During the 2019 World Championship, Hotspawn met with former Clutch Gaming mid laner Tanner “Damonte” Damonte about his experience at the tournament and his thoughts about the state of mid lane in North America:
“The playstyle of a lot of mids in North America is holding down the region,” he said. “You see players like [Rasmus “Caps” Winther]. When he gets an advantage he goes to the side lane, he doesn’t just stay mid and hit the turret. A lot of players in NA just plant themselves in mid and make all their teammates come to their mid lane and that’s how they lay the game. No one plays that way at Worlds.”
Fans saw the truth in Damonte’s words when FunPlus Phoenix, helmed by the roaming mid laner Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang, went on to win the 2019 World Championship. In Season 10, mid lane remains one of the most important roles in League of Legends. The pace of the game has accelerated, with more objectives to fight over earlier in the game and less time to tunnel on farming for items.
The days of “win lane, win game” have passed. Getting active on the map as soon as possible is the best way for mids to lead their team to victory.
changed my playstyle to just roaming and won almost every game today what a disgusting yet effective way to win soloq
lane kingdom is OVERRATED!! JUST ROAM
— bobqin (@bobqinXD) May 25, 2020
In previous seasons, one of the most surefire ways to have control over your impact in-game as a mid laner was to focus solely on your own play, starting from the laning phase. Especially with the introduction to turret palting in Season 9, this strategy seemed like a no-brainer.
Season 10 introduced changes centered around the jungle in particular that added a risk factor to AFK farming in lane, and if you haven’t picked up on it yet, it may be affecting your ability to climb this season. Jungle experience is more volatile, Elemental Rift has pushed dragons to become a top priority from spawn, and two Rift Heralds means two ways to crack the game wide open before 20 minutes.
As a mid laner, your new responsibility is to use level and wave timings to get out of lane as soon as possible to help your jungler out in early objective skirmishes and act as a constant pressure point for your bot lane.
Champions with high built-in mobility excel at this. Assassins like Katarina, LeBlanc, Ahri, Fizz, and Talon have had unique prevalence recently simply because they can reliably come to the aid of their teammates at a fight or objective before the enemy mid can. That roaming playstyle is typical for assassins, but the mindset is applicable to most mid lane champions in Season 10, and has given hard-scaling mages a unique edge in the meta.
On a champion like Ryze, Corki, or Kassadin, a perfect laning phase looks like you hitting your first completed item with a 0/0/0 scoreline. Taking less risks to reap higher rewards isn’t as safe a strategy as one might think, however. With the power of runes like the new Presence of Mind, as well as Manamune builds on scaling AD champions, gold from kills and assists rather than solely farming minions can go a long way. Getting on the map before hitting your key items can not only help you reach power spikes faster, but crucially, it will help snowball your teammates to carry you into the late game where you can shine.
Take a look at this game from reigning world champion Doinb, for example. In this match against Team WE from March 2020, Doinb plays Kassadin into Zoe. Normally, Zoe would have free reign to harass Kassadin for most of the laning phase, but Doinb doesn’t allow this to happen. He instead rotates first in two crucial moments: first, to help his bot lane, and another time to help his jungler and top laner.
These plays happen nearly back-to-back, leaving Doinb with little time to catch up on CS against his opponent. Instead, he gains two assists and one kill out of the ordeal and is able to complete his Rod of Ages right after.
Why this works in solo queue
So what does this mean for those of you looking to climb in the mid lane? It means that the best way for you to take your games into your own hands and take advantage of the strength of mid lane is to play the early game out like a second jungler. Looking for chances to extend your lead to the rest of the team doesn’t only happen after you’ve solo-killed your lane opponent three times. Especially starting at level six, shoving in your lane and cutting away to look for a roam goes a long way, even as a feign.
This style of play opens up a safer and more consistent avenue for you to play hard scaling champions with incredible late game power with less consequence. You have all of the insurance of having a Ryze or Kassadin to hard carry later on, without exposing yourself to a bad lane matchup or aggressive mid/jungle 2v2 to starve you off of minions.
Perhaps most importantly for solo queue, roaming serves as a way to keep your teammates on your side from the very beginning. How’s your jungler or ADC going to flame you when you’re constantly trying to help them get ahead by joining them in early skirmishes around scuttle or turning a bot lane 2v2 into a 2v3? The mid lane is a unique position in which you can have an impact on the map that’s as significant as a jungler’s. Investing resources into your other carries contributes more to winning a game than hard focusing on your own lane. There’s no point in being up in kills and CS on your laner if by the end of laning phase the rest of your team is 0/3; it’s still a losing scenario despite looking good in a highlight reel.
Next time you queue up mid lane, remember to use the strength of the role to your advantage. You’ll find yourself netting more wins by shoving in the enemy mid and locking them in place while you make plays with your team.