You can never understand just how important warding is in a game.
Almost every kill in a game is because of the information proper warding can give your team.
The information you obtain can either be that an enemy is approaching you, or that an enemy is on the other side of the map. Both are equally valuable pieces of intel. Without proper warding, your team will not be able to lane safely and they won’t be able to pressure objectives like Dragon or Baron.
As a support you should always be thinking about where your team needs vision, because you are the one with the Sightstone and the most Control Wards.
A few seasons ago, it was possible to purchase an almost unlimited amount of Wards and you could place any number of them on the map. Now, supports can carry a maximum of three to four Wards and can have only three present on the map at any given time. This has introduced an element of strategy when it comes to warding. You need to make decisions all the time about where to ward and how long to keep that Ward there. It has become harder to obtain and keep vision control over the map in recent patches, especially now that supports are the only ones who are warding as they are the only ones who can purchase Eye items.
While they’re not necessarily warding up, they’re contributing with man power so the support can place Wards in dangerous places.
Nevertheless, everyone in the team can and should try to contribute to vision control in smaller ways. You should encourage your teammates to purchase Control Wards and upgrade their Trinkets. Most importantly, your teammates should help you defend Wards and accompany you when you venture into enemy territory and place Wards yourself.
In order to make things more clear, I’m going to differentiate between general and situational Wards. These two “types” of Wards have completely different functionalities.
General Wards are something most people know about. These are the Wards that you place on key objectives - Dragon and Baron for example - as well as in the river and around bot lane. These Wards are basically there to warn you that either the enemy team is trying to capture an objective, or an enemy might be coming your way for a gank. However, general Wards are also super useful even when they are not actively detecting enemy champions for two main reasons. One, they will, obviously, alert you when an enemy does inevitably come into their range. Two, by showing you that there is no enemy present, it’s indirectly telling you the enemy must be somewhere else.
When you’re thinking about where to place these Wards, you’re thinking about efficiency. You want to place Wards that give you largest amount of vision in general. When you ward Dragon, you want to place a Ward in the middle of the River, not right on top of the Dragon, since you’ll be able to see various movements around the River and several roam and jungle pathways. This also means you want to make sure to place Wards at the very edge of a bush, to get the most vision out of the Ward, as opposed to in the middle of it.
Situational Wards are a bit tougher to understand. There are times when you might find yourself in a particular situation in which you need to just get rid of all your general Wards and ward around the area you’re in. For example, this could be when a fight is brewing somewhere in the enemy jungle. When a fight is imminent, it doesn’t matter if Baron is warded or not because you already know the enemy won’t attempt it. It’s more important to have vision here and now than there for eventual objective battles. A common mistake is to never ward if you’re already at your 3/3 Ward placement cap. If your team needs Wards now then forget about general Wards altogether and re-ward those places later.
As a support, you’d probably be most interested in knowing where to ward during laning phase. The map below gives you a concise list of Wards you could place and what they would achieve.
As you can see from the above map, you would need over ten Wards to keep bot lane and the river completely warded. As you are only capable of placing four Wards in total at a time (including one Control Ward), this is impossible to do. Because every game is different, it’s also impossible to assuredly say which Wards should be placed where and when. This is something you will have to learn on your own through experience. Regardless, it can be helpful to know what these Wards will do for you and your team!
- This Ward is useful whether you’re on the Blue team or Red. On Blue team, this Ward will spot enemy mids or junglers should they want to dive you and your ally. On Red, it may spot an enemy jungler who is preparing to gank through the lane or tri bush.
- The tri bush is one of the most important sources of vision for bot lane. As Blue team, you have a pretty big advantage as it is far safer for you to ward and keep warded. On Blue side, it’s easy to maintain a Control Ward in this bush because the enemy would have to chart into your territory to remove it.
