League of Legends is a game based on (fore)knowledge. Having the upper hand in informational warfare will grant you a massive advantage over your opponents. Whether it is skill or experience based, knowledge is everything in League. One important aspect here is vision.
To put it simply, knowing where your enemies are means you can easily maneuver around them and prepare them for a nice surprise. Naturally, they can have the same skill level as you, so counter-vision also plays an important part.
Both of these aspects come to an extreme when applied to the Top Lane. As a solo Lane, Top is among the easier places to gank. There’s only two paths to be attacked from, yes, but how are you to survive if you don’t see the enemy? Properly warding and counter-warding is crucial for Top Laners and in this guide we will take a comprehensive look at vision and warding and apply those principles for maximum Top Lane efficiency.
What you will learn:
- The definitive principles of Warding and Vision.
- Tips on Map and Lane awareness.
- The best places for Wards on the Top Lane.
Importance of Vision in League of Legends
As I’ve said in the introduction, League of Legends heavily relies on player foreknowledge. You must know more than the enemy in order to beat them consistently (unless you rely solely on the luck-of-the-draw). Counter Picking and being better mechanically are important on the Top Lane. However, you’re letting yourself be unnecessarily ganked, disadvantaged, and utterly defeated if you allow blind spots to exist.
Top Lane is a solo experience. There’s no one there to help you out once you’re isolated from the team, which is more often than not. If you don’t happen to have allies nearby, such as your own Jungler who might be prioritizing other activities, you’re pretty much screwed. The only way to unscrew yourself is to do it preemptively.
The River is a huge factor here. Seeing the River allows you to track the most trafficked corridor on the Map. Every pathway branches out from and leads back to it. However, the fog of war encompasses the surrounding areas which too must be covered. Thankfully you don’t have to spam wards all over the place as people used to do. A few good spots will suffice, and we’ll look at them a bit later.
To conclude–vision is your best friend when it comes to Laning solo. You’ll know where the enemy Jungler is and so will your allies, and it makes coordinating extra kills that much easier. You’ll be safe from ganks and see them coming from a mile away. And, last but not least, you’ll probably be able to pick up early kills at level 1 with proper Map awareness combined with Vision.
Map and Lane Awareness–Where Do I Look in LoL?
We’ve all seen Faker’s insane Map awareness that he updates seemingly every millisecond by swapping between his allies’ perspectives. You can try to mimic this practice but, unless you’re a Korean prodigy, you probably won’t succeed. There are more practical ways of looking at the Map in League of Legends and discerning where and how to look at things.
Vision plays a major role here. You can’t do anything to what you don’t see. Therefore, planting Wards in crucial choke points allows for easier track of enemy movement. Once you know where they are, you can concoct an effective plan of taking them out methodically.
Firstly–Keep an eye on your minimap! I can’t remember the number of times I’ve missed out on important events, including my own demise, by not glancing at the map every so often. All the information of the match is contained within that little box.
Go into the settings and crank that thing up until it’s large enough to force you to look at it. Visible enemies, allies, positions–everything you can see and gather is on the minimap.
Second, add value to the minimap by proactively increasing your team’s vision. Purchase as many wards as possible. In the early game this is covered by the Trinket, and we’ll go over the many Warding options in a bit here.
Right now, remember that you need to carry Vision items around at all times. The Support can only place three, which is abysmally little, so the allies must contribute.
Lastly, don’t let any bit of visual information go to waste. Watch your enemies. Your opponent might have helped their ally in the Jungle. Where did they come from? Did they lose Mana? If their pathing and missing Mana are there, signal your Jungler where the enemy started their clear.
This is vital information that can determine the outcome of a whole match. I always look closely, for the devil is in the details. I plant Wards at enemy Jungle camps early and, if my foreknowledge is clear and correct, I might even score a level 1 kill from time to time.
At the very least, you’ll get a nice sucker punch on the enemy and start the Laning Phase with extra HP. At any rate, visual information is everything and supplementing it with proper Wards and Map awareness is key to increasing your odds of winning. If it weren’t so, Faker might not be so frantic with his camera switching.
The Ward, The Trinket, and the Sweeper
In these many years, League of Legends has experienced vast evolutions in its itemization system. For a while, during the game’s relative infancy, one could purchase however many wards they want and place all of them around the map. You can clearly see how unhealthy such a thing would be, and even though it rarely happened, Riot decided to take action.
They severely restricted the amount of Wards players could purchase and place at a time. From infinite to three, the Vision aspect of the game has reduced significantly, and become much more valuable in the process.
As you could not spam Wards all over the place, players had to come up with the best ways to utilize what little Vision they could muster. They now had three options to choose from–purchasable (and visible) Control Wards that provided both Vision and counter-Vision; free refreshable Trinkets, and the anti-Ward Sweepers.
Supports got brand new items that morphed into Warding powerhouses, allowing players in the class to both provide for Vision and disable enemy Wards. Top Laners should always start with a free Ward Trinket and use it as early as possible.
I always pick it up, as there is no reason not to in the early game. Later on one might want to switch to the blue Trinket for personal use in tense moments necessitating long-range Vision.
Control Wards are your best friend in Top. Enemies will seek to place down Wards of their own, effectively disabling your Jungler’s ganking abilities. Add to that the potential Wards of their Mid Laner and Jungler placed along the River and you’ve got yourself quite the conundrum. However, the Control Ward can quickly reveal all the Wards in a select area, allowing you to clear them and score some gold in the process.
Unfortunately it’s visible to enemies and gives them a not-so-small amount of gold and XP if they destroy it, so defending your Control Wards is equally important as placing them.
