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February 11, 2012 / realelohell

Article 18: The Level 1 Fight / Jungle Invasion

One of the easiest ways to win is to establish an advantage on the opposition as soon as possible and snowball your advantage into further advantages and eventually into victory.  Level 1 fighting, while risky, is one of the best ways to snowball early; your team can potentially pick up first blood gold while disrupting the enemy jungler. 

Level 1 fighting has become a staple of the current metagame in League of Legends.  Gone are the days where players run directly to their lanes and turrets at the start of the game.  The advantages accrued through a proper invasion are too significant to ignore at any level of play.  Before going into the next section, I want to clarify that level 1 fighting through a jungle invasion has several distinct results; they are:

1. Disruption – Exactly what it sounds like, disrupting the enemy jungler (stealing camps, buffs).  This kind of invasion can be successful even if the enemy team knows you are coming.  If your team is significantly stronger at level 1 or if the enemy jungler is very slow and reliant on a certain buff, the enemy team will have no choice but to secede their buffs to your team.  This kind of invasion can be disruptive towards the enemy jungler but often does not affect the rest of the team.  Also note that depending on which team you’re on (blue/purple) and which jungle camp you’re invading, your top/bottom lane may choose to go back to base before creeps spawn; this can leave you open to a counter lvl 1 fight initiated by the opposite team (rarely happens in solo queue though).

2. Catch – This type of invasion is meant to surprise a member of the enemy team in order to pick up a first blood.  Your team often takes a roundabout path to a certain bush in order to wait for someone to “face-check” and give up first blood.  It can lead to a moderate advantage, as the invading team can subsequently disrupt their enemies’ jungle (taking buffs) after picking up the first blood.

3. WAR – This type of invasion happens if both teams are keen to attack/defend at level 1.  Since both teams are willing to fight and are grouped up, what ends up happening is an all out battle at level 1 where both teams want to pick up first blood and subsequently attempt escape.  It can lead to multikills at level 1 and a significant advantage or disadvantage to either team, depending on the outcome of the fight.

4. Stalemate – Both teams end up invading each other’s jungles.  This may occur if one team realizes it is at a disadvantage at level 1, and opts to counter-invade knowing that the enemy team will be invading their own jungle.  It can lead to a small advantage or disadvantage to either team depending on the speed of their respective junglers as well as the time it takes for their laners to get back to their lanes.

Any invasion runs the risk of any of the above results.  What you need to remember about invasions is to always press your advantage when you’re stronger, and always minimize your disadvantage if you’re weaker.  If you’re invading and you manage to catch the enemy team’s jungler and get first blood, stay in their jungle for as long as possible and take his camps.  On the other hand, if you’re being invaded and you can’t defend, it may also be necessary for you to give up your jungle to the enemy team and risk counterjungling in order to stay even.

Benefits of invading

– Psychological advantage (any advantages gained during the invasion will make your opponents more apprehensive about losing)

– If you suggest an invasion and it goes well, you get the credit for making the calls (makes leading teams in solo queue easier)

– Burns enemy summoner spells

– Can get your team first blood or even multiple kills at level 1

– Builds team coordination

– Stealing enemy buffs or getting first blood on the enemy jungler gives your own jungler a further advantage (sets the enemy jungler far behind)

– A successful invasion makes your lanes easier (better items earlier, more jungle ganks)

Disadvantages of invading

– Psychological disadvantage (your own team will be apprehensive that the enemy might snowball a victory from the failed invasion)

– If you make a bad invasion call (which leads to your team giving first blood or getting multi-killed) you lose credibility and your team will be less inclined to follow you

– Burns your own team’s summoner spells

– Can give the enemy team first blood or multiple kills at level 1

– If your team stays for too long or too short a period of time (without picking up a kill), it may throw off your own lanes and jungler

– Your own jungler may get counterjungled and thrown off his game (the enemy team may just end up invading your own jungle in response)

– If your top or bottom lane stays too long during an invasion, it may give them a huge disadvantage when they inevitably go back to their own lanes

There are numerous disadvantages to invading the enemy jungle and level 1 fighting as well.  However, these disadvantages are mitigated by the one major advantage that all invading teams havethe ability to group up as a team.  A jungle invasion above all requires cohesiveness from your team.  There will be times where a group of 3 manage to catch someone off-guard and pick up a first blood, but the best results come with a grouped up team.  An invading team will almost always be grouped as 5 players; defending teams on the other hand, will often split up to try to cover more chokepoints and provide more vision.  Because invading teams are grouped while defending teams are often split, not only will the invading team often have the element of surprise, but will also be in a far superior position during the duration of the fight.  There will also be times where your team is strong enough to defend your jungle, but not strong enough to initiate an invasion.  In these circumstances your team should also be grouped up as 5 in order to pick off the first person who seeks to initiate the invasion on the invading team.

Acting or Reacting

Make no mistake, invading the enemy is not going to be the correct choice 100% of the time.  There will be times when your team is definitely weaker at level 1 and you don’t want to fight.  The key is to identify these situations and adapt your team’s plans to reality.  You should know when to invade, when to defend your jungle, and when to counterjungle.

