With the release of an entirely new map, Riot has moved the MOBA genre into new territory, and in doing so, have created an entirely new metagame. Teams that just attempt to drop two of their 5 man team and run the same strategies in Twisted Treeline will be met with epic failure. So, what major strategy alterations need to be taken into account with this new map? This guide will take a macro look at answering this question.
(Note: I apologize for the improper formatting of this post, the indent function seems to be broken for me)
I. Champion Selection
Many will claim that certain champions are flat out better than others, and that some are even useless. While certain selections may have distinct advantages, EVERY champion has their place, if you form your team's strategy around it. However, many factors need to be taken into consideration when forming a 3v3 strategy, particularly on this map.
Factors to consider:
A. Size matters!
This map is SMALL. It takes mere seconds to get from one lane to the other. Heroes with deployables, such as Teemo and Shaco immediately become exponentially more effective, because more of the overall map can be covered and secured by their deployables.
B. Length of the Lanes
Riot has created an interesting juxtaposition, in the fact that while the map is small, there is an incredible distance in between the towers. What this means for you is that ganking becomes a much more dangerous threat. Right off the bat, this means that heroes with speed boosts, as well as slows and disables are (as usual) highly prized. You have a LONG way to go to get to safety, so consider how far you are willing to push if you choose a hero that has no inherent escape mechanism. Flash, while already great, just got a lot better. In addition, there are HUNDREDS of juke and hiding spots in this map. Fiddlesticks, Kassadin, Corki, Trystanna blinking into your lane and opening a can, could really ruin your day. Heroes like Mummy or Blitzcrank hooking you from hiding spots are even more effective than they were before.
C. Game duration
Twisted Treeline games are incredibly short. Normal 5 man matches in Dota/Lol follow the traditional phases of: 1) Lane Phase 2) Ganking Phase 3) Pushing/Teamfight Phase. Depending on your team's strategy and hero composition, the times of these phases can vary. Twisted Treeline takes these traditional phases and throws a wrench into your plans. Lane Phase is is combined with both the ganking and pushing/teamfight phase, and it's not uncommon to see 3 man ganks in minute one. "Late" game usually officially begins by minute 15-20.
So, what does this mean? Less time to farm means less money. Not only do you get less TIME to farm, but the time you do have is often interrupted by 3 man pushes that you have to defend, or 3 man ganks that send you back to base.
Pushing heroes and carry heroes become much, much less important than heroes that can gank effectively, as well as escape a 3 man gank after inevitably having to push too far. Pushers or carries can still be good mind you, but only if you build them correctly for this map. Nobody will have the luxury of free-farming for 20-30 minutes trying to complete an item build. If you are facing a competent team, anyone pushing or farming will be constantly ganked. The most effective way to push in this map is to kill you first. While not completely useless, carries are quickly outclassed by high-burst damage casters since the length of the game never reaches its full potential of a 5v5.
II. Map Control
Map control is always the key to victory in a MOBA. In Twisted Treeline, map control becomes even more vital to victory. It is also incredibly important to establish map control earlier, and each player is more individually responsible for this.-----------------------------------------------------------
Map control can be broken down to two main areas: Awareness, and Presence.
Huge. This can not be stressed enough. The most important thing to consider is the following:
MIA calls are a thing of the past.
EACH player is INDIVIDUALLY responsible for watching the map. In a 5v5 map, even an exceptional player might wait 15-30 seconds before calling MIA for his partners. If you rely on a partner to call MIA for you after this amount of time, you are as good as dead.
One second a hero could be hiding in the bushes of top lane, and mere seconds later he could be in your face on bottom lane owning you in a 3 man gank. Seconds later he is back to his lane.
The point of this is that you are going to need to step up your game in Twisted Treeline. This map is HARDER, not easier. Just because it end's earlier, and there are only 3 enemies instead of 5 does not mean that it is more noob-friendly. Yes, there are less lanes, smaller distances, and less heroes to keep track of, but YOUR personal contribution just moved up from 1/5th of the team's power to 1/3rd. This is huge.
What this means is that each player MUST be individually responsible for where every enemy hero is at, AT ALL TIMES. MIA calls are useless when many heroes can be MIA for 90% of the game. The jungle is immense, it is everywhere, and it is very rewarding. If your enemies are smart, they will be in the jungle gaining the new amazing buffs, preparing to kill you. In short, if you do not see an enemy actively on the map, assume he is about to hop out of the bushes and destroy you. He probably is.
As teams get good at Twisted Treeline, the men will very quickly be separated from the boys. You do not have the luxury or the time to chide or correct your team, or moan about MIA calls. If you get ganked, you only have yourself to blame in this map.
How to achieve awareness:
1) Watch the map. Take account for where every enemy player is at all times. This can not be stressed enough.
