Episode 2: Buy a ward, win a game

The Control Ward

The Control Ward (CW) is the second cheapest item in the game (the cheapest one being the Health Potion). However, for the price of 75 gold, it can make or break a game. Each summoner, no matter the role he/she plays, should be buying the CW every game. Depending on the lane, there are different tactics of efficient usage of the CW. In this episode of Power Picks and Meta Tricks, we’ll be talking about how the CW can help you in the early phases of the game. For simplicity reasons, I will be explaining the warding process as if you were playing from the Blue Side. However, you can easily apply most of the the things if you play on the opposite side.

So let’s dive into it.

The Bot Lane

Scenario 1

For the bot lane, it all depends on the type of champions you play. Let’s take for example Caitlyn and Morgana, a bot duo that is famous for its early game pushing power. If you properly take advantage of Caitlyn’s long range you will be able to shove the enemy laners under their turret all of the time. With doing this, the opponent’s AD Carry will be unable to last-hit all of the minions. This translates in you gaining a CS advantage, which will help you snowball. However, constant preasure in the lane, gives the enemy’s jungler an opportunity to gank.

In order for you to prevent this, you need proper vision. Because in the early game your wards are scarce (especially after the changes to the support items), you will need to buy Control Wards. If both the ADC and the Support buy CWs, than you can ward both the tri-brush and the River Brush, leaving your ward trinkets for deeper vision and bigger security. Not only that this tactic prevents your lane of being ganked, but it also opens an opportunity for your jungle to sneak into the closes brush warded with a CW.

Bot wards if you are pushing the lane
Bot wards if you are pushing the lane
Scenario 2

Another way of using the CW on the bot lane is by warding the lane brushes when your jungler announces that he is coming. For example, if the minions are fighting in the middle of the lane, the jungler has enough space to sneak into the brush closer to your turret. If you warded the brush with a CW prior to his arrival, you can all be sure that the enemies are not aware of his presence. This gives you the element of surprise and a higher chance of getting two clean kills.

Bot wards if jungler is lane ganking
Bot wards if jungler is lane ganking

The Mid Lane

The mid lane is the most exposed lane of all three. It is surrounded with the jungle from each side, making it most susceptible to ganks if not played correctly. Luckily, there are techniques that, if used correctly, will put you in a safe environment.

Early game

Because you don’t have enough gold to buy a CW at the beginning of the game, you will have to watch out for an early gank. Follow the movement of the enemy’s champions and deduce what was the first camp of the enemy jungler. If you see that the bottom lane have a delay in their arrival on their lane, than, the jungler is on their side. If the top lane is missing, then it is most likely that the jungler is on his side. This gives you the information that he will head towards the opposite side camps, so he can get level 3. By knowing this, you need to hug the opposite side of where their jungler is.

After the first back

In the first back, you will most likely be able to buy a CW. The only justified reason why you wouldn’t buy it is if you have an important item you need to buy and you are left with 0 gold. In any other scenario – BUY IT. Now, having the CW in your inventory, you’ll have to yet again track enemy jungler’s path. Another important thing to pay attention to is who outpushes who on the top and bot lane.

Playing around the bot side

If your allies are falling behind in the bot lane, and the enemies are shoving them in all of the time, there is high chance that the supporter will roam towards your lane. If this happens, place your ward on the bottom side brush, and place a deeper ward in the river. After you have vision around the bot side, hug it, like in the picture below.

Mid Wards around the bottom lane
Mid Wards around the bottom lane

By doing this, you are achieving two things:

  1. You are protecting yourself from an anticipated gank from the bottom lane and the jungler
  2. You are putting yourself on a distance from the top side which is in the Fog of War
Playing around the top side

You can do the same thing with the top lane if you think that a gank or roam is more probable from that side. First, put the control ward on the top side brush. Next, place a deeper trinket ward in the river, around the Baron pit, or in the jungle on the top side. Finally, hug the top side of your lane.

Mid wards around the top lane
Mid wards around the top lane

You are yet again protected from ganks.

The Top Lane

Top lane brush and jungle connection structure leaves opportunity for two main scenarios for warding.

Scenario 1

If you play an early game bully champion like Renekton, who wants to outpush their opponents, than you can freely ward the tri-brush, which is closer to the enemy’s turret. However, by doing this you are exposing yourself from a gank coming from the river. To prevent this, ward the tri-brush with a CW and then put a deeper ward either in the river or on the edge of the brush in the river. If one of these wards spots the enemy, you can easily disengage, or, if you are comfortable, you can set a position where you can win 2 vs 1. Another thing that can help you in situations like this is control over the Rift Scuttler. Most of the time, by having the Rift Scuttler’s vision, you will greatly decrease the chance of a river gank or roam.

