Counter-picking Guide - Beat your opponent in Champion Select!

As we all know League of Legends is a game of strategy and skill. One of the most important elements of the game that a lot of people might not realize is champion selection. Knowing how to counter-pick against your opponents can be the difference between winning or losing the game. In this guide, we’ll try to explore some tips and tricks for how to beat, or at the very least get a big edge over your opponent in champion selection.

Let’s start off with the basics. What exactly is counter picking and why should you do it?

Counter-picking is the well-known strategy of selecting a champion that has an advantage over the enemy champion in a particular lane or match-up overall. Counterpicks are often used in ranked games or professional play, where players have better game knowledge.  This includes understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each champion, as well as what can be used in things like normal draft games or lower ELO-ranked matches as well, counter picking is for everyone.

The key aspect of counter-picking involves choosing a champion that has abilities or mechanics that can completely negate or exploit the strengths and weaknesses of the enemy champion. For example, your enemy top laner picks a strong early-game bully with high burst damage.

Let’s use Renekton as part of our example. You might counter-pick Renekton with a champion that has strong defensive abilities to survive the early game and then scale into a more powerful late-game champion, an example here could be Malphite.

Counter-picking can give players an advantage in the lane and can help them secure kills, gain a gold lead, and ultimately win the game. Some counter-matchups might even be unplayable for your opponent. But it is important to note that counter-picking is just one out of many aspects of the game.  There are other factors such as player skill, team composition, game knowledge, and overall mechanics that also play a significant role in determining the outcome of a match. Counter-picking might give you a huge advantage but you need to know how to work with it.

Now that we’re past the basic understanding of counter-picking, how do you EXACTLY use that to your advantage in champion selection?

Let’s start with the pick order. It is completely random in which order you will be picked by default but you can change it by swapping with one of your teammates. If you’re playing top lane, it is in your best interest to swap with your team members so that you can pick right after the enemy has picked.  This way, you can counter pick. Usually, you should just aim to get the last pick as often as possible.

When you already know what champion you will be laning against you should consider what you can pick to counter it. Try to think about the weaknesses of your enemy and what champion might give you an advantage in laning against your enemy.  You might even try to put yourself in your enemy’s position and try to think of what champion you wouldn't want to play against if you were on the opposite side.

If you still do not know what to pick, there are a lot of sites offering you champion counter data. Some even have detailed matchup information. A good site to take information from could be u.gg, which gives you some basic idea of who to pick in certain matchups.

For example, here you might see that Rumble, Rengar, and Malphite are all good picks for Fiora. The thing to consider here is the win rate and amount of games that matchup has been played in the current patch. While Rumble/Rengar have a huge win ratio against Fiora, they have a small sample size compared to Malphite with over two thousand games. As you can also see, you should avoid picking Nasus/Akali and Dr.Mundo in that situation considering they seem to get absolutely obliterated by Fiora in most of the games. If you’re looking for a strong lane counter in that specific matchup, Renekton, Warwick, and Sett seem to have the most GD15 (Gold Difference at the 15-minute mark) out of all the champions.

Keep in mind that counter-picking works for all the lanes (including Jungle!) and not just the top lane. There are a lot of bad matchups coming into other lanes and the jungle too. One example could be that you do not want to pick Kha’Zix into Rengar (as Rengar’s W completely negates Kha’Zix burst in skirmishes). 

Another aspect of counter-picking to keep in mind is that there’s more to counter-picking than just lane counters. For example, you might counter the enemy Kennen (top/mid) with Janna/Alistar (support), or perhaps Lee (jungle) by disengaging every time Kennen wants to initiate a fight with his ultimate ability, Slicing Maelstrom.

Another example would be Yasuo’s W (Windwall) completely negating Twitch’s engage possibilities with his ultimate ability (Spray and Pray)  and forcing him to auto attack from different angles.

In conclusion, counter-picking in League of Legends plays a big part in determining the game and its outcome of it. While attempting to counter-pick your enemy laner might net you an advantage and help you win the lane, there are also overall counters out of your lane that you might want to consider.

Ultimately, you should aim to counter-pick and think about what champions might work the best against enemy team in every situation that you’re able to.