Mastering Vision Control in League of Legends
Mon 10th Feb 2020 - 4:00pm
Vision control, while being as simple as pressing one button, can also be the most complex aspect of League of Legends. Vision can keep you alive or put the final nails in your coffin. It can secure a sneaky backdoor or allow for a baron steal when your enemy can make it into the pit. It takes an in-depth grasp of vision placement, timing, and denial in order to utilize this skill to its fullest.
Placement: Where and Why?
Wards are a limited resource that are extremely important during every stage of the game. It is crucial that you are able to get full value out of every ward you place. In the early game, this means getting information about enemy jungle pathing and laners roams. In the mid game, this means getting information on enemy rotations for objectives and skirmishes. In the late game, this means having vision around your big neutral objectives and flanks.
In the early game, your goal is to cover a variety of paths with each ward at times when they should be high traffic. This can be broken down into two key thoughts. What corridors does your ward see? And where does the enemy want to go? When your ward is in a corridor, it can see one path that an enemy might take either for roams or ganks. However, when your ward is in an intersection between corridors, you’re seeing the decision tree that they have to consider and are able to watch the decision start and react very early. This is true for roams from laners and ganks from junglers. There are many intersections that are crucial to utilize in the early game. In the image below, I will indicate vision and control wards that allow for effective tracking of your opponents.
In this image and the following ones red dots will indicate control wards and green will indicate vision wards.
The way these wards are distributed you have shallow control and vision wards but you also have the options for deeper vision wards. Shallower wards will see laners leaving for roams and junglers entering and leaving their jungle. Deeper wards will be able to track junglers as they path throughout their jungle. Wards closer to mid lane will allow you to spot transitions between sides of the map. Wards further from mid lane will generally show junglers looking for plays in side lanes and laners completing their roams.
For example, a ward in the bush next to raptors can spot a jungler transitioning from their blue side to their red side and if they are considering a gank or more camps. While a shallower ward behind red buff will show a jungler looking to leave their jungle either for a mid gank, river control, an invade, or even moving behind dragon pit towards a side lane to gank. A unique ward that can be very important is the ward in mid lane. Since mid laners are often the laners that roam most often this can allow you to understand a roams end goal up to 30 seconds before the roam destination is achieved. This ward spots which ways mid laners roam to or if they are simply taking a more defensive positioning. This ward is mostly good when you are against a laner that you can consistently push you in with the intention to roam.
An example of some of the wards described above.
Make sure you are utilizing the information you receive from your vision. Players will often drop wards and completely ignore a rotation caught by it. This is a direct waste of the resources you are putting into prediction and control. How can you use this information in the early game? This means you must pay attention to your minimap once you place your vision. If you see the opposing jungler transition from bot side to top side you can ping and allow your team to adjust. This may result in your top lane playing defensively, mid lane hovering towards bot river, and bot lane looking for a dive or a drake with the jungler. This is a way to limit the opposing team’s options in order to optimize your own. If you see mid roaming towards you on vision, you can simply avoid engages and play defensively to ensure the roam is wasted time.
Taking neutral objectives in the early game is unique in that you will more often use lane priority and jungle tracking as opposed to some of the heavy vision setups needed in mid to late game. This is because you will generally do these on reaction to picks or the opposing jungler’s movements. This means that waves shoving into lanes will force them to stay in the lane to clear it as well as keeping them in vision so that laners are less of a factor. The only thing you will absolutely always need is a control ward in or sweeper in the neutral objective pit to dissuade steals.
In the early game, there are many overused wards that are generally unable to give you the information you need in time to react accordingly. These wards are very shallow just observing the entrances to your lane from the river or jungle. You can sometimes use these if it is dangerous to get deeper vision but you realize that you cannot consistently create advantageous situations from these wards and should not use them consistently. I will indicate a few of these wards below.
There are also a few special cases of wards depending on certain junglers. For example against a Twitch or Evelynn, it is often crucial to ward their jungle camps that are close to your lane. Otherwise, they may be stealth when they move through your vision. There are also a few junglers like Nocturne and Zac that have uniquely long engage ranges which means you may want to get a deeper ward that can see them as they move into an engage positioning so you can react before they can click the go button.
In the mid and late game, many vision goals will be the same. The three considerations you must keep in mind for vision during these phases of the game are rotations, flanks, and neutral objectives. Your vision will also have distinct differences based on which team is in the lead.
Rotations are moments of vulnerability. When rotating alone, you are separated from your team but even when rotating as a group you are vulnerable to ambushes while moving through dark areas. To avoid these possible ambushes, you have a few options depending on gold differences and the goals of your most frequent rotations. Generally, in even gold games you can ward the entrances to your jungle from the river to get an idea of who might look to punish your rotation as well as who might be rotating to match you. In games where you have a deficit, you might be unable to sustain a vision line near the river and could instead ward intersections in your jungler where a player might look to ambush you. In a game where your team has a gold lead, you will want to take an offensive approach to your vision of rotations. This means that you will instead want to have wards in your opponent’s jungle. You will use these wards to spot an opponent starting a rotation from a lane and spot them in their jungle so that you know when to attack. If you are waiting to ambush someone you will want a control ward where you are standing so that you can ensure that they are not turning the predator into prey. You can also take these times when an important player is rotating to engage on their now weakened team.
