Dodging the Hook: A Love Story

Is there anything in the world more satisfying than dodging Blitzcrank’s hook?  I would submit that there is not.  Sex?  No.  Chocolate?  No.  Sex with chocolate?  Stop looking through my encrypted hard drive please.

The point of this article will be to give you, the player, a beginner’s guide to dodging those pesky skillshots.  Many low-ELO players believe that mechanics cannot be taught, and in a sense that is true: you can watch LCS games until your eyes bleed, but until you actually put in the hours yourself until controlling your champion is second nature there are certain aspects that simply need to be practiced.  

I cannot practice it for you.  However, I can explain to you basic strategies employed by solo queue and professional players alike.  To do this I will cover three of the most basic strategies  employed when dodging skillshots.  This article will focus on Blitzcrank’s Rocket Grab (Q), as it is the most notorious “make or break” skillshot and seems to give many players trouble.  Note though, that these strategies applies to almost all skillshots.

(Note:  This article will not cover in-depth the mindgames that go into advanced dodging, as they are highly influenced by player behavior which is wildly different at different ELO’s.)  

Technique One: 90 degree turn

The first and most basic of the dodging strategies to be discussed is the NINETY-DEGREE-TURN.  My elite team of ex-NASA scientists have run the numbers, and they have concluded that Blitzcrank hook (and many, many others) project themselves in an extremely predictable manner.  Everyone knows that though, right?  However, not everyone knows the logical conclusion that should bring them to.  By sidestepping/dodging at a sharp 90° angle from the trajectory of the Rocket Grab, you are removing the fluff from your erratic movement.  This maneuver requires a minimum amount of champion knowledge: you basically only need to know from what distance is the enemy likely to fire their skillshot, and how far can it reach.  

Technique Two: Full-On-Stop

The second skillshot-dodging strategy is the FULL-ON-STOP.  This maneuver is as simple as it sounds: press the Stop command (bound by default to ‘S’).  This movement, or lack thereof, is meant to take advantage of the enemy predicting your forward movement.  Stopping dead in your tracks can cause an untrained Blitzcrank to throw his hook safely in front of you, connecting with nothing but air.  

Using this strategy is risky, as it halts all momentum if you are fleeing.  It’s also really embarrassing to stand still and then eat the hook.  If this happens, the only way to save face is to say your cat stepped on your router and you disconnected.  Get used to using the Stop command button intermittently, but not overtly: an enemy moving in a straight line is an easy target, but a stationary enemy is an even easier one.  

Technique Three: Sacrificial Pawn

The third maneuver is a little more complex and requires the most practice and game knowledge.  This maneuver is known as THE-SACRIFICIAL-PAWN and is performed by positioning yourself behind one of your minions, preferably one with a large chunk of health left.  Skillshots such as Blitzcrank’s Rocket Grab, and others like it such as Ezreal’s Mystic Shot (Q), rely on there not being any obstruction before hitting its target.  Standing behind the minion wave creates an obstruction, and requires one of two things to happen before the skillshot can land on your precious booty:

1)  For Blitzcrank/Ezreal to maneuver around the minion wave and attack from a different angle, or

2)  For the minion to be killed and thus removed from the equation.

Immediately once one of these two things happen the skillshot is ready to be deployed and poke/grab you.  Understanding the enemy’s next course of action is crucial to dodging skillshots — use this expectation against them, and trick them into using their skillshot on the minion instead.  Using the ‘Target Champion Only’ (bound to the tilde key by default) in combination with right clicking allows you to move amongst minion waves (friendly or enemy!) without attacking any of them and taking minion aggro.  This allows free movement through the minion wave, provided you’re not creepblocked.  

Use ‘Target Champion Only’ to move fluidly right up to the sacrificial pawn minion, and behave as if you are about to move outside of its hitbox.  With some any luck, this will lead the enemy to believe that you’ve done all the hard work for them, having removed the obstruction obstruciton yourself and having left your safe haven of being behind the minion.  With practice you can use each and every minion as a little pillar of safety, allowing you to juke right or left of it and bait out important spells.

Summary

Dodging skillshots is a necessary fundamental to master if you are looking to climb the ranks.  There is a reason that Blitzcrank is a terrifying, nightmarish grope-force to be reckoned with at lower ELO’s and seen as relatively useless at the highest ELO.  I have highlighted here three basic maneuvers you can use to outwit, predict, and outdodge your opponents, but there are an infinite amounts of strategies to employ and perfect.  Now get out there and dip, dive, dodge, and evade like I do my taxes!  

– ioki

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