Going Home: How to Time Recalls to Create an Advantage!



Sun 21st Jun 2020 - 12:53pm

An often overlooked aspect of laning in League of Legends is maximizing one's efficiency in the lane. To a player lower ranked on the ladder, the criteria of what makes a "good laner" are relatively narrow: mechanics, farming, skillshot accuracy, map awareness, and wave management. While each of these are important, there exists a number of intricacies in League of Legends that the highest ranked players consistently consider as they're playing. One that's growing in notice is the simple act of recalling, and how creating favorable situations to recall is essential for winning specific lane match-ups.

We will go step by step to identify when you can base, when you should base, and why you should base, in order to improve your ability to win lane, and snowball the subsequent game. Additionally, we will also go over different types of recalls, and when to use them. Most players playing below the higher ladder tiers will usually only base when they are low on HP or mana but learning the true strength of your recall is essential to becoming the best player possible in laning phase.

Minion Patterns

One of the most important details that is lost on players in the lower ladder tiers is counting the minion waves: this goes beyond basic concepts like wave control. Counting waves is very simple, but it's information that's constantly in high tier players' heads throughout the laning phase and is essential to performing a good recall.

Minion waves come in patterns: 1, 2, 3. After the third wave, the timer resets: 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1, and so on.

These numbers refer to each wave's proximity to the cannon wave, which is the most important wave to play on and ultimately dictates essential base timings in early game. Let's start with an example:

The minions just spawned, and the first minion wave to come from the base is wave 1. There's no defining characteristics about it aside from it being the first wave in the set of 3. It's the furthest wave relative to the next cannon. This is likely the worst wave to recall on, since it's prone to being pushed faster relative to other waves. The next wave coming in is wave 2:

Wave 2 appears exactly the same as wave 1, but there is a crucial difference: the next wave that will come is wave 3, which will be the cannon wave. If one is able to base with an amount of gold that's able to buy meaningful stats (such as 435 for an Amplifying Tomb, or 1300 for a BF Sword), it's important to push wave 2 as fast as possible, since the next coming wave is wave 3:

Wave 3, the end of the pattern for waves. This wave is extremely hard to push for most champions. This is because the cannon is extremely tanky relative to other minion waves and takes half damage from towers. If it's possible, many high rank players will push wave 2 as fast as possible before wave 3 spawns, in order to take advantage of it. Even if the enemy laner takes the time to kill the ally wave 3, the cannon from their own wave 3 will draw tower aggro and take reduced damage from the tower, buying precious time for you to return to lane, push wave 1, and then cause the enemy laner to lose even more CS.

This might sound extremely confusing, but let's make it simple: cannon waves are hard to push, we should base before them so the enemy laner will take a lot of time pushing your cannon wave, you can use this time to base, buy items, and return to lane before the enemy wave dies to your tower. Timing your bases will let you acquire more CS relative to the enemy laner who does not time their bases and will create an advantageous position for you.

After the cannon, the pattern will reset, and the next wave will be wave 1.

Your Champion and You: When to Reset

Excellent, we now understand when the best time to reset in lane is. However, we can't always push wave 2 and recall for a number of reasons:

  • You don't have enough gold to buy a meaningful item (i.e.: you have 500 gold on an ADC and can likely wait for a BF Sword)
  • An objective is respawning and you need to maintain your position on the map to fight for it if necessary, such as scuttle crab or dragon
  • You are able to deny minions from the enemy because you have a health and/or mana advantage in lane
  • You are not able to completely shove wave 2, whether it be because of your lack of mana or unfavorable wave state
  • If you recall and allow your enemy laner to recall, it is likely that they will return with a more favorable buy than you

Each of these is okay: while after shoving wave 2 is generally the best time to recall, it's not always necessary to recall every single wave 2. There are more than enough ways to recall favorably outside of strictly the generic "shove wave 2, recall while wave 3 is coming in" rule.

