Maybe even calling every team member to come into your lane and get your towers as your team struggles to respond with anything.
There are three possible sub-scenarios that can play out in a match. Either your other lanes are winning, they are kind of even, or they are losing just like you.
Other Lanes are Winning
Feel free to depend on your teammates. Do what they say, follow them, join small skirmishes, play for the objectives. Generally - do something that allows them to do their job efficiently. Is your assassin fed? Work on wearing off the backline so your crazed killer can melt them easily. Or maybe they are countered by someone? Make them unable to react to your guy. There are lots of things you can do. And this counts for all roles and positions.
Other Lanes are Even
It will involve a lot of reacting to your enemy movements. Of course, if only your role is losing - your enemy will do absolutely everything to spread the advantage across the entire map. Ping away, alert your teammates and shove the lane. Try to get something out of every opportunity to come back into the game. Take as much farm as you can without risking your life, and slowly try to come back into the game. Allow your enemy laner to waste his time with your vision and callouts. As long as you know what you are doing and your teammates don't ignore pings - you will slowly advance in a match.
Other Lanes are Losing
The worst situation that you can be in. The enemy team is literally stomping you, and all you can do is to prolong the game long enough to equalize the item builds. It's tough to make a comeback in a match like this. But it's not impossible.
In theory, all you can do is to take any resource you can get to lower the gold difference of two teams. It can be a good idea as well, to funnel everything into one hyper carry, that will be able to face the enemy. Champions like Irelia, Vayne, or Kassadin can easily carry the games by themselves if they are strong enough even if the rest of the team acts like a meat-shield for them.
Moreover, a lot will depend on the enemy team in this scenario. Many teams don't really know how to finish the game properly, especially in Solo Queue. They will run around the map, sometimes going for pointless kills and losing advantage as the game goes on. Allow them to waste their time, shove the minion waves, place and clear vision, and gather resources. That's all you can do.
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Some people say that wards win games. It is not entirely true. But it helps you to decide what should be your next move as a team. It allows you to set up ambushes, protect your teammates when they are over-extended, and to gather intel about the enemy position so that you can get some safe objectives. Imagine playing a game when one team sees regular League of Legends map, and the other team sees everything, without the fog of war. It is what happens in matches where one team plays around vision, and the other - does not. To give you an idea of the value of lack of vision, look at this simple scenario.
The Enemy Disappears from your Lane
Let's say that you are playing in the mid lane, and you are losing to enemy Talon that already has a three kill advantage over you. You don't have any vision on the river, and you don't see the bushes that surround your lane. Talon shoves the minion wave, and instead of coming up to your turret - he completely disappears from the map.
What do you do? You immediately ping away so your teammates know that Talon can head towards other lanes or invade the jungle. The movement of the entire team shifts as they stop pressuring to be safe from Talon. You shove the lane ASAP to make Talon lose some CS. And suddenly - Talon reappears on the mid lane. You cleared minions too fast. Wave is in an unfavorable position for you. Talon can easily set up a freeze, zone you out of Gold and XP, and you can get ganked if you dare to come too close. And all of that just because your enemy broke the line of sight for a longer time. You can say your goodbyes to farm and wait for a wave bounce.
With one simple move, Talon puts you into a 50-50 mix-up situation. And you have to guess what is really going on so you can react accordingly. Choose wrong, and you can put yourself or your teammates into a lose-lose situation.
It is yet another essential aspect of proper vision control. It applies heavily to scenarios in which your team is behind, but it's applicable for every other occurrence in the game. Never put yourself in a situation in which you don't know what's happening around you. And you won't know what's going on without proper ward placement. Wards can easily prevent enemies from setting up ganks and ambushes, and you can basically keep track of rotating opponents. It will keep you safe, and you can force enemies to waste some time on changing their positions to stop you from taking some objectives.
Rule of thumb is simple when it comes to controlling regions of the map. Advance your vision first, then - advance your position. Players near the lower rank brackets make this mistake too often of just going in and letting everything happen. It's a game of chance for them. Enemies will or will not come. I will take the tower, or I will not. They don't think about the backlash that can happen. In the late-game, a single death can lead to lost Turret, Inhibitor, Dragon, or Baron. A few of these deaths and the enemy team is already at your Nexus. Vision in the jungle allows you to see which positions you can advance to set up scenarios where you can take the objectives.
Play this game like chess. League of Legends is a real-time strategy, and nothing will surprise you (except dumb teammates, those are always surprising). Advance your strategy all the time, think about your actions, and what can you gain from them. Without Vision - you will have to guess which move is the right one. But with a proper vision - you can react to various scenarios in the best way that will put you above your enemy in every outcome.
