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October 30, 2011 / realelohell

Article 11: Timing (fundamentals)

Following the previous article on decision making, an appropriate follow up article would be on timing.  Timing is a major factor to consider when making a call in League of Legends.  A potentially good decision can have a disastrous result if executed with bad timing.  Timing (or a lack thereof) is the reason why ganks or objectives fail.  This article explains how to assess and improving your timing.

Anyone who has ever been familiar with StarCraft: Broodwar or even its sequel, Starcraft II, is probably aware of the “timing attack”.  The timing attack is a specialized strategy designed to exploit a weakness in an opponent’s build, and when executed can be extremely difficult to stop (unless the defender is prepared for the attack at that specific timing). [ref: Timing Attack article on TL Liquipedia – http://wiki.teamliquid.net/starcraft/Timing_Attack]  However, in League of Legends (especially solo queue games), because of the team based aspect, timing is a much more difficult concept to take advantage of.

Having good timing is, at its core, just having the ability to quickly and efficiently process (and act on) information.  Now don’t get me wrong, players with good timing aren’t supercomputing robots that can process information in microseconds.  Having good timing is just about processing previous information and making educated guesstimates.

Timing and player roles

Which role on the team requires the best timing during the lane phase?

  1. During the early to mid game portions of the game, the player with the most crucial need for a good sense of timing is the jungler.  The jungler is the one who is going to make the most plays happen during the laning phase.  Most of the time, it’s going to be the jungler who decides to take dragon, steal buffs, counterjungle, gank lanes, etc, and all of these objectives require good timing to be successful.  I’m sure many people (if not everyone) have had those “bad jungler” experiences; when the jungler’s sense of timing is bad, or just “off”, things just don’t seem to go your team’s way.
  2. The other role on the team that requires good timing during the lane phase is whoever is playing the mid lane.  This is because if the mid lane decides to gank top or bottom, a good sense of timing is needed to be able to successfully pull them off.
  3. Lastly, whoever is playing top or bottom requires the least developed sense of timing.  The only real sense of timing needed for players playing these roles is knowing when to come down (from top lane), knowing when to dragon (from bottom lane), and anticipating ganks.  Arguably of these roles, someone playing support at bottom lane is going to require marginally more timing for good CVs (clairvoyance summoner spell usage) and ward placement.

Which role on the team requires good timing during the team fighting phase?

  1. During this phase of the game, if the person who is going to be initiating fights for your team has a well developed sense of timing, your team is going to be initiating far more favorable fights, leading to potentially better outcomes.

Timing assessment

Ask yourself this question:

Do I think I have good timing?

Most people are going to see this question and automatically answer: “Yes, I do.”  But really be honest with yourself.  Just like an alcoholic attending an AA meeting, you’re gaining nothing by lying and being defensive.

Ask yourself these following questions too:

  1. How often do I jungle? (hint: successful junglers have a good sense of timing)
  2. When jungling, how many (on average) ganks do I attempt per game?
  3. How many of these ganks succeed?
  4. Who’s ganks are more successful, mine or the enemy jungler?
  5. How often do I think about ganking when playing mid?
  6. How often do I successfully gank when playing mid lane?
  7. Do I frequently make successful calls during the course of a game?
  8. Do I “zone out” often during the course of a game – IE: develop a fixation for one portion of the map.
  9. Am I keeping up to date on how the game is going?
  10. Can I accurately assess how the game is going?

If you ask yourself these questions, and most of your answers come up negative, chances are your sense of timing could use some work.  And even if your answers to these questions are positive, it doesn’t hurt to improve right?

Improving your timing

Unfortunately, improving your timing isn’t as easy as improving a normal game mechanic (like last hitting).  But there are steps you can take which can gradually improve your sense of timing.

Like I mentioned earlier, timing is simply keeping up to date with events in game, and making educated guesses on what you think will likely happen in the future, then responding accordinglyYou don’t need to have insanely quick reaction speed to have good timing.  You simply need to look at what has happened throughout the course of the game, and come up with some potential situations that will likely occur because of previous history.

Things you should be thinking about when trying to improve your sense of timing during the game:

Keep up to date on what else is happening around the map.

  • If you’re jungling, playing mid lane, or support, you should be constantly looking around the map for opportunities or objectives.  If you’re playing top lane or bottom lane AD, you should be looking around as well, though less frequently, as you only need to look for potential dangers.

– Know what items your team currently has, and what items the enemy team currently has.

