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While playing some normal draft, it seems that the flavor of the month is to invade the enemies jungle. Depending on the team composition, we'll win, or we'll lose...but that makes me wonder: What really makes a team at lvl 1 strong? Are there champions that do ridiculous damage early that would blow up another team? Do you have to have a stun to invade?

If you were setting up an early team, what would you do to make sure you secure the opposing teams jungle?

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Several major factors play a big role in level 1 fights.

The base statistics of the champion

Since at level one, the tanks hasn't had a chance to build any armor, magic resist, or health yet, or the carries hasn't had a chance to build any damage items yet, everything hinges on what base stats champions are given.

When looking at the base stats, it is also important to pay attention specifically to the starting stat plus the stat gained per level. Let's look at Gangplank for example. Gangplank is generally considered a pretty squishy champion unless he builds health and armor/magic resist. He is one of those champions that people build as a glass cannon sometimes, someone who does a lot of damage but dies easily. However lets look at his base stat. He starts out with 495 + 81/level. That's a starting health of 576 plus any health that his starting item might have given him. That's quite a lot for someone who is considered a relatively squishy champion.

Now lets look at a champion that is normally considered tanky. Lets look at Udyr. Udyr's health is 427 + 99/level so he starts with 526. That is 50 less health! But Udyr has much higher health gained per level than Gangplank does. This means Gangplank has a stronger earlier game(in terms of health). You can take this thought process and apply it to the armor and magic resist and other statistics.

Skills and Passives optimized for level 1

This should be a philosophy that should apply to late game too but it is especially important early game because each of your teammates will only have on skill available to them instead of all 4. Choose a team that is balanced. You need a good balance of crowd control plus damage. A team that focuses too much on damage but has no crowd control will not be able to focus down on a single target enough to kill them. With the use of a snare or a stun, it provides a definite bull eyes sign for all your teammates to focus, usually screwing up their team formation and it will also prevent the enemy from getting away from the damage by preventing them from flashing away and making them become easier targets for skillshots.

Damage:

Generally casters are a lot weaker at level 1 because they are limited to one skill and their base attack damage and attack speed are very low! This will lower the amount of damage they can deal.

When choosing a strong early game damage dealer, take a look at their base attack damage and their skills. A champion like Ganglank, has a strong early game because he has multiple sources of damage. His auto attacks can proc his passive that can not only deal additional damage but provide a slow, AND his Parrrley which has a relatively low cooldown can add a lot of additional damage.

Crowd Control:

Generally a team that is able to stop a enemy from running away or actually brings the enemy to the team will have the upper hand in team fights. Morgana's Dark Binding starts out with a 2 second snare. That is quite a bit of time to stand still. Blitz who takes his grab at level 1 will literally serve one of the enemies on a platter if one of them is pulled into your team.

Passives:

Not only do we have to look at the skills a champions have but also their passives. Some champions passives will be way more useful in level 1 fights than others. For example, Volibears passive will let him regenerate 30% of his health back when he reaches a certain threshold on his health bar. Or Anivia who turns into an egg when her health bar reaches 0. Contrast that to Ryze who gets a 1 second cool down reduction for each spell he casts. But that reduction can't be utilized at all since he can only use one skill at a time. Or Ahri who gains life steal for one attack after hitting 9 targets. This is great in all for sustain but during the course of a team fight, the passive will not really play a big factor.

Non-target skillshots:

Sometimes in a level 1 fight, you get to an impasse where neither teams are willing to iniate and are just standing just out of range. Having a champion with a long non-target skillshot harass will generally mean an easier team fight OR allow you to push them back if you are indeed trying to invade their jungle. These skills include Nidalee's spears, Lux's Lucent Singularity(which not only damages but also provide vision for 5 seconds if she does not detonate), and Ezreal's Mystic shot.

Vision

If there is a support on your team, ask them to take Clairvoyance and to buy wards(technically, you shouldn't need to ask them if they are playing support). Vision is very important especially in early games because a champion can be focus down very fast if you can see them. If you are invading their blue, or if your blue is being invade, throw a ward onto the bush right next to where the golem spawns. Once the team fight starts, the support should throw the Clairvoyance right behind where the enemy is so provide vision of all of them. Vision in the jungle is very limited because, the bushes and the corners in the jungle will inhibit vision.

Initiation and Team Formation

Because in level 1 fights the tanks have not begun building tanky items yet, there really isn't a tank per se. Anyone who runs into the fray can easily be focused down in seconds. Because of this, it is better to stay in formation (champions with higher defensive base stats in the front, and champions with lower defensive base stats in the back), and play reactively. If one of them charges in, then focus that champion down. Generally it is smart to have your "formation" near a bush so the squishy targets can utilize that to avoid being a initial target in the fight.

