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A More Detailed Analysis of Warding in League of Legends

Update: At the time of writing this article, “Control” wards were known as “Vision” wards. Also keep in mind that the graph numbers may be slightly off compared to today’s data but should still show similar trends overall. Also, we have created an updated guide on Vision.

A big question players often ask when playing LoL is: “Am I warding enough?”

The answer is usually: “No, you’re definitely not and you need more wards.”

The more important question, however, is: “How many and what type of wards should I place for my specific role?”

If you know this answer and for your personal skill level, it gives you a clear benchmark you can work towards to improve your game.

While working on the Gamer Performance Index (GPI) we hit up Google to see if anyone had pulled the data on this before. There are a couple of excellent articles that give warding data for different roles or different tiers; one official article from Riot and another published on GoldPer10 (now Gamurs.com).

It’s a good general take away that placing and killing more wards equals winning more games. But there are five different roles in League of Legends and different levels of responsibility for placement for each ward.

How we handled the data

We taxed a bit of our data guys’ time to drill down into some specifics. To get an even spread, we took 100 games from 100 individual players per role, per division (I-V) meaning there were 500 games per role per tier, or 2,500 games analyzed for each tier (Bronze-Challenger).

We presented the graphs in average number of wards placed per game because it gives you a more concrete figure to work towards for your individual games, rather than the total number of wards placed, which is a little more arbitrary and a little less actionable.

Remember, in the article from RiotJules linked above, it was found that 64% of players never buy a single ward. Even though the average player places 0.9 wards per game, he goes on to say that “however, that figure is heavily skewed by the few selfless heroes buying multiple wards.” So, if you’re in this group of players that ignores warding, you should find something useful here to help you win more games.

For example, if you play Top lane and find yourself stuck around Silver elo, keep track of how much you’re warding. If you’re placing significantly fewer Vision wards than the average for your role and the elo above, placing more will contribute to you climbing and finally hitting Gold. You can measure wards placed with LoL Summoner Info, though we plan to have a more details feature in Mobalytics for this in the future.

But enough chit-chat. Let’s look at the data.

Vision wards

We’ll start with Vision wards as they’re everyone’s responsibility – at least in an ideal world. They’re an inexpensive (75g) and easy way for other roles to make map vision contributions over and above trinket wards.

Avg Vision wards placed per game

For Vision wards, there’s a pretty steady increase throughout the different tiers across all roles. But there are a couple of notable increases, such as Support in Diamond compared to Support in Master, and several roles between Master and Challenger, with Mid lane have the biggest jump between these two.

In total, over the 2,500 games analyzed for each tier, Master placed 3,633 vision wards compared with Challenger’s 4,495. That’s a big difference and says a lot about the importance of this kind of ward.

Even more interesting is that while there’s a huge jump in Support from Diamond to Master, Vision wards placed by this role goes down in Challenger, a trend we’ll continue to see as we go through the ward types – we’ll offer a few explanations as to why.

So even though Challengers placed some 24% more Vision wards than the tier below, all that extra vision was actually contributed by other roles, not the Support. Want to ward like a Challenger? Pick up an extra Vision ward or two per game no matter what role you play.

Sight wards

Next up, the bread-and-butter of map vision – Sight wards. These are pretty much only applicable to Supports, and occasionally,  Junglers. The recorded data is from wards placed from Sightstone and Tracker’s Knife.

Avg Sight wards per game

There are a couple of notable jumps in this graph, such as the Support role between Bronze and Silver, and the Jungle role climbing more steadily until Diamond when there’s a definite spike up in Master tier. This may be interesting for Junglers in the top 2% or so of the player base currently in Diamond elo.

Perhaps more interesting, is that things go down again in Challenger. Considering this tier places more wards than anyone else, it’s another indicator that Top, Mid and Bot laners are getting more involved in vision, making good use of trinkets to ease up the warding load for Support and Jungle.

This is a great takeaway if you play one of these laning roles. It’s easy to think that warding isn’t your job. But the best players in the world get more involved in lighting up the map.

Blue trinkets

Blue trinkets are an interesting one because we see steady increases in most of the roles throughout the different tiers.

Avg Blue trinkets per game

The most notable increase in Blue trinkets placed is by Challenger Mid laners, placing 5 on average compared with Master tier’s 3. This is another good example of how roles other than Support contribute to vision in this Challenger.

If you play ADC, Mid or Top laner, take note that higher elos place more and upgrade sooner. Once your Support and Jungler are placing Sight wards all over the map, the extra utility provided by the Blue trinket is a clear advantage.

