The consequences of the patch 5.1 Jungle/Vision changes
The preseason is finally over and we have ourselves a monster of a patch to begin season 5 with. It has a bunch of cool new stuff like the Zz'Rot Portal and new base gates and the usual champion fine tuning.
Some of the biggest changes might go unnoticed at first glance because there's so much to see, and so many new things to try out. I'll be going over the impact of the vision trinket changes in tandem with two significant jungle changes, the two smite charges and the exp changes from the jungle.
We'll start off with the changes from the patch notes and then go over the possibilities for soloqueue and competitive play.
The Vision Changes
For starters, the Warding Totem (yellow trinket) has had both it's upgrades reduced to 250 gold each. You can now generate a ward every 60 seconds that stays up for 180 seconds and you can place three of these at any time. They act just like your normal Stealth Wards that you buy in the shop.
The second upgrade transforms your Greater Stealth Totem to a Greater Vision Totem, granting you a Vision Ward every 120 seconds.
The Oracle's Lens (upgraded red trinket) has had it's cooldown increased from 60 to 75 seconds.
And lastly the Farseer Orb (upgraded blue trinket) has had it's cost reduced to 250 gold from 475 gold.
How do these changes affect soloqueue?
To understand this, we need to think about how vision works and how it worked before patch 5.1 in soloqueue. Everybody agreed that we needed wards, but only a scarce few actually wanted to spend their gold on wards instead of items. Which is fine in some cases, but wards win you games.
So before the buff to the Greater Stealth Totem, players sat on their Warding Totem for entire games and sporadically bought a ward if they had enough gold for it.
But now, for only 250 gold you can upgrade your Warding Totem and you get one Stealth Ward every 60 seconds. This means that starting from level 9, you can create a nice zone around your lane to keep you completely safe from ganks if you can protect your wards.
You won't be the only one doing this, both solo laners can obtain a lot of safety for a really small investment. So expect a lot of wards in the mid and top lane starting at level 9!
How do these changes affect competitive play?
As the Greater Stealth Totem buff was probably intended for soloqueue to create a crutch for players to improve their vision game, the Oracle's Lens nerf was probably created for competitive play.
The Sweeping Lens (red trinket) and it's upgrade Oracle's Lens didn't see a lot of use in soloqueue other than support players and perhaps a jungler here or there.
But in competitive play you see the support taking a Sweeping Lens once he has his sightstone. The mid laner and jungler both get a Sweeping Lens on their first or second buys and the top laner is usually a bit behind the curve on switching to a red trinket.
Time for an upgrade!
The upgraded Oracle's Lens came into play when it was time to change vision into vision-control. This means that in addition to lighting up the map for your own team, you destroy the vision of the enemy team. You generally see the objective (Drake or Baron) and the river area being swept.
And after that, Vision Wards are placed to shore up gaps that haven't been swept and Stealth Wards are placed deeper in the enemy jungle to see who is coming into the area.
The 15 seconds increased cooldown, doesn't really mean a whole lot. You have a mid laner, a top laner and a jungler with a 60 second cooldown on their lvl 9 Sweeping Lens. Besides that you have Vision Wards to shore up any gaps you weren't able to sweep.
A short summary of the story so far
There will be a lot more Stealth Wards around the mid and top lane after level 9 in soloqueue. The Oracle's Lens nerf doesn't mean much for competitive play. Vision-control is a team effort and well coordinated in the top competitive teams. The new additions to the LCS might need some work on it, but they'll get there before the season ends.
The Jungle Changes
There are a lot of jungle changes, like the baron and the change from 10 to 5 soft resets (no more early level 2 for the bot lane). But I want to talk about the three changes that work together with the Vision changes to create a different playstyle.
I'm talking about the changes to Smite, which now has the ability to have two charges once you upgrade your smite. You get one new smite every 75 seconds, but it has a 15 second cooldown. The timer on getting a new smite starts at 1:40 instead of the start of the game.
If you clear three camps and upgrade your smite you can begin the stacking and you also get a nice 30 gold bonus on every big monster you kill in the jungle. On some junglers you will want to choose this option, but if you can make a full clear then by all means go ahead.
The second jungle change has to do with how much experience you get from camps if you are a higher level than the camp. You now get full experience if you are as much as three levels (previously two) higher than the jungle camp.
The last change is the Stalkers Blade, which now steals 20% movement speed. Rather than slowing your opponents movement speed by 50%. This made junglers with a skill shot engage (Lee Sin/Jarvan/Rek'sai to a degree) have a really high chance of success on their ganks. It's really easy to hit a really slow target.
How do these changes affect soloqueue?
To sum up the changes, you can clear the jungle faster and you get more gold from it. You also still get full experience if you didn't fully clear one of your jungle camps on your first or second rotation as long as you start with the camp you didn't clear in the previous rotation. You might even have time for a gank or two in between farming and still get full experience from the camp.
This means that you have the usual two choices as a jungler:
Both choices are really fine, but if you choose to gank heavily and fail. You will fall behind the enemy jungle pretty quickly and are at risk of being run over if you can get invaded. Unless your gank is a 100% guaranteed kill, you should farm instead so you are strong enough to fight over objectives later.
This might be a little reminiscent (but not nearly as powerful) as when Feral Flare came out around patch 4.4. We saw a massive increase of heavy farm junglers. They didn't need to gank, because Feral Flare gave them so much more than ganking did.
So in the early game you have increased farming potential, but when the mid and top laners reach level 9 they get a new ward every 60 seconds. So when do you gank? Do you make the risky plays in the early game? High risk, high reward? Or do you take the safe route and farm until you see those 100% guaranteed ganks?
How do these changes affect competitive play?
In competitive play heavy gank junglers are rarely played. This is because team communication and teamwork make it a lot harder to (often) gank successfully. And if the ganks fail, a jungler who's farming will be ahead by a significant margin.
In soloqueue you might see a lot of jungle action around level 3, 4 or 5. But if we take a look at the competitive junglers we don't see these early ganks nearly as often. Farm is prioritized over the high risk, high reward play.
With the changes to smite and the jungle, we now might see an even more passive early game. Something that already came along because of the lane swap meta.
The conclusion for soloqueue
There will be a lot more vision generated on the map, especially after level 9 in the mid and top lane. The increased gold you get from camps, the bigger window in which you can get full experience from a camp, and the nerf to Stalkers Blade all mean one thing. Ganking is harder, and farming gives you more reliable resources. So unless your gank is a 100% guaranteed success, you're probably better off farming. Because if you won't, the enemy jungler will.
As patch 5.1 goes on we might see a couple of heavy gankers with stealth come back to play a bigger role in the meta. But we'll have to wait and see...
The conclusion for competitive play
The vision changes don't really have a big impact on competitive play. We won't see any upgraded Warding Trinkets because the pro's value vision-control over just vision. The increased cooldown on Oracle's Lens won't have a big impact either because there are three other Sweeping Lenses on the team together with Vision Wards.
If the lane swap meta lives on, we'll probably see a lot of junglers that can farm consistently. Rek'Sai/Lee Sin and Jarvan will probably be picked or banned even after the change to Stalker's Blade.
The biggest change to competitive play, is that junglers finally get some love again.