Some Thoughts About Level 1, Early Wards, and Countering Junglers

I wanted to talk about macro skills in League, and I thought "What better place to start than at Level 1?" At Level 1, Wards serve two major purposes: Checking for Invades and Watching the enemy Jungler. While Invades are a discussion in and of themselves, I've noticed that there are a lot of players out there that don't seem to get warding ever since the delay on Scuttle's spawn, the most obvious example being people who late ward the Pixel Bush in the River (the small dot bushes on either side of Mid). The most valuable ward right now is a deep Raptor ward, as it covers all the major Jungle Routes and feeds the team the most relevant information of the Jungler short of just following the guy around. I personally like to drop it as close to the 1:00 mark as possible, giving me enough time to walk to either of my buffs and _usually_ avoiding the enemy team's early line of scrimmage. At the very least I do try to get it on the ramp leading up to Raptors. For the most part, the raptor ward is primarily the responsibility of Junglers and Mid Laners, as they get the most relevant information out of that ward. I'm not gonna complain if a Side Laner helps with warding that though. After that however, you need to pay attention to what type of Jungler you're facing, and adjust your warding patterns to counter them. There are 3 Major Jungle routes that players should be aware of: Aggro, Control, and Farming. Alternatively they are Lv2 Routes, Lv3, and Lv6 routes. Or Aggro Middle Passive. Whatever the name helps you remember best, the three can be categorized as the following: **Aggro** {{champion:59}} {{champion:5}} {{champion:77}} {{champion:203}} Aggro Routes are defined by Junglers with ridiculous ganking and dueling potential at level 2. They almost always start Red into immediately passing over the Tribush for a gank on the nearest sidelane. Whether or not this gank succeeds in getting a kill, it almost always secures priority on that side of the map, which combined with the aforementioned dueling potential, quickly turns into an invade on the nearest Blue and results in Vertical Jungling. Alternatively, if no gank opportunity exists and/or the champion can hop over walls, the Aggro Jungler can go straight into a Blue Invade. Another variation of this early aggression is a Transition Gank through Mid, however this route is far more cheese than it is calculated aggression. Mid Laners be aware, but simply hovering on the far side of your lane will usually be way more than enough for the first 3-5 minutes of the game. While the route is defined by early and aggressive pathing through the River level 2, not all Junglers in Solo Q really capitalize on it. For this reason, the deep raptor ward is important for telling you if the enemy Jungler will take an Aggro route or a Control route. If you see the Xin Zhao on the raptor ward, he's prepping for Lv3. If you don't see him after 1:45, assume he's walking through Tribush right now and is just about to gank the sidelane. If you're like me though and you're playing Mid against an enemy Shaco and you KNOW he's staring you down ready to coat you in a thick layer of cheese, you can back up the Raptor ward onto the Raptor Ramp. The next most obvious ward placement is the enemy Tribush. As a side laner, stand in the river ward across from it until about 0:55, and ward it at 1:00. That should give you time to position (say to get back to leashing or find a cheesy spot to stand in) while maximizing ward time. If the enemy Jungler can jump into the pit, the third most important spot to ward is right in the middle of the river, such that the edge of your ward's vision covers the mouth of the Dragon/Baron pit. Between these three spots, Raptors/Ramp, Tribush, and the River, it will be virtually impossible for a Level 2 Jungler to not be spotted without taking an awkward route behind his Red to cheese Mid (Again Mid Laners, lean away from the enemy's red for the first 3-5 minutes if you don't see the enemy Jungler on the Raptor ward). This leaves the team with two more trinkets to spare. When I play Redside Top, I like to just run over and ward the enemy Blue (in between Blue and Gromp. The Bush is way more dangerous) at the 1:30 mark since I know nobody's gonna be there in most solo Q games anyway. This will guarantee if the enemy Jungler in question is starting Red. It's a little more dangerous for Blue Side Bot Lane to do this since most people in Solo Q start botside buff, but it's usually doable running through your own tribush. Between these four spots, Raptor, Tribush, River, Blue, you will have perfect knowledge on early Aggro Junglers. The extra ward can be saved for later, or your Jungler can now take Sweeping Lens to make their own early ganks that much more dangerous this way. That and/or clear the Raptor ward if the enemy team does it to you. You _could_ also ward behind the pit right by the enemy's Red. This does double duty on the River and Tribush ward, however beware of the hybrid Aggro/Farming Junglers like Xin Zhao and Udyr, they could go Kruggs second and gank through Tribush if you play like an idiot early and attract their attention. It will save a ward for later at least, so it's an option if you're confident with that spot. **Control** {{champion:120}} {{champion:20}} {{champion:141}} {{champion:60}} Control Routes are defined by Junglers with fantastic Lv3 kits, Junglers that need Lv3 to operate, or need to be flexible enough to