Baron standoff (also referred to as Baron dance) is a frequently seen situation not only in competitive play but also in solo queue. It usually happens when one of the teams is stronger than the other and wants to force a fight outside of the relative safety of enemy turrets. The other team has no choice but to try and stop the aggressing team or risk losing the buff.
It also occurs when minions are pushing lanes and may deal significant turret damage, or often when another champion is split-pushing. The latter situation forces one team to either lose a turret (or at the very least a lot of gold and experience), or if they go and defend they may lose Baron.
Making Baron dance work
1. Be patient
The most important part of the Baron dance is patience. It’s a game of waiting for the opposing team to make a mistake upon which you can react and engage a favorable fight. The mistake can be almost anything such as a poorly positioned player, someone dropping to half HP, or a precise skillshot or ability on a priority target.
Dictating the enemy team decisions (i.e. forcing a fight) is often more favorable than fighting on their own terms. The point of the standoff at Baron pit is to pressure your enemies to make a bad decision and it often works if you just wait for it.
2. Buy wards
It’s extremely important to attempt the Baron dance with proper vision. If you ever watched a competitive League of Legends game you probably noticed that a couple dozen wards may be placed in just a few minutes to ensure the Baron is secured. Vision Wards and Oracle’s Elixirs also come into play as removing vision from the enemy team can have a huge impact on the inevitable fight. Even spending 10 wards and an Oracle is a small price to pay to win a teamfight and secure Baron buff.
To put the cost into perspective, killing Baron Nashor gives 300 gold to every member in your team, enough to buy 20 Vision wards! By having the buff you are potentially significantly stronger than the enemy team for 4 minutes, which enables you to siege turrets and get objectives more safely to further increase your team’s income. Most importantly, you are denying your opponents the opportunity to get Nashor for themselves.
To Baron or not
When choosing between finishing off Baron and engaging the enemy team, there are two possible choices and outcomes:
- Finishing Baron: you may blow certain cooldowns and drop in health or mana making a teamfight harder, there’s always the danger of enemies stealing Baron (basically a 50% chance which are odds I’d never bet on)
- Engaging enemies: if you win a teamfight you can go Baron afterwards (assuming enough members of your team survived), if you lose a teamfight then grabbing Baron probably wouldn’t have made a difference in strength.
If you’re attempting to kill Nashor and get engaged by the enemy team you should nearly always move away from Baron and switch focus to enemy players. If Nashor is at about 2000 HP then finishing him off may be a viable option, but do consider that dealing 1000 damage to Baron means that much less damage on an enemy player. It’s a very dangerous choice and the safest option is to simply switch your focus to players and finish off the big scary monster afterwards.
When you successfully remove vision around the Baron pit for the enemy team the potential of baiting is immense. Again having your own vision around it helps tremendously as you can see enemy movements. If they back off far enough it may give you enough breathing room to grab the buff quickly, but in a majority of cases they will facecheck and attempt to stop you.
It’s the facecheck you need to take advantage of since grabbing a sneaky kill can often mean enemies will simply give up and let you take Baron rather than risk losing a 4v5 fight AND you getting the buff. It’s especially important if you manage to kill the opposing jungler as the risk of enemies stealing the buff from you is miniscule in the case.
It’s also a good tactic to have one or two players split off and fend off any incoming enemies while the rest of their team focuses on finishing Baron, assuming they have enough damage and defenses to finish it safely and in reasonable time. Unless your entire team disengages Baron you should never get out of his range if you’re a jungler as you will want to stay close to Smite it. Leave that up to your ranged champions as they can do it more safely.
Baron’s damage (and debuff) is not insignificant so attempting to fight enemies while having Baron aggro is an awful situation to put yourself in. Always make sure you distance yourself far enough from Baron for him not to damage you. He can also decrease your attack damage by 50% and increase the magic damage you receive by 25% (stacking ten times!).
His pit is a dangerous place to fight in even if he’s dead as it provides very limited positioning and escape options if you find yourself in a rough spot.
As a sidenote, Baron always attacks the closest target so if you have only one melee champion in your team make sure to stand at melee range of him to share the damage he deals, even if you’re the AD carry (chances are you have lifesteal anyway). If enemies are coming, get out of there.
It takes about 25 seconds to get from bottom lane to the Baron pit giving your enemies more than enough time to finish him, so try not to be so far if you expect the other team to go for it. Generally after 25:00 in a match it’s dangerous to go farm or push bottom lane unless you have clear vision of your opponents and are certain they won’t do it.
On the other hand if you see your teammates in place to contest baron but find yourself way out of position tell them to poke and stall until you come. The same goes the other way: tell your split-pusher to get his ass back to baron (obviously unless he has Teleport) and try to stall your opponents for half a minute without hard engaging a fight.
It’s always risky to try and get Nashor with the enemy jungler around. If you think about it it’s a 50:50 chance for either jungler to get his Smite off, so if you see the enemy Lee Sin attempting to get close burst him (player) down as fast as you possibly can. The best way to prevent a steal is to make sure all enemies are dead, and you should never simply assume your jungler will be the one who Smites it.
If you’re the jungler make sure you always tell your team if your Smite is on cooldown. Never try to get Nashor without Smite if even one enemy is close by and can potentially steal it away from you, as the risk is simply too great.
I already mentioned a few cases about why you’d want to force Baron, most importantly when someone on your team is split pushing or you have a giant minion wave about to take down an enemy turret. Engaging your opponents can sometimes be a difficult option even if you’re ahead, particularly if they have good disengage or wave clear abilities and are playing defensively.
When you have superior vision and map control and you know you can win a fight (or at least get one kill by having someone facecheck) the Baron dance is a smart call.
Baron standoff is no exception to most of my Gold strategies and tips, meaning it requires a coordinated and experienced team to work best. It’s definitely not an advanced tactic but many players get impatient and dunk into five enemies for no reason.
If you intend to bait at Baron get proper vision, remind your support to buy an Oracle’s or at the very least a pink ward, and tell your team mates to “bait” so they hopefully won’t start fighting Nashor immediately. If you have a split-pusher without a global presence make sure to be careful about engaging a 4v5 fight as getting killed and giving Baron to enemies can seal the deal on your match.