Tanking in LoL

Recently I got my old desktop back (I left in the the UK when I went to China) and have been playing a ridiculous amount of League of Legends. It is really good, and it’s such a relief to be playing with and against real people. Kinda.

The problem with a game like LoL, where you live and die as a team, is that 90% of the community are complete assholes. Every 5 games you play, 4 of them will be with at least one person abusing you. If you don’t pick a tank (the most important role in the team IMO), no-one else will 4/5 times. If someone does pick a tank, it’s likely they’re worse than you anyway… so you lose.

As you can tell, I lose a lot of games. I’m not saying I’m great at the game, but it’s so so difficult to do anything unless you have a decent tank or you do it yourself. When I play Malphite, I have a much better win/loss ratio. Malphite is one of the most powerful initiators in the game, probably the best. When I play as Trundle (my new ‘main’), I have a much worse win/loss ratio. I’m capable of doing massive damage and off-tanking very well, but the tank sucks and I get insta-killed by the entire enemy team. In the 1/5 games that someone does pick a tank, they’re not very good.

This seems to be a very common topic on the official forums…

Encourage People to Tank, I’m Never Tanking Again 😐 and Tanking – it isn’t so bad all highlight a number of problems with tanking. Much of it comes down to perception, and a feeling of doing a “thankless job”. The second link is a story that is very common in my experience.


Malphite - My tank of choice


Problems with Tanking in League of Legends

  • Not getting kills – Kills are fun. While the carry should be getting the gold and XP, you often feel bad or get abused if you have a negative kill:death ratio. Tanks also need gold, or they will get destroyed.
  • Kill ‘stealing’ – When you do get kills, you’ve stolen’ gold from your teammates. This is a valid complaint, but some people take it way too seriously. Anyway tanks need items to tank.
  • Stop feeding – You will die a lot as a tank. Strangely enough, in a good team, I often have a positive kill:death ratio. This is because your teammates actually take advantage of your damage soaking (see the next point). Mostly, you just die a lot.
  • Defining tanking – Many people don’t understand tanking. They understand you need a fat guy taking damage, but they don’t understand the implications of that. I take damage, so that my team can own their team. I don’t take damage so that I can die in vain. So many times, people say “OMG Malphite, why are you running away?!”, I am running away because I don’t want to feed the enemy gold in a 2v5, 3v5 or even a 4v5 in many cases. When I initiate, you get your ass in there and start dealing damage! That’s your job, let me do mine.
  • People don’t listen – The tank is a natural leader. I’m not a natural leader but, when I play tank and we’re on the back foot, I become the leader. It’s like a different person emerges from inside me. I don’t yell at people, but I insist they don’t run around alone. I insist we hang back and defend until we can get into a 5v5 team fight (which we ALWAYS win, because I’m Malphite and my ultimate is crazy good). When people listen, we win. When people don’t, we lose.
  • Building for defence is boring – Defensive items are so, so boring. Apart from Randuin’s Omen, defensive items have no active spells. They give you armor, health, magic resistance and that’s it. You can’t get awesome effects like on Youmoo’s Ghostblade, Sword of the Divine or Black Cleaver. I enjoy farming as Trundle, because I can get sweet items. As Malphite, farming is a boring necessity which grants me yet more boring magic resist.

These are a lot of problems. Many of them could be solved with education (The first link above suggests a tutorial) and the inclusion of some interesting items. I think another problem is that there aren’t many fun tanks to play as.


This tank is crying for a reason


Tanking is an exhilarating role. Waiting for the enemies to bunch up and charging in, disabling everyone,  then unloading your other skills on the enemy squishies is a lot of fun. But, it’s only fun when you have the survivability (waiting for items), the initiation capability (often restricted by long cooldowns) and something to do when you’re there. Malphite has the initiation and the survivability, but once his ultimate is used… he’s pretty boring. All you do is spam AoE attacks and target your low damage ‘nuke’ on anyone trying to escape. If Malphite didn’t have his ult, he’d be very very boring. Shen has nothing to do, ever, in a team fight. He uses his taunt, activates Feint when he predicts some damage and that’s it. Amumu just initiates and hangs around. Galio initiates (dependent on a massive cooldown) and tries to catch chasers, but if he’s a proper tank (with resistance gear) he won’t be doing much damage. Rammus does have stuff to do, but Rammus is commonly known as the most overpowered tank in the game and is getting nerfed in the next patch.

It’s not surprising that all these tanks (except Rammus, which could pose some questions…) have extremely long ultimate cooldowns. Ultimates typically have long cooldowns anyway, but Galio, Amumu, Shen and Malphite have to wait a long, long time to get to use their best and most exciting skill. Reducing the cooldowns would be pretty imbalanced, but it would speed up the game massively and make for much more exciting tanking. Would it even be imbalanced? Team fights don’t last over 20 seconds at the longest, does it really make much of a difference if the initiation ultimates have a 2 minute cooldown instead of a 1 minute wait?


Pimped up tanking


This was kinda an ‘off the top of my head’ blog post. But these sorts of questions and thoughts are going to be behind my first League of Legends champion suggestion. This one I’m going to go full hog. Character art, back story (LoL back stories are lengthy!) and all the usual jazz, with item, rune and mastery builds included. I want to make people want to play tank, and reduce the amount of confusion and abuse that’s rife throughout LoL tanking.





3 Responses to “Tanking in LoL”

  1. Oh my god, thank you! Someone that finally appreciates tanking!

    I actually main as Amumu, and go pure tank (In 5v5 I jungle and gank early game).
    Unfortunatley I tend to play 3v3 alot more because I solo queue alot, and it’s upsetting when almost every match I have to explain to people in a 5v5 that top lane will be a solo lane because I am jungling, and then I later get yelled at for not being in my lane. Another reason I play 3v3 is because when you solo queue, and your team is bad, it is pretty much impossible to tank 5 fed champions, where as in a 3v3 the worst case scenario is a 1v3.

    With all this being said, you brought up a very good point in the fact that alot of people don’t understand that when I initiate on the enemy team that is when they’re supposed to attack, and I often feel bad when I have to run away with my team because I am low on health, even though the rest of my team has full health and mana; times like that kinda make me feel useless.

    I actually found this blog because I was looking for a picture of Emumu. xD
    But I ended up reading it all because you made alot of good points. 😀

    • Thanks for the comment 🙂

      Been playing Leona a lot recently, she’s a lot of fun. Really requires a decent team though, so it makes all these solo queue tanking problems even harder! Good luck with your Amumu, I hate the little guy (playing as him and against him!)!


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