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Itemization Trapping

By Feanor - 9th September 2013 - 19:16 PM

Building defenses against your lane opponent is a very cliche yet effective strategy to win your lane. Offensive items with a spec of defense are very common on most solo laners. Items like Hexdrinker, Seeker's Armguard, etc. provide damage and more durability. How can you create this so called "itemization trapping"? What is it?

Itemization trapping

Itemization trapping is forcing your opponents to build in a certain way. How then? For example, if you send a Singed to top lane, your foe is very likely to build at least one Magic Resistance item to counter Singed's damage. This goes the other way around when you send a Tryndamere top, your enemy will likely build Armor to counter his damage source.

By using these thoughts, you can create very advantageous situations. Let's take a look at the following team composition:

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Apart from being a pick off composition, this team composition is pure physical damage. Every single team member relies on Attack Damage(and thus physical damage) to deal damage. Even Janna, the support, relies on the Attack Damage of her shield to increase the power of another team member.

Which problems does this create?

Because your enemies can build cheap and effective defensive items, they have a easier time in lane. But because you have an all-round Attack Damage set-up, countering your whole team will be extremely easy. If your opponents have to invest in both Magic Resistance and Armor, they will have a harder time building their desired build. But with the previous composition, they could just build some of the following items:

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If Nocturne decides to gank top, neither him nor Aatrox will reach their full damage potential because you are so easy to counter-build. If your jungler were to be Sejuani(magic damage based), then a gank would be a lot more effective because the enemy top laner won't be able to counter-build two opponents before he has a sufficient amount of gold.

Ability Power or Attack Damage set-ups?

You want your jungler to deal a different amount of damage than at least one of your solo laners. This is easily done because most teams run an Ability Power based character in mid lane and a physical damage bruiser in top lane. But if you were to chose between double Ability Power or double Attack Damage, what would be the better pick? It's easier to turn the question around to what is easier to itemize against, physical or magic damage?

Armor vs Magic Resistance
First of all, scaling, all characters (save Thresh, he has his own sort of scaling) gain Armor with each level. Most champions end up with ~80 to 90 Armor at level 18 because of Armor seals(which are at this moment, the most effective seals). Most melee champions have Magic Resistance scaling per level. This concludes that it's naturally easier to deal with physical damage than with magic damage.

On top of this, all jungle monsters(except Baron Nashor and Dragon) deal physical damage and the same goes for minions. Towers also deal physical damage and all champions are able to deal some physical damage(through auto-attacks). This means that building Armor is vital in this game. So if you can force your enemy to build Magic Resistance, you create an edge over them because they have a harder time diving your team.

Add to this, that your main damage source in late game team fights will be your marksman who will deal almost exclusively physical damage! By forcing your opponents to build early Magic Resistance(in the form of a Hexdrinker, Mercury Treads or Spirit Visage), your Marksman will be able to kill them much easier in the midgame, rendering a big part of their bruiser role invalid.

How to force your enemies to build Magic Resistance
This one is particularly easy. Run a double Ability Power setup(for example Vladimir, Rumble or Kennen top and Orianna, Karthus or Diana mid). This will force the two solo laners to build at least one Magic Resistance item.

Your jungler should be a physical damage dealer like Nocturne, Jarvan IV or Udyr(going the Tiger route). Because of their main damage source being physical damage, their ganks will be a lot more powerful than when your solo laners were Attack Damage based.

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If Jarvan IV ganks alongside an Aatrox, then their damage will be focused on physical damage. If Jarvan IV ganks alongside a Rumble, then they will have two different types of damage and thus more power.


You want to make sure your solo laners and jungler don't pigeon hole in the same damage category(you can get away with Ability Power though). If you want to force your enemies to build a certain defensive item, you are better off forcing them to build Magic Resistance because this makes your marksman stronger and weakens their diving power.