Why the one-minute pixel ward is the most key to a strong early game

League of Legends.
League of Legends. /
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League of Legends.
League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games. /

Who wards and when

We know the “where” of this strategy: wards in the pixel brushes. Yes, that’s right, plural. This strategy, though it can work if only one bush gets warded, is most effective if coordinated to ward the river brush on both sides of the river.

The question of “when” is fairly settled, and also the main crux of the strategy. Wards should be placed in the pixel brush between the 1:05 and 1:20 timeframe. That timeframe is crucial because the level one wards that are going to be placed will last 90 seconds, meaning they will expire between 3:35 and 3:50 in game.

By laying down the ward in this timeframe, you are guaranteed to spot the opposing jungler if he paths to the scuttle crab, or as he is taking it. Placing it any earlier risks the ward timing out at around the three-minute mark, meaning you would miss the jungler if he does a path like red to golems to crab.

So we know when, but the next question is “who” should be warding. If possible, players will prefer that the support wards the bottom-side pixel brush, and the top laner wards the top-side brush. This seems counterintuitive, as you would think it would be better for the nearest laner – mid – or the jungler himself to drop the ward.

The reasoning against having the jungler ward is fairly simple: since he will probably have the best opportunity to get deeper vision in the early game, it’s best for him to keep his trinket for that first-clear early ward. In addition, the support dropping their trinket early isn’t that big of a sacrifice as their ADC will still be able to maintain brush control with his own trinket.

Top lane seems to be getting shafted the most, as dropping the ward this early will leave him without vision should a gank come around the 3:30 to 4:00 timeframe. However, since the enemy jungler’s early crab clear will certainly be spotted by this more team-focused ward, top laners can predict where the enemy jungler should be pathing. In the event that they are wrong, or the enemy jungler doesn’t attempt to contest scuttle, as the beefiest laners the folks left on the top lane island stand the best chance of surviving that early gank.

Finally, allowing the mid laner to not drop his trinket early allows him to hold a trinket for after the first round of scuttlers drop. Hopefully, the mid will be able to re-ward the pixel brush on the side the next scuttle will spawn, or ward the jungle entrance if they’re shoving in their enemy.

By layering the placement of wards in this way, the laners will enable their jungler to contest two of the first three scuttles that are spawning, and track the enemy jungler’s early pathing. Those are the two major reasons why, as we will examine further.