[Theory] The Effect of Removing Stealth Wards from the Shop.
Massive changes have come to League of Legend’s Public Beta that gives the game more diversity and complexity in its items and champions. New items have made an appearance and some items have been removed along with stat changes to old items and champions. These changes to PBE look to create a more aggressive meta game and these changes will more than likely cause a big shift in style of play in the competitive scene. One of the bigger causes of this possible change is the removal of Stealth Wards from the shop.
Now PBE is always subject to change so there are no exacts but that doesn’t mean we can’t theorize possibilities and based on the previous post by Riot Games it can be a safe assumption that Stealth Wards will stay removed. On the other hand the item changes are still not close to being set in stone so for now the focus will be on the removal of Stealth Wards.
First let’s look at what we know. In competitive play wards are extremely important for tracking enemies and gaining information to make decisions. Stealth Wards are no longer available in the shop so it falls to Sight Stones, Trinkets, and Vision Wards to provided vision for objectives and rotations. Trinkets still work similarly to the live patch but Trinkets have seen some changes. Sweeping Lens still denies vision and upgrades into the Oracle Alteration and the Warding Totem still upgrades into the Greater Totem but now Greater Totem can be exchanged for Farsight Alteration at level nine. Sweeping Lens still synergizes with Vision Wards to keep control of an area and the Farsight Alteration still allows for long range scouting. We also know that switching off the Warding Totem to the Farsight Alteration will cut down a team’s ward supply.
Transitioning into competitive scene the basic set up for vision control is two Greater Totems (Top & Mid), two Oracle Alterations (Jungle & Support), one Farsight Alteration (Marksman), one Sight Stone, and one Vision Ward per player. Each player can place up to three Stealth Wards but Greater Totem only holds two charges. Then combine the amount of charges from the Totems with the Sight Stone and a team will have eight Stealth Wards in charges but only seven Stealth Wards can be placed in rapid succession. At most a team will have nine Stealth Wards from three people at a time and up to five Vision Wards depending on the team’s inventories. There is a maximum of fourteen wards with this set up. Fourteen wards seems like a solid amount of wards but you have to consider who will be placing the wards, how many wards will get swept or seen by Vision Wards, or how well a team can defend a team can defend their own Vision Wards. A team doesn’t want their mid lane champion face checking the enemy jungle to get vision because he could get picked. They rather have a front line champion deal with all the face checking which would lead to a buddy system. This is mostly fine depending on the team’s positioning however a team still runs the risk of the middle lane champion getting killed immediately from an ambush. If a sweeper gets to clear two wards a team is already down to twelve and judging by ward placements a team could also lose vital information of rotations in the enemy jungle or movement around an objective being contested. Then depending on the amount ward charges a team has left it will ultimately decide if a team can attempt to fight for vision, make a risky face check, or back off from an objective completely.
This system has a real possibility of changing if the meta becomes more aggressive since this setup has been used with slower control compositions. The question is what exactly will change?
There are a few different possibilities that could happen. In terms of vision a team could look to continue having their jungle champion to pick up a second Sight Stone to help with vision control so champions like Lee Sin or Elise could become even higher priority. Along with the extra vision both champions can provide mobility and strong early damage while ganking lanes to create early pressure. Marksman champions that can scout out areas could rise in priority as well. Ashe’s Hawkshot and Kalista’s Sentinels are both every helpful for advancing through the fog of war. Hawkshot reveals a section of the map for a few seconds and the sentinels will follow champions and patrol sections of the map. Ezreal or Corki could be helpful since they both have abilities they can use to check brushes for enemies and both have reliable escapes. This way they can check a brush and have a teammate put up a ward to secure vision if no one is there. Their kits also have decent poke damage so they can poke down enemy champions that look to establish vision in areas of the map. A champion like Twisted Fate could also become very strong in the mid lane since he reveals the entire enemy team while using his ultimate. Smaller amounts of vision would allow Twisted Fate to roam safely if the opposing team has trouble getting wards to spot Twisted Fate while he is in transit to another part of the map. Lux could make an appearance since her abilities are solid harass tools as well as good area of effect scouting material. Forty percent cool down reduction on Lux puts her ultimate on a thirty second cool down so it can be used as a long range scouting/harass ability instead of just an all in ultimate.
There is the possibility of champions that like the lack of vision to show up into the meta game. Assassin champions like Zed or Leblanc could come back into play since both of them can move around the map easily and they can avoid enemy wards by using their gap closers. Nocturne or Pantheon could come back into play since they can jump into a lane from fog of war and catch the enemy by surprise. Assassins and assassin like champions can also duel fairly well which can open up for more solo plays for kills to get gold so they can become major threats. This would create a very pick oriented style of play where champions want to kill enemy carries that are pushing creep waves or in the middle of rotation. When the pick does happen it can be snowballed into objectives or into a chase down of the other team to add onto the advantages. Jinx or more of Fiora could show up in this style of play since they both can get out of control and become quite strong in fights/skirmishes once they get a few items. Jinx can get a lot of area of effect damage with rockets and she can use her ultimate to execute enemies to reset in fights. Then Fiora has the ability to single out targets easily and she can stick onto targets so if she gets ahead it becomes hard for the enemy to play safe. If Fiora does get a lead she can just split push and force the enemy team deal with her which would allow her team to do whatever they want. An aggressive meta like this would reward teams that are willing to take risks for picks or skirmishes. This very fast paced style could decide games early on and it would put emphasis on teams to make early plays.
The last possibility would be different trinket set ups however this could just come down to what a team values. For controlling the map more than two Greater Totems could take priority over other trinkets since there are going to be less wards on the map. This way a team can have a large chunk of wards around the map and they could use them for information on enemy movements to influence their decisions. There would be a lot more reliance on a team to know what they are doing because running more Greater Totems means a team won’t be able to clear out as much of the enemy’s vision. In odd scenarios maybe a team wants more than two sweepers and decides to rely on two sight stones so they can play a much heavier roam/pick style of play. It would be a much riskier style of play but it would put both teams in dangerous scenarios where the first team to make a mistake could lose map control, objectives, and/or team members very quickly. Maybe if things get really crazy teams might just try to rely on Farsight Alterations with Sight Stones and combine those items with champions that can create their own temporary vision and with champions that have abilities to poke to create a weird kind of rotation poke composition. The last one is probably not going to happen but you never know.
These are just a few possibilities that could happen. Once more of the PBE changes become set in stone for the next patch that is where the real fun beings. This preseason holds many exciting changes for the competitive scene and these changes have created a fun mystery. Just with the ward changes it is the obvious prediction that the meta game will definitely change but how much of the game will change? My personal bet is that the meta game will become more aggressive and we’ll see more carry and assassin champions like Fiora or Leblanc but the jungle champions will still play a more play a supportive role by getting early Sight Stones to help keep vision for their teams. It would be an early aggression meta that relies on early vision.