Whenever I watch challenger- or LCS games, for me it always looks like the players are playing a slightly different game. Not only do their combos look different, but they also seem to move faster in fights and deal more damage in a shorter period of time. Thinking that their game is really different than the one we are playing on a regular basis is of course wrong, still, the differences remain, but how are pro players doing this? One thing of course is their better farming. They just have better items than we have at the same point of the game, but that’s not everything. These players are able to successfully cancel some of their animations to put out more damage or to move faster while attacking. Here is how they do it.
Chasing and Kiting
Chasing an enemy or kiting one can be one of the most awkward situations in the game. We all had that one miss click as a marksman that caused us to walk straight into the enemy Irelia or maybe we even clicked on the minimap and killed ourselves that way. Generally speaking it’s definitely not easy. But even without failing a click it still seems like good players kite remarkably better and that good players are actually harder to kite against as well. The secret behind that is to cancel your auto-attack animation at the right time. Auto-attacks have a certain cast time in which your champion performs an action. An example for that would be Ashe pulling the string of her bow or Kalista preparing herself to throw her spear - by the way, Kalista is the only champion in the game that can't cancel her auto-atack animation.
The first part of that animation is needed to perform the attack, which means that if you cancel this part of the animation, your attack is not going off and you walk away without dealing damage. But your auto-attack animation also has a second part after the attack is already off. If you cancel only this part of the animation, your damage is still going off and you are able to move sooner than without cancelling it. Doing this, you are able to get away faster or chase enemies faster – yes this also works with melee characters. The animations are different for every single champion so you should try them out in a custom- or normal game before trying this in the ladder. There is a certain risk to cancel the first, important part of the animation, basically negating your damage completely, always be aware of that and practice accordingly.
Faster than a Flash
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Another very useful aspect of the game is the interaction between flash and certain abilities. The first example I want to mention is Shen’s taunt. Shen’s taunt is pretty short which causes many players to flash before it to increase its range. But by doing this you are giving your opponent a lot of time to react while still blowing a 5 minute cooldown summoner spell. If instead you flash during the ability, you reposition your champion onto your cursor and still apply the spell's effect at your new position. Not only can you extend your range very efficiently and surprisingly by doing this, you can also taunt in two different direction as displayed by Cabochard from Gambit Gaming in the video above. This is also a very common strategy with Gragas’ e ability, Vi’s q and Jarvan’s flag and drag combo. Other examples where you can reposition yourself during a dash are Corki’s Valkyrie and Hecarim’s Ultimate. Now there are some important things to note. While you are repositioning yourself and applying the cc part of your spell, in some of the cases you aren’t applying the damage as well. For example Corki will leave a trail of fire in a straight direction which is not changed by flashing and the same goes with Hecarim’s Ultimate and Jarvan’s q ability. It is however different with Shen, Vi and Gragas, because these champions apply their damage in the moment they actually hit a champion, causing them to still apply the damage part of their ability even when flashing during the animation.
Another interesting interaction between flash and your abilities is that you can shorten the animation of casted abilities by flashing during the cast. This results in shockingly fast appearing abilities, mostly catching the enemies off guard. Take Amumu as an example. When an Amumu flashes onto his enemies and then presses ultimate, there are these few cases in which his enemies are able to react by flashing away, using a dash or maybe using a spell shield. If however he presses ultimate and then flash, well, you can see the result of that in the video below. This way the combo doesn’t only look way smoother and more skillful it’s also way more reliable and eliminates that tiny little chance of your enemy reacting too fast to your combo.
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So we have all of these stunning moves that really blow our minds, but as we lose our focus for a split second, out of the tall grass a wild Lee Sin appears. It’s not enough that Lee Sin has one of the flashiest and most playmaking kits in the entire game, he is also able to pull of one of the scariest flash + ability combo: The Insec Kick Flash of Doom. He has basically the same problem as Amumu and the same solution as well. Flashing before the kick can result in your enemy predicting your move and therefore reacting fast enough to save himself, but kicking before flashing, well, no way they are going to react to that – besides it does look pretty awesome. If you want to see it in action, just check out the video below.
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Flashing during the wind-up of an ability works with other examples as well, such as Graves' Buckshot, Lee Sin’s Tempest or Riven’s Stun – you can use a lot of animation cancels with Riven. If you are interested in her combos, check out the very in-depth tutorial by BoxBox below. BoxBox is one of the best Riven players in the West for sure, so he definitely knows a lot more about her than I ever would. You can try out more flash + ability interactions in custom games, I’m sure that there are a lot of combos still to discover for you.
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Conclusion and a sweet little Combo to the Grave
There are a lot of ways to cancel needless animations both of your auto-attacks and your abilities and by cancelling them you can shock your enemies and catch them off guard. I’m convinced that by practising these combos, especially with champions like Shen, Jarvan and Riven, you can improve your performance on these champions significantly. And now to finish this article I have a sweet little trick for all the Graves players out there. We all know Graves as a champion with high burst potential, but the next time you are using your combo, try to press ultimate into buckshot instead of the other way arround. This cancels your animation, causing your two abilities to appear almost together and therefore unleashes your whole potential. And if your enemy is out of range for all three shots of your q to hit, try to press r + flash + q, causing your combo to be almost instantly and bursting with all its potential in a glorious combo. You have to realize that potential alone isn’t everything, you have to know how to use it to really get that Golden Age going.
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