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Tri Lanes and LoL

By Four Court Jester - 22nd January 2011 - 03:37 AM

Ladies and Gentlemen! (Cho'gath included in that statement) Tri-laning: The act of having three heroes on one team share a lane. Madness you say! THIS ISN'T DOTA! Well... true. And the point is well taken, but I've seen a lot of discussion lately, either over Skype, Vent, Podcasts, Forums or Twitter about the prospect of tri-laning in League of Legends. Now, because some people may not know everything there is to know about tri-laning, I'll shed some light on the subject.

The definition of a tri-lane is simply that - use three heroes in one lane to gain an advantage over your opponents. In such a get-go game like League of Legends, where level one ganks occur frequently, this sounds like an amazing prospect. Zone out the enemy, gain experience/last hits for yourselves, and snowball from there. Right?

The origin of the tri-lane concept is commonly agreed to be traced back to Defense of the Ancients, the granddaddy of the current MOBA children. Of the two children (League of Legends and Heroes of Newerth), HoN has kept a more traditional sense regarding the way the game flows as opposed to LoL, which has become a beast of it's own. In light of this, in order to narrow down the focus, I will keep the next paragraph's relevancy centered on HoN and DotA.

Tri-lanes work. Period. The timing of disables and good teamwork in a tri-lane can make or break the game. Typically, teams that utilize tri-lanes have a specific set up and goal: take two babysitting heroes and a carry, and then ensure that the carry gets as fed as possible. Leave all creep kills to the carry, be offensive and zone out the enemy to ensure they receive as little experience and gold as possible, and if you're lucky, score some kills for your carry from the enemy lineup.

Other methods we've seen coming out more and more in HoN is leaving your carry a solo lane. If the enemy changes up their plan of attack, change up yours. Go roaming, stack the jungle, gank other lanes for your solo laners. The longer your tri-lane hero can free-farm and stay safe, the better you're endgame will be.

Big examples of this would be the latest GosuGamers World Cup Losers Bracket games between SK-Gaming and Evil Geniuses. Some fantastic tri lane setups with some really smart roaming strategies were used here. Feel free to go and find out what I mean by all this - Game #1, Game #2, Game #3.

Now with some light shed on this particular subject, how do we apply this to League of Legends? Well, in a serious, competitive match up - you don't.

League of Legends is a game that has taken the MOBA concept and tweaked it in so many places that many of the concepts it's predecessors took for granted are now no longer viable. Here are some of the factors that contribute to this:

Map size - The (only) 5v5 map in LoL is just way too small. A big part of tri-laning is the laning phase: zoning out enemy heroes, denying your creeps, last hitting your enemy's creeps and trying to stay centered in lane as much as possible. Frankly put, the distance between the riverside towers in LoL are just waaay too close to make use of this tactic. It would result in either a lot of free tower shots that you would have to eat, or just a lack of pressure on the lane in general.

Experience - Since the level cap in LoL is greatly reduced, experience is a big issue. In nearly 100% of the competitive games I've seen, there is always a jungler, with the top and mid lanes solo. This strategy is used simply to accelerate that lane's experience gain. In this respect, tri-lanes may take too much away from your team in order to be viable.

The second point on experience is the ability to deny creeps. Only one hero holds that card at this point - Gangplank, and to make him essential to a tri-lane would just be silly. A big part of tri-laning revolves around denying your enemy their creep experience, and without the ability to control that creep experience, a major aspect is lost to the game designer's wishes.

Jungle - Jungle control is a big part of games that have tri-lanes in them. Creep camps are not only more numerous, but also pullable into the lane when timed right. If you can achieve a safe lane for the carry that you are babysitting, a good support player will start to roam, place wards and stack the jungle.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, and because some of you may not understand what 'pulling creeps' or 'stacking creeps' means, I refer you to GameReplays' own Heroes of Newerth Beginner Guides for video references:Later in the game, nominally your carry (or anyone on your team really) can come clear those camps for some mega experience boosts, and then the support can just start stacking again. In LoL, this is another aspect far removed from the game, as creeps are not pullable, and thus not stackable.

This covers some of the bigger issues of tri-laning in LoL. There are so many mechanics that didn't port from DotA to LoL that it's almost easier to just think up new ways to get a tri-lane going. Yes, some try (and succeed) for the lulz, but that's hardly a competitive argument in support of why tri-lanes would be viable.

The current common format is the 2/1/2 or the 1/1/2/Jungle, and until I see any tangible movement from this format to one that could utilize tri-lanes, I can only assume it will stay that way. I may revisit this argument if their up-and-coming new map is much larger than Summoners Rift, but even then, I have my doubts that the competitive scene would start a transition towards a metagame centered around tri-lanes.

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