All Dominion matches start the same way: five champions standing at the Healing Fountain that divide to capture three points. From there all matches are different but there are a few strategies, tactics and builds that are frequently used due to their effectiveness. This time we’ll go over the most popular openings in Dominion and analyse what they have to offer.
Four top, one bot; the most popular opening
This opening is by far the one used in most matches at the Crystal Scar. The idea is to use as few champions as possible for the easy to capture points: bottom and mid. Therefore, one champion captures bottom and one captures mid. Three champions go as quickly as possible to top and are joined by the mid-capper.
The advantages this opening has are strong initial power at top and minimized use of champions to capture nearby points. Bottom and mid are fairly easy to capture at the beginning as they are neutral points. The focal point at the beginning of each match is the Windmill. So with four champions at top the chances of capturing are maximized without ignoring the other points.
The disadvantage it has is that it’s fairly easy to disrupt if a team is willing to give the Windmill up. For instance, if an enemy backdoors the mid point, players won’t be able to react in time due to the fight at the Windmill. Furthermore, if the enemy starts with two champions bottom the sole bottom player will probably lose the capture point. We have to consider that few champions can effectively 1v2 without their ultimate.
Three top, two bot; the legacy opening
In the early days of Dominion this opening was the most popular one. It was discarded, over time, in favour of four top, one bot. The idea is to divide champions as equally as possible among lanes. Two champions capture bottom and stay in the bottom lane, one champion captures the mid point and two capture the Windmill and stay in the top lane; usually joined by the mid-capper.
The advantages this opening offers are better distributed power among lanes and a counter to four top, one bot. This opening’s power at the top lane may be insufficient to capture the Windmill but it makes up for it by allowing more pressure at the bottom lane. By giving up the Windmill a team can capture the enemy bottom point and split the enemy team. The enemy is forced to stay defending the Windmill or send more players to re-capture their bottom point.
The disadvantage this opening has is that the Windmill is the most contested point because, sans each team’s bottom and mid, it’s the closest point to each base. Unless the team is able to effectively defend the enemy bottom point it will eventually have to assign enough resources to capture the Windmill or risk fighting an uphill battle for domination.
Three top, one mid, one bot; the backdoor opening
This opening foregoes a bit of power in the top lane for an early disruption of the enemy’s game. The idea is to have the mid-capper backdoor the enemy mid point. This will either force the enemy to assign a champion to re-take the point and reduce their pressure on the Windmill or lose their mid point.
The advantage offered is that a split enemy is easier to beat. Even more so with champions that have abilities that synergize with others. Moreover, if the enemy team loses their mid point it’s possible to get an early lead in Nexus health.
The disadvantage is that an enemy mid point is one of the most difficult points to keep captured. A good team may capture the Windmill due to the numeric advantage and leave some strong defenders. Meanwhile, the rest of the top champions will recall and try to recapture their mid point, fully healed and with new items.
Two top, one mid, two bot; the double backdoor opening
This opening is quite similar to the previous one but it relies even more in capturing the enemies’ points. The idea is to, practically, give up the Windmill and lock the enemy with a four-cap. This is quite useful if the enemy opens with four top, one bot.
The advantage is that the enemy will lose two points, making a comeback take more time. Moreover, the enemy team will have to coordinate to be able to take a point without losing the Windmill. A good team can delay the enemy from re-taking its points and capture another in the meantime. In addition to this, having four towers to fight underneath provides more firepower to defend effectively.
The disadvantage is that the enemy will always be able to apply more pressure on their closest points than the Windmill. Even though it’s possible to five cap the enemy, it’s not a situation that can be held for long unless the enemy is behind a few levels. A team attempting to four-cap the opponent will have to coordinate to counter-push so as to keep the advantage in points captured.
There may be more openings used in Dominion but these are the more popular ones. It’s true that the vast majority of games choose four top, one bot but from time to time other openings appear and are a viable alternative to counter the traditional way.