operate anywhere on the map like Kayn when he wants his form early. In general though, this is the everyman's route that almost all Junglers are capable of doing. For that reason, it's important to try to identify any cues of whatever Jungler you're facing before you try to assume they're an Aggro or Farming Jungler. A big reason why the Raptor ward is so important is because based on the timing of when you see the enemy Jungler, you can instantly tell what kind of route they took. If the start red and have a delayed show, they're either Aggro or Farming. If they start Red and show immediately, they're a control Jungler. If they start Blue and show on Raptors around the 2:00-2:30 mark, they're Control. If they start Blue and never show, they're a fucking weirdo. Control Junglers generally start on the opposite side of their own high risk high reward laner since they'll be in control of that side of the map at Lv3 after their first clear. For example, if the enemy Bot Lane is Ezreal+Yuumi and the enemy Top Lane is a Riven, the enemy Jungler will usually start on the Botside buff. However, lower ELO players tend to always start Botside and Higher ELO Players like to look at the enemy Jungle matchup and counter them, especially if they're playing a ridiculous Control Jungler like Elise. The signal is also obviously not that clear when both Side Lanes are equally risk/reward, or if Mid Lane is the high risk/high reward matchup in question. Using the same strategy as mentioned above with Aggro Junglers, it is possible to walk through your Tribush and attempt to ward the enemy Blue buff. This can immediately tell you what side of the map they're starting. From there, the Raptor ward and the timing I mentioned will tell you what kind of route they're taking. Where it takes 4 wards to completely lock down an Aggro Jungler, it only takes 2 to figure out a Control Jungler. This also applies to Farm Junglers, as it turns out. Once you recognize the Lv3 gank and you know what side of the map the enemy Jungler is attempting to control, all it takes from there are for the laners to ward up around the 3 minute mark. So, if you see a Red Side Elise starting on her Red Buff, move down to Blue Buff, and is controlling the botside of the map, mid can ward the Pixel Bush and Bot the River bush at 3 minutes to be safe from any ganks from Elise. For this reason, responsibility for warding the Raptor pit should usually fall onto the Jungler or Support, as Mid will want to react to the enemy Jungler to know which Pixel Bush they need to cover. If your team is on Blue Side, ideally the Support should get the Blue Ward. If the enemy starts at Red then and rotates down, the ADC can ward the River. If the enemy starts Blue and rotates up, the Top Laner can ward their Tribush or deepward their own River. On Red Team, warding the Blue Buff tends to fall on the Top Laner. This gives him the short end of the stick if the enemy Jungler starts Red and moves towards top, as now the Red Top Laner knows that the Jungler isn't on that side of the map but doesn't have the nearby ward to protect them specifically. The alternative is to have the Red Support ward the Raptor buff, while the Jungler goes across to ward the enemy Blue with the Top Laner. This makes it safer to ward the Blue Buff bush itself, as well as opens up an easy steal opportunity in most Solo Q games, since most Junglers start Botside anyway. You will need to do this much earlier in the game however; if the Blue side Jungler decides to start Blue, your own Red Jungler will need time to get back to their own starting Buff. Worst yet if a fight breaks out. This will however preserve Top Lane's ward to protect themselves, and Bot should still have one more ward. **Predator** {{champion:120}} {{champion:20}} {{champion:33}} {{champion:32}} This is a variation of the Control Route available for Predator Junglers if they ever come back into Solo Q meta and certain Tank Junglers, namely Amumu and Rammus. The route is Red, Raptors (or Raptors->Red if leashless), Kruggs, back for boots and a Control Ward, Blue, Gank. It's a ridiculous route in the right hands as it gives overwhelming control over that side of the map once the Predator Jungler finishes their Blue, and cleanly transitions into a farming Route if no gank opportunities are available. Alternatively, it gives the Jungler Lv3 off of only three camps since Kruggs gives extra experience, putting immediate gank pressure on the nearest side lane. As a control route, you need the Blue Buff and the Raptor ward to most easily tell what the enemy is doing. If you see them at their Raptors and immediately path towards their Kruggs, the nearest sidelane either needs to get a ward on their Tribush or back up. Then, the opposite laner should have a ward on the enemy's Blue Buff Ramp, while the Mid Laner wards the pixel bush by the enemy's Blue Buff (or deeper, if possible. Cover all exits from the enemy Blue Buff). If everyone on the team wards properly, it forces the enemy Jungler into a somewhat less than opportune Farm Route. Try to be careful after the first wave of wards expire, though. **Farm** {{champion:24}} {{champion:11}} {{champion:30}} {{champion:2}} This route is defined by Junglers who are capable of and/or like to full clear their Jungle. For the most part, you want to treat them similar to Control Junglers. They like to start opposite of high risk/reward lanes, it takes two wards to figure them out, so on and so forth. The name of the game for beating a Farm Jungler