Invasions and level 1 fights are best won through the use of hard crowd control and high level 1 damage/stats.  Hard cc  in the form of snares, stuns, knock-ups, taunts are excellent for level 1 fighting.  Often times the decision to invade or not rests on the number of stuns/snares/knockups your team has at level 1.  A strong team that has two or more hard ccs at level one can often invade successfully.  Repositioning skills can be even better (IE: Singed/Volibear flips, Blitzcrank pulls), but are much rarer to come by.  Slows can also be useful, especially if your target does not carry Flash (an actually likely occurrence as many junglers now carry an offensive summoner spell like Exhaust/Ignite over Flash, while many support players similarly carry Heal/Exhaust/Ignite over Flash).

High level 1 damage/stats are important if your team wishes to go all out in an invasion attempt, or your team is seeking to defend (as 5) an invasion.  In these cases there will often be a prolonged level 1 fight where both teams end up going all out and many people die.  In this specific situation having champions that can output more damage at level 1 will ensure that your team ends up killing more of the opposing team.  Also, while Doran’s items provide inferior sustain in lane compared to opening boots or cloth armor, the extra health and armor/ad is useful in a level 1 fight.

Summoner spells are also extremely important for level 1 fights.  Having spells like Flash/Exhaust/Ignite are extremely important if your team wishes to secure a first blood.  Players that run Ghost instead of Flash should be ready to react fast as soon as invasion comes (as they cannot simply flash over a wall).  Having the summoner spell Heal is also extremely useful if your team wishes to defend versus an invasion or if both teams want to enter into a prolonged level 1 fight.

Finally, while making the decision to invade the enemy is relatively simple (yes/no?), defending an enemy invasion can be more tricky.  Is your team strong enough to offer battle should the other team face-check?  If so your team should be grouped up bush near a likely invasion path and immediately fight if/when the other team comes close or initiates.  If your team is too weak to fight but your jungler can clear quickly (IE: Rammus, Skarner, Udyr, etc) you can often take the enemy’s buffs instead (with the help of 1 or 2 other members of your team).  Finally, if your jungler is weak/slow and your team is weak at level 1, you may have to sacrifice your jungle camps and take the disadvantage rather than risk fighting or counterjungling.

Paths to invade

Purple team:

Original map of SR thanks to Eagleshadow on the EU server. (

Path A1: The “standard” invasion path for purple team to invade golem buff.  Comes through lane/bush (and NOT THE RAMP) in case someone on the blue team is sitting in the vertical bush.  Can sometimes catch someone sitting at the top of the bush if they’re slow to react, but generally goes down that bush to try to fight at the one below, at the golem bush, or at wolves.

Path B1: Comes through the top tribush and down river, straight to the golem buff or to the golem buff bush.  This path can sometimes catch a lookout at the golem buff bush, or the team can loop around to path A1 or wolves.

Path C1: Follows a similar path to B1 except loops to the left and up to the top bush, then down and around the left side to golem buff bush (cuts off easy escape route if someone is in the bush).

Path D1: Comes through lane, into the middle right river bush, then up the ramp towards wraiths.  This path leads straight to the wraiths bush (often someone is there – especially jungle Maokais) and can loop around to lizard buff bush (for junglers that start at red) or even golems (bot lane ad/support).

Path E1: A sneakier path that ultimately tries to ambush someone at lizard buff bush.  Alternatively if noone is there, taking this path allows you to ambush the bot lane ad/support at 1:38 if they decide to do small golems.  This path can also loop around to F1 and surprise someone at the wraiths bush.

Path F1: Taking this path is meant to ambush the bot lane ranged carry/support on the blue team if they’re hiding in the small golems bush.  If they aren’t, taking this path allows you to either loop around to the wraiths bush (flanking someone’s escape) or ambushing lizard buff bush from an unexpected angle.

Blue team:

Path A2: The “standard” path for blue team to invade purple team’s lizard buff.  This path can loop around the left hand bush to surprise someone at the upper lizard buff bush, or can head straight to the wraiths bush (if someone is there).  Alternatively, using this path can let you ambush someone doing small golems.  (though that is a pretty rare jungle path now)

Path B2: This path also invades lizard buff, but does so at an unexpected angle (from the top), cutting off an easy escape path for anyone sitting in the lizard buff bush.  This path can also surprise someone waiting at the top small golem bush.

Path C2: This invasion path is an extension of path B2; after using B2 to check lizard buff bush for someone, you can use this path to ambush someone waiting at the wraiths bush, cutting them off from an easy escape.  Likewise you can often catch a Lee Sin or Maokai sitting in the wraiths camp (if it’s just about to spawn) if no one is in the bush.

Path D2: This is the standard path for blue team to invade purple team’s golem buff.  When using this path, remember to ALWAYS COME FROM LANE – NEVER FROM THE RAMP.  This is because someone sitting in the right hand bush will see you much earlier if you come from the ramp.  If you don’t manage to surprise someone in the right hand bush, it can mean that they are sitting in the bush directly above it.  Using this path also lets you flank the enemy jungler at wolves (ideally your team should split and come from both directions if no one sees you).

