Farming League of Legends 101: Don’t Autoattack in Lane

Farming League of Legends 101: Don’t Autoattack in Lane

Look, it’s a super simple blog post this week because we’re poring over the data we’re pulling from Riot’s API right now. But we also wanted to cover a basic beginner mistake just because we see it so often, and this principle on farming League of Legends lanes is so fundamental that not many guides elsewhere point it out. Plus we said we’d cover in the last week’s article on LoL opening strategies, too.

If you’re going into lane at the start of each League of Legends game (or Dota, and probably other MOBAs, too) and standing in there auto attacking creeps like you’re farming in World of Warcraft, you’re doing it wrong. This approach means you’re:

  • Needlessly pushing the lane and leaving yourself open to easy ganks (explanation below)
  • Easier to hit for enemy skill shots
  • Missing out on valuable last hits

The competition at the beginning of the game is not who can push the creep line hardest in the other’s direction. It’s who can most skilfully manipulate the creep line into the most favorable position possible which, for you at the start of the game, is not directly underneath the enemy’s turret where they’re very hard to kill thanks to its protection.

As far as farming League of Legends goes, this is basic stuff, but I once played with someone who had 500 games under their belt, and they still pushed the lane out with auto attacks from minute one. In solo pub games, I had numerous conversations like this one.

Me: Hey, can you please last hit creeps only during the laning phase?
Laning buddy: *silence…keeps auto attacking and pushing the lane out*
Me: If you keep pushing the lane out like this, we’ll be under the enemy tower which is bad for us
Laning buddy: *silence…keeps auto attacking and pushing the lane out*
Me: Because we’re wide open to backstabs and won’t be able to gank them is easily…
Laning buddy: SHUT UUUUUUP!

It’s kind of a funny scenario, but it actually happened multiple times. I didn’t want to be obnoxious, but I didn’t want the ADC I was supporting and trying to set up kills for pushing the lane right up to the enemy tower either. But the player just didn’t get what I meant, no doubt because he was too busy concentrating on his game. So here’s how to do it right.

Why not to push too early

I loaded up a custom League instance with Lucian and stood in lane auto attacking creeps, making sure to use the PROJECT skin because it’s so damn OP. Here’s where the creep line was at 2:40 into the game. Remember, this is with auto attacks only. Many new players use their abilities to farm in addition to their auto attacks, which kills creeps quicker and pushes the lane even faster.

image shows lane position while farming League of Legends when auto attacking creeps

Of course, there are times when you should push your creeps into enemy towers like the screenshot above. For example, if you’re about to go back to base or if you actually want to take the tower (towards the end of the laning phase or later). When to push and when not to comes under the broader and more complex topic of lane control, which we’ll cover in the future and provide a few resource links below, too.

But pushing the lane out right away without a moment’s thought on strategy puts you in a vulnerable spot.  So here’s a second screenshot also taken at 2:40 into the game, except with me last hitting creeps only, no auto attacks.

image shows lane position while farming League of Legends when last hitting creeps to improve lane control

The second screenshot is a much safer place to be when you’re lane farming League of Legends, because you’re much less susceptible to ganks from roaming enemies, typically by the enemy jungler or midlane.  Just to clarify this point, let’s blow up and annotate a couple of LoL minimap screenshots.

mini map screenshot shows the danger of farming League of Legends wrong with auto attacks in lane making for poor positioning

Even in most lower-level ranked games, you should have a ward in the river. But, if the enemy jungler has a gap closer such as Amumu or Nidalee or especially the super ganky Lee Sin, and you’re pushed right up into their tower, it will only take a very brief drop in map awareness for them to come in and pull off a successful gank.

And all because you were auto attacking and pushing the lane when you shouldn’t have been.

mini map screenshot shows the benefits of farming League of Legends correctly with last hits in lane making for better, safer positioning

If you’re standing in the position of the above screenshot, you’ve got plenty of time to see the enemy coming from the river and are much more difficult to kill.

Farming in League of Legends means moving a lot

So how should you last hit? Essentially, you should do it by moving around a lot, re-positioning yourself in between your single attacks. When you let the auto attack fire one shot or swing after another, you’re standing still for way too long and just asking to eat a Thresh hook or a Morgana dark binding or any other number of initiations that will ruin your day.

In addition to that, you also mess up your last hit timing. Moving in between attacks helps keep a rhythm going. I remember when I first saw streamers and pro’s moving a little between each and every attack and it looked kind of hard. But upon trying it, I found it was actually pretty easy and that the rhythm aspect helped put my CS up a lot. Try it for yourself.

Here’s a side-by-side video comparison to show the difference between these two approaches. Remember, I’m learning this game with you guys, so if I can do it, (even if it’s nowhere near as precise as better players) you can, too.

It’s a super basic principle that opens up doors of more complex ideas such as lane freezing and building minion waves, both of which also fall into the lane control category mentioned above. If you want to master farming in League of Legends or any other MOBA, it’s important to study and practice these ideas.

But for now, just don’t go auto attacking creeps in lane as soon as you arrive. Think about where the creep line is, and what that means for your current situation. And when the lane’s pushed out, make extra effort to watch your minimap.

Lane control resources: