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Summoner Spell School: a League of Legends Guide

RealZesty

RealZesty

Tue 5th Nov 2019 - 8:51pm

Summoner Spells in League of Legends are among the first things that you will learn as a new player. Knowing how to use them is a concept that you will grasp on your journey to Level 30, but understanding the ins and outs of such powerful tools is something that many players will overlook. Throughout this guide, we will discuss the benefits of all Summoner Spells on Summoner’s Rift (excluding Smite), how to play against them and then analyse some popular debates about which ones are truly the best. 

Flash is a nearly necessary summoner spell that is by far the most commonly used one in the game. Perfect for any role, very few champions won't take Flash, as the availability of an instant 400 unit gap-closer or distance-maker is too valuable a resource to waste. Playing around Flash is simple - a valuable trade for you and your team can be as easy as making someone burn their Flash to escape an exchange, as it means they won’t have it ready in the coming encounters thanks to its 300 second cooldown time. 

A great combat boost, Heal is incredibly useful in swaying the outcome of an encounter. It is taken typically on ADCs in the bottom lane due largely to the 30% movement speed boost and the shared health bonus for when you need to help out your support, for a change. Playing around an enemy with an active Heal is tricky, as you need to be confident that you can deal with that extra 90-345 health (based on level) and close them down after 30% bonus movement speed for 1 second. 

Barrier is great for solo laners that need an extra line of defence against an opponent looking for cheesy plays. Creating a 110-455 damage shield for 2 seconds with a 180 second cooldown is vital for Champions such as Xerath who are vulnerable to those all-in engages, particularly since the shield can be used preventatively and go on top of a full health bar. To play around Barrier it’s best to either wait for the 2 seconds of shield are done before continuing your attack or simply pull out of the fight when you’ve forced your enemy to use it, then go in again while it’s on cooldown.

Cleanse is a highly situational Summoner Spell that is typically only used on carry roles to prevent being immediately locked down by long-range, hard to avoid Crowd Control. It clears the user of all CC effects (excluding Suppressed and Airborne) and grants 65% increased Tenacity for 3 seconds. An example of a good use of Cleanse is on a Syndra in the mid lane, with no real mobility-providing ability, who faces off against an enemy Zoe. Zoe’s Sleepy Trouble Bubble can be fired from 800 units away, forces you to sleep when hit and doubles the damage of her next attack against you- this is typically a death sentence for a squishy Syndra, but Cleanse allows you to slip out of sleep and flip the fight on the enemy Zoe for a more favourable outcome. When an enemy takes Cleanse, wait until they use the Cleanse before you go all-in, even if it means backing off as soon as they use it if they can turn the tides of the fight with it. 

In lower elos and during the earlier stages of a player’s League of Legends career, Ignite is the favoured second-pick summoner spell for top and mid laners. This being said there is still very much a place for Ignite in a competitive sense, particularly on supports and hyper-aggressive solo laners looking to squeeze in that extra 70-410 (based on level) true damage. By applying Grievous Wounds to an enemy ADC in a fight, you potentially negate 36-138 health provided by the use of Heal and grant Sight of the enemy to prevent being outplayed by a brush. Fighting an enemy with Ignite will require some commitment, as Ignite is usually used to secure a kill, but not impossible - stock up on those potions to draw out an Ignite and re-engage when the time is right. 

In the current meta, Teleport presents itself as a formidable second pick (to Flash, of course) for solo laners across the Rift. By simply taking Teleport, you generate a substantial amount of threat that your enemies need to consider when making a play. A 4v5 at Drake can quickly turn into an even teamfight with the use of a smart Teleport from a split-pushing top laner. It’s also necessary in a 1-3-1 split composition, to allow for safer side laning and dominating the map overall, making it even more vital to combat teams with a sick wombo combo. Playing around Teleport requires a bit of forward thinking because while TP is a powerful tool when active, it’s also got a relatively large cooldown (6 minutes) that is easy to exploit if you have a willing jungler. 

