Kills will only get you so far in League. Objectives will give your team global pressure, gold, and buffs. Turret kills bring you closer to the Nexus as well as granting map pressure. Neutral objectives help give your team buffs to destroy your opponents with. In order to take these objectives, you must be able to outmaneuver your opponents for a fight.
Once laning phase ends, it becomes much harder to reach towers. Wave manipulation and smart rotations are crucial to reaching towers in any approach you take. These can have a few different looks based on how you distribute your team across the map for tower pressure. These options are commonly 5 man sieges, 1-4 splits, and 1-3-1 splits. There are a few unique variations to these as well. These will commonly involve a shadow to your split pusher that can strike fast on poor map decisions made by your opponents due to lack of information.
In a 5-man siege, your goal will be to push waves and get chip damage on towers when you crash the waves into towers. A 5-man siege will require a team composition with more range and waveclear than your opponents. You can’t exactly siege an Anivia and Jinx with a Yasuo and Vayne. However, with these pieces reversed you can crash waves and after a few waves manage to take down a tower. There are two other super important actions you must take for this type of steady pushing to be safe. First, you must control the side waves. You will need to create a slow push in a side lane so that you create a time bomb for your opponents. Once your wave reaches the towers in the side lanes you will either deny your opponent’s minions and get damage on the towers or you will create a number advantage where you are sieging. You must also control vision of your flanks so you can understand where your opponents are and how they plan to react to your siege.
In a 4-1 siege, you want the 4-man unit to have disengage to avoid full teamfights with the opposing team and you want the 1-man to be able to win or escape 1v1s. Champions like Ryze and Fiora make for great 1-man units, while Ezreal or Gragas have plenty of disengage for the 4-man unit. For vision in this setup, you want to create clear vision lines in the jungle between the main unit and the split unit so that you can create plenty of space to disengage or rotate the team to each other. The goal for the 1-man unit is to create a distraction and pressure on your opponents. Initially, you should work to build big waves that will crash at the same time so that the enemy team might be caught off guard to net big rewards. After the initial crash, you will continue to push waves in. It is more important to not die in these situations than to fully maximize damage. This may look like the 1-man unit pushing waves then backing off to his vision line to stay safe from potential collapses.
In a 1-3-1 split scenario, you want two 1-man units to be very strong and require more than one opponent to fight. In these situations, the 3-man unit generally needs to be very hard to engage on with either untargetable or big disengage ultimates. The vision will generally consist of vision lines through the jungles with an emphasis on flank wards for the 3-man unit.
In both the 1-4 and 1-3-1 situation you are supposed to be able to react anytime you see an enemy try to collapse. This should also work when your opponents have to catch the waves in the 5-man siege. When you see situations where your opponents are moving towards one of your units, you need to push or rotate to objectives immediately in order to gain the maximum from the enemy’s movements.
As a special case, there are unique setups other than these. Generally, these setups will involve a split pusher in a side lane that has a shadow. While your 3-man unit pushes waves in their lane and your split pusher is pushing waves, you will wait outside of vision until your opponents make a move. This move will either be attempting an engage on your 3-man unit or forcing a collapse on your 1-man unit. In either case, you can assist your 1-man unit with either pushing or escaping to catch your opponents off-guard and gain large advantages.
Once you get a tower, use this as a way to develop pressure by building bigger minion waves as well as safety to push vision lines deeper into enemy territory. This allows you to gain more information about your opposing team and can continue to build advantages across the map.
Rift Herald, Elemental Drakes, Baron, and Elder Dragon make up the large neutral objectives that are most important to the game. Elemental Drakes and Elder Dragon give combat advantages to your team through free stats. Rift Herald and Baron are buffs that are better suited towards sieging and taking towers while your opponents can’t stop you.
