Vision: Skill Decompilation Series

In this issue of our Skill Decompilation Series, we’ll be delving deeper into Vision and its role in successfully climbing the ranked ladder. We’ll begin by discussing “big picture” mentalities that will help you better appreciate Vision control in general. We aim to redefine the perception around Vision control and thus, make it more accessible and enjoyable for all players to emphasize. After exploring mental approaches, we’ll be providing tips for utilizing specific game mechanics that can help you win more, now. 

Is your Vision game already top-notch?

Check out our Decompilations on Aggression and Toughness.

An Introduction to Vision

It’d be a safe bet that between our eight Mobalytics GPI skill metrics, “Vision” would be ranked by players as the least glorious. If you take a look at recent highlight reels from the pro-scene – you’ll likely see clips such as a flashy 1 v 1 mid-lane kill, a well-timed teleport flank, or, of course, a clutch Baron steal.

You’ll hardly ever see Ward placements or Ward clearings being showcased (remember the old sarcastic tradition of crowds clapping for Ward clears during lulls in the action?). Vision is simply boring and less impactful in comparison to mechanical prowess, game-changing play-calls, and well-timed Smite steals…right?

Not so fast – let’s take a second look back at those highlights using a lens that focuses on the role of Vision in the plays:

  • The flashy 1 v 1 kill was put in motion because the Ahri knew that the opposing Jungler was a safe distance away, creating the opening for a calculated dive on her opponent.
  • The well-timed teleport flank which ended up deciding the game was made possible by a sneaky Ward that the opposing team failed to detect.
  • Finally, the Baron steal – yes, it does take game knowledge to know how much damage your Smite + abilities will do, as well as the mechanical skill to time the burst properly. However, when we break things down, you’ll see that the odds of a successful Baron steal are relative to the amount of vision available which informs the players attempting to steal it.

Still not convinced?

Baron Steals: A Quick Analysis

Take a close look at this 2017 Baron Steals countdown reel by Riot’s “The Penta” series:

  1. (0:06) The red team (CRW) fails to clear the blue team’s (FB) Farsight trinket Ward. Thaldrin’s Poppy is able to see an opening, giving FB a clear path for the steal.
  2. (0:32) As the clip begins, the blue team (ROC) appears to be in a dominant position as they have a Control Ward denying vision to the red team (MSF). When Ignar’s Tahm Kench places a Control Ward, Phaxi’s Maokai scrambles to clear it. He eventually succeeds, but it’s too late. The few seconds during which Ignar’s Ward survives give MF just enough information to make a well-informed attempt with a Khazix + Orianna combo by Kakao and PowerOfEvil.
  3. (0:57) Holy crap, look at how many Wards the red team (FB) has in Baron pit! The blue team (HKE) has little chance to clear all of FB’s Wards without taking substantial damage from Baron, forcing them into a tough spot. The overwhelming amount of vision leads the way for a huge ult by DreamSha’s Heimerdinger.
  4. (1:15) The blue team (SPY) neglects a red team (UOL) Control Ward that should’ve been cleared much earlier. Hylissang’s Lulu is able to make the steal with a well-timed Q, punishing SPY for their simple mistake.
  5. (1:37) Don’t blink for this one. The blue team (C9) isn’t even on the screen while red team (TL) takes what looks like an easy Baron. At first glance, it seems like a lucky blind shot by Sneaky’s Jhin. However, if we take a careful look at the beginning of the clip, we see a well-timed blue trinket scry by Sneaky. The tiny glimpse at Baron’s health gives Sneaky the opportunity for the Hail Mary play. Yes, the odds were low for the snipe succeeding, but the clutch scry gives Sneaky the chance to calculate beyond a mere blind shot.

You get the idea. Vision won’t provide the killing blow, but it sets the opportunity up like the pass before the slam in a massive alley-oop. Sure, sometimes there are truly blind shots on Baron where RNGesus takes the wheel and gives a lucky steal with something like an Ezreal ult. But for the most part, it’s clear that behind the majority of successful steals, there was a clear attempt to establish control of vision that made an informed decision possible.

