Trading is an essential aspect of League of Legends. If you are not familiar with what “trading” means in this context, we will explain that first. Trading with an enemy laner means fighting them without the intention to kill. The main goal of trading is to get in, do as much damage as possible, and get out. You will be on both ends of a trade-initiation. It is crucial to know whether you will win the trade or not before it happens so that you know whether to commit to the trade or disengage as soon as possible.
To win a trade is to come out of the fight with more health than the enemy laner. You will win by having more sustain or dealing more damage to them than they did to you. Winning a trade sets you up for a kill further down the line, as the enemy will be lower-hp and have fewer cooldowns like Flash or other escapes. Trading will also create an opportunity for your Jungler to net a kill. Trading is not like poking.
With poking, you are trying to deal tiny bits of damage without taking any yourself. You will take damage and use all of your abilities during a trade because it will be an all-out brawl. There are a lot of nuances that go into a trade and deciding whether it was worth it or not. This article will cover everything you need to know about trading, when to trade, and how to win trades in League of Legends.
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1. Wave Management
Wave management is already a crucial aspect of laning. You need to learn how to freeze your lane, how to push your lane, and how to build up a giant wave when you need to. Wave management also factors into trades, especially during the early laning phase of the game because minions will do a lot of damage to your Champion during this time. Before taking a trade, look at your wave and the enemy wave. Does the enemy have way more minions than you? Are those minions casters (the ranged minions in the back do more damage.) If the enemy has many more minions than you, you probably do not want to fight them, especially in any place where their minions can agro onto you.
On the other hand, if you have a huge wave compared to theirs, you will have a lot of bonus damage during the trade due to your minions (winions?) assisting you. This is a rule-of-thumb, not a cold hard fact. There are many scenarios where the player with the more significant wave will lose the trade. This happens typically against Champions with a lot of sustain or tankiness that allows them to ignore minion agro.
Paying attention to your wave and the enemy’s wave is also important because if you lose a trade and have to go back to base while the minion has a large wave, you will miss out on a considerable amount of XP and gold. Pay attention to the momentum of the lane and use that momentum to help determine whether you want to trade or not. Forcing an enemy to miss a massive wave by winning a crucial trade is an excellent way to gain a level or two on them. That level advantage will help you win the next fight and maybe even net a kill and snowball the game from there.
Always know how much Mana and HP you have left. If you start a fight and discover halfway through that you don’t have enough Mana for a critical ability, then it is possible that you just threw your lane. Your Mana isn’t the only factor in trades. Look at your opponent’s Mana as well. If the enemy is low on Mana while you’re full, then you will likely win a trade due to your abilities alone. Many player’s do not take Mana into account when making trades.
They will only look at the HP bars. Even if the enemy has a lot more HP than you, you will come out on top in the trade and balance the lane back out if they do not have the Mana to fight. You have to know about the Champ you’re facing in the lane. Some Champs use a lot less Mana than others and will be able to get off a full combo with minimal resources. Knowing which Champs need a full Mana bar and which do not will come with experience, but you will need to learn it to master trading.
Another resource that you have during laning is your potions. Keep these in mind while you trade as well. First off, make sure to pop a potion during a trade if you have them. The healing from a potion will give you a slight edge on your opponent and may even keep you alive. Secondly, if you have potions, you can heal up afterward even if you lose a trade. If your opponent cannot answer this with their own heals, you will end up with more health despite losing the initial trade.
Make sure to look at your opponent’s potions anytime they come back to lane. If they have none while you are stocked up, it may be a good idea to force a trade. You will be able to heal up, while they’ll either have to B and miss XP and Gold, or they will be forced to stay in lane with low HP, vulnerable to ganks or being killed.
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Cooldowns are another resource that you must pay attention to win trades. If your opponent initiates a trade on you while your stun or big-damage ability is on cooldown, then you do not have a big chance of winning. On the other hand, if you notice your opponent just used a critical ability to farm, now might be your chance to hop in and start a fight. Some players may even blow their entire combo to clear a wave.
If they do this, and you start a short fight with them, you can combo them while they can only auto-attack you. It’s vital to make these trades short and sweet, so their abilities don’t come back up mid-fight and even the playing field. Pay special attention to gap-closing or escape abilities. These usually have a pretty long cooldown early levels (8 – 15 seconds), and if your opponent wastes one, you have a chance to go in and blow their Flash. Paying attention to the cooldowns on Flash and other escapes will also help you plan ganks with your Jungler.
Be sure to communicate when your lane opponent flashes and when they use an escape ability with a big cooldown (Zed W, for example). Just like with Mana, you have to know your opponent. Some champs, such as Ryze, have very short cooldowns and can afford to combo a wave multiple times and still be ready to fight right after.
4. Jungle Tracking
You have to know where the enemy Jungler is before you try to trade. If you jump in to fight your enemy laner and use all of your cooldowns trading with them, you will be highly vulnerable to the enemy Jungler. If you have a lot more health than your opponent and they are in prime position to be killed, but they aren’t backing away or trying to B, then you should be questioning why they are choosing to remain in lane.
The answer to that question will most likely be because their Jungler is in a bush waiting for you to engage. On the other hand, if you see the enemy Jungler on the other side of the map, you know you are in an excellent position to hop in and try to land some considerable damage on your opponent. Other than the Jungler, be sure to pay attention to the enemy Mid-laner, especially if they’re a Champ known for roaming (Ahri, Zed, Kassadin, Twisted Fate). If you are Mid, pay attention to the enemy Top laner because they could easily roam down for a gank.
If you’re in bot lane, then keep the enemy Top laner’s Teleport cooldown in the back of your mind. It is not up to your teammates to ping Missing every time their laner isn’t on the map. If you rely on other players to win your games, you will be in for considerable disappointments in League of Legends. You have to be on top of everything and use every little bit of information you can gather to determine your decisions.
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No matter how well you track enemy cooldowns, resources, and minions, sometimes you cannot win a trade with your current Champ matchup. Counters exist in this game, and sometimes your Champ just isn’t meant to win against another Champ. Learning as many matchups as possible is essential, but this takes time and experience. If you lose a matchup extremely hard, make sure to think about it after the game and figure out why you lost it.
Maybe do a quick google search and find out how to win the matchup next time. In some lanes, you may lose early-game until you hit level 6 and then you can hard engage (Most Melee Champs vs Teemo). In others, you may only win pre-6 and should initiate trades as much as possible before then.
There’s no way to know every single matchup without playing many games on a Champ, so the best way to get better is to main a single Champ and play as much as you can. Maining a single Champion will also help you understand similar champs and how they might fair in the same matchup if you ever switch up your main.
Watching other players with more knowledge and experience in the game is also a great way to learn matchups. They will have a lot of advice and already know what works and what doesn’t. A smart person learns from their mistakes. A wise person learns from the mistakes of others.
You will have to trade in every single game of League of Legends that you play, so it is crucial to understand when to fight and when to run. Many players will play too aggressively and throw their lane due to a bad trade. On the flip side, a considerable portion of players will play too conservatively and never win lane because they refuse to trade. Hopefully, this guide gave you a good understanding of when you should and shouldn’t trade, and you can start winning a higher percentage of your lanes.