Setting up Objectives
You can take kills and do small skirmishes around the map. But if you focus too much on those things while ignoring the objectives - you significantly reduce the amount of pressure that you can put on the map. There are two ways of winning a match - enemy surrender or destruction of the opposite Nexus. Kills are just another way of making money, gaining some gold advantages, and being stronger than the enemy. Or so it seems in the beginning.
Kills will create huge windows of opportunity for potential objectives. If you have the right team, being in a 5v4 scenario will put the enemy team into a lose-lose situation. They can either fight you and, most of the time - lose. Or they can give up map pressure and objectives, as they have no chance of responding with a champion count disadvantage.
You should know what to fight for, and for which objectives should you go when the opportunity arises. The priority list looks like that:
Baron/ Rift Herald
Most of the time, it's better to stick to this list. However, it's not dead-set. Inhibitors and turrets stay on top of the list most of the time. But sometimes doing that quick Infernal instead of the Baron can give you a longer-term advantage. Basically - each decision should be crafted and customized in a way that will be the best for your current situation.
Preparing for an Objective
Taking an objective is a major step towards winning a game. It's always some gold for your team, additional buffs, status increases, stronger minion waves, and more area of control. There are lots of ways to set up objectives in a way that will always put your enemies in a lose-lose situation. And the same happens to you. This list will point you towards a few scenarios, so in your future games - you will be able to recognize those opportunities and use them to your advantage.
- Skirmishes - Small skirmishes are the basic foundation of early to mid game objective taking that you can work on with your team. Skirmishes are two or three guys teaming up to kill one or two members of the enemy team. Depending on circumstances, you will be able to secure a Tier 1 or Tier 2 tower, Herald, or Dragon, depending on the skirmish location.
- Minion Wave Distraction - A thing often overlooked in the lower elo brackets. As previously mentioned, proper wave manipulation can lead to an easier way and more opportunities for good trades on ganks. However, minions hold great power that should not be ignored. You should learn how to prepare large waves of minions to help you gain control in the mid-late game. Allowing a huge wave to crash on one tower can not only lead to destroying a tower through a siege. Minion waves can serve as some kind of distraction. Form up a massive wave at the bottom lane. Allow it to go past a certain point in between enemy tier 1 and tier 2 tower. If the enemy team ignores it - they waste a considerable amount of resources, while their tower slowly decays. On the other hand - if they send someone to claim it - you can be already on the other side of the map, taking another turret or one of the two Epic Monsters. It's a lose-lose situation for the enemy team.
- Playing Around Vision - Sometimes, just seeing some enemies on the other side of the map will be an excellent time to pick some objectives. With the right team on the red side, you can even melt Baron if your enemies are in their base. Having that knowledge about the enemy position will open up lots of possibilities, never forget that. Yet another reason that makes Vision Control so important.
- Split-pushing - A very complicated aspect of the game that is widely wrongly interpreted. The act of split-pushing revolves around allowing the strongest member of your team to focus on one lane combined with a terrifying presence. Brawlers with a high 1v2 or 1v3 potential, that also can push the lane reliably will be the best for that. Yorick, Darius, Tryndamere, or Illaoi will do great as split pushers. And outside of champion aspect - it's very complicated. Split-pushing splits the team into one person and a group of four. You need a good team to pull it off properly, which involves communication and some mutual understanding between you and your team. Split-pushers can take an objective by themselves, or allow their team to take some after a pack of enemies decides to collapse on a one-person threat. Just make sure that you have a decent team that specializes in a poke, disengages, or quick objective-melting capabilities. If they are not dedicated to that, your enemies will quickly demolish your team 5v4 and secure a few objectives in quick succession.
There are literally millions, if not billions of possible scenarios that can occur in a typical game of League of Legends. Having good macro knowledge will allow you to recognize a situation and adapt to it quickly, so you have a high chance of advancing your strategy. And while you could generally apply every piece of information to every lane, some differences should be mentioned. That's why every position and role will get its own macro guide that goes through everything from champion select to late-game, finishing at the end-game screen. As those come out, they will be listed here, so you don’t have to search for links elsewhere. Those will also appear on our main news page.
How to Improve Macro
Macro is a complicated thing in League of Legends. Improving it means basically heightening your game sense, and working on your skill of cold-reading the match. In the end, it’s all about adapting to your current situation in the most efficient way. Creating opportunities that will advance your strategy is the best win condition. Yet, sometimes it will be too complicated. So how do you improve something so vague, bizarre, and unstable?
Rewatch Your Games
In the heat of the moment, you will always be more prone to go for risky plays and decisions that are uncertain. The thing is - during the game - almost every decision you make can seem like the best one for your current situation. It’s hard to notice most of your mistakes because of that. This is why it’s important to look at your games after a few days to look at them with a clean unbiased mind.
Target the games where you thought that you did everything right and lost because of your team. While it might be the case, and you lost due to your teammates - sometimes you will see a few scenarios in which you could’ve done something differently and gain an additional advantage that could secure your victory.