Items

Since Champions start out with 475 gold or 515 gold(if you put the two points in the ultility tree), items do not play as big of a factor. However generally buying Dorian items will give you more bang for your limited buck and give you an early game advantage.

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Really complete answer. nothing to add here =) +1 –  Michel Mar 22 '12 at 17:21
    
Great answer! Though I disagree that tanks aren't tanky at lvl 1. Most have good base hp/armor/mr, defensive runes/masteries, and start with an item that compliments these. Consider the damage taken between Udyr and Ashe taking blue buff at lvl 1. –  Toast Mar 22 '12 at 21:52
    
@Toast, I do agree some champions are tankier than others but in the context of a full out lvl 1 fight, a champion who would normally be a tank mid to late game is still too squishy to tank as they would a normal team fight. –  Jay Mar 23 '12 at 1:02
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When invading, it's important to maximize Crowd Control (CC) and damage. Select runes and masteries that give full benefit at first lvl (no scaling!), and start with either boots or a doran's blade/ring.

The goal is to have your entire team hiding in a bush and to then isolate one enemy and 5v1 them. Use any CC you have to stop them from retreating and grab a quick kill.

Some summoner spells have an advantage when invading:

  • Exhaust: lowers movement and possibly armor/mr
  • Ignite: helps to secure a kill, possibly adds ad/ap
  • Ghost/Flash: useful for chasing or escaping
  • Heal: Can heal bait (tempt enemy into overextending based on low hp, then heal)
  • Clairvoyance: useful for finding the enemy champions

For a champion to excel at invading, they need some form of CC at lvl 1 + the damage or HP to survive the encounter. Some champions that excel at invading (I'm sure I missed a few):

  • Ahri (charm)
  • Alistar (knockup)
  • Amumu (bandage toss)
  • Annie (start Incinerate and use it a few times in base to get stun)
  • Ashe (slow)
  • Blitzcrank (grab or knockup)
  • Chogath (knockup)
  • Fiddlesticks (fear)
  • Janna (tornado + movespeed bonus)
  • Jax (stun)
  • Lee Sin (Sonic Wave or Tempest)
  • Leona (stun + passive)
  • Lux (root or slow)
  • Maoki ( root or slow)
  • Nautilus (hookshot)
  • Nunu (snowball or blood boil)
  • Pantheon (stun)
  • Rammus (powerball or taunt)
  • Renekton (dash)
  • Riven (dash)
  • Ryze (root)
  • Sejuani (slow)
  • Shaco (invis)
  • Shen (taunt)
  • Singed (flip)
  • Sion (stun)
  • Taric (stun)
  • Tristana (jump)
  • Twisted Fate (stun)
  • Udyr (stun)
  • Veigar (aoe stun)
  • Xin Zhao (knockup)


Here's a video detailing an invade. Note that this lasts for much longer than the typical invade, and mistakes are made by both teams:


Edit: added other summoner spells
Edit: added video, updated summoner spells

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Don't forget VISION. is the main point in team fight at lv 1. Ward CV and others vision skills (like Maokai's Sappling or lux's skills) –  Michel Mar 22 '12 at 17:22
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I'd definitely say hard CC is the number 1 deciding factor in team fights. –  theorise Mar 22 '12 at 17:28
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@theorise although I don't have an opinion about whether hard CC or vision is more important, you have to keep in mind that lvl 1 fights are not the same as a regular team fight and these fights almost always takes place in the jungle. –  Jay Mar 22 '12 at 17:38
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Ignite not only to assure the kill, but also to avoid extra heals –  Michel Mar 22 '12 at 19:06
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It should be noted though, that some champs mentioned who are typical junglers would have their jungle crippled to an extent if they had to skill accordingly: eg. Amumu with bandage toss can't hurt the jungle, shaco with invis first is a non-jungler, maokai without saplings also disadvantage in jungle. –  user22193 Apr 2 '12 at 4:12
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A lvl 1 invade tends to just be that you might see one person caught by themselves or facechecking a brush that your whole team is. But what should logically help your team decide to invade or not is primarily the AoE damage potential and CC potential. If you have either of these more than the other team, then you know you are the stronger lvl 1 team.

Strong lvl 1 champs:

Alistar - He has a AoE hard CC with his pulverize. Will completely destroy a lvl 1 teamfight and let your team ace them if a 5v5 engage happens.
Janna - She has a AoE knockup with Howling Gale. More used to disengage a teamfight, but can give enough delay to allow your team to pick someone off. Also has the team movement speed passive
Annie - She can charge up her incinerate to stun, giving her another AoE hard CC.

TL;DR - If you have AoE and CC at lvl 1 more than your enemy, you can try to invade and counterjungle as a team early to give yourself an early advantage.

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