Recently, one of you guys asked to see more personal stories showcasing my experiences in League of Legends. Normally I’m not as fond of doing that sort of thing unless there’s a moral in the story somewhere. I like teaching, so that is what the Guidebook does a lot of. The column’s name is the Summoner’s Guidebook for that reason, after all!
However, I was thinking about it when I was playing last week, and I ended up playing a really great unranked, blind pick game. The outcome was very close, and the overall dynamics of the game were a firm reminder of why I play League of Legends. There was no “mid or feed.” It began with good communication by our team and good sportsmanship by both teams at the end. In my mind, that makes this story one worth sharing with you.
Please select your character!
Champion selection is frequently one of the more frustrating parts of the game. There’s nothing worse than knowing that your team is going to lose because two guys decided to fight over mid or ADC or jungle.
Right at the start, one of our team said, “I’d like top,” and soft-locked Riven, a reasonable top lane choice. She continued, though, with, “I can play anything but jungle if we need it.” The team was already to a good start.
I continued the trend. “Pref adc but can jungle,” I said. I finished with, “Really anything but mid is OK.” I didn’t soft-lock anyone, but my plan was to play Graves. Shortly thereafter, one player picked Katarina, while another picked a carry. I want to say she picked Caitlyn, but I actually don’t remember, and Caity was free at the time. The final player said, “I’ll support, guys,” and picked Leona. I soft-locked Udyr with Smite.
“I have a good feeling about this team,” said Riven. I replied, “Always nice to talk before the game starts.” We locked in and readied ourselves for the battlefield.
The enemy team was Shen, Olaf (with Smite), Lux, Quinn, and Lulu.
Beginning the laning phase
We spawned on the blue team side, and Leona and Caitlyn headed off to their side of the map. We weren’t really expecting or going for any sort of early game invasion, which was probably a bad idea in hindsight. I positioned myself at the wolves spawn, letting my team know my plan was to go wolves and then blue golems. I didn’t telegraph any intent to do an early red steal; I was unfamiliar with the new jungle and wasn’t sure how my health would look while going for Olaf’s red. Additionally, Olaf clears the jungle fairly quickly, and unless Kat or Riven came up to help me invade, it would be likely that stealing his red would end in a fight I couldn’t win.
Kat and Riven both came to assist a bit with my clearing efforts. I did wolves and blue very quickly thanks to their help and ran off to do the rest of my route. As I cleared my double golems and hit level 3, I noticed Lux pushed up way into Kat’s lane. I decided to level Bear Stance and skip going for my red buff in order to help Kat out. As Lux pushed past the center of mid lane, I Flashed out of the brush with the spirit of the Bear to boost my speed. We cornered Lux and she ran up the river and Flashed over a wall to escape my gank. While I hadn’t scored a kill, I’d at least traded my Flash for hers. I returned to my jungle and continued clearing.
I cleared my red lizard and based, having been a bit beaten up by the lizard elder, minion aggro from the Lux gank attempt, and just the general wear and tear from the jungle. I moved out to clear more, and I noticed some slight push going on by Quinn and Lulu. I stormed across the map to bottom lane, hoping to get there in time to make something happen.
My flash was down, but Quinn made the mistake of being too aggressive from the blue-side bottom lane bush. Sprinting out of the river without any Flash, I made my presence known. However, I would not make it to Quinn in time. Fortunately, Leona responded perfectly, landing a Zenith Blade and rooting Quinn in place. Even with Whimsy stopping Caitlyn from dealing damage, Leona and I locked down Quinn for so long that a kill was assured. Caitlyn picked up the killing blow and the first blood of the game.
And the early game winners are…
I continued through my jungle rotation after the first blood, wondering aloud, “Has anyone even seen Olaf?” Almost as I had pressed the enter key to ask, Olaf showed up for Riven’s blood. Fortunately, Riven escaped with a small fraction of health left. Knowing that it was about seven minutes into the game and Olaf was in top lane, I took the opportunity to steal his blue golems. I was in a bit of a conundrum, since I had taken Olaf’s blue, mine was respawning, and neither Kat nor Riven needed the blue buff. I ended up just munching it myself later, since Olaf didn’t think to counter-jungle. I realize I should have fed his blue to Leona, but she was deep in her lane. Mistakes happen, I suppose.
