One of the skills that really sets the good players apart from the professionals is the way that they control their camera. A good rule of thumb is that whenever possible, camera control should be accomplished using keybindings, to free up the mouse exclusively for controlling your champion. This is because your keyboard hand usually has less to do in high intensity situations than your right – your champion movement has no cooldown, your abilities do.
Tools of the Trade
Before we talk about how to control your camera properly, we first need to know what the different commands you can use are.
Free Camera (On By Default)
In free camera, the camera remains stationary until you use a movement command.
Edge Jabbing (Mouse to Screen Edge)
By jabbing your cursor to the edges of the screen, it will scroll the screen in that direction. Speed can be set in the “game” sub-menu menu using a slider.
Drag Scroll / Drag Scroll Lock (Unbound by Default, Typically bound to Middleclick)
Allows you to pan around by selecting an anchor point on the screen, and then moving your mouse in the direction you want to scroll. This is super nice to use in spectator mode because of how much control it gives you over the speed and angle of your scroll (so smooooth!) but it’s very slow it is compared to edge jabbing, as speed increases with distance from the anchor, so you have “acceleration” to take into account. Generally this is used to move the screen very short distances without moving their mouse from the center area of the screen, as a substitute for very small edge-jabs, but it’s not the most necessary.
Center Camera On Champion (Space-bar)
Holding the space-bar will center the camera on your champion, and follow any movement your champion makes, simulating locked camera – Simply pressing it will move your camera to position your champion in the center of your screen.
Clicking on the Minimap
By clicking on your minimap, you can instantly center your camera on the location of your click. Very useful for jumping large distances quickly.
Function Keys (f1, f2 … f5)
The “f1” key functions identically to the space-bar, while the f2-f5 keys center your camera on your allies. This also will select those allies as though you had left clicked on them (very useful for abilities like Shen’s Stand United [R], or Janna’s Eye of The Storm [E]). Some people, myself included, like to rebind f2-f5 to f1-f4, just for ease of use. Another clever option is binding these to Shift+1/2/3/4 (credit to Phreak for the inspiration, he rebinds them to 1/2/3/4 and does something different with items because he’s a masochist).
Tools We Don’t Use
Camera Lock (Toggled with Y by default)
Like space-bar, but a toggle. We aren’t interested because using it requires more inputs than space-bar: one to toggle on, one to toggle off, (two button presses) as opposed to press down to toggle on, lift up to toggle off (one button press). Some switch this to spacebar and spacebar to Y, but I think the default setup is better.
Camera Lock Mode (Dropdown in the Game menu)
There are three different camera lock modes available to you. Fixed offset is default, and we’ll be sticking with it, but it’s worth knowing what the other two do. Per-side offset adjusts where the camera places it’s “center” based on side. If you’re playing on the purple team, it will be shifted up and right. Likewise on blue team, it is shifted down and left. This is nice in theory but in practice it means that you have to develop two different muscle memories. Semi-locked allows you to move the frame like free camera, but forces your champion to stay in frame. Again, nice in theory, but in practice using spacebar isn’t that hard to do and gives more precise control.
Scroll Up/Down/Left/Right (Arrow Keys)
While these can be nice to use in spectator mode (or while dead), they make no sense to use in a real scenario. This is due to their location on the keyboard being so far away from both hands. Some people rebind these to WASD and shift all their skill key-binds around, but that’s usually a preference you inherit from another game.
Enable Smooth Camera (Checkbox in the Game menu)
We already talked about camera acceleration in the section about drag-scroll. We still don’t want it, for much the same reasons. It will make the game prettier, but it also makes it more difficult to play. No-go.
Move Camera on Revive (Checkbox in the Game menu)
Camera-Control During Lane Phase
While in lane, you want to keep the camera free, and centered on the minion wave. This allows you to keep all of the champions currently in play on your screen, and usually only requires minor re positioning with edge jabbing. In the jungle, while supporting, or in lane when you don’t need to focus on last hitting, you should occasionally do “The Tap”. This is where you quickly roll your fingers across the f-keys, panning across the map to your allies. This allows you to quickly see what the state of their lanes are in terms of health and mana (your allies and their opponents), levels, and minion wave position. You may catch someone making a mistake, and be able to ping them away from danger.
Panning Around The Map
It is extremely important to keep tabs on what goes on in other lanes. When you notice something interesting happening on the minimap, it is optimal (if you are under no pressure) to take a quick glance with your full camera to see what’s going on. If a fight has broken out, you can get a sense of who will win, and whether your team requires assistance. Additionally, you may catch the enemy blowing important summoners or ultimate cooldowns, which you can then time in chat. You have three ways you could conceivably do this: you should choose the one which requires the least input from your mouse/keyboard.
If the point of interest is extremely close by (usually one screen length away or less), it is optimal to edge-jab to see what’s going on. If you plan to join, and begin moving towards the fight, you will want to continuously edge-jab to the fight, center the camera back to yourself with space-bar, and then edge jab back to the fight. This is to allow you to survey the entire area that you’ll need to walk through. If you were to simply keep the camera on the fight, you could miss your champion getting engaged on while you’re moving to intercept; While if you were to keep the camera only on yourself, you might miss important turns in the fight which change your angle of approach, or whether or not you come at all.
Perhaps the point of interest is farther away; Then you have to ask yourself a question – are any of my allies nearby? With allies nearby, the best option is using the function keys to snap to an ally, then edge-jab as needed. Without nearby allies, you’ll need to use the mini map to navigate.
Camera Positioning in Fights
If you’re in a hectic team fight, it is usually best to use the space bar to center your camera. This keeps you aware of your champion’s position, and makes sure that your mouse is free to input move commands. You can either tap or hold, depending on your preference, but holding has some special benefits for ADC’s in particular. When kiting with high attack speed, you should move your mouse from your target to your movement path, then back. When you hold the space bar to center your camera, this becomes easier, as the distance is consistent. This can help you increase mouse accuracy in the long run. Holding space bar is also preferred on champions with high movement speed, due to the frequency you input move commands.
I hope that you learned something new about keybindings, and have found a new skill to practice on the rift! Also, check out the other articles in the series!