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Due to difficulties in the early game, often I die a lot earlier and get little farm or kills. This often causes me to get underleveled.

It's a HUGE difference, and the best solution is to not get in that situation in the first place, but if it does happen, what are some tips to quickly recover from being underleveled? It feels like I am a nuisance to my team because I die easily to any opponent, I cannot kill opponents, and farming is very hard with tough opponents in the lane. I need to level up to help my friends, but I don't know HOW to do it fast!

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6 Answers 6

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The better option in this case is to avoid falling behind so far in the first place — being level 8 when others are level 15 is a huge gap! To that end, I'd suggest buying more defensive items early game (such as items that give HP, Armor, or MR). For example, as an AP champion, go for an early Rylai's Crystal Scepter instead of dying multiple times until you save up for Rabadon's Deathcap. For AD, I like to go for early Zeke's Herald on heroes that I'm bad with, because it:

  • adds HP, life steal & AS
  • allows you to support allies with an aura even if you're too weak to help directly
  • adds CDR, which is important if your main contribution is to blow your skills to snare or damage and then run away so you don't die

The above points still don't answer what to do if you are already way behind. Honestly, at this point, there is likely a skill difference that will prevent you from doing much anyway, but let's focus on what you can do.

Item choices

Don't blindly follow a guide build order if you're having trouble.

  • +HP: Confused about whether Armor or MR would be better? Too poor to afford both against a mixed-damage team? Adding HP is a general solution that boosts your survivability for those nasty burst attackers so that you have a chance to get away. Note that %HP damage is your natural enemy in this case - beware of Madred's, DFGs, etc.

  • Aura Items: You're a wimp, but your allies aren't (or else the game would be already ending). Help out with Zeke's for sustain, Frozen Heart to counter enemy ADCs, etc. — all while remaining a safe distance for quick getaways.

  • GP10: These items are best purchased early game. I don't suggest buying them when you are thinking of playing catch up (especially after laning phase is finished) unless you expect the game to take a long time.

  • CDR: On any hero with good support spells (e.g. Lux), Cooldown Reduction is vital for more chances to help out. For instance, Lux can kill runners or deny areas with her R more often, and Lulu can save allies from ignite or DoT spells with her E or R more.

Game Play

  • Never engage 1 vs. 1 when you're underleveled.
  • Try for assists - can you snare an enemy for your ally to finish off? Even if you just Exhaust him and run away, you can pick up a valuable assist for some free gold and experience.
  • Don't ignore neutral creeps. Level 8 heroes can easily kill wraiths & wolves for easy gold/xp if the creep wave is pushed out or guarded by the enemy champion.
  • Aggressively clear enemy creep waves when there are no champions around to stop you. This helps push your minions to assist in killing their towers, and you could distract an enemy to come over to chase you off (in which case, you should run, because you're weaker... but putting a stronger hero out of position is also good!).
  • Spam AoE and even ultimates to clear creep waves if there is little likelihood of a teamfight in the next minute (and you being within range to help).
  • Unlike enemy champions, neutral buff monsters (blue/red) don't switch target to weaker heroes. Help by casting shields on allies taking blue buff, dragon etc.; this saves their HP for fights while you can go back for a mana refill.
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Just wanted to add that excessive warding will save your butt when you're that behind. When anyone on the enemy team can squish you quick, you need to be able to farm safely. Heavy warding(3+ per trip) is the only surefire way to accomplish this. –  Andres Aug 22 '13 at 17:38

I think the best thing you can do is to try and farm a lane - only last hit those mobs - as long as you can alone, with possible trips to nearby jungle camps or to other lanes if there are huge waves coming. Your teammates can help you by trying to make the game last longer. Those tips work the best for carries. Some other champions don't need that many items/levels (a lvl 6 blitzcrank can pull and win a game just as a lvl 15 blitzcrank). So if you are having this problem you might want to choose some hard CCers, who don't suffer as much from being behind;)

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What I'm going to say is going to draw a LOT of flak, but this tactic worked well for me in my early days, when I struggled with keeping up.

If you're massively behind, as in the scenarios you described, sometimes catching up is not a viable option. In this case, the best strategy is to try and use your character's worthlessness to your team's advantage.

Having been killed a lot, your deaths will give your opponents less gold. Since you're presumably at a lower level, you'll grant less experience and you'll respawn slightly faster. This means you can perform kamikaze strategies with less risk and loss.

If your teammates are losing a fight, use as much CC as you can to let them get away, dying in their place.

If your team is unsure about an area, scout ahead. Attempt Baron/Dragon steals whenever possible.

If a tower is low on health and undefended, you can volunteer to backdoor it. You'll at worst inflict a bit of damage on the tower, and at best either destroy it or force some members of the enemy team to deal with you. This allows for the rest of your team to push separately.

