Coaching to Gold: Turning Baron into a guaranteed victory

We’ve all seen it. The 50/50 baron, the random baron throw, the desperate baron sneak, all of this especially in solo queue, and sometimes all in the same game. Baron is an objective that we all gravitate towards because of its inherent power and the way that it gives the team with the buff such a large pushing advantage.

On occasion, despite all of the above, you might actually get the Baron buff onto you. For a lot of players, getting Baron is a lot like being the dog that finally catches the car, in that you caught it but now don’t know what to do with it. So… now what?

What does Baron do?

Baron provides four key things. First is the empowered recall, that allows you to get to base much more quickly, and leave base with a huge movement speed boost. Second is the very visible minion buff, which increases their damage and durability by a huge factor, and also increases their attack range. The third thing is that the Hand of Baron buff gives attack damage and ability power to all the champions that hold the buff.

Fourth, and criminally underrated, is the acceleration of the minion wave that occurs when minions are buffed. Baron-empowered minions move faster, and therefore push more aggressively outside of the durability buffs provided by Baron. This can cause more powerful siege situations and make splitpushers more threatening as they start knocking on the doors of the enemy base a lot earlier than they expect.

What do you do when you have Baron?

First it’s wholly dependent on your role and team composition. As a ranged carry, your primary goal is to siege onto enemy objectives. Control mages, junglers, and supports will want to join in on this siege opportunity too, while using the downtime to rotate into jungle quadrants and ward up a storm. If you’re a splitpusher, you’re going to want to pressure the map away from your teammates, and create pressure in that way.

Second is communicating your intention to teammates. Baron is invariably a team buff, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a buff that you want to ARAM with. Look at the condition of your side lanes and what towers are still up. Taking out straggling tier 3 or tier 2 towers should be of a higher priority, due to the map control that removing them gives you. Though it may not be immediately impactful, getting rid of those towers give you access to deeper warding opportunities in the jungle.

Third is guiding waves into quicker siege situations. If you play an effective roamer or splitpusher, it’s worth walking with your larger or slowly building sidewaves and guiding your wave to put pressure on structures a lot earlier, and then rotating to another lane to accelerate that wave instead. This type of pressure is an easy way to draw uncoordinated teams apart. Your descent to the jungle to meet up with your team, or the next wave, can catch poor rotations while your eventual rendezvous sets up a situation where your team now has baron and a numbers advantage.

As well, you can be an effective conduit to accelerating waves by going back to get a wave and bring it to your siege situation earlier. Just make sure your team isn’t diving without minions and without you! Use pings to signal where you’re going in order to bring the wave and keep your team informed. This is an ideal strategy for the jungler or support to utilize in down time if you have already warded key areas.

Often you want to be going for sieges first and foremost, and then collapse back onto neutral objectives after the fact. This is because you are wasting your Baron trying to contest points on the map that are not pressuring the opponents effectively. The deeper you are in enemy territory, the more opportunity you have to force mistakes on their part through your own sieges, so long as you don’t over commit (which you shouldn’t because of your siege advantage).

Sieges are also good ways to start fights, which you may want due to the additional attack damage and ability power you get from the buff. However, what is roughly 2,000 gold worth of stats per champion is not guaranteed to automatically win you the fight. Playing well is still key, lest you succumb to a different kind of “baron throw.”

As a final point, don't use Baron to pressure points on the map over which you already have control. This means that using baron to charge down that middle inhibitor that's already taken is much less optimal than taking your Baron buff to a side lane while super minions charge through the middle on their own. They don't need the Baron buff in order to be a naturally pushing lane that's in your favor, a mistake often made in lower ELOs.

This stretches the map and forces the enemy team to make suboptimal decisions on how to assign lanes, which are made even worse given the lack of coordination normally present in solo queue. The more pressure points you create on the map, the more macro mistakes you force from the enemy team.

Having Baron is all about creating even more pressure, suffocating resources such as vision and the jungle away from your opponents, and as a result forcing them to choose between a bunch of bad decisions. Baron doesn’t just have to be a tool to push through one lane, it’s a way to make the entire map yours if you do it right.

Gabriel Zoltan-Johan is a News Editor at theScore esports and the head analyst for the University of Toronto League of Legends team. His (public) musings can be found on his Twitter.

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