Learning how to wave management is one of the most essential parts of becoming a better player and the best part is it’s not as hard as it seems! Even the best players in the world such as Dopa and Faker focus primarily on their minion wave management and macro play.
The Point of Wave Management
So the main point of controlling waves is that you can manipulate the neutral crashes, meaning, you can correctly time when your minion wave is going to push into the enemy turret, making it possible for you to make plays around the map or simply gain an advantage in lane. By understanding wave management, you can control when and how the neutral crash occurs.
In wave management, there are three primary methods of manipulating a minion wave that anyone can do: fast pushing, freezing, and slow pushing. Each method has its purpose and advantages, offering you flexibility and control over the minion wave dynamics.
Wave Manipulation Methods
Fast Pushing is a straightforward method where you just aim to quickly kill all enemy minions to push your minions towards the enemy tower ASAP. However fast pushing, is considered the weakest default pushing method and should be used in very specific circumstances.
The first situation where fast pushing can be beneficial is when you want to position your wave at your opponent’s tower to deny farm, get a quick recall, take down tower plates, or respond to your opponent’s roam. The second reason to fast push is to keep yourself safe. If you are low on health or at risk of being killed, fast pushing allows you to quickly get out of the lane, while buying yourself a small amount of time to fall back or have backup arrive. The third reason to fast push is if your jungler is invading or is contesting scuttle, you can fast push to get lane prior.
The downside to fast pushing is you are usually just forcing a single wave into the tower with minions spawning every 30 seconds and taking 5-10 seconds to push a wave in you’re not giving yourself a good window to be impactful in any way (if your jungler doesn’t need help), in addition, if you’re fast pushing you’re letting your opponent get free farm under their tower where they are very safe and if you want to challenge them for this farm you’re putting yourself highly vulnerable and prone to ganks. What happens quite often as well, is that now you have given control over to your opponent to set up a freeze or slow pushback at you which can cause you to quickly lose control over your lane.
Freezing keeps minion waves in a spot that is safe for you and dangerous for your opponent. You’ll want to freeze waves when you are stronger than the enemy and you want to make them risk dying to farm (with ganks or all in potentials). You also want to freeze if your opponent has little roam threat and you want to deny them farm. It’s also a good idea to freeze if it’s dangerous for you to farm (when you are behind or bad matchup) so you can be closer to your turret.
To freeze a lane you need the enemy wave to always be pushing towards you. You want to let your minion wave die and then prevent the enemy minion wave from reaching your turret, it’s pretty simple but there are rules you need to follow. You’ll need to let the enemy minion wave have a number advantage based on the position of where you want the freeze to happen, while also only last hitting the minions. So, one trick you can use is after your minion wave dies, you can tank the enemy minion wave and drag it to a better spot to begin the freeze.
The problem is that while most guides will claim that you can freeze with 3–4 minions, in reality, that’s the very minimum number of minions you need to freeze. You can easily break a freeze while trading with the opponent using an AOE ability (like Garen E/Renekton Q) where you accidentally kill a minion, and there goes your freeze. That being said you always want to look to freeze with as many minions as possible which you can control depending on the match-up.
Something important that not a lot of people know is that where possible, you should be freezing with caster minions and not freezing with melee minions. If you freeze with melee minions they might just run it down on the tower and die and break your freeze. So, when you are ‘thinning’ out the wave, you should only hit the melee minions, not the casters.
Slow Pushing is incredibly strong and should be your default way to push and thankfully it’s very easy to do. All you do is simply push the minion wave slowly, last hitting and pushing where you need to.
What happens following this is you’re able to build up two and sometimes even three waves of minions to crash into your opponent’s tower. This strategy is similar to the fast push, except you’re pushing more minions into the tower, which overcomes the weakness of fast pushing and that you don’t have time to be effective.
The main advantages of this are you now have time to roam, you can freely back and buy, you can often get multiple tower plates, and you’re pretty safe because no one wants to fight you in a large wave of minions. In addition, if you do kill your laner it is devastating for them because your opponent is going to miss a lot of farm. The only real downside to this method is that if you’re weaker, it may allow your opponent to set up a freeze in their favour, but if that is the case, either look to push the minions hard into the tower or go and roam.