Watch High-Elo Players
You don’t have to learn everything just from your experience. It might be a good idea to check one of the highest ranking streamers. Especially if they are playing your role. See how they react to certain scenarios. How do they play when they are ahead? How do they play when they are behind? What do they focus on in the game that you sometimes overlook? Do they focus on lane domination, objectives, or spreading the advantage across the map? How do they do it? You will find a lot of answers that way.
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Match Review Coaches
While watching high-elo players - you might see some things, and yet - still not notice everything that’s really going on beneath the surface. This is why it’s a good idea to watch someone who will tell you about all the little things, as they review the game. The two most notable players out there are Midbeast, and NEACE. You can learn a lot just by watching their game reviews. They can review a game in which a mid laner goes 6/0 easily in the lane when all other lanes are even. And yet they will know that mid laner’s poor macro knowledge will ultimately lose their game. They explain every little detail, and you can learn off some player’s mistakes just by watching these reviews.
Hire a Review Coach
The worst feeling you can have is thinking that you did everything great. Just to have it looked at by an honest professional that will point out your mistakes and prove you otherwise. But that harsh feeling can lead to a major improvement in your future matches. The first step is knowing that you are not doing something right.
Hiring a coach can be a great thing that will allow you to see those little things that you can work on. They will tell you everything: ,,You ignored your power-spike”, and ,,You should’ve traded there”, or ,,You left the lane too late and you lost 2 waves of CS”. It’s sometimes hard to notice by yourself, so it might be a good idea to actually hire someone. And you can do that on our site. Just head towards our League of Legends page, and look for offers like Coaching services. These might not be available sometimes so it’s possible that you will have to wait.
Play Macro-Focused Champions
Some champions are mechanic-heavy, possessing tools for beastly outplay potential. However - playing them will force you to focus more on micro-play. To learn macro-play and to really focus on it - you should consider picking a macro-heavy champion.
Forget about Akali, Vayne, Zed, or Katarina. Play someone who doesn’t have the tools to outplay their opponents. Champions like Rammus, Shen, Ashe, Maokai, or Twisted Fate will be amazing for this. They don’t depend on flashy plays, but on decision-making instead. Basically any CC-heavy tank will be great for practicing macro, in lane and in teamfights as well. Experience and theory is already a lot, but you have to work on putting those into your game. This way you can make the best out of a situation on the fly, with split-second decisions and no second guesses.
Split-push is that one Solo Queue tactic that will not only grant you some wins, but it will also teach you a lot about macro. This technique abuses the lack of team play of the enemy team and forces you to make quick decisions. It teaches you in a way that no other strategy can compare to it. The entire idea of splitting revolves around creating a huge amount of pressure, taking objectives, and forcing favorable fights. That’s all there is to it. But it shows you how things work. If you split-push properly not only you will take objectives. Your team can also use your windows of opportunity to take objectives themselves.
The Art of Split-push teaches you one valuable lesson. It’s a-ok to die when you are taking something from the enemy. You sacrificed yourself to allow your team to take the Mountain Drake? Perfect. You dived the enemy killing 2 other guys in the process and dying yourself? Fantastic. You finished inhibitor while the enemy team has collapsed on you? Well, you should’ve started running cuz you are basically removing 30-60 seconds off your pressure. But at least you took inhibitor, so minions pressure the lane. Learn split-push if you want to be a complete macro player, as it teaches you a lot about vision, map positioning, team compositions and wins conditions.
Working on Decision making
When it comes strictly to macro, it’s about challenging yourself, asking questions, and answering them in an instant. Where should I go? Should I split now or join my team in preparation for a fight? Should I go bot or top after respawning? Where exactly on the map will I be able to advance my strategy? You can’t face your opponent in lane but you can easily shove the lane over and over again? Do it, and then use a minion wave timer to your advantage to roam without losing many resources. Your enemy is much stronger than you and they are trying to roam? Let them roam, ping away for your team so your enemy wastes time while you shove the lane and go back to your base to purchase items. Or maybe follow them and catch them off-guard with your jungler?
Very important decisions occur also when you are super ahead. What exactly should you do to not lose the control of the game, and maintain your powerful position? Which objective should your team take after winning a teamfight? Inhibitor so you can open the base and gain some advantage macro-wise? Or should you head for the baron, and have a really high chance of winning next teamfight, or pushing with empowered minions? 30 seconds will be enough to do both of those things? Maybe you can send a mage to take an open inhibitor, while your ADC Jungler and Support take the baron? Ask yourself those questions constantly and with experience - you will find better and better answers
This is everything we’ve got for you for now. Buckle up for more content, as in the incoming weeks, we are going to release a special series of Macro Guides that will be crafted especially for all roles available in League of Legends. Check this guide or follow our News page, so you can find those guides when they hit live. See you on Summoner's Rift!