Wave manipulation is the practice of controlling minion waves in order to influence the minions in a lane to a position that is advantageous to yourself and detrimental to your enemy. If you understand how to control waves, you can
- Easily apply pressure on the map
- Zone your enemies from cs
- Create opportunities for macro plays (roam, tower diving..)
Let’s start by considering the states of the wave.
- If you are pushing to enemy tower, this mean that your wave is killing the enemy wave faster. This could be due to creep focus fire (which you can control), your wave killing their cannon first, baron buff, super minions, ZZ’Rot, or Banner of Command.
- The waves are even in size, but the minion wave is on your side of the map (e.i. near your tower) and this mean that your next minion wave will come sooner to reinforce
- Or, the enemy minion wave dies to your turret
In any case, there are 3 major types of wave manipulation that you may apply:
- Fast Push
- Slow Push
When to freeze?
A freeze is good when you have an advantage in lane or to catch up after a lost lane. If you are winning by a significant amount you can zone the enemy off CS and potentially XP, by using a proper freeze. Ideally you would have the wave frozen on your side of the lane and you would position yourself between the wave and enemy champion. If they move up to CS, you can all in them for a possible kill. If they leave to go to a different lane you can fast push for a potential turret.
How to freeze?
The concept is relatively simple. You want to get the wave in a position where your minion count has roughly 2-3 less minions than your opponent’s wave. This will slowly push towards your tower and you will end up getting to a point where the “freeze” will happen once the waves start to meet somewhere between the middle of the lane and the outside of your tower range. You want to maintain this minion difference to maintain the freeze.
When to break a freeze?
There aren’t general rules here, but you may ask: will your advantage over my opponent be enough to carry your team? Will you need to assist other lanes?
What if my enemy freeze?
- Call your jungler to break the freeze
- Use abilities to push wave into enemy tower and bounce the wave. Make sure you can push all the way into tower, your goal here is killing off your minion wave.
- You can always pressure other parts of the map while your opponent freezes.
When to Fast Push?
You may want to:
- Break a Freeze (see above)
- Deny XP & CS while your opponent is out of lane
- Create pressure by threatening to take their tower
- To contest or prep an objective (buffs, epic monsters, and other towers)
- To roam or recall
- To pressure your opposing laner, and possibly deny CS. This also can pull enemy’s jungler attention, as you will be pushed up in your lane and pressuring their tower. If you are careful and ward appropriately, you can get a lot of global pressure from this (getting vision/wasting time of the enemy jungler).
- You may want to crash your wave in to your opponent’s tower
- Whenever your opponent leaves lane to deny CS and XP from them
- To counter an opponent’s fast push
During early game, a major reason to fast push is to gain a level advantage. It is almost always beneficial to fast push early. The level 2, 3, and 6 power spikes are gigantic for lane pressure.
How to Fast Push?
This is by far the simplest wave manipulation tactic to execute, and usually what most people default to when they hear “push”. This tactic involves killing all of the enemy minions, usually in hopes of crashing your minion wave in to their tower.
It’s really just that simple; kill all the enemy minions.
What if my enemy Fast Push?
- Fake your back timing to make your back more efficient
- Call your jungler to push in the enemy lane so you can back
- Proper warding can reveal enemy plans to fast push into a turret take
When to Slow Push?
There are two main scenarios when you may want to push
- It’s dangerous to freeze and zone the opponent due to gank pressure.
- Split Pushing
If the enemy can easily gank you, a slow push is often a better option than freezing. You are in a safe position and you have more ‘help’ if the enemy jungler arrives.
A slow push is often more beneficial when split pushing as well. It is hard to take a tower with a small wave, because it reduces the amount of time you have open to hit the turret. A large wave makes this much easier. It can also deny more minion from your enemy, especially if you are strong enough to defend it when help arrives.
How to Slow Push?
Use carefully placed AAs to keep your minion wave slightly larger than the enemies. A lane will automatically slow push if two waves of similar size meet on your side of the river. You can invoke a slow push in the mid-late game by leaving 1 more caster minion in your wave than the enemies.
What if my enemy Slow Push?
- If you can do so safely, trim the wave with abilities as the enemy wave grows. Be careful not to cause the wave to freeze on the enemy side of the lane, this can put you in a very bad position.
- Ask for your jungler to pressure your laner to back off, so you can safely farm the large wave. If your jungler it’s an easy kill for your opponent laner, avoid this.
- Practice farming under turret