- These Wards will grant you vision over the brush in the bot lane. Being able to control the lane brush gives you a huge advantage. If you know where the enemy laners are, they can’t catch you by surprise and engage out of nowhere. It will also deter enemy junglers from lane ganking. And, if they can’t ward the brush because of you, then you can go aggressive anytime without them seeing it coming.
- This bush is useful for the Red team when they can’t (safely) ward the tri brush, but still need vision to deter away enemy ganks.
- Warding the blast plant over the wall is a useful Ward for Blue team as they’ll be able to see the enemy jungler before they gank. On Red team it can be useful if you are afraid of getting dove.
- The river Ward in front of Dragon is useful for detecting any movement in the river and any attempts at doing Dragon from the enemy team. If you’re on Red team, you can place it a bit closer to the pit since the enemy jungler (probably) won’t be coming from Red team’s jungle anyhow.
- Warding the enemy blue buff, as Blue team, can help track the enemy jungler’s movement and perhaps allow your team to contest that buff or steal the red one. It also signals safety for your top laner since they’d know the enemy jungler is nowhere near.
- This Ward serves the same purpose as (6): it tracks movement throughout the river.
- This Ward can track enemy mid laner’s movement if you’re on the Red team. If you’re on the Blue team, the enemy mid laner will more commonly go through river.
- A deep Ward which is useful for keeping track of Blue team’s jungler.
Not placing another Control Ward until your first one dies - FNC Hylissang
Control Wards are only 75 gold and they last a lifetime, right? Well, a very common mistake is not refreshing Control Wards. Just because the enemy hasn’t found it, doesn’t mean it should stay there forever. In fact, it probably means that it’s not in a good spot if no enemy has managed to see and kill it.
Not placing Wards if you already have three on the map
This was already mentioned before but it’s worth reiterating! Just because you have three living Wards on the map, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t place new and more useful ones somewhere else on the map.
Not warding the edge of a bush - G2 Wadid
Warding at the edge of the bush gives you the most bang for your buck since it’ll provide far more vision than if you placed it in the middle or closer to a wall.
Placing Wards in front of enemies - H2K Promisq, UOL Totoro, S04 Vander
By placing Wards within enemy’s vision, or, even worse, right in front of their noses, the entire purpose of a Ward is defeated! They know where it is, so they will be able to destroy it easily.
Placing Wards where you don’t need them - GIA SirNukesAlot, ROC Norskeren
Every useless Ward you place gives your team a big disadvantage. And you have to recall before you can place any more. Always be cautious and think carefully about where you want to place your Wards.
Don’t randomly throw wards on the maps just because you’re “the support”. Only place useful Wards.
Overstaying when de-warding - SPY kaSing
De-warding can be just as important as placing Wards yourself, but you should be wary of your surroundings when you do so. If you can, try to have a buddy with you when you’re deep into enemy territory or, at least, bring some of your own Wards and utilize the Scryer’s Orb to make sure you are safe.
Not buying enough Control Wards - S04 Vander
Among the pro players, the answers to “How many Control Wards should you purchase?” were varied. But nobody answered anything under than 15.
Control Wards are the support’s BF Swords.
Always warding the same spots, never saving Wards for later - MSF Mikyx
Using all your Wards in the same spot is bad because not every location is equally important at every point in the game. You need to think about what that particular Ward will reveal for you and you need to know where the enemy will most likely be before you know where you should place a Ward.
Since we’re talking about common mistakes, this is a good time to segway into a discussion on Control Wards. A very common mistake that’s worth repeating is players not buying enough Control Wards. We’ve asked most EU professional supports and they all agree that you should purchase two, if you can’t buy three, on every recall. If your number is five or six at the end of a game, then you need to start buying more.
If you find it hard to justify spending over 1000 gold every game on something like a ward, a good way to think about it is this: If you could save your ADC from death for 75 gold, would you spend it? Now unless you have a really annoying premade, the answer is almost certainly yes. So even if you know that the Ward is likely going to be killed, even very quickly upon placing it, it’s still worth it if in the end it does spot an enemy and save a life.
