Camera control is a large underlying skill that is often ignored or left to the wayside. I myself have not created many pieces of content touching on this topic, so I thought it’d be appropriate to really break down how to refine or develop this fundamental skill.
First we need to understand that great camera panning or camera control, is simply a means to be able to observe and gather more information in a given situation as well as act as a ‘seatbelt’ for our character so that we can control the champion how we would like it to be controlled.
There are two main ways we can control our camera when it comes to laning and skirmishing.
NOTE: We can use a combination of these as well, which is something I highly recommend to do and we will talk about this throughout the article.
1. ‘Locked Camera’, whereby the camera directly follows your character in a ‘locked’ fashion.
2. ‘Free Camera’, whereby you manually control the location of the camera by panning your mouse to either side of the screen.
Now, you may ask what makes playing with one of these settings better or worse then the other?
Both are actually optimal in differing situations. Let’s first take a look at ‘Locked Camera’.
‘Locked Camera’ is actually completely fine to use in the laning phase, and sometimes even optimal if you play champions that dash and have very rapid movements e.g Akali/Lucian/Ekko/Qiyana.
This is mainly due to the fact that it allows you to keep track of your champion’s location, and free up that ‘mental capacity’ to focus on more important things such as combos, spacing and trading patterns.
‘Locked Camera’ only becomes a problem when it comes to team fights and skirmishes. This is because it limits us from being able to see all of the factors at play when operating in a fight. This is best demonstrated through the below image.
As you can see, if I were to approach the fight with my screen like this, notice how I’d struggle to do the following…
1) Actually see the resources both HP and Mana of the enemies
2) See the accurate location of the enemies around the terrain
3) Notice what spells/abilities they may have used, especially if I have other teammates diving the backline
4) Dodge incoming skill shots from a distance and accurately assess their posturing.
Also notice how the entire bottom half of the screen is filled with useless information. I don’t need to admire the scenery behind me if the entire enemy team is in front of me.
Now as for ‘Free Camera’, it is completely fine to use this setting for the laning phase, I personally use it for every aspect of the game. But it is not necessary for the lane specifically.
Where this setting really comes into play is actually during the skirmishes and team fights. If I am able to actively pan my camera to see my surroundings, I may have an information advantage over the opposing player who operates with ‘Locked Camera’.
Below is an image that highlights ‘optimal’ camera positioning.
Notice how in this frame, we are able to ‘cut out’ the useless portion of scenery below my character and maximize the amount of ‘useful’ terrain I am able to scout.
As a rule of thumb, your character should always be at the edge of your screen unless you are directly fighting in which you’d want to
‘re-center’ your camera.
NOTE : Being able to pan quickly and effectively is also incredibly useful when gathering information around scuttle fights.
Now that we understand the difference between Locked and Free Camera, we are able to go a little deeper.
In a team fight or skirmish, the optimal course of action when it comes to camera panning would go like this…
Step 1 : Scout terrain with ‘Free Camera’ to both increase likelihood of dodging skill shots as well as assess as much information as possible
Step 2 : Proceed to use the ‘Re-center Camera’ keybind, when the engagement begins around your character.
Step 3 : Rinse and repeat whenever you find miniature lull states within a fight, especially if it’s an extended skirmish.
For most players, this keybind is on ‘SPACEBAR’, and I use it quite often within fights just to keep track of my characters whereabouts. This is especially useful when there are a lot of things going on, skill shots flying everywhere and players dashing left and right. Without using this, you might find yourself walking off to a direction without even realizing it.
Given that we have covered the team fighting and skirmishing aspect of camera control, let’s move onto casual information retrieval throughout the game.
When in the laning phase in between CS’ing or even coming out of base within a lull state, there are two main ways we can retrieve information.
1) Through the use of ‘F-Keys’. These are automatically bound through F1 to F4 by Riot, as a way of automatically panning your camera to your teammates. This is a VERY important skill to develop especially as you climb through Platinum and above. The reason this is so effective is because you can quickly use the ‘F-Key’ to shift your camera’s location accurately, then pan your camera around the area to assess the information you were looking for, then instantly use ‘SPACEBAR’ to pan back to your own character.
If you tune into a stream, you’ll often see high elo players use these key binds to gain information extremely fast. The information they are usually after are the following…
– State of the resources of the laners
– How the trade/fight is panning out
– The state of the wave
– Which abilities have been used
For me personally, I never found the ‘F-Keys’ viable to use because of their awkward placement on the keyboard. So what I ended up doing is binding my ‘F-Keys’ to the side of my mouse and the letter ‘T’. The specific bind isn’t important, as long as it’s comfortable for you.
Note : Getting used to these keybinds will take time and effort. I recommend you learn this skill by going into flex queue/normal games and forcing yourself to ONLY pan your camera through the use of ‘F-Keys’. Alternatively, go into Practice Tool and pan your camera to the bots for a few minutes as a warmup before heading into Solo Queue (Will show example in a bit). This usually doesn’t take too long to develop comparatively to the other camera panning skills.
2) The other way to retrieve information is by simply clicking on the mini map, which is how most people do it in the first place.
This is another completely viable way to gather information but is obviously less efficient, more sloppy and can take away from your focus in the lane.
I personally use this when I am only in large lull states and when I want to do serious information scouting for extended periods of time. You’ll often see me alternate between both 1 and 2 within my own gameplay.
I recommend doing a combination of both, and finding what works for you. But please note, that using the ‘F-Keys’ will become increasingly important as you climb the ranks due to the fleeting nature of the lull states within the lane, as well as the overall tempo/game pace, so efficiency is key.
Now for how to actually IMPROVE our camera control and get used to using ‘Free Camera’…
Below is a short video where I explain 2 Drills you can do within both Practise Tool & Custom Games, to help break your poor camera control habits.
One thing I truly believe when it comes to breaking the habit of ONLY using ‘Locked Camera’, is that it’s best to rip off the bandaid. Don’t wait and don’t half ass it. If you continue to relapse and try to approach this in bite sized chunks, it will not work out well.
Let me know how it goes and I’d love to hear back from you within the discord.