The Summoner's Guidebook: Wards win League of Legends

A lot of you have noticed that I've been talking a lot about wards over the past several months. This is for a good reason: Wards win League of Legends! I think that every one of my past wins on Summoner's Rift has been either due to wards or a complete blowout laning phase.

Of those two things, there's one you have almost zero control over, even as a jungler. You can outlane the person you're against, but there's no telling when your opponent is just better than you. If you're a jungler, sometimes the enemy lanes don't give you any openings or your lanes just throw kills away to the enemy jungler. No matter how good you are, someone can always be better than you -- or your allies can be horrible.

However, in Season 4, if you place down a ward, in probably 90% of circumstances you're getting vision for the full duration of the ward. No matter how good the enemy team is, if it moves through that area, you get intel. If it doesn't, you also get intel.

But how important is it really

Everyone vaguely understands that warding is good. Pro gamers talk about it. I talk about it. Non-pro streamers and YouTubers and everyone else talks about it. The difference between now and previous seasons is just how infallible vision is. If you're not a top player, pink wards and lens trinkets are very rare. I tend to see more pink wards than normal (I play Evelynn), but even still I see less than three per game on the average. People aren't clearing wards anymore. The most common time for me to see pinks is when a premade partner or I drop one to clear the dragon or baron pit.

If you have wards in the enemy jungle during the midgame, you get to see where the enemy is moving. Let me put this in concrete terms: If you have three wards in one side of the enemy jungle in a manner that prevents the enemy from moving around without your knowing, you can probably split push a tower for free.

First, you need to threaten a split push, meaning clearing the waves in at least two lanes (ideally after wards are placed) and pressure with your team in one of them. Put your split pusher on the opposite side so that the enemy has to go through wards to contest it. Once the enemy does move through your wards, you can identify that and send your team to move in any number of ways to counter opposing movements. This can include cutting off the push responders, pressuring the turret if the enemies send more than one, or just ignoring the response if it's not enough to stop your pusher. You can also use it to position yourself to start a teamfight in the enemy jungle.

Top lane: Two wards

Top lane should buy two wards on his first recall if possible. Unlike other lanes, top lane does not generally roam much, and the approaches to his lane are limited, so he will not be warding a lot. At about 3:30, top lane can use his trinket ward to cover the river approach to his lane. Then, when that ward expires, he can place one of his two wards. When that one expires, he places a trinket, then his second ward, and then his trinket ward again. By the time the trinket expires, laning phase should be over.

In the midgame, top will be warding less, but he should still have one or two wards in reserve in case an opportunity arises to ward in the jungle. If he ever finds that it's safe to hop into the enemy jungle, two or three wards will give a ton of intel about what's going on on his side of the map.

Mid lane: Always have two

Unlike top lane, mid lane has multiple approaches and frequently roams. The three ward cap should occasionally be an issue. The places that are warded will vary widely so it's hard to give specific advice to mid lane. Out of all the jobs, I think that mid has the most complicated when it comes to warding because you have to cover a lane with two approaches and also contribute to controlling the enemy.

If you're in mid lane, more than any other role except jungle, you should always buy wards when you recall. Consider holding off on that next item for just a bit longer if you can't leave base with a ward in your inventory. It's really that important.

Jungle: You're practically the support now

I make the mistake of not warding enough as jungler all the time. I am assertive with my trinket and I do buy wards, but I rarely go through a game where I don't facepalm for not providing enough vision. Most of the time, a jungler will have a ward trinket because doing deep recon is natural for him and when you do deep recon, you can drop a ward or two. Always have wards as a jungler because more than anyone else, you should know where everyone is on the map.

It's OK to buy a Sightstone as a jungler. If you do, you can buy a Lens trinket (sell your ward trinket, don't start with a lens) and actually clear wards. This has a surprisingly large impact on the game; you can really shut down the enemy jungler now by having three of your own wards on the map all the time. I actually think Sightstone is a staple pick for jungling, and I might just end up doing that in most games. I'll let you guys know how it goes, but almost every time I buy a Sightstone, it feels good.

Bottom: Supports should still buy Sightstone

Yes, supports get money now. Yes, they can contribute to winning in ways besides warding. However, warding is even more amazing than it was in previous seasons. Supports are roaming more and contributing more to all elements of the game. In the early midgame, supports are frequently roaming to collaborate with junglers or mids on playmaking. This makes them top ward candidates, and they should get a Sightstone!

Having three wards up permanently is so good that the only reason that mid and top should not get a Sightstone too is that they are in a constant arms race. Once you finish your Sightstone, sell your ward trinket, get a Lens, and continue with your Lich Bane or whatever wacky item build you were doing. Also, you should definitely get your rank 2 gold item (probably Ancient Coin/Medallion) before working too much on Sightstone. Supports won't be roaming too much early, so the trinket and maybe a green or pink should be enough early on.

Marksmen (I still call them ADCs) get to contribute a bit by using their ward trinket and should do so whenever the need calls for it. They can buy a ward or two in laning phase, but otherwise they should spend most of their gold on items. Having a ward in reserve just in case always helps, though!

Out of all of my wins on SR, most are due to wards. Actually, a ton of my TT and CS wins are also a result of "wards," particularly the fact that Teemo with Hextech Sweeper used to be essentially the same as warding. It's hard for me to actually point out wins where wards weren't critical to my win because they're just so important. If you have vision and the enemy team does not, you can come back from some very frightening deficits. If you're already winning, wards prevent the enemy team from getting back on its feet.

We understand what it's like to climb the skill ladder in League of Legends. The Summoner's Guidebook teaches you the tools you need to get a competitive edge. Whether you're climbing the ranked ladder, playing Draft Dominion, or getting crushed by intermediate bots, every enemy has a weakness. And every Thursday, Patrick Mackey shows how you can improve improve on yours.