Why die when you can ward?
A Control Ward has more uses than a normal Ward. You can use it for a general source of vision, of course, but you can also use it for a lot of other things. If you’ve placed a Control Ward somewhere, it’ll disable all enemy Wards in the same area. That is, unless you start attacking the Wards that are disabled (which will give the enemy vision - don’t do it!) That’s why a Control Ward is really useful when doing Baron or Dragon. By placing it in the pit, the enemy won’t be able to get vision at all unless they place a Control Ward of their own as well. You can also put one in a bush and camp it with the whole squad, then jump on unsuspecting enemies.
Don’t be afraid to overload on Control Wards! It can be really fun and feel very rewarding in a different way than getting kills or assists does.
As stated before, de-warding can be just as important in a game as warding. By denying the enemy vision, you’re hampering them with a massive disadvantage, especially if they’re not in the position to do the same to you.
When thinking about where the enemy Wards are, the best thing to do is to put yourself in their shoes. Were you on their team, where would you be placing Wards? In this way, you can guide yourself to where the enemy Wards might be.
One thing to keep in mind is efficiency; your Oracle’s Lens will only last so long, so make sure you make the best out of all the ten seconds by moving quickly and trying to discover as many Wards as possible. If they’re in the position to, encourage your allies to help you weed them out faster.
Warding behind Red buff over the Dragon wall - MSF Mikyx
Warding bot lane River bush from Red side - SPY kaSing
Warding Red side’s Tri bush from the river bush
Denying Thresh Lantern with a Ward
Much like every other aspect of the game, warding is a bit different in pro play compared to Solo Queue. Professional players tend to respect the power of Wards and are much quicker to weed out enemy Wards while defending their own. In pro play, the whole team contributes to vision control and every team member buys Control Wards every chance they can. There is a plan for vision, including the defence of Wards.
Regardless of your league, it is still true that proper warding paves the way to victory.
The general consensus still remains that having vision makes the game easier to play and can give your team a great advantage, sometimes even more so in solo queue than in competitive.
Also in Solo Queue, nobody buys pinks.
Solo Queue tends to have a lot more fighting and thus it’s not as easy to leave your lane and get some quality Wards out on the map. Since professional games often have less action in general, it is easier to do your job.
- H2K Promisq: Deep Wards in general, as deep as possible. Whether it’s for the vision they provide or for the potential Teleport flanks. Being able to see as far away as possible is best.
- FNC Hylissang: The middle of mid lane. That way you can track where the mid laner will roam.
- S04 Vander: Control Wards in bot river are my favourite. They allow bot and mid lane to pressure their lanes and invade enemy bot side jungle camps.
- G2 Wadid: Jungle camp Wards. They make it really easy to track the enemy jungler.
- GIA SirNukesAlot: Mid-mid lane. People sometimes forget to clear this Ward.
- UOL Totoro: Lower bush Ward and river side Wards. Those who control these spots can control the lane and play aggressively.
- ROC Norskeren: Warding jungle entrances is really good since it makes it easy to see if enemy jungle is invading and you can then counter it, which usually ends in a free kill.
- MSF Mikyx: On Blue side, I like to pink the river bush near botlane and use trinket at enemy blue. On Red side, probably tri bush (or over the wall of it) and pink ward in same river bush.
- SPY kaSing: Personally, I prefer the bot lane bushes because it allows you to play more aggressive in lane and also allows you to use the bush as a way to reset minion aggro whenever you're playing someone that harasses a lot.
I want to extend another thanks to all of the pros who contributed with their thoughts, insights and comments on warding! Every single EU support pitched in to make this guide so we hope you found it useful. Happy warding!
And finally, to reiterate, warding is absolutely the most important and definitely the most underrated element of the game. How do you know you’re doing a good enough job? You can guide yourself with League’s own “Vision Score” stat, which you can check out in-game or in the client after each game.
Honestly, I don’t even fully know how vision score works.