Wondering when you should be using recall to get your champion back to base? Our guide covers the basics and explains some advanced techniques you can use to make the most out of one of the simplest spells in the game.
(Featured image via Riot Games.)

League of Legends Guide: How to Use Recall Efficiently

Nov 24, 2017
(Featured image via Riot Games.)

To get better at League of Legends, you need to always be on the lookout for ways to increase the efficiency of your own play. One thing you can focus on when you’re watching and analyzing your replays is your use of recall. When choosing where on the map to recall, you want to find a balance between aggressive (risky) recalls and conservative (safer) recalls. You also want to consider enemy vision when using the spell, since you can get wrecked if you start to channel your recall in view of your opponent. You can even fake a recall to force out costly mistakes from your laning opposition. First, however, we’ll start off with the basics of how and when you should be using recall in League of Legends.

The Basics of Using Recall

DO recall when you have enough gold to complete or add a piece to the item you’re working on, but avoid recalling when you’re 50 to 100 gold short of your purchase.
DO use your control ward before you start to channel the spell, even if you’re hiding in the brush.
DO use recall outside of the other team’s vision, to make sure you don’t give the other team free information.
DO back on the arrival of cannon/siege minion waves (every third wave until 20:00) to minimize losing minions to your tower. Cannon minion waves take longer to be cleared, and they also absorb more tower shots, which gives you more time to walk back to lane after recalling.

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DON’T recall in front of a jungle camp, unless it’s a buff you’re coming straight back for.
DON’T recall with a full sightstone and 0/3 wards placed.
DON’T recall in enemy vision during Dragon or Baron face-offs. The enemy team will force a 5v4 play knowing that they have a certain number advantage. Recalling out of sight takes that information away from them.
DON’T die while backing on a pink ward with the shop window open.

Aggressive vs. Conservative Recalls

Using recall is an eight second commitment, which is practically an eternity in League. Sometimes I’ll complete my recall just before my opponent gets to me, and moments like those make me wonder whether I’m good or just lucky.

Getting your recall’s channel canceled is a huge setback. Consider the 1 to 7 seconds you wasted channeling, and then factor in how long it takes to walk farther away and start channeling all over again. And, of course, walking too far towards your base to recall is another waste of time. Try to find the balance between maximizing safety and minimizing the time it takes to find a safe place to use recall.

The most “conservative” recalls waste a little time, but risk nothing. Usually, this means walking to your tower or even past it to ensure you complete your channel. Sometimes it means finding a brush even further away that you are sure isn’t warded. If you’re running low on HP, it’s definitely worth it to spend those extra couple seconds to make sure you’re not going to die mid-channel.

The most “aggressive” recalls will save you lots of time, but there’s a much higher risk of having your recall cancelled. If you recall past your team’s side of the river or start channeling while you’re in the vision range of the other team’s tower, be prepared to get ganked. Protip: if you’re trying to pull off an aggressive recall, don’t open the shop until you’re back in base.

Here’s an example of what aggressive and conservative recall positioning looks like in bot lane for Blue side.

Aggressive and conservative positioning when using Recall (League of Legends.)
On blue side, recalling closer to enemy towers can be risky, but it also saves you from making a long commute back to the safety of your own tower. If you don’t know whether or not a bush is warded, assume that it is, and move one “level” closer to safety.

In top lane, the most distant lane brush is an “aggressive” location to start the recall process, but smart opponents will throw skillshots into the brush to disrupt your channel. Trying to pull off a recall in the bot lane brush is even riskier because this spot is so often warded. Good communication with your team is essential if you want to avoid getting caught out.

You can use aggressive recalls to help you get back to lane sooner, and as time goes on, you’ll start to develop a sense of when and where you can recall without feeding.

Abusing Line of Sight Mechanics

Because of the way terrain affects the fog of war, you can return to base without your lane opponent knowing, as long as you’re in the right spot. This is particularly relevant in mid lane, where there’s a lot of terrain that interrupts vision. Rather than retreating to your tower to recall, which is a dead giveaway that you’re about to start channeling, try using recall just around the corner.

Safe recall positioning in the mid lane.
On blue side, hide behind this wall to take advantage of line of sight mechanics.

When you recall without the enemy seeing you, your whereabouts are unknown, and the other team might think you’re out hunting for a kill in another lane. Depriving your opponent of information is an easy way to gain an advantage in League of Legends, and this is why it’s vitally important to make sure you’re outside of enemy/minion vision before you start to channel recall.

Safe recall positioning in the mid lane.
Here’s another blue side scenario: Your opponent is farming under tower. Don’t back right in front of them! Go around the corner of the wall and recall where they can’t see you.

Advanced Techniques

Recall Bluffs

Every player can use this technique to deceive their opponents. Just press B with zero intention of completing your channel, and observe how your opponents positioning changes as you continue to channel.

When you recall in full vision of your lane opponent, it’s natural for them to try to disrupt the channel.

They’ll walk up, cast a spell on you, and walk away. Knowing that many opponents will do this, you can use this behavior against them by using your recall spell as a bluff. The best time to bluff a recall is when your team’s jungler is nearby. Your jungler can capitalize on your lane opponent’s sudden aggression, and possibly get a kill.

Here's where you'll end up if you're on blue side and successfully recall back to base.
(Image via Riot Games.)

This play can easily backfire, however. Smart players will recognize that you’re bluffing if you suddenly pull away at a weird time. They won’t fall for the bait, and at higher levels of play, players will understand that your failed recall bluff means your jungler is nearby. Giving away free information is never a smart move in League of Legends.

Playmaking With Recall

I’d like to give an example of how recall can be used to make plays in situations where you’re trying to decide between engaging an enemy and going back to base.

Here’s an example scenario: Rengar is inside the brush, and starts to channel recall while preparing to make a gank onto Nautilus. Rengar has a lot of gold to spend and wants to buy his items ASAP. He’s waiting for the Nautilus to Dredge Line himself into a spectacular trap, but maybe Nautilus is too patient to go in. Maybe the Nautilus misses his Q completely, putting his aggression on an 18s cooldown. With recall already channeling, Rengar can either complete it or go for a cheeky kill if he catches the Nautilus making a mistake.

Efficiency Wins Games

The most important part of using recall efficiently in League of Legends is making sure that your opponent doesn’t cancel the spell while it’s channeling. However, if you know where your enemies are and have a good idea of the extent of their vision, you’re already well on your way to avoiding the most common mistakes.  If you can successfully straddle the line between safe and dangerous positioning, you’ll save valuable seconds when you recall, and that’s the kind of efficiency that’s going to help your team take more objectives.

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Joseph Schmidt
Joseph is a devoted League of Legends player who loves discussing strategy and helping players get better at the game. When he's not gaming, Joseph can be found playing electric guitar, enjoying nature, and taking photographs.
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