Scouting Report - Dignitas NALCS Week 1

I’ve been working on some software that tracks wards programmatically (aka you don’t have to click for each ward - just load a vod). It works, but getting value out of the way I have to store the data is a pain in the neck and requires a lot of cleaning, so I’ve tabled the project for now. That being said I did get through a few of the teams at IEM Cologne and got some good, relevant warding data. One of those teams was Dignitas.

Dignitas placed 277 wards in 3 games at IEM Cologne averaging ~92 per game. For reference, NA Teams at worlds (pre vision rework) warded ~110 times per game. Before getting into the opinionated stuff, here are some quick breakdowns.

Ward Breakdowns

Wards per game

  • Game 1 - Blue side - Win: 82
  • Game 2 - Red side - Loss: 104
  • Game 3 - Blue side - Loss: 91

Wards per player

  • Top: 47 or 17%
  • Jungle: 39 or 14%
  • Mid: 50 or 18%
  • ADC: 49 or 18%
  • Support: 92 or 33%

Ward breakdown by type

  • Warding Totem: 74 or 27%
  • Farisight Totem: 65 or 23%
  • Sightstone: 84 or 30%
  • Vision Ward: 54 or 20%

Ward distribution seems pretty well balanced although it’s important to note how little Kirei wards. It’s easy to assume that he switches to a sweeper early and loses out on the Warding Totems but thats not the case. G1 he makes the transition at ~9min, G2 ~15min. G3 is the real shocker here because he buys a Sightstone at 4:30 but for large chunks of the game he just doesn’t use it. Between 20-25 min in Game 3 Kirei doesn’t place a single ward; not good with a Sightstone in your inventory.

Warding patterns

Blue side vs QG - Level 1s Blue side vs QG - Level 1s

Red side vs QG - Level 1s Red side vs QG - Level 1s

Level 1’s seem a little more passive than before the vision changes. Still though, in game 3 where Dignitas lane swapped they got the same deep scouting vision that you typically would in a lane swap scenario. So not all hell has broken loose.

On a general level, the most important part of Dignitas vision strategy is that they ward incredibly aggressively.

Game 1 - Blue side vs QG Game 1 - Blue side vs QG Game 2 - Red side vs QG Game 1 - Red side vs QG Game 3 -Blue side vs QG Game 3 - Blue side vs QG

Games 1 and 2 Dignitas spent the majority of the game ahead and their vision showed. There is almost no vision inside their own jungle. Game 3 they started to fall behind but only towards the end in the middle of chases/escapes did they start warding their own jungle. It’s important to note that they do typically keep their entrances covered but only on the side they’re aggressing on. This is a common theme in their warding pattern and I think is probably the most exploitable. Dignitas persistence in the top-side push game 1 was obvious to anyone watching the game and as you can see from the picture above it shows in their ward placement as well.

Game 3 - Blue side vs QG @ 9:30 Game 3 - Blue side vs QG @ 9:30

Here’s another example in game 3. This is their ward setup when they’re 3-man pushing the top turret. I’ve circled exposed entrances; notice how there is no ward coverage in the bottom side of the map. Dignitas clearly timed this push around the QG blue transfer but continue their push well past it. Krugs/Wraiths are both available and Viktor and Jax both farm at least at mid-river.

Game 3 - Blue side vs QG @ 19:00 Game 3 - Blue side vs QG @ 19:00

Last example, also from game 3. This is later in the game and is a vision gap that QG capitalizes on. Dignitas is down ~3k gold by this point but is still warding aggressively. Kirei is warding the enemy bot side jungle while Apollo is making a heavy push for the bot tower. QG takes advantage of the vision hole in the top side of the map and swoops in for an easy blue steal. The lone farsight ward in the area from Shiphtur caught them only as they were finishing the steal.

Speaking of Shiphtur, that makes for a good transition. Shiphtur is the latest warder of all time. His only wards pre-8min are in the middle of the lane. A level 2 or other early gank on the midlane would be typically be a gamble but against him would almost certainly burn at least his Flash if not secure first blood outright.

Final thoughts

With all the hooplah about vision changes, I expected to see a pretty drastic in the number of wards placed but this looks about the same as the data we saw from Worlds. We still saw lane-swaps, we still saw scouting vision and we still saw a lot of teams buying Vision wards. In general I think Dignitas’ vision game is pretty on point. They play by the old mantra “the best defense is a good offense.” Though they lost the series, they led for more than half and showed that they are contenders.

Follow up from Reddit

It’s going to be interesting to see the effect Kiwikid has but honestly I was impressed with Jesiz play. He facilitated a lot of the offensive warding and was really active on the map. I think (outside of Shiphtur’s mysterious early game mid-lane wards) that Dig’s warding strategy was incredibly well thought out. They were always covered on the side of the map they were pressuring and made sure they had exit paths covered. The point I was trying to make is not that their warding was bad, only that it is exploitable. If all of their warding is offensive it allows for:

  • counter-jungling on the weak side
  • jungle ganks (the G3 @ 9:30 example is good here. After the top tower push, Rek’Sai is going to go back and clear the bot jungle. If Kassadin drops a ward deep in front of wraiths, Nid+Fiora can creep up and pick Rek’Sai off which should transition into one of the two lower side outer turrets)
  • deep vision opportunities on the weak side
  • interesting gank paths (think, hop over dragon wall, gank mid-river Jax through bot-tri brush)

It’s hard to say whether the roster change will make them better or worse. To be honest, I hadn’t started looking at games analytically until pretty recently so I’m not sure how Kiwikid was prior. I can say that either Brokenshard didn’t actually do anything productive or it was a mistake letting them go. One of the reasons I’m a CLG fan is that their play always seems intentional, which to me is a mark of good preparation and good coaching. Even though they lost, Dignitas’ play was very intentional and they definitely went into the series with a gameplan and stuck to it. So their support staff, Brokenshard or not, did something right.