12 Jul 2011

Guide to map awareness

This guide is for people who want to get better at League of Legends, but please don't come here knowing nothing about the game. Map awareness is not something you should learn until you are fairly competent. Bear in mind, most of this guide assumes you already use wards. If you don't use them, please read this warding guide first.

What is map awareness?
Map awareness is a tool you must take advantage of if you want to take your League of Legends play to the next level. Essentially, it's watching the minimap during a match so you can see what's going on in all the lanes. The main reason to do this is to protect yourself. If the enemy team are on their way for a gank, you need to be prepared. If you are ready and position yourself correctly it can save your life when the enemy disrupts your lane.

When everyone is in the laning phase, you want to be able to move freely to harass and last hit. However, if you start pushing or getting brave, you could get surprised by additional enemies if you don't watch the map. If you know someone is heading your way, not only can you avoid the surprise, you can turn the tables by cutting them off.

I have team mates to call missing for me, why should I learn map awareness?
When you play a game if your team has to say MIA for you to realise the enemy is missing, I have to say you are doing it wrong. This is a crutch. Experienced players will watch the minimap consistently throughout the match, so they can see missing enemy champions who may be coming to gank them. I'm not saying don't call miss, just don't expect your team will always call it for you.

You can always get a better grasp of what's going on by seeing it yourself. If you're playing a game without voice communication or a team, utilizing the ability to see all the lanes is vital to your success. Not just to avoid dying, but to see good gank opportunities and when to cover other lanes so the tower doesn't get pushed.

Developing map awareness
Watching the map and laning at the same time is impossible, which is why you need to practice glancing at it every 1-10 seconds. It can be really tricky, but once you get into the habit of doing this, you'll start to notice when people leave their lanes. Wards are a good incentive to keep an eye on the minimap.

Try using clairvoyance for a few games, it can get your team kills throughout the game if you use it right.

Early game/laning phase
As the game begins, check which champions are in lanes adjoining yours, and also if there are any junglers. These are the people who have quick access to you, so adjust your playstyle and positioning accordingly.

If someone disappears off the map during the creep wave don't react immediately, but you should start planning for their entrance if you think they might be coming or you are on low health.

When you get a free moment, try quickly browsing the other lanes so you can see how each person is doing. Look for good gank opportunities, if the enemy is on low health and pushing, you can dash there to seize a kill or two.

Early on dragon takes longer and leaves people vulnerable. It's best to wait for the other team to go first. If the enemy attempts dragon, you could co-ordinate a kill, or steal it if you can.

Mid/Late game
Map awareness is still important, but at this stage the enemy team will go missing for long periods of time unless your team buys some wards (ward guide). It's highly advisable you don't screw around without your team or a tower unless you know where most of their champions are.

You will also be switching lanes at will, using the map to hunt for precious gold and such. However, now everyone will have a new primary objective, kills and towers. Try to keep track of enemy movements, and gather your team to either intercept them or defend their push. Watch dragon and baron, since getting the jump on the other team at this stage is a game-winning advantage.

If one or two enemy team members are overextended and the others are missing, it's very likely the whole team is nearby, trying to bait you out. The best counter to this is to engage with your all your allies and hit them with your full strength before they can muster theirs.

Sometimes when the enemy team is pushing relentlessly, you can go to another lane and counterpush to relieve pressure. Just make sure you leave as soon as it gets risky. Since a death can lead to imminent loss late game, stay in range of your team unless you have a reason not to.

I hope this guide has helped you with your map awareness. If you feel I am missing anything, please comment and I shall do my best to fulfil your wish.

If you are looking for other guides, you can find them here.

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