The most important thing to have in mind before basing is thinking to yourself: what is the point of me basing? If you are basing in order to regain health and mana, consider the threat around you. Is the enemy team dead? Are you able to accomplish more by being present on the map? Most likely not, but it's not infrequent for players to recall after a teamfight or early game skirmish when they're able to accomplish more. Furthermore, if you are basing to spend gold be sure to know what you are buying before you base. Not only is it bad to spend time in base, but it's important to make the most out of your recalls, and you certainly don't want to make a mistake like basing with 1200 gold as a marksman and having to walk back to lane with a Pickaxe and boots.

On a more complex level, consider your lane match-up, here is a classic example:

Beyond just looking at your champion, consider the champion who you are laning against.

Draven versus Caitlyn, beyond initial comparisons based on kit, there's a large advantage Draven can use that's underutilized in lower ranks: Draven can spike earlier than Caitlyn. If Draven bases with 900 gold he can buy a Vampiric Scepter, an item which will provide him sustain through laning phase and will allow him to trade more aggressively. If Caitlyn bases with 900, she is stuck with a bad option: she may either purchase a Pickaxe, or boots and two Daggers. Either way, she will set herself behind from a BF Sword which is essential for her Infinity Edge. When choosing your base timings, try to consider both your build path, and also your enemy's build path. What would be the most inconvenient time to base for your enemy? Try to take your base then and come back when they are still waiting on gold for their big item.

Cheater Recalls: Winning Difficult Lanes with Recall

Okay, so far we understand how to base efficiently with minion waves, how to harass your enemy with resets and create pressure by using recall. Now with what we learned, we can win match-ups that are typically difficult by using cheater recalls.

While Twisted Fate vs Vladimir isn't necessarily a difficult match-up, it's generally important for Twisted Fate to punish Vladimir early game due to Twisted Fate's lack of kill threat. However, what Twisted Fate does have is superior wave clear which allows Twisted Fate to create situations to recall which Vladimir doesn't share

In this scenario, we see Twisted Fate being very healthy while Vladimir is around half HP with Flash and no Teleport. There is context missing however: The wave is a 2 wave, and the wave after this one is cleared will have a cannon. If Twisted Fate clears this wave as fast as possible, he can take a reset that Vladimir won't be able to take, coming back with a massive item advantage. Then he can either pressure the enemy jungler or the enemy side lanes.

Twisted Fate shoves the wave using a Q, his W, and a few basic attacks. Despite still being healthy, Twisted Fate knows that Vladimir will just heal off the wave, and that Twisted Fate can best use this time to take a "cheater recall", which is a recall that your opponent can not take by virtue of their poor wave state. Cheater recalls can be done when your opponent is stuck clearing their wave and can be used to create massive advantages

The cannon wave comes in just as Vladimir is clearing the last wave, and Vladimir is now stuck clearing it as Twisted Fate comes back from base. Vladimir is faced with either giving up this wave entirely or pushing it in vain by virtue of his poor waveclear. Ultimately, the only thing Vladimir could have done was push Twisted Fate and deny him from clearing wave 2, but due to Twisted Fate's health advantage, not even that was an option. Twisted Fate is hardly denied any minions on this wave due to the tankiness of the cannon minion, and Vladimir is set behind by this cheater recall.

This can be done in any match-up where you have a waveclear advantage: Twisted Fate is notorious for his cheater recalls, as are champions like Ziggs, Xerath, or Vel'Koz. A lot of players lower on the ladder have a difficult time playing against champions such as Fizz or Leblanc because they fail to utilize their wave clear advantage in order to secure favorable recalls. Wave control goes beyond freezing or shoving. What matters even more is the timing of your pushes relative to the wave that's coming in: cannon waves are extremely hard to shove relative to normal waves, and timing your pushes so your enemy is stuck dealing with said wave while you're buying in base, gaining an advantage, is a surefire way to punish opponents with inferior wave clear.