How We Measure Vision

While we may concede that Vision isn’t the flashiest Mobalytics skill – we believe it is definitely one of the most impactful. Within your GPI, the Vision score is broken down into the following sub-skills:

Xpecial vision

Xpecial’s GPI Vision score

Wards Placed

Measures attributes related to all Wards placed regardless of source:

  • Wards Placed (WP) = the average number of Wards you place per game
  • Wards per minute (WPM) = the average number of Wards you place per minute
  • Wards Placed % (WP%) = the average percentage of your team’s total Wards that you contribute to per game
  • Methods of placing:
    • Trinkets
    • Sightstone
    • Control Wards

Wards Cleared

Measures attributes related to Wards you remove regardless of method:

  • Wards Cleared (WC) = the average number of Wards you cleared per game
  • Wards Cleared per minute (WCPM) = the average number of Wards you clear per minute
  • Wards Cleared % (WC%) = percentage of the Wards cleared in game total
  • Methods of clearing:
    • Control Wards
    • Scryer’s Bloom
    • Red Trinket

Wards Bought

Measures attributes related to the number of times you spent gold on a Ward:

  • Wards Bought (WB) = number of Control Wards bought
  • Wards Bought per minute (WBPM) = number of control Wards placed per minute
  • Differentiates from warding sources such as Sightstone and trinkets

Map Awareness

  • This sub-skill is coming soon, stay tuned!

Compared to the sub-skills of our other Mobalytics metrics, Vision’s are quite straightforward. If you place more Wards, clear more Wards, and buy more Wards, your score will improve. Our current version of our GPI compares you to all other players, so Supports and Junglers will naturally have higher scores. However, in the near future, your GPI will be compared within your role – so if you’re a Mid who doesn’t Ward as much as your peers, you’ll definitely know.

It’s a great idea to revisit our article, A More Detailed Analysis of Warding in League of LegendsUsing in-house Mobalytics data, we break down the differences between the amount of Vision control at each of the ranked tiers from Bronze through Challenger, according to the five role. We’ll give you key insights for improving, such as numbers you should aim to match or exceed at each tier, as well as other awesome tidbits such as popular warding areas used by the pros.

The Bottom Line

If you aren’t improving your Vision game, you’re limiting yourself as much as if you neglected working on your farming mechanics or team fight positioning. Ultimately, our goal at Mobalytics isn’t to create highlights, but to empower competitive gamers to become the best players of their utmost potential. Remember that true glory is found in the climb.

Redefining Vision: It’s About Mental Context

A great way to improve in almost anything is to reevaluate your perspective. By distancing yourself and changing the way you approach a challenge, you can make handling it easier and even more enjoyable. This technique definitely holds true if we apply it to League of Legends.

A common mentality, especially at the lower rankings, is that warding is sort of like a chore (we know from our Warding article that the majority of players don’t even buy a single Ward). It’s the undesirable “dirty work” passed on to the non-carries while the “good players” handle the actual winning. Of course, this couldn’t be further from the truth – even Faker averages around 0.46 Wards per minute.

How can we change the narrative for lower ranked players to help them better appreciate and emphasize the key role of Vision control in attaining victory? Let’s take a step back and look at some examples of Vision in contexts outside of LoL. 

Exhibit A – The Trojan Horse: Despite a clear lead in the war, the Trojans managed to have one of the biggest throws of all time when they failed to recognize the late-game backdoor cheese of the Greek’s horse. Perhaps if the Trojans had gathered more information, and didn’t get careless, they would’ve noticed that something was amiss.

Trojan Horse meme

Hecarim using Tahm Kench’s ult?!

Exhibit B – The Death Star: Luke and the gang wouldn’t have had any real hope in turning the tide against the Empire without the efforts of rebels before them. We later found out that it took a whole movie worth of work to gather crucial intel in exploiting its only weakness.

At its core, Vision control is about the flow and manipulation of information. From the two examples above, we see two ends of the spectrum in the role information can play. On one end (Exhibit A), the absence of information ends up losing a war for a side that had victory in its grasps. On the other end (Exhibit B), a tiny bit of key intel brought makes it possible to win in what used to be an impossible situation.

Find out what works for you. If imagining you’re James Bond gathering intel makes warding more fun and appealing, do it! Once you accept and appreciate the impact of Vision, you can take the steps forward in order to improve and climb the ladder faster.

Remember: Warding makes the game easier

Imagine having a map hack that allowed you to always see the enemy team’s Jungler (like having the first activation of Twisted Fate’s ultimate as a passive). How would you play differently?

You’d probably have more peace of mind, be able to farm more consistently, and harass more aggressively. You’d be able to more easily coordinate counter-ganks, tower dives, objectives, and so on.

Of course, this map hack doesn’t exist (without cheating), but why not strive for that level of knowledge?

It’s About Variables

For other summoners who are more comfortable with seeing League from a more methodical perspective, consider Vision control in terms of maximizing the variables you can influence in order to decrease the amount of unknown variables.

If we accept this context, logically, the team that has better overall control of the map’s information will make better decisions than their opponents. Better decision-making leads to better results. Better results leads to more wins and eventually, more promotions for individual players.

Wise Words from the Pros

Xpecial quote

 

Ready to Improve?