Exhaust is a Summoner Spell that has gone through phases of “necessary” and “situational” more than nearly any other spell in the game. Slowing the target by 30% and reducing their damage by 40% for 2.5 seconds, Exhaust’s usefulness comes in when you’re playing against a team that is relying heavily on one main source of damage or has one central piece of their wombo combo. Zed, Vayne and Orianna are all examples of good targets for Exhaust. Exhaust can be played around by holding on to your escape abilities before committing to an exchange so that as soon as it comes out you can disengage promptly enough to survive. 

Ghost is in an interesting spot at the moment in the current meta. The usefulness of Ghost in the past was especially relevant on champions that dealt a sustained amount of damage over time or had a hard ramp in the amount of damage they could output (Ryze and Darius respectively are great examples of this), but since the speed boost was changed to increase over time rather than take effect immediately it has experienced a fall from grace. The speed boost is more effectively found in Phase Rush for casters and Phage for bruisers, and even the Ghosting buff that allows you to walk through minions is available through Phantom Dancer. Still, when an enemy has Ghost you should focus on your health in encounters more than with other spells, as you’ll find it more difficult to disengage with a speedy enemy chasing you down with 10 seconds of 28-45% increased movement speed (based on their level).  

Now that we’ve broken down the Summoner Spells individually, let’s compare the use of Summoner Spells for different situations. 

In the solo lanes of Summoner’s Rift, this is a huge consideration to make when loading into the game. Picking Teleport allows for greater global pressure and quicker returns to lane, while taking Ignite can give you the edge in fights with your opposing laner and create an advantage while you exert dominance over your lane in particular. Both are equally viable strategies, but you need to consider a few different factors before making your decision.

Firstly, which Summoner Spells will the rest of your team be taking? If your support has taken Ignite for greater threat in bot lane, you’d be more comfortable taking Teleport for efficiency in teamfight scenarios. If your other solo laner has taken Teleport as well, you could consider taking Ignite and be confident in their ability to cover the map instead, or you could take Teleport to join them for some sick backdoor plays. 

Secondly, who are you matched up against? If the lane is going to be tough for you (e.g. you’ve picked Kayle into Qiyana, who has a considerably stronger early game than you) then you might want to take Teleport to minimise your time away from farm and maintain some kind of lane presence. In the same way, that Qiyana could feel more comfortable taking Ignite to shut down the Kayle nice and early, preventing her from accessing that late game power-spike before the game is over. 

Currently, in the context of support, Exhaust finds itself in a much more situational position than it has been historically, with Ignite being picked more frequently by supports to provide additional lane pressure (among all the other reasons mentioned previously). Taking Exhaust is ideal when you’ll have to deal with a primary threat, or an assassin on the enemy team that plans to cut your carries out of the fight before it even begins. Ignite can put your team further ahead on an aggressive support like Nautilus, Pyke or Thresh and is excellent in situations where the enemy team has a wide range of healing abilities or stealth abilities. Don’t discount the power of Grievous Wounds or gaining sight on an enemy. They allow the rest of your team to track them and finish them off with greater success. Following this method, since the meta strongly favours aggressive supports like the three previously mentioned, Ignite is typically the preferred choice but remember to be flexible! 

Two of the less common Summoner Spells, Barrier and Cleanse, are also interchangeable particularly for certain mid laners. Xerath, Syndra, and Cassiopeia are all valid candidates for taking one of these spells onto the Rift as their kits don’t contain any easy escape mechanisms but identifying the better choice for the occasion is vital to your success. Barrier is typically considered the better choice against assassins, for the fact that you can pop Barrier preventatively to mitigate the initial burst that champions like Zed and Talon are known for. Additionally, Barrier will also negate 40% of Ignite’s damage if it has been activated when Ignite is cast which, combined with its smaller cooldown, means that it is perfect for softening the blow of those nasty assassins. Cleanse, on the other hand, is perfect against mid laners that open with/rely on a strong form of CC to burst you down (Zoe, Ahri, Lux). Repositioning to avoid that deadly Final Spark or Paddle Star can be the difference between staying in lane and seeing a grey screen for a little while. 

Hopefully this guide can give even the most experienced player something new to consider, since being confident in your loadout and the tools available to you is essential in climbing the ladder in Ranked, getting some quality practice in Casual games and stomping your mates in Customs. GLHF!

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