There are several types of counter picks in League, most players just pick characters that can kill the opponent, but there is so much more to it than that.


Counter picking for many players is pulling up the old OP.GG or mobalytics in champ select to find a counter to their lane opponent. But by simply looking at counters by win rates, crucial information about why a character is a counter pick is lost. Here we will go through the different types of counterpicks that may help you understand why certain characters are counters to others. And it may also help you question if something actually is a counter pick or not. 

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Lane Priority: Controlling Lane

First you have picks that will always have priority in lane and push in and harass — this doesn’t necessarily mean you will kill the opponent or massively win in cs, as in Azir vs Akali. In fact, it is probably more likely that Akali has the highest kill pressure after level 6.

This is why control mages are so popular, as they have lane priority against most champions outside of their own control mage counter. It is hard to help your Jungler or sidelane when you are pushed into your turret. This is obviously not a hard counter – it all comes down to how well you and your team use this priority. But it is still an intrinsic advantage you get from a certain matchup. 

Scaling: Safe Lanes and Low Map Impact Champions

A counter pick for a scaling champion is essentially a free lane. An example is  Kassadin vs Azir. Kassadin’s problem early is having no priority and no fighting power before lvl 6. But no one has priority against Azir anyways, so it is relatively fine to pick Kassadin and have a safe lane for you to scale. The fact that Azir is one of the worst early skirmish champs means that he most likely won’t use his lane priority for more than trying to harass you under turret, which you can tank with the help of runes and items. So, while this does not seem like a typical counter, it is a counter in the sense that it smoothes over your champion’s weaknesses and enables its strengths. You just have to hope that the rest of your team can cope with you being constantly under turret.

Kill Pressure: The Threat of Violence

What most people see as a counterpick is what can kill the opponent in lane. This is why people love picking Zed in mid, as he has kill pressure on most mid lane champions after lvl 6 with ignite. With kill pressure you can take control of a lane and either snowball or roam. These counterpicks still usually rely on matchup knowledge and knowing when to be aggressive and what runes to pick. 

2v2 Counter Picks

Certain matchups may not win 1v1, but destroy 2v2. This could be Leblanc + Lee Sin vs Azir + any jungler. This is harder to utilize as it requires teamplay, but if the Jungler recognizes the advantage, this can be heavily utilized to bully the mid laner and take control around mid lane. Even without killing champions you can use the fact that you are stronger to gain other advantages.

Roaming: Impacting the Map

These picks are linked with lane priority — as you need to have some lane control to be able to roam effectively. But one way to counter champions that want to stay in lane and scale are champions that can influence the map. Azir having 20 cs up doesn’t matter too much if his bot lane is on fire from a Gallio tower diving them.

At the opposite end, there are also counterpicks where you match the roam, like Sylas vs Twisted Fate, where Sylas can steal Twisted Fate’s ultimate, this kinda nullifies Twisted Fate’s big advantage. Ruining his first ultimate hurts Twisted Fate’s game a lot, which is why many picked Sylas into Twisted Fate.

Counter picks essentially come down to either nullifying a strength, attacking a weakness or being a winning lane. But it can even be about smoothing over one of your weaknesses to get to the strengths. Counter picking is obviously very multifaceted and complex and is further complicated by the fact that choice of runes and summoners can switch a losing matchup to a winning one. But it is worth thinking why something counters x — if you don’t know this — how would you be able to effectively play for this advantage?

Key Takeaways on Counter Picking in League

  • There are different types of counter picks
  • You can pick to scale, kill, roam or for priority
  • You should learn what your counter pick does
  • Play accordingly to the relative strength of your counter pick

Lane manipulation is one of the crucial mechanics in League of Legends, but it took the scene several years to figure out, so it’s not entirely intuitive.


Lane Manipulation is a crucial skill for all laners, whatever your playing style is. But many players never learn it properly or try to implement it. Here is a basic introduction to how it works.

Lane Manipulation: Key Takeaway

  • Lane manipulation is a complex macro concept
  • Few people know about it and even fewer know how to use it
  • You should know when and how you should control your wave, not just constantly hard push
  • You can set up ganks, roams, dives, vision and recalls without losing anything by controlling the wave
  • When understood, it is a very useful tool to control the lane and the game

We’ll start with some general concepts that are necessary to understand before going into specific lane manipulation. 