Once you lose space in your inventory, Control Wards can be avoided for the sake of purchasing proper items. But, don’t forget to remind your Jungler and Support to pick up a Sweeping Lens as a substitute in the later stages of the game.
Best Places to Put Wards in the Top Lane
Depending on which side you started on, the Top Lane can have a few different prioritized locations for Warding. It all boils down to choke points and blind spots that you could be vulnerable to. Attacks from these positions are usually too effective to fight against, so avoiding them is your utmost priority.
Let’s take a look at the Warding spot, universal for both sides: the River.
The closest bush in the River is the primary spot for Wards in the Top Lane. While it is a bit skewed in danger toward the Blue Side, players on each end of the Lane are susceptible to attacks from the River.
For example: an enemy Jungler from the Blue Side might approach after completing their Blue Buff. They could use the Cone nearby to jump into the bush without you ever noticing (even if you did ward the River or grab the Scuttler).
Then, they could wait for the opportune moment of overextension and wham–you’re now dead and 450 Gold down. One simple Ward in the River bush is all it takes to prevent this exact situation.
Another universal idea is the Scuttler Crab.
By killing the Scuttler your team is granted Vision of the River’s center for a duration. You also get Gold and XP for it.
While this is a job primarily reserved to Junglers, emphasizing your communication with them, sometimes the Top or Mid Laner might want to go out of their way to kill it. A shoved Lane and nothing else to do will warrant proactive gameplay–killing the Scuttler being one extra-Laning thing to do. The Herald is also there, but he provides no Vision and isn’t relevant to the discussion.
This central Vision will primarily serve you to track the enemy Jungler and Mid Laner. While it’s active, no attack from the Mid side can happen against you, meaning you’ll be completely safe for a long while. Pair this up with a Ward or two on the Top side and you’re pretty much immune to attacks so long as you pay enough attention.
Lastly, you can Ward the three Lane Bushes or the little Enclave.
The three Lane Bushes are Top Lane’s primary juke tools and can be a bit too effective at times. Keeping a Ward on yourself can help you break the enemy’s plans and strike at them with fervor.
The fact that you can stack Trinkets in your inventory is exactly what allows you to have a spare. When the cooldowns go even lower, you’ll often find yourself with an extra Ward that might have situational uses such as revealing a bush without face-checking and risking death.
Ward the Blue Side Tri-Bush and Cone.
When playing on the Blue Side, you are highly susceptible to effective tower dives, especially if the enemy team has grabbed the Rift Herald. With it, they might prepare for a strong attack against you and your Turret, which can grant them a massive lead in XP and Gold.
Warding the Blue Side Tri-Bush closest to your Tier 1 Tower will be a great help in preventing this. However, you might also consider warding the Blue Buff bush closest to the River as it will give you enough information on enemy movements to prevent a Herald from being taken.
Here, the Scuttler would mean a definite prevention or disruption of enemy plans. You might also consider Warding the Herald himself if the Scuttler is unavailable, but this is a universal thing for both sides.
On the Red Side, ward the Tri-Bush near the River and the Bush closest to your Tier 1 Tower.
The Tri-Bush is a highly dangerous choke point that will be utilized by your enemies almost at all times. If you lack Vision in the River, enemies will use your overextensions and Lane pushes to strike from behind. It’s a very easy path to take and it’s insanely difficult to fight against.
Your escape path will be cut off and, unless you get help or lucky, you’re pretty much dead. Having a Ward here and tracking the enemies effectively will help you not to overextend and shove too far. Even if you do, you’ll see the enemy coming. This Ward is usually paired with a River bush ward (either double Trinkets or a Trinket-Control combo, which is most common). This way you’ll have the foreknowledge to avoid any dangerous gank.
Like with the Blue Side Tri-Bush, there’s a bush closest to your Tier 1 Tower that will definitely be a troublemaker if the enemy grabs a Herald. They’ll strike from there and seek to dive you and take you down with the Tower. These are perilous strategies that can set a Top Laner back too far for a comfortable match.
Ensure you have Vision in the River, the Herald, or the Bush (or all of them, communicate with your team) and you’ll have no trouble with these sorts of attacks.
Some extra useful Warding spots include Warding your side’s Buff to prevent invasions and help out your Jungler. I always like to put a ward in one of the three Top Lane bushes just for additional comfort.
Control Wards should be purchased on the first back and used in the River, as I usually do and grab extra Gold from destroying enemy Vision. Going in deep without a Scuttler and warding the River bush just near the Mid Lane bush is also a good and universally good idea. All of these spots are highlighted on the Map below.
Author’s Comment on the Control Ward Debate
You might have heard from some top-level players that Control Wards are too expensive for what they offer. While that may be true to some degree in high level gaming (as is indicated by scarce purchases in high Elo) it isn’t at all true in lower divisions.
They are a good way of destroying enemy Vision without having to sacrifice your Ward Trinket and that’s plenty for a mid-level player. Generic warding spots can be easily exploited for extra gold and XP, and you could even use your Control Ward as a bait for a fight as most lower tiered players will have this primal need to attack the Ward as soon as they see it. I know, shocking, right?
Something stirs within the mind of the Silver player when a Control Ward sound pops and they see its juicy health bar right there for the taking. And once they get close: death. Try it out sometime, I guarantee it works.
And that’s about all you need to know about Vision and Wards in the Top Lane. I hope that I’ve taught you enough and would feel like a proud dad to see your ranks rise as a result. Remember that even Faker wouldn’t be what he is without proper Vision and Map Awareness, and all of those pseudo-takes you hear about Wards on the internet are no more than hardstuck rants. Good luck on the Rift!