League of Legends is in many ways a game of inches, half seconds and “just barely”-moments. As clichée as it sounds it’s definitely true. The purpose of this piece is to try and show the importance of paying attention to the details that shape the bigger picture. As an example we will look at some of the minute things that happened in last weeks clash of the two best North American teams: CLG vs TSM.
If you ask any jungler “What is the best camp to use your smite on?” everyone will give you the same answer: The Raptors because vision is everything. This buff allows you not only to sweep an enemy ward, it is much more than that. It alarms you whenever an enemy ward is near you. So it will not only eventually tell you when there are wards nearby but also when there AREN’T. This makes it basically a free oracles lense and lets you invade and deep ward a lot more confidently.
The other buff that is in my opinion criminally underrated is the spirit granted by smiting the wolf camp. In this match you will see Xmithie repeatedly smite the ENEMY wolf camp which gives CLG even more dragon control (since they are blue side). Because as soon as someone enters the jungle the spirit will alarm CLG and move there to reveal the enemy. And again not only does is this buff tell you when an enemy is coming but also tells you when NO enemy is nearby, even if you have 0 wards this can give you all the intel you need.
Often times it doesn’t really matter whether you build a Randuins Omen or a Frozen Heart on your tank, or whether your mid laner went for Athenes Grail or Morellonomicon because a lot of these builds are standardized especially for certain champions there is very little variety of builds that significantly affect the game. Think about basically every AD deciding between Phantom Dancer vs Statikk Shiv. In 90% of the cases it is irrelevant and more of a style/preferance choice.
There are other times and roles though where the item build choices have a huge impact on a game. in this particular game there are a few important ones I want to point out.
Xmithies Sightstone on Vi: This item alone got CLG so much control of the TSM jungle especially for the mid game dragons (2 and 3) that their opposition didn’t even try to fight them or just straightup couldn’t even get there. Which is obviously worth alot more than having two more Longswords to deal a little more damage that probably won’ make or break a game.
Zionspartans Frozen Mallet on Gnar: Very rarely do we see this item have a big impact on the game, frankly in part because we hardly see it at all. But the crucial thing about it is that it gives a Gnar a form of CC that makes him alot more threatening , especially and crucially it keeps him relevant in Mini Gnar form so that you can’ ignore or get away from him as easily at wihtout the mallet. For example Zion pressures Bjergsen so much that he forced the Spirit Rush out of him (at 30:30) even thohgh his support Annie is right there. Just a few minutes later it even downright kills Bjergsen, or rather sets him up to die (at 34:40).
Aphromoos Soulstealer on Janna: Now this is not uncommon for supports at all, especially fo Janna after Gorilla showed everyone that it’s far from a troll buy. It often goes unnoticed for most of the game even though it can really contribute heavily to carrying a game. Everyone who had a game with a 20 stack Janna knows the pain/joy of having a shield that prevents more damage than you can possibly deal. Now this item is critical because if you dont manage to get some stacks it’s a waste of 1400 (!) gold and it’s extremey swingy, especially against you. You can see it in this game where Aphromoo gets up to 10 stacks, but becomes a victim to Bjergsens Ahri and drops back to 5 and is never able to recover while his Mikaels is delayed (which would be ok if your shield is enormous from stacks).
Split second calls and decisions:
Now it’s arguable if you want to call this a detail or not, but the point im trying to make is how within the span of less of a second teamfights and even entire games can be decided.
There are obviuosly a multitude of examples but I picked out the ones that show what I’m trying to say the best , and the one that had the biggest impact on the game
So first there is the fight around TSMs blue buff where CLG invade after having forced Bjergsens ultimate and flash. There is a longer standoff in which Wildturtle is now forced to use his ultimate. If you watch in slow motion you can see CLG starting to back out and take just one stp back. In the same moment Link casts his Glacial Path. Now even though CLG turn around a second later that would lead to his demise because his team is now just that one step too far back (and also Xmithies Q is on cooldown from canceling it, another important detail) to follow up on play. Now here CLG still get the buff and the dragon but hax they gone in simultaneously it might have turned out even better.
Another moment that is not so much about clutch timing or mistiming, is the first blood kill up top in the 1v2 on Dyrus. This is just an example of just how well the pros know their limits of how much damage they can deal or take and Aphrolift in particular. They dont cancel one auto, use their summoner spells perfectly and hit every ability. If you watch the replay closely you will find that Dyrus drops down to 1 hp after chugging his flask to live from Doublelifts auto just to be send to his grave by Aphromoos last Janna auto.
Remember I’m not saying that the big teamfights, the dragons, the barons, the flashy outplays and the rotations don’t matter, but rather that there are an uncountable number of small details that lead to them or make them possible in the first place. I’m aware that there are also a few very important factors that are easily overlooked that I didn’t mention here like back timers, but they could fill an entire article on their own – so stay tuned 😉
“When you see a champion, you can be sure that you are looking at an individual who pays great attention to the perfection of minor details” – John Wooden