Posted by Teemo, Site Engineer on Tuesday May 24, 2011.
I play a lot of League of Legends and If you haven’t played it, let me give you a small introduction. League of Legends is a PVP game that matches 5 people on one team against 5 people on the other team. It’s designed by the makers of DOTA Allstars, and is similar in many characteristics.
The goal is to destroy turrets and make it into the enemy’s base to destroy their Nexus. During the course of the game, you get to kill real players in the game.
A kill is awarded to the person who strikes the killing blow bring the enemy to 0, not to the person who deals the most damage. If a minion (or creep) strikes the deadly blow, then the person who last hit the player (within a reasonably short period of time), gets the credit (and most of the gold).
If someone is about to kill an enemy player and someone else comes along and strikes the fateful strike, then players sometimes refer to this as a Kill Steal, or KS for short. Today, I make the case that there is no such thing as a kill steal in the game.
Team vs Team and the Hesitation Factor
The overall game is meant to be team vs team and not 1v1 (a topic for another blog post). When team fights start, the only thing that really matters is that your team wins the outcome of the fight. If you’re on the team that loses the team v team fight, then it can prove to be the last act that seals your team’s fate as being defeated.
If there is any hesitation on any team member to not attack, then the target might get away, not die quick enough so reinforcements arrive, or worse…heal and kill you. Anyone who has played the game has dealt with the frustration having a target get away. The concept behind a KS can make it so that otherwise helpful teammates hesitate in assisting to kill because someone will rage: “KILL STEAL!”
Ultimate’s Deadly Blow
One character I love to play as is Ashe. She was one of the original champions in the game, and is probably the first one most players play in the tutorial.
At level 6, every champion gets the chance to use their “Ultimate” ability. Ashe’s is that she can shoot a gigantic arrow in any direction and has no distance limit. The only restriction is, it must be shot in a straight line. It also can deal a good deal of damage as well as stunning enemies for a time that is determined by how far away it was shot from the target.
If I see an enemy who has very little health, that is hiding or being protected by a turret (sometimes in the middle of recalling to the base to heal), I will usually shoot them. The shot itself is enough to kill them.
If you subscribe to the KS logic, then I stole my teammate’s kill; however, isn’t it better that the enemy died and is off the map, than to simply get the gold and kill count? Not only that, but my teammate couldn’t have killed him or her without dying themselves. I, as Ashe, can without risking my death.
Another way Ashe is useful in kills is shooting my arrow into a group of enemy players. To gain maximum stun time, I try to (most times) recall to our base and shoot from there, if at all possible. If I aim correctly and strike, the stun time can be upwards of 4 seconds. This is commonly enough time for my teammates to attack and kill all who have been stunned, which can quickly turn a match in our favor.
But, unless Ashe strikes the killing blow, she has to settle for assist – but you’ll almost never hear an Ashe complain about a Kill Steal in that case. Most recognize it’s a team game, and her ability to stun ultimately plays to the whole teams benefit.
AoEs and DoTs
The final reason why there is no such thing as a Kill Steal are Area of Effects and Damage over Time effects.
AoEs are done to anyone within a specific area and not targeted towards any specific player. A perfect example is Nunu. This champion is a Ice Yeti with a kid on his shoulders that performs a move where anyone within an area takes damage. What happens if in a team fight, that champion uses it and kills a player that another player was attacking? Is it a Kill Steal? Sure, she can use abilities that only target 1 player, but in a team fight, that move can turn the fight.
DoTs are probably the most common trigger for someone claiming a Kill Steal (usually proceeded by: “OMG”). I can think of no better example than Teemo, the Swift Scout.
Teemo hides in plain sight, and deals deadly darts of destruction. But his most powerful ability is that he can place mushrooms around the map giving the team map control and killing a player who is running away. The biggest problem is that Teemo’s abilities deal damage over time, and not at once. If the target is hit by a player, the DoT still might kill them first. Teemo has no control over the frequency, only the potency.
It's a team game
Wouldn’t you rather have a powerful Teemo? And more importantly, in a team fight, wouldn’t you rather have a teammate who won’t hesitate at protecting you and advancing the team?
It’s a team game, and there are certainly players who will try to get the killing blow no an enemy for the gold and kill count. However, a powerful team, is a winning team. Champion equipment upgrades are team upgrades.
And that is why, there is no such thing as a Kill Steal in League of Legends.