Path E2: This path is the more roundabout path to invade golem buff.  It’s a useful path if you feel like the enemy team is going to defend their jungler at blue buff.  This way you can come in from an unexpected angle (usually teams take path D2 to invade blue), and it cuts off anyone who is standing in the golem bush from an easy escape.

Before deciding to take a path to invade, you need to know where the enemy jungler starts.  Udyr, Nocturne, Gangplank, Sejuani, Skarner, Jarvan, Amumu, Warwick, Fiddlesticks and Rammus most often start at wolves, then go to blue buff when it spawns.  Shaco, Lee Sin, Shyvana can start at either red or blue (depending on which team the player is on and which lane the jungler wishes to gank first).  Lee Sin/Shyvana can also start in the enemy’s jungle (chance of counterjungling/invading strong).  Maokai almost always starts wraiths and goes directly to blue.  One thing to note is that when invading versus a fast jungler (Skarner, Udyr, Shyvana, etc), remember that if you get spotted early on, the enemy jungler can easily and safely counterjungle your team instead of starting in their own jungle.


Deciding (convincing your team) to level 1 fight is often far more challenging than the act of invading itself.  The few things to remember when executing an invasion are:

– Have the champion with the best or longest range stun lead (often times this means an Alistar/Taric support)

– Go through the same path at the same time (don’t run ahead or through a dumb path and alert the enemy team)

– When stacked up in bushes, make sure your character does not get squeezed out of the bush when moving.

– Have your team on the same page about what you hope to accomplish.  This is probably the most important part.  Do you want to simply catch someone for a first blood and leave with that advantage?  Do you want to try to pick up first blood as well as disrupt the enemy jungle?  Do you want all out war at level 1?  Are you going to burn flash to initiate a first blood?  Make sure your team understands what is happening.

Invading with a stronger level 1 team composition is natural.  If your team has 3 stuns at level 1 and the enemy team has none, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t invade the enemy team.  With a team composition that consists of multiple heavy CCs at level 1, you’re risking practically nothing for a huge reward.

Example champions (with cc) that are amazing at level 1:

– Ahri (taunt or AOE true damage)

– Alistar (knockup – may have to flash to initiate)

– Blitzcrank (pull)

– Janna (AOE Knockup)

– Leona (ranged stun)

– Lux (long range root – can hit multiple targets)

– Morgana (long range root)

– Pantheon (ranged stun)

– Renekton (melee stun – use to chain stun someone who is already CC’d or flash stun)

– Riven (semi-melee stun, can chain stun or flash)

– Ryze (root)

– Singed (flip)

– Sion (ranged stun)

– Swain (AOE root – can be used to check a likely bush)

– Taric (ranged stun)

– Twisted Fate (ranged stun, short cd)

– Udyr (multiple stun, move speed boost)

– Volibear (move speed boost, flip)

On the other hand, if both teams have only 1 good stun (or none), it may be a more difficult proposition to make.  Just remember that invading teams have two things going for them – surprise and initiative.  It’s always better to have the enemy team reacting to your plans than it is to be playing catch-up.  Often times if you don’t want to make too much of a commitment, you can try to catch someone quickly for the first blood and simply leave (if you feel like the enemy team is willing to commit to a defense after the person you catch respawns).


Defending versus invasions can be tricky.  This is because if your team is terrible at level 1, there is nothing you can really do to make it any better.  A team comp of Wukong (top), Kassadin (mid), Amumu (jungle), and Ashe/Soraka (bottom) is simply not going to be able to defend at level 1 versus a team comp of Udyr (top), Morgana (mid), Riven (jungle), Taric/Sivir (bottom).  When one team is significantly stronger than the other at level 1 to the point where an invasion by the stronger team is extremely likely, it may be a better option to initiate a counter invasion and take the requisite buff for your jungler from the enemy team’s jungle.

However, there are situations where defending versus an invading team may be an excellent option.  One such example is if the enemy team has multiple hard CCs at level 1 but your team has heavy AOE damage at level 1.  In this case, grouping your team up at a likely invasion path and initiating as soon as the first enemy player appears may be the best option.  Likewise if your team has heavy single target damage at level 1, it may be possible to instantly focus down the first enemy player, and subsequently fight a 5v4.


As a final note I want to stress the following point: invading the enemy jungle may not always be the best option.  Think of it as an extra tool in your arsenal, but don’t rely on it for every single game.  Some games your team will simply be unwilling to invade; executing a poorly coordinated and slow invasion can be worse than doing nothing at all.  Other times your team may be afk at the start of the game.  If your team is unready or unwilling to invade almost immediately upon starting the game, it will be difficult for your team to get into position before the enemy team posts “lookouts”.  The best time to decide upon an invasion is after everyone has picked in champion select; if you make sure that everyone is ready and willing to invade in champion select, you will have much better success.


– Properly executed level 1 fights/jungle invasions can lead to a sizeable advantage.

– Hard CC and good damage at level 1 are key to winning level 1 fights.

– Make sure your team is on the same page regarding invading and what path to take.

– Always have a purpose in mind when invading.


One Comment

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  1. ArmorDon / Feb 13 2012 4:42 am

    nice another article

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