2) Wards, clairvoyance, and deployables that can accomplish the same thing just got exponentially better. If you can account for every enemy team member, even while they are in the jungle, you have that much more freedom and confidence to farm and push, as well as opportunities to gank.
In 5v5, "Presence" as part of map control usually took the form of how many towers you have, vs the enemy team. If you still had your outer towers and the enemy team did not, you have greater map vision, further safe points, and teleport locations. Twisted Treeline is very, very different.
In Twisted Treeline, the team that controls the center of the map, often controls the game. "Control" here means once again, awareness/vision, as well as control over the lizard buff.
While there are some amazing new buffs to be had scattered out through the jungle, it is no accident that the Lizard is at the exact center of the map. Teams that focus on controlling this point, and gaining this lizard buff will more often than not dominate map control. The reason for this is that distance to safety is much, much farther, and gaining the lizard buff is almost synonymous to getting 2-3 hero kills because of its damage and slow effect.
Heim, while being primarily a lane pusher/defender in 5v5, becomes an AMAZING key to establishing map awareness and presence. 6 Turrets scattered throughout the jungle both alerts your team to incoming ganks, but also can completely make certain pathways off-limits. As in any war, he who controls where the enemy can and can't advance usually wins.
How to achieve Presence:
1) Get the lizard buff, early and often. While you have it, use it. Gank constantly. Don't die, giving it to the other team, unless you are 100% sure that they will die after, passing the buff to your teammate and extending it's duration.
2) Don't be a coward. Cowards lose hard and fast in Twisted Treeline. This means taking calculated risks. Don't run in headfirst to a sure death, but if you need to die to ensure that 2 or even 3 of the enemy team goes down while your 2 teammates are alive, this is a simple, simple decision. Individual K/D ratio means even less than 5v5. Not taking one for the team now can easily ensure your loss later.
3) Don't focus on freefarming. Freefarming works when you have the confidence that 4 other teammates have your back, and you have 30 minutes to farm an item build. In Twisted Treeline, a sole focus on farming means you are not ganking. You are sacrificing map presence for money. Likely, you will also be ganked in the process.
4) Make the most of every enemy death. The time that it IS OK to freefarm is after a successful gank. Most of your farming and pushing needs to be done while the enemy is dead. If they are alive, and you know where they are, you need to be on your way to kill them, or formulating a plan on how it will happen. Trust me, if you are not, the other team is.
The team that controls the map through awareness and presence is already winning the game.
In 5v5, a good early game can mean that you have a great late game. In Twisted Treeline, a good early game means that you are already at the enemy inhibitors taking them down.
What this means is very simple. Having, and more importantly, USING, solid early game items, is much, much more important than farming up your "ultimate build". This is crucial.
Brutalizer, Soulstealer, Rageblade, these are all examples of amazing "bang for your buck" items.
Likewise, for the most part, gold items are absolutely horrible. The argument can be made for the occasional exception such as an avarice blade on Pirate, or a heart of gold on Malphite, etc. However, you are almost always better off buying a more cost effective crit item, or defensive hp/armor item. Keep in mind that most games average 20 minutes here, and you are primarily wasting your money on the +gold portion of your item. Sure, it can work, but an equally skilled opponent spending their money more wisely will always outclass you in terms of statistics.
Finally, the other extreme is consumables. If you want to be the biggest key to victory for your team, buy elixirs and potions. In a 20 minute game, a 4 minute elixir went from a solid short term boost, to being OP for 1/5th of the game. In some games, on some heroes, it's worth it to be elixired up for the entire game. As an example, if you bought nothing but elixirs and potions against someone who bought gold items, you would be about 3 times more effective than they were over the course of the game. With a competent team, by the time their gold item paid for itself you should already be at their inhibitor taking it down.
Potions are another key to victory because you want to be out on the field as much as humanly possible in Twisted Treeline. One minute of time over the course of the game returning to the base to buy and heal is a huge fraction of the game's overall time that you are missing getting valuable gold or ganking. Potions help keep you going strong, and maintain your presence in the map.
Summary: What you buy, when you buy it, and how much time you spent farming for what you bought will determine the course of the game in Twisted Treeline. Go for solid, high return for gold spent items, rather than long-term investments. Use your elixir, potion, and early game item advantage to dominate the map and secure your victory early.
Keep in mind that this is a Macro level approach to the metagame of Twisted Treeline. In a future update, I may take things down to a micro level and explore individual champions and what they bring to the table. But for now, these are things that you can experiment with yourself. There may be individual exceptions to the above guidelines, such as if you are intentionally attempting to turtle to extend the game long enough to punish another team's early game advantage.
However, this is a very risky strategy, but who knows, at some point, the metagame may evolve to where this becomes a valid strat. However, in the end, map control and smart play will ensure that your early game advantages can likewise carry into the occasional extended game.
Twisted Treeline is an amazingly fun, and very fast paced addition to LoL, and I look forward to what other genre advancements Riot has in store!