Top wards if you are playing an early game bully
Top wards if you are playing an early game bully champion
Scenario 2

If you are playing champions that don’t have the power to outpush, than you have two options.

First, if most of the times you are fighting in the middle of the lane, without any significant outpushes from any side, you can use a CW to ward the river brush. However, it is important to remember that this is not a great idea if you know that you are soon going to be shoved under the tower. Because, if that happens you are giving your opponent the chance to clear your CW, thus wasting it for nothing. Same thing goes for the tri-brush, which is not a great spot for CW for a champion that doesn’t have a strong early game.

Top ward if you are in the middle of the lane
Top ward if you are in the middle of the lane

The second option is to let the enemy top laner shove you under the turret untill you have buy a Tiamat that will allow you to answer the pressure. This second option asks for patience. If you are doing this, it is better not to waste gold on an early Control Ward, but rather keep it until you hit your item-spike.

The Jungle

It might seem that the jungle vision is jungler’s responsibility. This might be the case, but in higher elo, the jungle becomes everyone’s priority. Because every champion is allowed to place only one CW on the map, it is impossible for the jungler to independently cover the vision of the whole jungle. With the removal of the Tracker’s Knife in patch 8.4, this task became even harder. Despite that, there are certain simple things that the jungler can keep in mind when it comes to securing objectives.

First, if he sees that his bottom side is pushing the enemies and he spots the enemy jungler on the top side of the map, that is a green light for taking the Dragon. With placing a CW in the Dragon pit, he makes sure that no one bothers him when he is sneaking an early drake, especially on a champion like Warwick, Nunu or Kha’Zix.

Similarly, the jungler can take control over the Rift Herald. If this time, top laner is shoving and he spots the enemy jungler around the bot lane, he can place a CW in the Baron pit and take the Herald.

Wards for Baron, Rift Herald and Dragon
Wards for Baron, Rift Herald and Dragon

The last thing that is important for the jungler to remember is to always have a CW if he is counter-jungling. It happens quite often that the enemy team wards around their buffs when they expect you, as a jungler, to come. If this happens, and you do not have a CW to clear it (or, alternatively, a Oracle Alteration or a Sweeping Lens), you will get in trouble. For that reason – buy a ward, save a life.

When NOT to buy a Control Ward?

There aren’t many situations when you do not want to buy a ward during the early phases of the game. However, there are couple of situations when you do NOT want to buy it, at least not initially.

The first situation is the one that we have previously mentioned, when you are shoved under your tower and you don’t have a chance to ward. If you are in this situation, and you did buy a CW, don’t place it just because you bought it. Wait for the right opportunity and use it when it is needed.

The second situation is concerned with specific types of champions – the scalers. Champions like Gankplank, Nasus and Ezrael, who most of the time take Kleptomancy, have a certain playstyle. They wait for their mid game power-spike when they truly shine with their burst damage, sustain or poke damage. Having this in mind, their only goal is to accumulate enough gold so they can get to their power spike as soon as possible. Knowing this, for this type of champions, and most of the time, it is counterproductive to spend gold on CW because of two reasons:

  1. If you buy 5 CW, each costing 75 gold, you would spend 375 gold, which you could have spent to upgrade the Phage, Stinger and Sheen to Trinity Force (333 gold). This might not seem like a lot of gold, but it makes a difference for these Champions whether you upgrade to Trinity now or 2 minutes later.
  2. If you are playing these Champions, you are most probably using Kleptomancy. By procing this Rune, you have the chance of getting a CW in your inventory. If you are lucky enough you will get the same number of CWs for free that you would otherwise buy.


So unless, you are a hardcore mid-game power spiker, than you don’t have an excuse to not buy Control Wards. By using the CWs not only that you are protecting yourself from getting ganked, but you are increasing the chances of your team getting objectives, getting kills and ultimately winning the game.

Finally, as we said in the beginning – Buy a ward, win a game.


If you like this episode of the Power Picks and Meta Tricks series, check out the previous episode where we’ve discussed the size and the importance of the minimap: Power Picks and Meta Tricks; Episode 1: Unleash the Power of the Minimap.

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