By this point in our Decompilation, we hope you’ve established a better mental appreciation of why the best players emphasize fighting for Vision control – if you haven’t you might as well stop reading (kidding). For the next half of our article, we’ll be giving specific Vision tips from our Mobalytics analyst, Hewitt “prohibit” Benson.

So pay attention, class is in session.

Coordinate Vision control at Champ Select

When you’re in Champ Select strategizing with your team for potential Wombo synergies, split push tactics, and so on – don’t forget to keep your team’s plan for Vision control in mind. 

Let’s compare and contrast the Vision capabilities of Malzahar and Thresh, two popular supports:

Malzahar

Malzahar Q

Malzahar’s Q, “Call of the Void”, allows Malz to scout Fog of War from a safe distance.

 

Malzahar W

His W, “Void Swarm”, has a much shorter range than the Q, but can potentially have more value since Voidlings give vision for 12 seconds or until killed.

Thresh

Thresh lantern

Thresh’s W lantern ability, “Dark Passage”, can be used to provide sustained vision of an area (6 seconds) with the advantage of being impervious to clearing methods.

These small subtleties can make a big difference in your team comp. Malzahar may provide more damage, but Thresh has the edge in overall Vision utility. On the other hand, Thresh’s lantern doesn’t do any damage so it cannot be used for an objective steal attempt like Malzahar’s abilities can.

Outside of Supports, many champs at every role in the game have at least one ability that can manipulate Vision. Maokai has his saplings. Caitlyn, Jhin, and Teemo have trap mechanics. Ezreal, Ashe, and Twisted Fate can check vision from across the map. The list goes on. Just as you should be aware of your champion’s cooldowns and power-spikes, you should also know their limitations as far as Vision control.

Here are a few more general champion tips:
  • Use your champion abilities conservatively for Vision in the early game when you can usually see all of your enemies besides their Jungler.
  • As the game moves toward late game and longer death timers, feel free to use your abilities more liberally since your mana pool will have expanded by then.
  • Some abilities can also be used to deny vision if they have an auto-attack reset. Champions such as Trundle and Leona can use a quick auto-Q-auto combo to deny a Ward.

Use the map and terrain

If  Wards, trinkets, and champion abilities are your artist tools – the map and terrain are your canvas. Here are some of our favorite tips and tricks to remember when lighting the mini-map with some color:

It’s like playing Battleship!

  • Wards are great for indicating where an enemy is, but you should also take into account that a Ward is revealing where an enemy isn’t. For example, if the enemy Mid Laner goes missing, but doesn’t show up on the bottom side of the map, you might want to warn your Top Laner.

Extend your gaze

  • You can extend the usual range of a Ward by placing a Ward on top of terrain. Doing so will push the Ward to the nearest non-terrain location. This trick can be used to place Wards from almost double the normal range, keeping you safe while illuminating the map. Check out this video below by AveunUK for great demonstrations (you’ll have to watch directly on Youtube):

Use Scryer’s Bloom

  • Vision plants are amazing. Not only do they let you safely scout a dangerous area before venturing out, but they also reveals Wards. Don’t waste these plants with careless hits! Instead, try to aim them where they would cover as much Fog of War or common Wards areas as possible.

Maximize your resources

It’s crucial to make most of your gold investments and trinket cooldowns. The slightest edge can be the difference in your next team fight or gank. Here’s how to increase the value and efficiency of your Vision control:

Spread your wealth

  • Picture the map if your team utilized the maximum 5/5 Control Wards (only 375 gold total) – you’d have a massive advantage over the enemy team if they only had 1 or 2. Although you may not succeed to convince them every game, it doesn’t hurt to strive to remind your teammates to do their part in buying Control Wards throughout the game. When it happens, it’s a beautiful thing.

Protect your wealth

  • If you’re placing your Control Ward in a place you can’t protect, you’re wasting your gold. The better you protect your Ward, the better it’ll protect you. Maximize the value of that 75g!

Be smart with your sweeps

  • Don’t waste your Sweeper on areas that you plan on placing a Control Ward. Maximize your CD by using your Sweeper in situations where you’re almost certain that a Ward is there, such as when your opponent leaves lane for a second or two.

Use those charges

  • Trinket Wards can store up to 2 charges. The longer you sit at max charges, the less Wards you can place in a game. Make sure to always keep yourself recharging Wards and never maxed out.
Velkoz TL;DR

Poor guy, didn’t see it coming…

In the Aggression edition of our Skill Decompilation series, we taught you “R.I.P.”

For Vision, the mantra we leave you is:

Vision is all about about your I.’s.

The more Intel you have, the more Informed your decisions will be, and the more you’ll Improve.

 

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