Why I Hate Level 1 Invades



So you've finally gotten through queue and into game, everybody has a role they like and you're playing your favorite champion! Ready for a wonderful game, you buy your items and walk ou -- "We should invade!" Pings light up the map. "Their level 1 is bad!" (this is probably the second most often repeated falsehood, second only to 'we have the better late game")

Me? I hate invades. Unless my team has a Blitzcrank, I'm pretty much not down. ESPECIALLY if I'm the jungler. Enough that, if I'm the jungler, I'll stall; I'll take 30 seconds to buy items, I'll 'have already taken the wrong skill', and unless my team goes on without me, I'm not going. Why? Because ultimately, invades are so often a bad decision.

Pros and Cons

Obviously, invading isn't entirely worthless, and obviously, it comes with its risks. So let's spell those out.


  • Early kill
  • Force somebody to go back
  • Steal a buff
  • Delay enemy laning/jungling


  • Giving up an early kill
  • Having to go back
  • Delaying ally laning/jungling

Just looking at this, invading looks like a net good! After all, one team's going to win the invade scuffle! But if you win, you get to take their buff! And if they win, sure, they're a bit ahead, but that's all! And to an extent, that's true. A successful invade really screws the other jungler if you play it right (you get 3 buffs to their 1). A failed invade just puts your jungler behind, most likely. Yes, their jungler being ahead means they could possibly invade later and steal a buff, but then again, you could do the same with a successful invade and get all 4 buffs if you play your cards right!

But despite this, there are three reasons I find invades extremely distasteful (in solo queue).

#1 - Invades, even successful ones, can really screw a jungler over

When invading, you have to take a lot of considerations into account. Typically, teams will count up their CC/good level 1 burst, and compare it to the other team's.

But some skills are suboptimal to take at level 1, and some skills are just downright awful. Sure, your Nasus COULD start W first, but it's going to screw him over, whether he's jungling OR top! This is especially true on tank junglers; they all have good invade skills; Amumu has his Q, Taric has his stun, Nautilus has his Anchor, but if they start with those skills? Let's say your invade works. He's going to still take a ton of damage taking blue. If your team accidentally leashes XP, he may STILL be level 1 when he returns to his jungle, and when he hits level 2, he'll be low on potions and STILL slow to clear.

And if he takes an invade skill and the invade fails? He's basically fucked. Even if you did get a kill and steal a buff, he's going to be slow in the jungle and it might not have been worth it, depending on their jungler. But if the invade fails, it's a whole different game.

#2 - Play solo queue to get better, not to win.

Unless you're good enough to keep climbing the ladder constantly, your wins and losses will balance out, over time. So gimmicks that either succeed massively or fail massively aren't going to get you anywhere. Sure, successful invades will give you more wins, but those failed invades will give you more losses. Worse, invading all of the time takes away your ability to learn the game as well. One of the best ways to learn anything is consistency. If every time you come to a given matchup, you come in on the same footing, you'll learn how the matchup goes much faster. But invades screw that up; if sometimes you come to lane 2 kills up, sometimes you come to lane 2 kills down, and sometimes you come to lane even, it will take 3 times as many games for you to learn a matchup! As such, invades make it harder to learn your matchups.

#3 - Defender's Advantage

All those bad things which happen to your jungler when he takes an invade skill? They're less bad as a defender. They're still bad, but at least when you successfully defend, your team is right there to leash for you. When you successfully invade, off your team goes to their distant lanes! Better still, you don't always NEED to take your invade skills, because you don't have to engage. A Taric invading wants his stun, to catch somebody out of position. A Taric defending can wait for the enemy team to come to him, and thus take Shatter first.

When to Invade

So when should you invade? Essentially, I think invading is strongest when you have champions who nullify the risks. This seems obvious, but I thought I'd just spell out exactly what that means

  1. You want to invade if your jungler's invade skill can double as his clear skill. Cho'Gath is a pretty good example, as is Jarvan. Cho can still jungle with Q first, it'll just be a little bit slower. And Jarvan's taking his E anyway.
  2. You want skills which nullify the defender's advantage; skills which give sight into bushes (like Jarvan's flag) or CC skills which can be used into bushes without sight (Blitzcrank's grab or Morgana's snare) are best.

Me? There's really only one full invade I'm going to call for, and that's if we have a Blitz/Morgana on our team (because the risk of invading is so minimized).

Instead, try a pseudo-invade; group up and rush into the curved bush by their Blue Buff. If they've been slow to set up, you'll catch somebody as he wanders in there to get vision. If they see you and run away or don't show up by 1:20 or so, back off and jungle like normal.

If you have a Blitz, you can always just grab blue over the wall. If you coordinate with your jungler/ADC, maybe you can take it quickly. But if you're a support alone? You can probably grab blue and just leave for bot lane, just to waste the jungler's time.

Even more evil, if you are blue team and have a support with a strong disengage (Thresh comes to mind) and an ADC with long range poke (Caitlyn/Ezreal/Ashe?) you can do the following:

  1. Go straight to the bot lane river bush. At 1:35, move up towards blue, hugging the wall.
  2. At around 1:42, drop an explorer's ward into the blue bush.
  3. When they try to take blue, attack them from a distance, disengaging as necessary. Either they take free poke while blue is damaging them or they leave blue, re-leashing it and delaying their jungler, not to mention putting good poke on their bot lane. If your jungler starts at his blue, he can invade red, and their jungler will either:
    • have used smite
    • or be low health
    • or be delayed
  4. Disengage as soon as they hard commit; they'll have a much longer route back to lane than you will, and you should be able to pull an XP advantage.

As a jungle main, I seriously hope people don't start doing this shit in solo queue...


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