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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  • #64 RisingChaos

    I honestly believe that Level 1 invades should ALWAYS be done. So long as you don't mechanically screw the pooch, the worst off you ever are strategically is even.

    Most of the time, the enemy team will be scattered. They'll be watches their jungle entrances. They'll be lagging, dc/AFK or otherwise left base very late. They'll be sitting in or around their lanes waiting for minions, in pairs to take camps from the opposite side of the map their jungler starts. If you invade as a five-man group, you just got a free buff. You might get free kills. Even if your jungler is set back a little, the enemy jungler is set back a LOT more.

    Worst case scenarios? They're also grouped up. You either get into a fight over it (which will ON AVERAGE be of neutral benefit; sometimes you'll win and sometimes you'll lose) or everyone backs off (always neutral). Maybe they placed early wards and respond to seeing you invade by repelling you, again a neutral scenario.

    Even if you have a worse Level 1 team comp, having everyone grouped together is just safe sense. A Blitz grab is only one kill whether he grabs a solo player or cherrypicks one out of a five-man group. However, a Blitz grab can very well be turned against him if his entire team isn't also there and you engage 5v4 or better.

    Frankly, if pro teams weren't so damn wussy about invading, blue bot double golems advantage wouldn't exist.

  • #60 Sun_Tzu

    I HATE it when my team invades at lvl 1 and I'm jungling. It screws up my gameplan entirely, because I might have to smite it if we're going to steal one of their buffs, I might get a really bad leash, I might get left alone way too fast and caught there, etc.

    The only time I think of invading is when we have a lvl 1 cc and I'm playing Elise/Lee Sin.. because I'll most likely be able to "ks" firstblood and get a big advantage (madred/spirit stone at lvl 1).

  • #48 AngelicSven

    I most definitely disagree. Level 1 Invading wins games from Bronze to Plat BECAUSE it's Solo Queue, they have the 'Low ELO' mentality of 'We must win the early game or it's hopeless.' which a successful invade which easily diminish and they'll be so demoralized by it.

    The key is successfully choosing when to and not to, coupled with how confident the team is with doing so. If I'm in a duo, we nearly always invade because we've been very successful at it.

  • #47 Basinator

    Note vs Thresh and Blitz: Do NOT FACEPROTECT vs them. Instead, drop a ward in the curve brush.

  • #45 Eph289

    The lack of Syndra in this post is noticeable. Your blue side shenanigans could be even more ridiculous with a Syndra onhand to pull the blue over the wall and snag it with the help of your bot lane's explorer ward.

  • #61 Itachi

    Quote from Eph289 »

    The lack of Syndra in this post is noticeable. Your blue side shenanigans could be even more ridiculous with a Syndra onhand to pull the blue over the wall and snag it with the help of your bot lane's explorer ward.


  • #43 NUcC

    Is it possible to unsubscribe from certain blogs at reignofgaming?

  • #39 jeff_stone

    I strongly disagree with the point you are making. Level 1 invades are great at all levels of play. As an experienced player I always want to rush to their jungle quickly out of spawn in solo queue. This allows me to get free vision of the enemy team in the early portion of the game. Many new players or bad players don't run out of spawn instantly so you can punish their early facechecking by invading quickly and catching a facechecker and killing them. This allows you to get a free kill at the 1 min mark and does not impede anyone's jungling. The faster you get out of spawn and move in to the enemy jungle the more likly it will be that they do not have their full team their because of afkers during loading screen, this gives the invader a huge advantage because even if the enemy team comes, you can just run away, but now you have vision of where they all are. Plus by showing presence near the buffs early even if you are caught it forces the enemy team to do some wonky things to either defend or try and steal your buff in which case you can force your opponents to make mistakes because you can redirect your team to your buff and have them catch the opponent when they facecheck there. There are so many benefits to early invades that outweigh the cons that I don't see why you would argue against it. Any competent player will know how long they need to stay at the invade so they can get to lane on time, this is the biggest con and it can easily be mitigated.