Focus Fire and Pulling

One wave manipulation tool is to make minions focus fire by pulling the wave, which means taking aggro and resetting it. This makes all minions focus on the same target after they reset, which will make them kill those minions very quickly and naturally start to push into you. Easiest way to force them to focus fire is to tank the minions by standing in front of them before they hit the wave and then reset by going into a bush.

Bounce and Distance

A bounce refers to the fact that when a minion wave crashes into a turret, it will naturally slow push to the other side due to being farther up in the lane. As the further up you are in lane, the more minions you need in a wave to counteract the faster reinforcements. The minions will also focus fire after killing your minions under turret. Both these factors essentially guarantee a push back.

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Fast Pushing/Hard Pushing

Fast pushing or hard pushing merely means to quickly kill the wave, getting your minions under the opponents turret. It is what people tend to do naturally. It is good if you want to keep your opponent under turret to harass them, to have priority or if  you need to quickly recall or get vision. But it is certainly overused — there is often no reason to hard push into your opponent and risk getting ganked or having your wave frozen, when instead you could let your opponent push in or hold the wave on your side of the lane.


This is probably what you have heard about the most or you have perhaps suffered from someone doing it to you in a lane. Freezing is the act of ‘freezing’ the minion wave at a specific spot in the lane, usually done a bit in front of your own turret. This makes you very safe against ganks and makes it hard for the opponent to take cs and harass you since you and your minions will be very close to your turret.

Freezing is most easily done by leaving three caster minions alive and tanking them until your next wave arrives. But you can also thin crashing waves so as to make them have around a 3 caster advantage. The reason for 3 extra caster minions specifically is that if you have fewer, it can easily start to slowly push away from you by the fact that your wave arrives more quickly. The farther up in the lane you are trying to freeze, the more extra minions you need to keep alive to keep the freeze. You can also substitute some casters for a cannon.

The reasons for freezing is one, to make it difficult for the opponent to farm — especially for melee characters, where trying to kill ranged minions gets them almost under turret range, leaving them open to a gank as well. And two, it also puts you in a protected position as you can’t be tower dove or ganked.

The problem with freezing is that you give up lane priority — so it is not advised around objective timers or if you may need to help your team. Freezing can also be difficult to do without having control of the lane or if the opponent has strong wave-clear. It also helps to have inherent sustain when freezing as you may have to tank the minion hits.

Slow Pushing

Slow pushing refers to a slow building up of a minion wave that you can crash into the turret, which can become 2-3 waves large. The way to do this just to create a small push advantage, like through doing slightly more damage to the wave than your opponent or having the wave on your side of the map. By then not doing more damage to the wave than just last hitting, the wave pushes slowly enough that several waves will stack up. You can stack different amounts of minions in the wave depending on the distance to the enemy tower.

Why slow push? Slow pushes are relatively safe. They can start on your side of the lane and ramp up the closer you get to the opposing sides. This makes it harder to trade into you and even gank as you could potentially 1 vs 2 with 2 waves of minions. During a slow push you will also have more exp than your opponent as more of their minions have died, and at early levels you can even be two levels up when the wave crashes into the turret, giving you massive opportunities.

Slow pushes are ultimately done to either give you a longer timing window to roam, set up vision, recall or tower dive. This is due to the opponent having to clear the large wave under the turret and then the wave will bounce, so you can catch the next wave under your tower. You can also set up a slow wave ahead of time and then roam for objectives so the opponent has to choose between contesting the objectives or taking the wave. 

The downside is that slow pushes are very telegraphed so you are at risk of getting ganked when you try to get the wave under the turret as it will be on their side of the map, the opponent can also thin the wave and freeze it in front of the turret if you can’t get it to crash.

Wave manipulation is an underrated skill that is surprisingly complex and multifaceted. Even pros are negligent about it at times. As a laner, how you control the lane influences everything else — how safe you are from ganks, if your jungler can gank your lane, your roams, your priority and your farming.