  • Looking around the map doesn’t just mean checking out another lane briefly then going back to autopiloting last hits in lane.  You need to think about the potential ramifications of what you (briefly) saw.  Is the enemy mid lane fed?  If he gets into range in a gank, will that mean a guaranteed kill?  If so, you to be ready for the gank, and if he does decide to come, you’ll want to do everything you can to prevent him from getting into range.

– Know the timing of objectives (buff spawn times, dragon spawn time, baron spawn time).

  • Did the 2nd or 3rd blue buff just spawn?  Maybe the enemy mid is going to collect it first before ganking your lane.  Did dragon just spawn again?  If the enemy team successfully ganks bottom, it could mean a free uncontested dragon.

Know the importance of objectives at certain stages in the game.

  • If it’s 40 minutes into the game, chances are the enemy team is going to be focused on trying to get baron.  At this point in the game, both teams gravitate towards pushing top and mid, usually sending one person bottom to farm when minions get up to the team’s closest tower.  At this point you know baron is the objective to get.  This means that now is not the time for 3 people to go try to pick up dragon.

– Try to predict enemy movements.

  • It’s 40 minutes into the game and your team doesn’t have wards on the map.  However, there are only so many objectives to be done (if you don’t see the enemy team farming minions on a lane).  The enemy team could be preparing to kill baron, killing jungle monsters, getting buffs, sending 1 person off to quickly get dragon (not too likely), and positioning themselves to catch someone on your team.  With this information, you can likely deduce that the enemy team is going to be killing baron (if your team isn’t overextended), or trying to catch someone on your team (if that person is overextended in a lane).

Example 1:

It’s early on in the game, you’re playing support at bottom and you take a quick look at mid lane.  You see the lane pushed towards your mid player’s tower, with the enemy Annie out of sight.  You pressed tab earlier and saw that the enemy Annie only has boots 1, but has 2 Doran’s rings, and is level 6 already.

What do you immediately conclude from this information?  Where has mid lane gone?

Some possibilities are:

A) Went back to base.

B) Went to collect a buff.

C) Went to kill jungle creeps. (yours or theirs)

D) Went to gank top lane

E) Went to gank bottom lane

F) Went to help jungler with dragon

Of these possibilities, the most important one that pertains to you would be if the enemy mid lane came to gank bottom.  You should thus be prepared for a gank in the (roughly) 15 seconds it takes for mid to come down river.  This doesn’t mean that you should be spamming “bbbbbb” and telling your ranged AD to run, but you should be prepared to run, and know not to do anything stupidly aggressive and dangerous at this point in time.

This way, if the enemy mid does end up coming to gank you – you will be prepared to run instantly.  “Good timing” is just a matter of making logical guesses and being prepared for the results.

Example 2:

You’re playing jungle Amumu, and you just finished your first clear.  You go back and pick up boots 1.  You have double buff and are prepared to gank a lane.  Your top lane has been asking for help since lvl 1, as the enemy top lane champion hard counters his own pick.  Your mid lane has been bragging about how bad the enemy mid lane is, and has gotten first blood on the enemy mid lane.  Bottom lane is playing passively, with both sides just farming minions.

At this point, you basically have four options:

A) Jungle some more (kind of pointless since you have double buff and are ready to gank).

B) Gank bottom lane.

C) Gank enemy top lane since he is destroying your top lane.

D) Be prepared to help out mid if he gets ganked.

Now at this point, you see the enemy top lane continuously pushing and playing aggressive against your top lane.  You know he doesn’t have a ward since he didn’t go back, so you go gank top.  But you should realize that the enemy jungle is going to be looking to gank your mid lane, and be ready to act anytime to help/countergank mid.  If you’re already aware of the situation at mid, you can act quickly when something happens, and be “that right person at the right time”.

Cliffs/TLDR:

– Having a good sense of timing, though hard to quantify, is a useful skill to have in League of Legends.

– Successful junglers require good timing.

Having good timing is just a matter of being aware of the situation of your team in game, making educated guesses, and reacting properly when the time comes.

– Try to actively get a feel for your sense of timing and ways to improve it – it’s not going to come easy, and you might not even notice any improvements in the short run, but it’s worth doing.

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2 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Crushing Nuts / Dec 5 2011 11:50 am

    Do you know the specific respawn time of dragon, blue and red buff and baron?

    • realelohell / Dec 5 2011 12:12 pm

      dragon first spawns at 2:30 into the game, and respawns every 6 minutes after
      blue/red spawns at 1:54 and respawns every 5 minutes
      baron spawns at 15:00 into the game and respawns every 7 minutes

      you can find all that information on the LoL wikia page: http://leagueoflegends.wikia.com/wiki/Monster

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