An important consideration to keep in mind when using a strategy such as this is that you must never get a kill, as this will reset your gold bounty, dramatically increasing the potential enemy gains from killing you.

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Thanks for the edit Yves, added some important info there. –  Jordaan Mylonas Sep 11 '12 at 4:56
    
+1 for an interesting approach, and also the info on gold bounties (didn't know it changed on dying often) –  Alok Sep 11 '12 at 19:55
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The note on backdooring is great. If your opponents send 1 champion to stop you, your team is free to engage 4v4. This gives them better odds, unless the person sent to stop you has an equally bad record. –  Toast Sep 11 '12 at 20:00
    
@Alok If you're considering going down the tower destroyer route, make sure to equip some lifesteal items, so that if they don't respond to you quickly, you can heal up in lane on minions, and then go back to attacking their tower :D –  Jordaan Mylonas Sep 11 '12 at 22:30

Something you can try and do, if you're on a solo lane, let the tower go, because you're of no use to it anyway.

Start aiming for assists and ganks where your teammates initiate the engage.

Go back and farm your lane when it nearly is pushed to your next tower, that way if the over leveled enemy player still insists on trying to kill you they are super pushed and an easy gank for the rest of your team. With this, also make sure to ward in a couple key spots so they're even easier to gank and their team doesn't just roll in and roflstomp you.

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I have to disagree with one thing Toast said; do not by gold/10 items (for the gold/10) if you are this far behind. They're generally only good if bought early (for that purpose!). As part of a general build, however, they can be useful as an early item. Philostone's regeneration can help a lot in lane, e.g. Just don't buy a gold/10 item with the expectation that it will help you catch up; it will not. Philostone only gets 30 gold every minute, meaning you need over 26 minutes before it pays for itself (if you later sell it, you need to have it for fewer minutes to turn a profit). If you sell at 15 minutes, you'll turn a 50 gold profit e.g (15 * 30 = 450 gold + 400 sell price).

If behind in levels: you need to keep farming. Do what you need to do to farm as safely as possible (wards, as Toast said; don't push out far past the safety of a tower. Take jungle camps where possible/while not disrupting jungler). If your lane is moving ahead of you, call for ganks or even a switch if you feel you can't stop it. Try to avoid trading, and if the enemy is pushing you hard to harass/shut down farming they should be gankable.

Also, consider buying defensive items. A mistake a lot of people make in LoL is they focus on offense over all else for many characters. Sometimes a null magic mantle or chain vest can help turn things around.

If you are behind in gold but not levels, consider whether the enemy has a global gold lead. That is, they have taken more objectives (towers/dragons and even baron). If that's the case you can counter this by taking objectives yourself. If they're way up in kills, well that's a different story. You can still fight but you need to be very choosey about when and where you engage. Keep the jungle well warded.

Outside of this, take a look at the basic checklist. Are your champion builds any good? How is your last hitting? Are you being too aggressive? If you feel you are lacking in these areas research and practice can and will make you better. It can take many hundreds of games to get proficient in LoL.

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gp10 definitly ARE catchup items if you are sure you are stronger late game and you are sure you can make it to late game without loosing 3 inhibs. –  Jacimovski Sep 10 '12 at 16:45
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It takes 26 minutes for a gp10 item to pay for itself. With an item sale, it takes 15 minutes to turn a slight profit (and then only 50 gold). No gp10 items are helpful to have as part of a build in late game. So, no, they really aren't. The gp10 aspect of gp10 items is for snowballing, not catching up. –  peacedog Sep 10 '12 at 17:12
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You're ignoring the extra stats GP10 items give. The regen a philo stone provides can be the difference between getting a few extra CS or being forced back to fountain. A GP10 item isn't a substitute for getting CS, but it can be VERY helpful for staying in lane AND easily pays for itself. –  Toast Sep 10 '12 at 18:31
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-1 for being oversimplifying. You don't have to decide whether you're buying gp/10 before the 5 minute mark. If you're feeling over-pressured, and your lane opponent is beating you, gp/10 is a perfectly reasonable purchase at any point in the laning phase. –  Christopher Berman Sep 10 '12 at 21:18
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Let's keep comments civil and on-topic, guys - if you think an answer isn't useful or is incorrect, that's what downvotes are for. If you need to have an extended discussion, take it to chat. –  agent86 Sep 12 '12 at 20:35

There's not a definite answer to this question; sometimes a player is just outplayed. A few generic tips:

  • Buy potions and use them.
  • Buy gold generating item(s). Philosopher's stone is a great choice for the extra regeneration.
  • Play more defensively. It's most important to stay alive, not get farm/kills when coming from behind.
  • Buy armor or magic resist vs your opponent's main damage type.
  • Ask teammates for help.
  • Ward pathways your opponent is using.
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