Tower diving in League of Legends solo queue goes poorly more often than it actually works out. There are just too many risk factors, including the biggest of them all – the fact that the four people you just matched up with for a game don’t know each other and have never played together before.
In pro play, however, it’s one of the most common and reliable strategies for forcing plays, getting kills, and zoning the enemy away from objectives. In fact, there are typically several successful tower dives in each and every game. Why then, do they just seem to never work in solo queue?
The simple answer is that most pro players understand the ins and outs of tower diving, no matter what stage of the game they’re in. Casual players, even in higher ELOs, have trouble gripping and understanding solid tower diving strategies. That’s not a knock on non-pros, it’s just not a skill they need to learn to climb the ranked ladder. But, with just a little bit of knowledge and practice, any solo queue player can add tower diving to their ranked strategy arsenal. Is it necessary? No, but a well-executed dive can catch your enemies wildly off-guard, and it’s just another very sharp tool to add to your belt of potential outplays.
For that reason, we spoke with several LEC pros to find out how to pull off a great tower dive, and why that talent can be so scary in the right hands.
Why tower diving is useful
Pros wouldn’t tower dive much if it wasn’t so effective. It forces the enemy’s hand, allows you to control the pace of the game, and opens up more objectives for claiming. As you’ll soon learn, even if you don’t end up diving, the act of setting up a dive successfully can open your team up to controlling the map, anyway.
There are numerous uses for a tower dive. If a lane is in a bit of a stalemate, for instance, a tower dive can break the tension and tip the scales in one direction or the other. This can happen when the top lane consists of two tanks, both with low damage output and kill pressure. Champions like that can whittle one another down for the entire laning phase, but sometimes won’t get any kills at all without jungle intervention. If one top laner gets the other down to at least half health, that may be all their jungler needs to come lend aid in a dive.
“If your toplaner is full health and the enemy is half, it might be a good time to dive,” Fnatic jungler Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen tells us. “If your toplaner has less health, it’s much riskier. You want the target to be at least down to half HP, so you can go in, dive, and get out as quickly as possible."
Aside from breaking a laning stalemate, diving can be useful for map and objective control. For example, in the act of setting up a dive, if the enemy chooses to abandon their tower or a minion wave due to the risk of an impending gank, you can use that time to grab tower plates, a dragon, more minions, vision, or jungle camps. If the dive goes through successfully, that’s obviously useful, too.
Diving allows you to control the pace of the game and force things to happen on your terms. They can award you with kills, towers, and any number of other things, but you need to learn when and how to execute them before… diving in. Otherwise, you’ll end up hurting yourself more than anything, as diving carries a great amount of risk, too.
When to tower dive
Knowing when to tower dive is the most important aspect of the entire strategy. That being said, before you can learn how to pull it off, you need to know how to read the map to decide when to attempt it to begin with. This knowledge can be broken down into three categories—health pools, champions, and game time. We’ll talk about all three.
Depending on what stage of the game you’re in (early, mid, or late), certain champions can be better for leading a tower dive.
“Knowing when you need to dive comes with experience,” Broxah said. “It’s very champion dependent. There are champions like Elise that make it very simple to lead the dive, tank tower, and then Rappel to drop aggro.”
Early on, champions that have one or two abilities that can be used to lock an enemy down and burst them are best for dives. Elise is a prime example, but there’s also Renekton, Pantheon, and Maokai. The criteria for early diving is simple: You need a ton of damage to burst combined with a ton of easy crowd control to hold them steady while you delete them. Renekton, Pantheon, and Elise can easily lead a dive with a bit of easy CC and can provide the burst, but they’ll need a teammate in the dive that can provide more CC and tank the tower a bit. Likewise, Maokai’s CC is incredibly easy to land, and he packs a ton of it, but he’ll need a teammate with enough damage to burst the target down. If you can’t check those boxes, don’t try a gank before level three.
As the game progresses, those necessities loosen a bit due to the natural tankiness any champion. Likewise, though, the enemy gets naturally tankier, too, so being able to burst them down with one champion’s combo likely won’t be enough. For that reason, heavier CC is needed to keep them around the tower long enough to kill. As the game goes on, champions like Sejuani, Gragas, Nautilus, Braum, and other CC machines make dives much, much easier. The less CC you have, the more slippery the target can be, adding even more risk to an already very risky maneuver.
Health, as Broxah says, is one of the most important stats to track when diving. In fact, if you go in for a dive at the wrong health, the entire thing can be thrown off.
“A lot of failed dives start when players aren’t in sync,” FC Schalke 04 top laner Andrei "Odoamne" Pascu explains. “If there’s just one or two players out of position, or one player starts the dive too early, the dive can backfire just because they weren’t patient enough."
Starting the dive too early is the key here. To dive, pro players generally follow a health pool rule. The target or targets need to be at around 50 percent health. Typically, the lower the better. Likewise, you want the allies taking part in the dive to be as close to full health as possible. If anyone isn’t full, you need to make sure tower aggro stays off of them, which means, if the champion you need to lead the dive is low health, you need to call it off. If health pools are reversed, and the enemy is closer to full while you or your laner are at half-health, you shouldn’t dive.
The stage of the game is the final thing to keep track of when considering a dive. Typically, you can dive a tower at any point of the game, but the strategy to do so changes depending on where you’re at. For instance, we mentioned earlier than the type of champion best suited for diving early in a game should have high damage and easy crowd control, but champions with heavier CC can be better later on. There are more factors to consider with each stage of the game beyond just champion choice, however.
“It’s very important to look at what point in the game you’re in,” Odoamne says. “For instance, there are only a few champions that can dive very early, like Elise, who can dive at level 2 or 3, or Renekton, who can start the tower dive with just his W. Later, when you might want control of the dragon or bot lane, you’ll want to dive bot lane.”
Dragon and bot lane control are paramount to most team strategies when mid-game rolls around. To prep a mid-game bot lane dive, your team’s manipulation of the minion wave is just as important as, if not more important than, health bars. According to Odoamne, it’s definitely more important.
“You want to always start a bot lane dive by building up two or three waves before diving, and then as soon as it crashes, you move in,” he says. “If the enemy will lose more minions by retreating, they’ll be more likely to stick around to try to farm it.”
This is a slow push dive. It requires a slow push to accumulate more than one minion wave at the enemy tower to prep the dive, and it requires more than one minion wave to entice the enemy to stick around for the dive. When they begin to attempt to farm the swarm of minions, that’s when you pounce.
“You figure out which angle you have to come from, like if you want to run a lane gank or come
from behind the guy, and then you lead the dive with whoever has the most CC on your team, and the others follow up,” Broxah tells us.
If it’s just one wave, they don’t lose much of anything by bailing and staying safe. Likewise, if you do push a large wave up to the tower and the enemy backs off to prevent the dive, you have more time to control the map with wards or to prepare an attempt at taking dragon. Or, and this is the safest option, you can just push through that tower and take a couple of plates for gold. There’s no shame in that.