is to get your Jungler control of BOTH Scuttles at the 3 Minute mark, especially if they're a Control or Farm Jungler themself. This tends to put the most emphasis on a strong Lv1-3 Mid, as their lane priority can guarantee these Scuttles. That or an easy gank on Mid, which then leads to both scuttles. With that said, where you need proactive wards against an Aggro Jungler, and reactive wards against Control Junglers, you will only need relatively Passive wards in the River since defensive vision isn't as much of a problem. The major ward spots are the enemy's Blue Ramp into River and a River ward near the enemy's Red (anywhere really, the Raptor Ramp, the enemy Tribush, mouth of the Dragon/Baron pit, Pixel Bush). They should be placed around 2:45, on the opposite side of the map where the Jungler started (Mid Laners, pay attention), but ideally, both sides of the River would be best since again, the name of the game early on is control of both Scuttles. Some farming Junglers are capable of silly but dangerous Lv2 cheese. For that reason, it may be smart to ward the enemy Tribush 1:00-1:40 or on your way to lane, and for the Mid Laner to hover on the opposite side of the lane until they show up at their Raptors. More wards aren't really necessary in that case however, as you should be able to see what direction the enemy is moving with the Blue Buff ward and it doesn't really work on Mid Laners who stand on the right side of the lane. There's another Lv2 Cheese Route that Cowsep, a Master Yi streamer, likes to drop on people, going straight from his Red to the enemy Blast Cone to steal their Wolves and kill the enemy Jungler. Most of the time, this cheese is spotted by the Raptor ward. If your spidey senses are going off and you feel like you/your Jungler are about to die at Wolves, an early River ward in the Pixel Bush counters this cheese. If you're a Jungler against a farming Jungler, especially if you have far better dueling potential, consider starting a Sweeping Lens. While it makes warding for your laners a fair bit less flexible, the pressure isn't on to set up a defensive line of vision as badly. The Sweeping Lens could instead help for your own ganks, or getting the jump on the enemy Jungler. While the key points of this section are shorter because of how much more passive you're allowed to be when it comes to warding, I want to stress that it's still just as important as ever to at least get those initial two wards (Raptor and Blue). If your prediction is off and Jax wants to play more like a Control Jungler than a Farmer, you're not going to know that unless you pay attention to the speed of his clear or what direction he intends to go. And even if they are Farm Junglers, if they clear healthy, they usually have a gank window at the end of their full clear, so Mid Lane and Side Laners on the opposite side of where they start should still make sure to ward on that side of the map. **Odd and Hybrid Jungle Routes** {{champion:141}} {{champion:9}} {{champion:77}} {{champion:5}} These guys are moreso the exception to the rule than they are the rule, but regardless you should at least be aware of them. When dealing with Hybrid Junglers like Udyr or Xin Zhao who are perfectly a-okay with ignoring Lv2 Cheese in favor for Attack Speed and Late Game dueling/raid boss potential, priority in warding them out should follow from Aggro to Farming. In other words, if you're playing against a champion who can play Aggro or Farm, ward like they're an Aggro Jungler. If you're playing against a champion who can Aggro or Control, ward like they're an Aggro Jungler. If you're playing against a champion who can Control or Farm, treat them like a Control. I guess it should be obvious but your Top Laner is going to get very nervous/irritated when all the wards are on the bot side of the map and Xin decides to gank top first so you're going to need to be aware that even following this warding guide to the letter is no foolproof plan from calculated misdirection or solo Q randomness. There's also an alternative Route starting at Wolves that more opportunistic or gimmicky Junglers like Kha'Zix, Wukong, or Fiddlesticks enjoy. While they will still be spotted out by the combination of the Raptor and Blue wards, it's going to send a lot of odd signals when you ward for a Control Fiddle, see him rotating towards his Blue, then back to his Red again. And while this is more relevant towards the transition from Early to Midgame than it is the early Level warding patterns, many Junglers like Kayn, Kindred, and many Dark Harvest Assassins will bend themselves and their routes over backwards to try to get stacks. It doesn't take a genius to realize that they should probably back when below 50% HP against a Dark Harvest Jungler, but Mid Laners as usual need to pay special attention to these weird intricacies, unless they're okay with warding the wrong side of the River and getting ganked with their pants down. I think I covered all the major warding spots when it comes to tracking the enemy Jungler. If I missed any significant early game wards for any signficant playstyles, please do inform me. I like being able to put my thoughts into words so if you guys like hearing some thoughts on X, I'd be glad to do this again. Currently thinking of invade routes since I've already mentioned them, I've also been thinking about matchups and team compositions. Would appreciate hearing others' thoughts on the subjects as well too.
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