Yellow trinkets

So what about warding totem, also known as the Yellow trinket? They’re free and don’t take up a slot so it’s perhaps not surprising to see lots of them placed, especially at low elos when players are still getting a handle on the whole warding thing. But, as players improve, they use trinkets less and use more Sight, Vision, and Blue trinket wards depending on the role.

Avg Trinkets per game

For example, Challenger placed 13,984 in the games analyzed, compared with Bronze’s 20,117. As Jungle and Support up their numbers for Vision and Sight wards, people start exchanging trinkets for scanners to improve ward clearing (which we’ll also get to shortly).

It seems kind of silly to say: “Place fewer trinkets, win more games”.

A more accurate and useful conclusion might be, think about how you can refine your ward usage based on the other graphs in the article instead of being overly reliant on warding totems. As we can see from the data, better players use them less and upgrade them sooner.

Wards cleared

Clearing wards is another important factor to consider and we can see a steady climb in this skill throughout most roles in most tiers.

Avg wards cleared

Between Bronze and Silver, it seems players realize ward sweeping is a thing, and there’s a big jump up in wards cleared between these two elos.

Also making another appearance is the dip in Challenger Support, perhaps because there’s a pretty significant jump in the Jungle and Mid lane’s ward clearing contributions between Master and Challenger. Once again we see this idea of the whole team pitching in at higher-level play.

Average wards placed

Finally, let’s look at this “Average wards placed overall” data to see what we find see more clearly why Challenger supports place less wards.

Average wards placed

Quickly though, the thing that affects most players is the difference between Bronze and Silver (which combined, account for over 70% of the player base, compared with Master and Challenger which is more like 0.01%).

This is often when people start to realize that placing more wards is a surefire way to improve chances of success, and that’s probably why we see such a huge jump between these two elos.

From Silver onwards, things tend to climb more steadily throughout the ranks. If you place a lot less than the average recorded wards for your role and division (which you can measure with tools such as LoL Summoner Info that we also linked above) then you know what to do.

What can we learn from Challenger?

As we now know, Challenger places more wards than anyone else overall, with 73,791 being dropped compared with 71,005 in Master. But what’s surprising (and what was not revealed by previous warding articles that we found) is how many get placed by Support.

While all the other roles in Challenger place more than those in Masters or any other tier, Support actually places less. Maybe with the help of the whole team helping to secure key warding spots, such as the tri brush or river, Support can be present for more team fights and focus on more high yield spots depending on the state of the map.

Or, perhaps because there are typically less deaths in very high level play, Supports hold on to their wards for longer, maximizing efficiency. Deaths are bad, but they also mean refilling the Sightstone. If there are less kills, Supports might be fielded for longer, forcing them to be more careful about how they spend their charges.

Another graph we can look at is the number of wards bought overall, just to lend a little extra data to the idea that the other roles are contributing to significantly to vision.

Avg wards bought

Every ward counts in high level play, so placing a ward randomly is less likely to happen, showing increasing focus on high yield areas that maximize efficiency. This is a stark contrast to a Bronze Support placing a ward haphazardly because their Sightstone is filled and wants to at least dump it somewhere.

Another factor to consider is that Challenger games are typically shorter than Master games as was reported on League of Graphs. We found similar game time numbers with our own data, so this might be a small contributing factor as well.

Practicing quality with quantity

It’s good to see numbers on the different roles and to get those benchmarks, especially if you’re in the large percentage of players who could benefit from placing a few more wards each game.

While the increases and how they work out per role are valuable, the difference in how many wards get placed is often actually fairly minimal when averaged out. And that brings us to the critical issue of adding quality to quantity.

In another warding article by Riot, data was pulled on ward locations instead of the quantity placed. It’s interesting to see how the top-tier professional leagues set up vision.

Riot's professional League of Legends ward heat map

Image credit: Riot Games

Team Dignitas also published a detailed overview on ward spots for the different roles which you can check out here. The important thing to remember is that it’s not just quantity that counts. So how do we improve placement in the heat of the moment in chaotic games? Well, as we discussed in our interview with a Challenger coach on League’s ranked tiers, it’s important to watch your replays if you want to get better at LoL.

By adding your ward spots to the list of things to watch when analyzing your positioning and skill usage mistakes (for example), also keep a look out for more efficient spots.

If you improve the number of wards placed and keep looking for better spots to put them in, over time you’ll seriously tighten up this aspect of your game and are more likely to climb.

[Feature image credit: par Silver’s Propaganda via loleSports]