When it comes to flanks, these are going to be wards that protect team units that are looking to siege or defend a siege. The purpose of flank wards is to have an early warning of when an opponent is looking to catch you guys from a vulnerable angle. This can happen when a player rotates from an adjacent lane towards the lane that your team is grouped in or when a player looks to sneak through the jungle adjacent to the lane. Wards on flanks will generally have two layers. There is the ward that shows the intention and the ward that shows the action. The ward that shows intention is similar to many of our early game wards where you are looking to spot someone making the decision to flank so that you can react earlier. However, this is not always possible due to either a variety of options or the inability to get a consistent line of deep wards down. When it isn’t you will use wards that show action. These are the wards that will be on your flanks to spot the player as they are getting in the final flanking position. These are generally effective but require a much more urgent response in order to survive the flank.
Neutral objectives in mid to late game require much more involved vision setup than they did in the early game. There are generally three layers of vision in these situations. The wards that surround the pit are most important for the actual act of taking and securing the neutral objective without your opponents getting in. The wards that control corridors into the river or behind the pit are the next layer that shows which team is posturing to make a move towards the objective. Finally, deep warding in the opponent’s jungle adjacent to the pit allows your team to foresee the pathing your opponents are taking and react preemptively. Generally, the first layer should be mostly or entirely control wards while the second and third layers should be vision wards with control wards distributed in key locations where you may want to ambush or add an extra layer of pressure.
This image indicates the dragon layers described above. The blue circle indicates layer one while the purple shape indicates layer two. Layer three is anything that delves deeper into your opponent's territory.
Vision wards should always be placed in the most optimal positioning, this means they can often be placed outside of brushes if it creates a better look at certain intersections. Control wards should almost always be placed in brushes, this allows for easier defense as well as ensuring that there is not a vision ward in a nearby brush that is evading the control wards sight. The locations where control wards will be outside of brushes most often are neutral objectives. Blue trinket wards should often be placed like vision wards to spot ambushes and enemy rotations without having to get as close or do it preemptively. They also have an important use in scouting out if the opposing team is looking to do a neutral objective while your team does not have vision of it.
Timing: When and How?
Trinkets have a cooldown and control wards will slow down your item spikes. So how can you optimize these resources once you have access to them? Pay attention to what your enemies want to do and what your team plans to do. This should always go through your mind before you drop your wards.
First of all, you want efficiency from your wards. This means you want to place the ward at a time where you can use most of the time that it is alive. Recalling right after placing vision is generally a big problem because of this. This also means you want to ward in reaction to when a laner wants to roam or where a jungler is expected to be for the next minute or so. If you’re a mid laner who’s bot lane is currently pushing to the opponent’s tower, you may want to get a ward that can see your laner leave for bot lane to let them know when they can expect to be roamed on. Also if you see a jungler ganking your bot lane then recall, you may want to drop a ward in the top side of their jungle since they can’t defend it from you and they are most likely to move back to that area to cycle through their jungle camps again. Both of these wards provide value whether or not they see an opponent as they allow you to know where they could be in order to know where you can be aggressive. This is what makes them truly efficient.
There is also the concern of safety. You cannot go for a ward in the opponent’s jungle alone with no pressure or knowledge. You must use the company of a teammate, pressure from minion waves, or knowledge of where the members of their team are.
Control wards and blue wards will have different timings than normal vision wards. Control wards should be placed at times when you can defend them for a certain period of time. These are periods of time when your jungler can help you to play around the vision control or where you are strong enough to pressure people off of it so that they will need to apply jungle pressure in order to actually clear the ward. Blue wards should be placed right when you need the vision, this means during rotations as you push waves. These can be cleared easily and so they should be used for information in the moment.
Denial: Where and Why?
Vision denial can be risky. This should be done under at least one of two conditions. These two conditions are if you are being defended by your team or if you have information on enemy positioning. This can manifest itself in a few ways, generally. In the early game, this is done by having wave priority and clearing vision on the side of the map that your jungler is on so they are free to make plays. In mid to late game, clearing vision is almost always a team effort. You need to work with your support and jungler to clear vision so that you’re never alone.
Vision denial also happens through defending control wards and playing around vision you know is there. Defending control wards requires the same conditions as clearing vision. Playing around vision is simple but takes good awareness. With this, you can use blast cones and dashes to skirt around vision by going unconventional paths. This should only really be necessary if you are being pressured by junglers or you can’t clear a ward because they are posturing to fight to defend it. Moving around it avoids this fight but still allows you to potentially roam or invade when they don’t have awareness.
The purpose of denying vision is to create forced errors. These are mistakes that result from an opponent not having enough information and still wanting to look for proactive decisions. By denying vision you can create ambushes or catch players off guard with rotations that they weren’t able to see early.
By controlling vision effectively you create an environment where the enemy decisions are limited and yours aren’t. Use these practices in-game to set your team up for success and get those wins in solo queue. Good luck!