The vision control around the large pits in the river are generally the same. The biggest differences are in Infernal and Ocean Rifts, where you will need two Control Wards in order to safely cover the entire pit. The vision around these neutral objectives has different layers that are important in different ways. The first layer, in and directly surrounding the pit, you want to saturate with control vision to make sure your opponent doesn’t have clear information of the objective for as long as you can control the area. In the second area, throughout the river, you will want Control Wards in certain pockets and vision of the entrances and exits to the river. This vision will control who is allowed access to the pits and river to create positional advantages for teamfights and ambushes. The third layer is within the opposing team’s jungle. This is to create flank positionings as well as tracking your opponent’s path towards the river so you can set up ambushes or zone them from ever finding position around the pit.
The blue circle indicates the first layer, the purple lines indicate the second layer.
The third layer is anything beyond the purple lines.
Look to create fights based on the strengths that your team composition has. A team that has a lot of AoE teamfight ultimates might look to catch your opponent in a choke as they move towards the pit. A team that specializes in kiting back and extending front to back teamfights might want to pull their opponents into the river and then use the dragon as bait to allow your backline to do consistent damage. A team that needs a flank can use the walls around the river to create opportunities to jump on the opponent’s unsuspecting backline.
Split pushing has a strong effect on neutral objectives. A 1-man unit across the map can work much as it does for turrets. The large unit gets river control and the vision that comes with it. Then the 1-man unit will go to a side lane and begin pushing waves. Anytime that your opponent tries to respond to the main unit your 1-man unit can get turret pressure. Anytime they attempt to collapse on the 1-man unit the main unit can threaten to take the neutral objective.
What allows you to actually take the neutral objective? This depends on your team composition and your opponent’s response to your objective setup. The most optimal situation is when your opponents give up on contesting an objective and you can simply take it either for free or trade for turret damage. However, if your opponent is looking to contest, then you want to ensure a numbers advantage. The most straightforward way to do this is to get a pick on either a carry or the opponent’s jungler or win a teamfight when you can quickly rotate towards the objective. You can also do this when your opponents attempt to collapse on your split unit in a split push without having to get a pick or a winning teamfight. Another fringe case is that, if you can get a view of your opponents recalling, you can rush the neutral objective with a high DPS composition. The lower the DPS your team composition has on neutral objective, the more you will need more of a convincing numbers advantage in order to take neutral objectives. If you have high enough DPS on objectives then you may even be able to sneak a dragon or Baron while you have Control Wards denying vision on the pits.
Once you actually collect these buffs, they can give your team advantages in the next few minutes or in the case of Elemental Drakes and Soul for the rest of the game.
Rift Herald is a neutral buff that will allow you to spawn a monster to crash onto a tower with a lot of damage. While holding this buff, your team has pressure to turn small plays into large gains or even force plays when you know your opponents can’t respond. This allows you to always create agency and force plays which means you can control your opponent’s map movements.
Elemental Drakes provide stats buffs. Infernal will buff your damage, Mountain will make you tankier, Ocean will give you better sustain, and Cloud will allow you to use your ultimates more often. Individually these drakes won’t matter too much, but the greatest advantage can come if you’re able to collect the fourth Drake of a game which gives you a Soul. These Souls give massive combat advantages to your team. Infernal will give you periodic AoE damage bursts. Mountain will give you a shield that regenerates every 4 seconds that you go without taking damage. Ocean will give you massive health and mana regeneration when you land damage on opponents. Cloud will give you constant movement speed buffs with a bigger burst of movement speed upon ultimate usage.
Baron Nashor, while able to help a bit in combat, is better used for sieging. When around minions the Baron buff will cause these minions to grow in size, tankiness, and damage so that you can take down structures very quickly. Your opponents will be unable to quickly clear these minions, so you will always be able to crash them into a tower. Make sure to use as much of the time available with Baron to be crashing waves into a tower. To fully maximize usage of this buff, you must also look to get Baron buff in multiple lanes by utilizing split pushers.
Finally, there is the strongest buff in the game: Elder Dragon. This buff applies a true damage burn to opponents when you deal damage. If this opponent hits below 20% of their maximum health with the true damage burn on them, they will be executed immediately. For this buff, you want to make sure your team has every bit of gold spent to be the strongest you can be, then immediately force your opponent to fight you. You can do this by pushing towers or forcing plays around Baron Nashor so that they have to try to fight you. If you can force these fights, you can reap huge advantages from the Elder Dragon buff.