More fighting occurred; Riven fed two kills to Shen in top lane. Kat traded with Lux once, and I pulled off three more successful ganks. Two were in bottom lane, feeding another to Caitlyn and getting one myself (oops!). Olaf had one assist on Riven, but had otherwise done nothing, and I had stolen a lot of his jungle camps. We were pretty decisively ahead in the laning phase.
During a bout of aggression, we had a 4-man push (me, Kat, and the two bottoms) in bottom lane, looking to take their tower. In the meantime, Riven died to Shen and Olaf, and we lost our first top tower. With only Lux there to defend, we breached the tower easily and feasted on Lux’s gold. As I walked up the river to ward, I noticed that the dragon was gone: Quinn, Lulu, and possibly Shen had killed it while we were pushing. Not good.
Even though we were up a few kills, the presence of the dragon gold led me to believe that the game was close to even. I was frustrated at myself, since I had not warded dilligently enough.
The enemy team grouped up at our mid turret, and because of a somewhat sloppy initiation by myself, we were cleaned up and lost our first mid turret. It was a pretty decisive loss, and our early lead had evaporated. Now behind a turret, a dragon, and even on kills, we were definitely on the back foot. Shen took this moment to talk trash in all-chat. I won’t repeat what he said.
Turning the tables?
Our game was going along in true storybook fashion. By that, I mean that after our early demonstration of strength, the enemy was taking a commanding lead and we were caught licking our wounds. Two more lost teamfights occurred, and while we did manage to split push down some towers and take the second dragon of the game, we were still pretty far behind. I vocalized my feelings. “It’s not over, but it’s mostly over.”
Still, we were not totally out of the fight. We had lost a lot of minor engagements and asymmetric fights, but we had won all but one of the fights where everyone was together. Our composition was well-suited to it; with two CC-ing tanks (plus Riven too), Katarina’s AoE damage, and Caitlyn to clean up, we had a more cohesive team comp. It was just a matter of making things happen.
After a won teamfight on the other side of the map, both sides were down five turrets. We pushed down their turrets, and I expressed a desire to go for Baron. We were about level 16, so we were going to need the whole team. Caity displayed some disinterest in this plan. “We need to win a teamfight,” she said.
Of course, she was right. However, as I had predicted, positioning our team at Baron had not gone unnoticed. We didn’t have an Oracle, and I was sure there were wards. I saw a ward get dropped in the Baron pit, and as Riven and Caitlyn hesitantly went up to Baron, they spotted enemies. The enemy team was split up, with someone near Baron and the others in our jungle.
Our whole team dived on the people in our jungle. A Leona combo held them in place while Kat spun to win, and the entire team melted away. Even Riven got a kill. Humorously, I ran around the top of the Baron pit to see whether whoever placed the ward was there, and sure enough, there was Olaf. My entire team jumped over the wall to assist me (except for Riven). Olaf died in an instant.
“There, we just won a teamfight,” I retorted.
Finish the fight
Baron went down quickly and cleanly, and our team stormed down the enemy’s lanes, breaking towers and inhibitors. It felt almost like a bot match; we still had a bit of Baron buff time left when we were breaking the opposing nexus turrets, and the only thing deterring us was Lux’s respawn. Anyone who left the summoner platform was CCed and killed in moments, and we won handily.
“GG WP” came the enemy messages in all-chat.
After the game, the enemy Lulu and Lux congratulated us. Shen continued his badmouthing, and we encouraged reporting him. Likewise, we also gave props to the enemy for proving to be dangerous foes. It was a heart-pounding game for the 35 minutes or so it took, and it was a great reminder of how fun League can be.