Split-pushing is a contentious topic in lower ranked games in League of Legends. Have you ever tried to split-push toplane while your team keeps fighting midlane, only to be blamed when they lose a 4v5 fight? It’s rough. There’s a time and a place to split, and knowing when it benefits your team can help assure you victory against teams with weaker macro control.
Before we get into it, not everyone is entirely familiar with macro terminology so here’s a quick rundown:
These will be teams that want to fight front-to-back. Usually, you’ll have a tankier frontline provided by a toplaner, a control mage in the mid-lane, and a scaling adc with a support (and maybe a jungler too, depending) who can provide peel for carries.
Teamfight compositions won’t want to split push – it will be infinitely better for your laners to group and look for fights around objectives than it will be for your Ornn to try to push a solo-lane.
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Contrary to the belief of your silver teammates, just because you start the game in one lane doesn’t mean you should spend the rest of the game there. Often, after tier 1 towers have fallen it’s better to move around the map based on your advantages and weaknesses.
ADCs are less comfortable in long lanes without the safety of a tower due to their lack of mobility, so they’d rather farm the mid-wave later in the game than catch minions in a long lane without an escape.
Toplaners are usually champions that feel safer in longer lanes and and because they usually have Teleport, they’re able to push waves on the opposite side of the map from objectives without conceding them – your top laner can push out the botlane while baron is on the map and still be able to threaten baron, while if your jungler tries to catch the bottom wave it can spell disaster when the enemy team rushes Baron and takes it before you make it across the map to respond.
Mid-laners with teleport or champions with global movement abilities like Twisted Fate or Galio are also capable of catching waves across the map without conceding pressure (though its rarely worth it for Galio support or Shen support to be catching solo waves regardless of their ability to move quickly)
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1:4 is the standard strategy in higher level play where the wave closest to an objective will be set-up to slow push out while a splitpusher or solo laner with teleport will catch and push the wave on the opposite side of the map.
This allows 4 members fight for mid priority and to move together to establish vision creating a situation where the enemy team will have to catch the slowpushing wave, respond to the solo laner, and contest the mid-lane.
In transitioning between these goals, the more organized team is capable of looking for picks on members who are moving through the river or jungle with a numbers advantage provided that they have vision, or are able to collapse on the enemy solo-laner who is contesting the splitpusher.
The 1:4 strategy is the most common when contesting neutral objectives as it creates a situation where the enemy team has to respond to several different factors – if they move to clear out vision your sololaner knows they are safe to extend without fear of a collapse, if they move to contest the objective you’re free to contest towers and inhibitors across the map, and if they send a member to catch the slowpushing wave then you will have a numbers advantage in the midlane where you can look for an engage to fight and then move to an objective afterwards.
The weakness of the 1:4 strategy is that it’s extremely teleport cooldown reliant – you can only push the lane across the map from Baron if you have teleport or else you’re conceding a 4v5 fight if the enemy laner leaves vision and groups with the enemy team.
If you’re playing against a team who is executing a 1:4 strategy often it’s a good idea to try to force the enemy team to commit a teleport to a fight before the objective spawns – this way you can either choose to fight if you have a better angle than the enemy (especially if your laner can get a good teleport flank) or you can choose to disengage and blow the enemy teams teleport cooldown at no cost.
If none of your laners have teleport up, they can sit in the lane closer to the neutral objective instead after you’ve prepped the wave across the map to slowpush – but this means that an opposing laner with teleport or movement abilities can explot your lack of ability to move quickly and can force you respond to a pushing wave quickly if you don’t have pressure elsewhere on the map.
You always want to be asking yourself – can I respond to dragon/baron fights if I need to from where I am? Do I have vision of enemies across the map? Do I have pressure anywhere else on the map? If the answer to any of these is “no” you need to address those issues before you afk push down the lane and hope for the best.
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This strategy is very similar to a 1:4 but is harder to execute – it requires your team to have two solo champions who can contest sidelanes without losing the 1v1 and it requires your adc/support/jungle trio to have strong enough disengage that they won’t just get immediately jumped on and killed in the midlane when your teammates leave.
Usually, it will be safer to 1:4 unless you have a serious advantage, then the strength of the 1:3:1 is the ability to push waves compared to the 1:4’s ability to contest objectives and create pressure points at several places on the map that require a macro response.
More often than not you’ll see a champion move to the sidelane just to catch the wave and set a slow-push back towards the enemy, often not even pushing the wave to the point of danger past the river and then returing to group with the team.
The largest strength of the 1:3:1 is in pushing waves, especially with the baron buff, when trying to siege. If you’re against a team with significant waveclear you might struggle to crack inhibitor turrets if you ARAM but if you sync three waves you can force the enemy team to concede somewhere on the map because their main source of waveclear can’t be three places at once.
This will also allow you to pivot between lanes and to crack several inhibitor towers (and maybe even inhibitors) in the same push which can be game changing in situations where you wouldn’t have been able to end straight down the midlane despite your advantage.
Now that you hopefully have a better understanding of lane assignments and teamfight compositions you might have a slightly better idea of when to splitpush but let’s get deeper into it.
The best splitpushers have several traits, although not all champions exhibit all of these traits: they can push waves effectively, they win 1v1s (presuming they have a lead or a draft advantage), they’re mobile enough to escape and they can deal with towers quickly.