Every now and then, you will see posts on various platforms either teaching you how to “carry” a game or players asking how they can “carry” their team. It is a word that has been overused and has lost a lot of meaning. It is hard to pinpoint how a champion carries the game without looking at the various factors that contribute toward a “winning” position in the game.
In its traditional sense, being a carry means being the main source of consistent damage for your team. But a champion can also carry by providing utility to the team, gaining vision, helping with objectives, roaming and ganking to help other laners, and simply snowballing whatever lead you have.
In this article, we will go over the different ways a player can carry the game. The traditional definition of carrying includes dealing damage as its highest priority. We need to understand what kind of decision making leads to a victory, which includes damage but isn’t necessarily reliant on it.
Also check out: Solo carry in League of Legends Season 13
What Is A Carry?
A carry is someone who has a massive impact on the game through their actions. This is a vague statement because being a carry in itself is a complex topic. Some champions carry by dealing meaningful damage, while others create game winning situations using their utility. In the traditional sense, a carry simply refers to a carry champion.
A carry champion, in that sense, would be someone that has the ability to deal a large amount of damage. This is important because this damage will eventually win you the teamfight, allowing you to snowball your advantage and end the game. This is exactly why the bot lane role has been called “ADC” (Attack Damage Carry) for so long.
Various Champions can act as the carry depending on their kits, but the most common ones are Marksmen, Assassins, and Mages. These champions can either output a large burst of damage, using it to one-shot an enemy target, or simply provide a consistent source of strong damage that can turn the tide of the battle if they are not shut down.
Let us first go over these aspects of the game to understand how a carry ‘becomes’ a carry.
Dealing damage is, arguably, the most important aspect of the game. There are a lot of things in the game that help you win, but in the end, the one consistent factor will always be damage. You can not take down enemy structures without damage, nor can you ever kill enemy champions without damage. This is why the traditional way of recognizing a carry links them with the ability to deal damage.
An ADC will farm consistently to gain a healthy sum of gold, which will mainly be spent on buying items that amplify their damage. Once an ADC has enough items, they will ‘carry’ a teamfight by dealing continuous damage in the fight while staying alive by any means necessary. This damage will kill enemy champions, moving you further towards your victory.
Not all champions in League of Legends deal the same, or even similar, amounts of damage. Champions are balanced by putting their value in something other than damage in such cases. Utility is the ability of a champion to assist their own team or hinder the enemy team. This may include various things like shielding, healing, crowd control, buffs, debuffs, etc.
A champion can be considered a carry if their kit includes a game changing utility. A couple of good examples would be Orianna and Lissandra. Both of these are mages with decent damage. However, their strength lies in their W and R, since a lot of mages can out-damage them but without this added utility. A single Command: Shockwave from Orianna can turn the tides of the battle and win you a game that you otherwise would have lost.
Carrying A Game
So far we have discussed champions that are considered carries. Whenever someone wants to carry a game, they pick a carry champion because they feel like the ability to deal damage gives them enough agency in the game to decide the outcome of the game by themselves. But the truth is that a lot of champions can carry a game without dealing damage.
Instead of trying to pick a carry champion and trying to 1v9 a game, you should learn how the different aspects of the game come together to decide who wins and who loses. These are factors that you can influence with your play without playing a carry champion.
Understanding YOUR Carry Potential
Every Champion in League of Legends is different. They have different distributions of stats and power across their kit. Understanding how to carry using your champion depends on your ability to understand and execute your champion’s kit to its maximum potential. A Janna player will not be able to carry the game in the exact manner a Jinx does.
A jinx player needs to understand the importance of survival and damage. This would allow her to carry the fight by dealing continuous damage during a teamfight and killing opponents. An Ornn player, on the other hand, provides his team with free stats in the form of upgraded items. He also sets up engages, peels for his carries, and locks down important targets using his CC.
The easiest way to carry a game is to simply exploit the fact that every champion starts off weak. Every champion has poor stats at Level 1 and lacks gold to buy items. This is your best chance to snowball the game by outperforming your lane opponent. If you want to carry, you will need gold and experience, which you have the agency of gaining easily in the laning phase.
