Proper Wave Management: Basic and Advanced Techniques
Hello from the other side, Angelo “Misleading” from Zenith eSports here!
Understanding proper wave management is a necessary stepping stone on the journey to becoming a competent League of Legends player. Mastering wave management techniques is something you can do to take a step out of mediocrity and make a step towards excellence. Being a master at wave management can make the difference between winning or losing a game (or whether or not you succeed in your promotion series). When you understand proper wave management, you can create interesting opportunities. You are able to cause pressure on specific areas of the map given enough time and patience. You can control how long you or your opponent is vulnerable to jungle ganks or roams. You can also force the enemy team into situations where they have to choose between losing one of two objectives (and even prevent yourself from having to do the same). Effective wave management is an easy skill to learn but it can be relatively difficult to master (unless you have proper guidance).
Wave Management Factors
There are three factors that need to be considered in wave management: (1) the position of the wave, (2) the size of the wave, and (3) the flow of the wave.
Position of the wave: Where are the minions currently fighting on the map? (e.g. in the middle of lane)
Size of the wave: How large is the minion wave? (e.g. there are more than 10 minions)
Flow of the wave: Which direction is the minion wave pushing? (e.g. the wave is pushing away)
These three factors should be regularly communicated to your team. Minions waves are a necessary component in objective-related opportunities. A minion wave’s position can change how vulnerable you or your opponent might be to jungle interference. The size of a minion wave can cause psychological pressure on you or your opponent or it can signal the junglers to head over to dive or defend. The flow of a minion wave can help you predict where the minion wave will be in a certain amount of time. At the end of the day, minion waves influence you, your allies, and your opponent’s positioning and decision-making.
If the position of the minion wave is on your opponent’s side, then you are vulnerable to outside interference. If you don’t know where the enemy jungler is or an enemy champion is missing from an adjacent lane, you should play more cautiously. If the position of the wave is on your side, then your opponent is vulnerable to external interference and you should ask your jungler to lend his influence to your lane.
The size of the wave creates opportunities to siege objectives or coordinate dives. If a minion wave is large and is about to arrive at the enemy turret, you could call an ally to help dive and kill your opponent under his turret (or do it yourself). On the flip side, if a large minion wave is about to crash into your turret, you should be wary of being dove by your opponents, especially if you are in danger of taking fatal amounts of damage.
The flow of a minion wave will tell you which direction the wave is going and can be used to estimate where the wave will be at a certain point in time. If you can read the flow of minion waves, you can use it to predict when you should be able to pressure objectives. Sometimes, by controlling the flow of minion waves, you can force your opponent to choose between going to lane and defending his turret or joining his team in contesting Dragon. Coordinating this information with your jungler can help him/her adjust his jungle pathing so he can be where he needs to be at the right time.
Basic Wave Management
There are two fundamental ways to influence a lane: (1) Soft/Slow pushing and (2) Hard/Fast pushing
Soft/Slow pushing involves disturbing the minion wave as little as possible. The only time you attack minions is when they are within fatal damage from your auto attack. You focus on last hitting. For those of you who don’t know what last hitting is, last hitting is the process where you only attack minions to deal the killing blow. (Dealing the killing blow to minions earns you a gold reward).
Hard/Fast pushing involves using your auto attacks and abilities to damage and kill enemy minions. You do not restrict yourself to only last hitting. You still make an effort last hit but you do not wait for them to reach low health. You actively deal damage to minions regardless of how much health they have.
Advanced Wave Management
Advanced wave management takes the fundamentals of basic wave management and applies the three wave management factors of position, size, and flow.
Resetting a Minion Wave
Resetting the wave is a technique where you influence the lane such that the flow of the minion wave changes. Resetting the wave typically involves hard/fast pushing the minion wave to the enemy turret (or letting your enemy hard/fast push the minion wave into your turret). When done properly, the minion wave should change in flow direction. Defending minions will naturally begin clump as they arrive to defend their turret. This gives the defending minions a combat advantage and give them flow control. If all minions are completely cleared, however, minions will meet in the middle and the flow of the minions wave are neutralized (or in other words, reset).
Building a Minion Wave
Building a large wave of minions on your own is relatively simple technique. First, you need to establish a slight numbers/health advantage for your minion wave. Not too much of an advantage though because you want to create time for your wave to build. Once you have a small advantage, focus on soft/slow pushing. A great time to switch from soft/slow pushing to hard/fast pushing is when your minion wave is two to three waves large and has a siege minion. The farther away you begin building the wave, the larger the wave can become. The position of where you start building the wave is very important.
Freezing a Minion Wave
Freezing a minion wave starts off with building a wave for your opponent and letting it soft/slow push towards you and your turret. You want to let the enemy minion wave have an advantage, but you do not want it to be any larger than two waves (12 minions). The key components of a successful freeze is keeping a disadvantage against the enemy minion wave and not allowing the enemy minion wave to enter your turret range. (Remember, you need to make minions crash into turret to break freezes!) Sometimes, it is necessary to take damage form minions to hold the minions in place and prevent them from wandering into turret fire. High health regeneration or a decent amount of lifesteal allows you to freeze for longer.
The three images above should guide you on initially setting up a freeze. The three images below show you how to properly freeze your lane whether or not you set it up initially or not.
Some Final Words
If your goal is to climb the Ranked ladder or increase your technical prowess, proper wave management will become more and more of a necessity. It’s not always the best option to hard/fast push a minion wave nor is it always the best option to soft/slow push a minion wave. It all depends on your current situation and the contingencies that exist for that particular situation. How will you know when to apply which basic or advanced wave management techniques? Experience. The more you practice active wave management, the faster you will understand how to apply and when to apply it. We will go over a variety of situations you can create with effective wave management in another article but until then, try to become a master of wave management by yourself.
Article written by Angelo “Misleading” Rodriguez