  • #40 gouv1

    What he basically said is that in soloQ, invades are basically cheese. It won't get you more wins than loses and people who invade don't realize all the implications on top bot and jungle.

    Sure you may get a first blood if the ennemy facechecks, great now your thresh who secured the kill with ignite has a kill and it will not benefit anyone. Worse, instead of having an xp benefit from doing golems, they will be even in lane with 400g on support which is basically useless

  • #51 xaserite

    This post is utterly nuts. 400g on the support means you are most likely to be ahead in another 150g at the first back when you can buy a sightstone instead of wards.

    Or even better, if you are early anyways, you can bomb down your wards into the enemy jungle, go back, fill your stock, still do golems and have your team hunt down the enemy in his own, now open lit up jungle. Or just imagine, you actually killed the jungler at a camp. 

    All considered, in case of success, your team has a huge early advantage and should be free of jungle pressure for a short period of time. Sure, you need players to execute it properly and opponents stupid/lazy/unexperienced enough for full effect. One might think that this doesn't occur in ranked games where people are usually on the same level, but it does. And it does work every single time in low elo (I just started playing ranked and I successfully invade every single game in Silver).

    In case of failure, what is actually lost? You should not be in danger to give up first blood when having the numbers advantage. You might have wasted time and 1-2 wards, but you are safe to go to your lanes, the jungle and farm. You just don't see the LCS ward placement in the majority of soloQ games.

    If you go invade with a jungler who relies on a leash for his first clear, I agree with the OP, you are doing it wrong.

  • #37 rathyAro

    Maybe is because we're at differen elo's but I find it to be the opposite. Firstly I start with my skill for farming the jungle no matter what. Secondly no one guards a buff as 5 unless they want to behind a full level in lane so there's almost no risk. If the enemy Ijungler needs blue it can really set thm back which means fewer and less potent ganks. Not to mention the chance of first blood. The only real downside is that laners will get o lane late which can set the m back too kuch for the reward. 

  • #36 Pelikins

    Level 1 invades are often then the game winning decision, which is where I thought this article was going...

    Denying blue buff to a mana reliant jungler is extremely powerful. It can disrupt a jungler immensely and give all the lanes pressure relief.

    This is especially true if you net first blood as an assisted fb is worth 750g a massive amount to obtain this early in the game.

    One of the biggest things that people don't do right when invading is that they stick around too long. If the lanes recall right after FB and a spell on blue, they can get to lane without missing anything or at most 1 or 2 minions.


    Level 1 invades win games. Just ask St. Vicious. I don't know how many times he's said in his videos, "I pretty much always invade no matter who I'm playing because it's OP."

  • #41 gouv1

    first blood is 400g. Assist gold is 200 shared on all people who assisted. Didn't read the rest

  • #42 BuddyBoombox

    its 200g split between those people, so 600 total for the team.


  • #44 Pelikins

    Yeah, you're right. 600 instead of 750. Still, a major chunk of cash that early.

    Think of how many minions you could miss and still be ahead.

    People just need to learn how to give up a small thing for a bigger thing.

    Last edited by Pelikins: 6/3/2013 8:50:36 AM
  • #46 gouv1

    Half a level of xp is worth way more than 400 gold, people just need to value everything and not just the dumb score

  • #49 Pelikins

    No...at level 1 2-3 creeps is worth a good chunk of a level... but by level 3 those 2 creeps don't mean anything.

    You just play safe for the first minute in lane and then you're caught up in xp and still ahead in gold.

    People need to learn how to stay safe when they are behind and give up on a cs or two for the bigger picture.

  • #52 gouv1

    I think you don't realize how much of a difference golems, or these 2-3 creeps, can make when the laners have a similar skill level.

    You should ask yourself why Riot is trying to nerf the golem start if it doesn't make a difference.

  • #53 Pelikins

    2 golems is a hell of a lot more xp than 2 melee minions.


    You are comparing apples and oranges.

  • #35 broloch

    Red start for the win !

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