The first step to carrying a game is laning well. You will see a lot of high elo players suggest learning to lane before worrying about macro. This is because laning grants you the freedom to test out your skills against your lane opponent. Good recalls, wave management, CSing, and itemization can allow you to “win” your lane and use that advantage to carry the game once the laning phase ends.
Objectives in League of Legends consist of Structures and Epic Monsters. Objectives are your biggest win condition in League of Legends. Taking towers and inhibitors has always been one of the biggest ways to gain a lead. Starting from Season 10, Dragons became a great win condition for teams that prioritized them.
You can carry a game by simply making it easier for your team to get these objectives. Grouping up with your teammates when they plan on taking a Dragon, Rift Herald, or Baron Nashor can allow you to take the objective and even earn some free kills in the process. Stacking up in a lane to take turrets with the baron buff can allow you to further progress in the game.
Although you are not directly carrying the game by killing enemies on your own or dealing damage, just helping your team in securing these objectives is helping you secure the win. Your absence in these scenarios could allow the enemy team to gain the dragon instead and even win the fight.
Vision Control is a hugely underrated concept in low elo. Having wards in vital spots can allow you to spot the enemy in time, preventing them from sneaking an objective or attempting to ambush your carries. The notion that supports are unable to carry the game can be negated by this point alone.
By providing your team with good vision, you are ensuring that they die as little as possible (Defensive carrying). You can also set up kills by spotting enemies ahead of time. This allows you and your team to collapse on a solo target and assassinate them (Aggressive carry). Vision also allows you to choose your fights better when setting up for objectives.
If you are playing a roaming champion, a jungler, or support, then ganking is a very powerful tool for you. Knowing which lane to gank and when to gank will significantly improve your chances of success. Setting up other lanes for success gives you a much better chance of winning. A lead spread out over 5 separate champions is much better than having a single fed champion as it minimizes the chances of that champion getting focused and shut down.
Ganking not only allows you to get kills for yourself but can also relieve pressure from a lane. This allows the laner to gain priority and move to objectives first or roam before the enemy laner does. This is the literal definition of carrying as you are helping your teammates win their lanes, allowing them to perform better in the mid game.
Wave Management is a very important aspect of gaining control of the map. During the laning phase, having good wave management will allow you to win the lane. Recalling on a good wave will allow you to gain an item advantage without sacrificing exp or gold. Setting up a freeze will allow you to farm safely and expose enemy laner to jungle ganks.
Once you approach mid to late game, this wave management shifts to sidelaning. At this point, knowing when to collect waves will allow you to spend a lot of time with your team, preventing them from getting caught. Setting up waves in the sidelines can even allow you to create an artificial objective, forcing the enemy team to choose between collecting the wave or contesting Baron/Dragon.
Snowballing simply refers to the increase in a lead that is already present. Snowballing a gold advantage means that you increase the total gold you have over the enemy team. Snowballing allows you to get stronger at a faster pace than your enemies. This ensures that the gap continues to grow, and never shrinks.
Snowballing is just an extension of the concepts mentioned above. If you are looking to carry a game, you should always be looking for ways to get your team ahead and increase the lead you have already developed. Assisting your team in taking objectives, winning teamfights, and gaining map control will increase your chances of carrying the game.
Allowing Yourself To Get Carried
While everyone is looking to carry their games in any way possible, we must also talk about getting carried. Let’s just face it, you are not going to carry every single game. There will be games where someone else on your team can be the potential carry. At this point, it is your job to get carried.
Allowing yourself to get carried is also a form of carrying, as you are actively increasing your chances of victory with your actions. If you are behind in the lane phase, play safe. Give up CS to preserve HP when in a tough matchup. Avoid dying even if you have to take a suboptimal recall. You must make it as hard as possible for the enemy team to gain a lead. If you are behind, be willing to give your life just to save the life of an important carry on your team.
We looked at the various ways a champion can carry in League of Legends. Remember that carrying a game isn’t always the most practical option. Simply doing your best to minimize the lead that the enemy team can accumulate, or helping your team snowball their lead are essentials of carrying a game.
You should also check out: LoL Ping Reduction Guide