Sightstone: Worth It?
Question of the day: Is it ever worth it to not buy Sightstone? From what we saw at IEM Katowice, professional support players tend to build a sightstone between the 10-15 minute mark depending on performance -- if they choose to build one at all. Despite being explicitly designed for supports, players like Gambit Edward have disavowed always buying the item, choosing instead to take items and wards for increased survivability and item versatility. In today's article, we'll be investigating the viability of Sightstone and discover if there are ever cases where we don't want to buy the item.
Using the PBE value of health on Giant's belt (380HP for 1000g) as a baseline, Sightstone has a gold value of 437 gold for wards. This means that you will need to use at least 6 wards before the item becomes gold efficient. Using a "generous" number of wards in a solo queue environment, say two wards every 3 minutes, it would take about 9 minutes for Sightstone to pay for itself in a best case scenario.
Sightstone gives me unlimited wards, so what?
Many solo queue games are often decided in the midgame before Sightstone becomes gold efficient. Since Sightstone doesn't pay for itself until you use enough wards (before 20-25 minutes-ish), it isn't an optimal early game investment. If you are playing in a fast-paced game where the outcome may be decided before the 20-minute mark, it may actually be better to buy a large quantity of wards (and maybe an item or two) rather than shell out 700 gold for a Sightstone. On the other hand, if the game is relatively even and team compositions suggest a drawn out game, you will probably be better off buying a Sightstone for sustained ward coverage.
But don't fall into a noob trap! If you buy a Sightstone, your job is not to put two wards on the map at the time. In many cases, your team will require more wards on the map especially as the game goes on, so you should not neglect buying normal wards in addition to your Sightstone. Treat Sightstone as just another item, and buy wards as you did in Season Two so that your team doesn't get caught by the enemy. Remember, it's a team effort and if someone dies because you didn't ward enough, the death is partially your fault.
Doran's Shield over Sightstone
As alluded to above, Gambit Edward often purchased a Doran's Shield and wards during IEM Katowice rather than buy a Sightstone. There are both advantages and disadvantages to this. If the game is fast-paced, a Doran's Shield provides statistical superiority in both gold efficiency and survivability: As an early game item, Doran's Shield gives gold efficiency of +45 before its passive is taken into account, and the passive gives the equivalent of a double-digit armor value for much of the early game. Additionally, you can buy three wards and Doran's Shield for the same price of a Sightstone, and the shield can definitely pay off before bruisers and carries build real items to burst down a support.
On the downside, the Doran's Shield gets weaker as the game goes on. The 6 damage reduction unique passive gets weaker and weaker as physical damage dealers grow in power, while the Sightstone has a theoretically unlimited gold efficiency. Past a certain point in the game when a support can be bursted down in a single spell combination, it actually may make more sense to sell the Doran's Shield and buy a Sightstone instead. The context of the game is what should be dictating your item choices, not a static item build that you follow in every game. As a support (or as any other champion) you should be prepared to modify your item choices to optimize in-game performance against the enemy team.
What about the Ruby Sightstone?
Well, this question is a lot easier to answer. Since most of the upgrade cost of Ruby Sightstone comes via the additional health you're buying (the recipe upgrade alone is only 125g), the item is worth the upgrade nearly immediately upon purchase. Add in the fact that you can have an additional ward out over the normal Sightstone, and this item is a definite buy. If you already have Sightstone and you have the money to upgrade it to the next level, it's definitely worth the buy given the win-win of extra survivability and extra wards.
In summation, the choice of buying a Sightstone lies in the context of the game. If you're expecting a blowout 20-25 minute win/loss, you might be better off buying traditional support items, wards, or even a luxury item (extra GP10, Doran's Shield, etc.) for yourself. If there isn't much action happening or one of the teams is drawing out the game, the Sightstone investment is definitely worth it in the long term. And if you have enough money to get the upgrade, it's almost always worth it to upgrade to the Ruby Sightstone. Keep in mind that Sightstone is also limited by the number of wards you can put out at once -- as a support, you should consider buying extra wards every time you go back for optimal sight coverage. In the next patch, Sightstone will be built from a Ruby Crystal, so it may turn out to be more gold efficient than it is right now. In that case, it might be worth it to rush the item. But for now, whether or not you should build a Sightstone is a big question that doesn't necessarily have a right answer.
So what do you think, readers? Is Sightstone your item of choice, or do you rush other support items instead of throwing down 700g? Leave a line below and tell me your thoughts about investing in Sightstone! And as always, thanks for reading!
Bonus video: My second pentakill ever (which I got by procrastinating on this article)
Edit: TWO PENTAS IN THE LAST THREE AKALI GAMES F*CK YEAH
For more of my work:
- Climbing Mt. Elo Hell (ranked games blog): vvinrar.tumblr.com
- #VVinning (RoG blogs): reignofgaming.net/tag/vvinrar
- Item Efficiency Spreadsheet at bit.ly/s3items
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